BlizzCon 2018 Wishlist/Predictions

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.

The official logo for Blizzard EntertainmentStill, 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.

Alarak in StarCraft II's Covert Ops DLCStarCraft 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.

A cutscene from Diablo III: Reaper of SoulsThere’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.

Hierarch Artanis and Executor Selendis rally the Golden Armada in StarCraft II: Legacy of the VoidI’d like to see Selendis announced as the next co-op commander — this at least is somewhat within the realm of possibility — with a strong focus on air units, and the Planetcracker.

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.

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The Book of Adria: Some Life in Diablo III After All?

Before Diablo III first released, Blizzard put out the Book of Cain, a lovingly crafted lore repository that has become one of my all-time favourite pieces of gaming memorabilia. To mark Reaper of Souls’ launch, they released the somewhat less impressive Book of Tyrael, which added more to Diablo’s backstory.

A cutscene from Diablo III: Reaper of SoulsAnd that was pretty much that, except now something interesting has happened. Amazon has now posted a listing for a third installment of this series: the Book of Adria.

Well.

I’m trying not to get my hopes up here, and I’m not being entirely successful.

I had pretty much written Diablo III off as a dead game at this point. I’m desperate for a conclusion to the multiple cliffhangers left by Reaper of Souls, but it’s been so long without any meaningful updates to the game or even the suggestion of such that I had figured Blizzard had abandoned the project for some incomprehensible reason.

And a new book definitely doesn’t mean that a new expansion pack is around the corner. Maybe they’re just churning out a new book for the sake of getting a little extra cash from the Diablo brand name.

But each of the previous Book of X installments were tied to a major release. And this is coming on the heels of the announcement of new comic books in the Diablo universe, so it does feel as if some momentum is building here. Gamescom and BlizzCon are both coming soon, so there’s at least the opportunity for a major announcement in the near future.

We do know that Blizzard is working on something related to Diablo. They’ve been hiring new developers for the Diablo franchise for a while now. The general assumption was that it was for Diablo IV or some other new game, but it seems too early for an announcement of either of those things. If the Book of Adria is tied to a new release — which I grant is far from certain — it’s more likely to be for Diablo III content than anything else.

The treachery of Adria in Diablo IIIIf nothing else, a new source of Diablo lore is appealing, especially as seen through the eyes of Adria. She was one of the most memorable characters of Diablo III, and delving into her writings could provide fascinating insights into not just the Burning Hells, but her psychology as a character, as well.

Finally, as an aside, this news comes at an interest time for me personally as I’ve recently been getting back into playing D3. I’m doing so very casually, but I wanted something mindless to relax with, and it occurred to me I’d never finished the story on my necromancer. My gripes from before remain, but I can’t deny Corpse Explosion is ridiculously satisfying to use.