This is a sad day. While it may have had its disappointments before, BlizzCon has always felt a bit like Christmas morning to me. But nowadays Blizzard’s games have strayed far from what made me love them, and after they started creeping on female employees’ periods and stomping free speech to appease China’s government, I’ve decided to tentatively boycott future purchases.
Yes, J. Allen Brack did open the convention with an apology for their screw-up regarding Hong Kong, and to be fair, he sounded pretty sincere. But waiting until now undermines that sincerity, and so far that apology is not backed up by any action. I’ll need to wait and see if this really changes my opinion in the long term.
Before I go any further, I will mention I’ve had a terrible week filled with health problems and other misery, so if I’m bit more ruthless in my rantiness than usual, I apologize.
Everything about this reeks of an attempt to appease the edgelord fanboys who didn’t like Diablo III. It feels like they’re basically trying to pretend D3 didn’t happen. No returning characters, no indication that they’re picking up where Reaper of Souls’ cliff-hanger left off, no mention of the growing power of the Nephalem, no mention of saving Leah’s soul, no reckoning with Imperius.
Even the environments feel painfully uncreative. Just the same moors and deserts every Diablo game is apparently required to have. Take us to Xiansai or Skovos and I’d actually be excited.
Honestly, if Diablo III hadn’t happened, this would be an exciting sequel to Diablo II. But in a world where Diablo III exists, this feels like a step backwards in every possible way.
Except the graphics. Those are pretty awesome-looking.
I’m not sure how I feel about the new World of Warcraft expansion.
For most of the cinematic, I was terrified they were just going to make Sylvanas the Lich Queen, which would have been the Worst Twist Ever, but then… then things got interesting.
From a lore perspective, Shadowlands looks genuinely intriguing. Delving into the afterlife to confront a heretofore unknown threat is daring. It reminds me of Mists of Pandaria; it’s a setting we’ve heard of before, so it doesn’t feel like a total ass-pull, but we know basically nothing about it, so it’s a total blank slate to create new lore and stories.
That is deeply appealing.
On the other hand, Shadowlands appears to be the most unambitious expansion to date in terms of gameplay features. No new race, class, or even allied races.
The only new feature of any note appears to be Covenants, which sound like Legion’s class hall campaigns but fewer in number and therefore theoretically more fleshed out. That does sound cool, though. Encourages alt play, which I like.
Not sure that’s enough to win me back to WoW at this point, though. If they’d announced a permanent end to the faction conflict, or free to play, or an end to the restrictions on flying, I’d be ready to hop on the bandwagon, but as it is I’m on the fence on Shadowlands.
So after years of people asking for Valerian to be playable in StarCraft II co-op, we instead get… his father, who worked for Amon, the villain of co-op.
I don’t really feel the need for new commanders in co-op at this point, so I won’t be heartbroken if the new ones are no good, but yeah… this was not a good choice.
Somewhat surprisingly this is what has me most tempted to break my boycott right now.
First off, that cinematic trailer was bloody amazing. Overwatch cinematics usually are, but this one takes the cake. Epic, fun, emotional. I loved Tracer posting a picture of her girlfriend in the cockpit of her jet.
Overwatch 2 itself is essentially a huge expansion pack for the original game that fleshes it out to what it should have been at launch. There will now be a story campaign and repeatable co-op missions that sound a lot like StarCraft II’s co-op.
This is what I wanted Overwatch to be from the start. Finally we’ll get to advance the story and explore this beautiful world Blizzard created.
Oh, yeah, and we’re getting Canadian representation. There’s a new Toronto map that looks fantastic — TTC streetcars! A Jamaican restaurant! — and if I’m not mistaken I’m pretty sure I saw a red maple leaf badge on the new hero, Sojourn.
My one concern — aside from Blizzard’s recent scumminess in general — is that it looks you can’t solo the story missions, which could make for an unpleasant experience. SWTOR taught us how well story-driven experiences work with four player PUGs (poorly).
We’ll see what other news comes out over the coming days and weeks. If this BlizzCon had come in a different context, I would be far more impressed. As is, it’s a struggle for them to crawl out of the hole they’ve dug themselves… but there might be a sliver of hope yet.