BlizzCon 2018: It’s Worth It for the Warcraft III Remake

There was a profound level of cynicism going into this year’s BlizzCon. Blizzard themselves put a strange amount of effort into telling people not to get their hopes up, and the whole community — myself included — seemed to look toward the convention not so much with excitement as fatigue.

A shot from the cinematic trailer for Warcraft III: ReforgedI can’t say that pessimism has proven entirely unjustified, but for me, there is one silver lining.

A carnival of disappointment:

For the most part, BlizzCon 2018 has felt underwhelming thus far. Most of what’s been announced is predictable, uninspired, or otherwise disappointing.

World of Warcraft’s news so far consists only of a release window for WoW Classic, which I have no interest in, and a breathtakingly tone-death speech in which Jay Allen Brack sung the praises of Blizzard’s inclusive and welcoming community and then immediately pivoted into talking about Battle for Azeroth, an expansion specifically designed to divide the community and foster animosity between players.

Oh, yeah, and a new cinematic, which didn’t really offer much, actually.

Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch both got the expected new hero reveals. Am I the only one who thinks the Overwatch character looks like a grown-up version of the girl from Heroes? They’re both girls with white hair and red eyes…

Hearthstone has another new expansion, themed around Trolls this time. Maybe this is exciting for Hearthstone fans, but this just seems like more of the same to me.

A vision of the Xel'naga keystone in StarCraft 2: Legacy of the VoidStarCraft II saw Zeratul of all people announced as the next co-op commander. This got barely a mention in the opening ceremony, and I had to go to the official website to see the trailer and get details.

My knee-jerk reaction was serious disappointment. I can think of lots of more interesting characters to become commanders. However, having looked over the preview, he does seem to have some unique mechanics to offer, most especially his ability to enhance his army by collecting randomly generated Xel’naga artifacts.

His army is also more themed around the Xel’naga than the Nerazim, so it seems he won’t just be Vorazun 2: Electric Boogaloo. So Zeratul for me has been upgraded from “couldn’t care less” to “might buy, maybe.”

I still would have strongly preferred Selendis. Seriously, she’s been one of the most requested characters since co-op launched. What do we need to do to get her in the game?

Surprisingly little hype was built around the fact everyone on Battle.Net is being given Destiny 2 for free. That seems like it should have been a bigger deal. What I’ve played of Destiny 2 didn’t wow me, but now that I own the full version, I might give it another try at some point.

The wizard class in Diablo: ImmortalOf course, I’d be remiss not to mention the new Diablo mobile game, Immortal. As these things go, it actually looks fairly cool, but as it’s mobile-exclusive, I’ll never play it. I don’t use mobile devices. Never have.

Honestly, I’m wondering if Blizzard games are just not for me anymore. The company has evolved into a new direction. There’s nothing objectively wrong with it, but it’s not the same developer I used to love. And it’s just not the same without Metzen.

However, there is one thing here that excites me.

Warcraft III: Reforged

Now this was a pleasant surprise. I thought it possible a Warcraft III remaster might come someday, but I was not expecting it so soon.

I tell you, when they rolled that remake of the original Reign of Chaos trailer, I literally started shouting “Yes! YEEEESSS!” at my monitor. Such a moment of pure nerdgasm.

It seems too much to hope for, but how amazing would it be if all the cinematics were redone like this?

Arthas and Jaina in a cutscene from Warcraft III: ReforgedEven if they’re not, the updates to the in-game graphics are almost cinematic quality. It’s stunning. This is not a slapdash effort like the StarCraft remaster. This is a true modernization. In fact, the official site describes Reforged as a true remake, including balance changes and gameplay tweaks.

My one complaint is that it’s a bit over-priced. Pre-orders are already live, and even the base version is a whopping $40. Even considering what an impressive effort this is, that’s a steep price for a game from last decade with no new content.

I suppose I should try not to get too hyped. The other game remakes I’ve played — even good ones like The Age of Empires Definitive Edition — didn’t hold my attention for long. At the end of the day, it will still be a nearly twenty year old game I already played to death.

But Warcraft III was my favourite game of all time, at least until TSW came along, and even now it’s kind of a tie between the two. The thought of bringing it into the modern day brings out my inner twelve year old and sends a shiver of excitement down my spine.

If nothing else, I hope this encourages people who never played Warcraft III to give it a shot. It’s a true classic, and one of the greatest epic stories in gaming.

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Cheating on WoW: Destiny 2, Again

I’ve been curious about the Destiny games for ages, my interest fueled by the general hype around the series, as well as my inability to let go of my love for the Bungie games I grew up with.

My Awakened warlock in Destiny 2Unfortunately, the open beta for Destiny 2 pretty much told me nothing about the game. So when a proper free trial popped up, I was happy to have another chance to give the game a try.

The good news is this is a far more fleshed out experience than the beta was. The amount of content is significant — several hours’ worth, at least — and all of the basic systems are in place. There’s now a character creator, for instance (though given this is a first person game where everyone wears helmets 95% of the time, I’m not sure there’s much point).

There’s also now a cutscene at the beginning that explains some of the story, so I kind of get what’s going on now. Sort of. I think? Still not really sure what the deal with Darth Zug-Zug is.

This game could really use a codex or something.

The gameplay is… fine, I guess. Not much to complain about, but to be honest I don’t see much to separate Destiny 2 from the other MMO or quasi-MMO shooters I’ve played. What differences I do see are quite subtle.

The gameplay is slightly less mindless than Defiance, but the setting and lore also seem to have had a lot less effort put into them. It doesn’t have The Division’s weird difficulty spikes, but the world is a lot less detailed, and exploration a lot less rewarding. The graphics are a lot better than Defiance’s, but oddly still not as good as The Division’s.

My warlock using her super ability in Destiny 2Heck, I even found a public event where the boss has the exact same mechanics as Dark Matter Monoliths and Remnant Architects. Is it really that hard to come up with different fight mechanics in a shooter? I guess there’s not much to work with, but still.

I did like how pistols seem to be a strong choice in Destiny 2. I like the aesthetics of pistols, but in most shooters they’re relegated to an option of last resort. In Destiny 2, they seem to be pretty good.

Maybe too good. Pretty much every gun in Destiny 2 seems quite overpowered. That might not seem like a problem, but it tends to trivialize weapon choice if none of them have any drawbacks. At first I was lamenting my inability to find a good sniper rifle, but eventually I realized it didn’t matter. Who needs sniper rifles when even a six-shooter can blow someone’s head off from five hundred feet?

I guess if I have one big complaint about Destiny 2, it’s that it’s just too easy. I’m sure there’s tougher content later in the game, but when it comes to leveling and solo content, this is another MMO aimed squarely at the lowest common denominator.

Such complaints aside, this seems a solid game overall. It’s polished. It plays well.

But I don’t feel a strong urge to upgrade to the full version right now, and overall I do feel a bit disappointed. Given the game’s pedigree and all the hype around it, I was expecting something special. Instead I got Defiance with deeper gameplay but a shallower backstory.

My warlock tours the Farm in Destiny 2I know it’s unfair to compare Destiny with Myth. It’s been twenty years, after all. But nonetheless I can’t help but think about the enormous gulf in originality between them. Myth was a game so unique that even today there’s nothing like it. Destiny is fine for what it is, but there’s plenty of other games just like it.

There was a spark of true creativity in Bungie games in those days. That’s what I was hoping to see in Destiny 2, and that’s exactly what I failed to find.