Right now my usually unshakeable Blizzard fandom is at an all time low. I played Blizzard games for the story, but Blizzard now seems to have given up on meaningful narrative for all of its games with the exception of World of Warcraft, whose plot is currently going off the rails on the lazy train.
Still, old habits die hard. I’m sure I’ll still be there watching the opening ceremonies live, and if I’m to keep that tradition alive, I might as well also do my traditional post of wishes and predictions for what’s ahead.
What I think will happen:
This is one of those weird BlizzCons where you wonder why they’re even holding the convention. It doesn’t seem likely that there will be any major announcements, and a relative lack of news panels on the schedule seem to back this conclusion. Maybe BlizzCon is just about the eSports now? It would track with the overall direction of the company lately.
There will be announcements, of course. I just don’t see any of them being big news.
WoW has already spilled all the beans on 8.1. We’ll probably get some info on 8.1.5 and a brief tease of 8.2, but big or detailed revelations are unlikely.
Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch will both inevitably announce one or two new heroes and/or maps, but that’s hardly news at this point. Similarly we can expect a new Hearthstone expansion, but again, those come out so often it’s hardly noteworthy these days.
StarCraft is a big question mark. There is a 45 minute “What’s Next” panel listed for StarCraft II on the schedule, so they must have something to announce, but I’m not sure what. A new co-op commander is the obvious answer, but we just got Tychus, and considering how long he took, I doubt we’ll see another for some months yet. A new co-op map is a possibility, but is that enough to fill up a 45 minute panel?
That does leave the elephant in the room, though: Diablo.
There has been a surprising amount of momentum building for Diablo lately. The announcement of the Book of Adria and a new comics series, as well as a bunch of new Diablo apparel bearing the tagline “Reign of Terror,” which does sound suspiciously like an expansion title, though we’ve been misled by things like this before.
Also, a Diablo “What’s Next” panel is scheduled for the main stage immediately after the opening ceremony, a timeslot normally reserved for whatever the biggest news to come out of the convention is.
I’ve been hoping for another expansion for Diablo III for years and been disappointed every time, so I refuse to get my hopes up again. A lot of people are jumping on the Diablo IV bandwagon, but given Blizzard’s, shall we say, stately pace of development, I think a whole new Diablo game this soon is all but impossible. I also think the announcement of an entire new game would call for more than two panels at the convention, but two is all Diablo is getting according to the current schedule.
There’s also been wild rumours of a Diablo Netflix series of all things, and while I think there’s a decent chance it may be announced at BlizzCon, I don’t see it filling up a “What’s Next” panel, which are always about new game updates.
Considering all that, I believe the most likely scenario is that we will see the announcement of another DLC for Diablo III, possibly alongside (maybe even tying into) the Netflix series. I expect a new class (probably druid or something similar), and maybe a small amount of new story or a new gameplay feature.
What I want to happen:
The trouble is most of the things I’d want to see at BlizzCon this year are so vanishingly unlikely it’s hardly worth mentioning them even as a wishlist.
I want WoW to announce an end to the subscription, Pathfinder achievements, and the Alliance/Horde conflict. I’d also like to see Vrykul, Forsaken High Elves, and Sargerai as playable Allied Races. And hey, might as well throw in that dark ranger class I’ve wanted forever while we’re at it. And bring back artifact weapons! And badges!
With blackjack! And hookers!
I want a single-player campaign and a permanent, repeatable co-op mode for Overwatch. A robust co-op mode for Heroes of the Storm would be pretty cool, too.
I’d also love more story DLC for StarCraft II. Again, ideally focusing on Selendis, though I’d also accept stories about Stukov or Talandar.
Most of all, I want a new expansion for Diablo III, with a full graphical overhaul to the Heroes of the Storm/SC2 engine, redemption for Leah’s soul, Imperius as a boss we can kill, a new class, and a final resolution to the Eternal Conflict.
But of all of those, Selendis in co-op is the only that seems even remotely feasible, unfortunately.