BlizzCon 2015: Day 1 – Upcoming releases and Warcraft movie!

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Amazing day with game releases VERY soon and a world premiere trailer for Warcraft!

I’m going to break this up a bit in sections so this might look a bit like the weekly Blizzard Blitz, but I’m not going to duplicate everything down below in the game sections as those are just what panels I went to for those games.  If I didn’t go, I’ve tried to link you to an overview!

Opening Ceremony – The first thing announced was 3 new RTS missions in Spring 2016 for SC2!  Next was Heroes of the Storm announcements about a new game mode: arena!  This has random heroes for both sides and they showed that 10 Illidans (showed new skins for him too) are possible but it seems that you pick a single hero from 3 options and make a pick, then get that hero to play!  There are new heroes being announced Greymane, Lunara, Cho’gall (2 players in 1 hero, free for BlizzCon attendees and streamers, free for other players after 2 games with the hero, you get in-game gold for playing 4 games!!  There was also a new map announced too which is the Towers of Doom!

Eric Dodds introduced a new adventure for HearthStone called The League of Explorers, with items like the Explorer’s Hat, and a new mechanism Discover searches for cards (3 to pick from)!  We also get the Map of the Golden Monkey put in your deck which puts the Golden Monkey in your deck, and when you draw it all your minions turn into Legendary minions!  It comes out this year, oh wait this month, oh wait first wing opens Thursday!!

Jeff Kaplan introduced 3 new heroes, D.Va, Mei, Genji (Hanzo’s brother), the new Hollywood map!  All 21 heroes come with initial box but there will be an “Origins edition” of the game with 5 skins about backstory for the characters, with all the digital goodies you would expect from other Blizzard games!  Also this is being released for Xbox and PS4, with a Collector’s Edition with a Soldier:76 statue, and it is available to buy now from for a Spring 2016 release!!

Finally we had Chris Metzen representing WoW Legion telling us about how Gul’dan has ripped a hole in reality called the Felstorm bringing the Burning Legion in, but Illidan Stormrage hates the Legion too, and we get to play as a member of his army with the new Demon Hunter class!!  We also were treated to the intro cinematic and at the end were cheering For Azeroth because both sides are working against the common enemy!  Just like with Overwatch, this is ready to pre-order too at which can get you early access to the game too!!

Warcraft movie – Before Mike left, he gave us the trailer (thankfully Jayson shared it with all of you earlier) and Duncan Jones introduced the trailer too with the cast on stage Toby Kebbell as Durotan, Ben Foster as Medivh, Dominic Cooper as King Wrynn, Clancy freaking Brown as Blackhand, Daniel Wu as Gul’dan, Paula Patton as Garona and I know everybody will say it relies very much on CGI but I don’t think in a bad way at all!  There were lots of factions between the Orcs and Humans and we know the comparisons w/LotR will be unavailable but that sounds like an awesome problem to have!

Hands-on gaming – Every year I play every game and mode at least once, and I was able to get some of them done today!

Diablo 3 – Not yet, on plate for tomorrow!

HearthStone – Not yet, on plate for tomorrow!

Heroes of the Storm – I got to play as Gall with another person as Cho and even though the game had the default keybinding so it was confusing for me, we still ended up on the top of siege and hero damage lists!

Overwatch – Not yet, on plate for tomorrow!

StarCraft 2 – Co-op mode with a Blizzard employee because the line was so empty, and while I’m a pretty poor/average Terran player I had a lot of fun with this!  I was also surprised to get complimented on how many units I was producing and how I was using the unit groupings so much so that he said he felt inspired to start trying to use them more!

World of Warcraft – I think I’m headed back to WoW!  Playing a Demon Hunter was pretty awesome and really recaptures that WoW feeling for me which I haven’t felt in years!  We were placed right on the front lines of the Felstorm and were tasked with getting missions completed to start helping Illidan with his agenda but on one of the first ones we turn in we get a Felsteed to make questing easier!

Pin trading – I got the limited edition pin!  They learned from last year and tripled the cashiers, but more than 3 would’ve been better, so maybe next year they’ll put more in!

Diablo 3 – First talk of the game and community, Slaughter Calf Inn is why they don’t have as many panels this year, Patch 2.4 biggest and best, with new areas Eternal Woods (yetis), Royal Quarters (the other side of the crypt), Greyhallow Island (new zone), 7 new events, 16 new monsters, 175 new bounties (mostly Acts 3-5), and Bounty Grounds which are to test how good you are!

Game systems changes based on player feedback, categories: not feasible, let’s do it!, address root causes.  Buff UI changes, always on indicators or durations, mantra/buff holder is getting revamped!  The game is designed for multiplayer but want to get solo play closer in XP gain (solo rift monster HP is lower with less than 4, reducing XP from items but increasing from monsters) which might take some getting used to!  There is a massacre bonus feature from console coming to PC!  What about gold sinks? That need to be optional so they are giving empowered rifts via gold and if done in time get a 4th upgrade for your gem, and a Greater Rift 75 will cost 540M per run!  Why bother you ask?  Because there is a new recipe for Kanai’s Cube to augment items, changing damage numbers based on how many levels are on your gem!!  There will be an indicator to see if you’ve Cubed an item, Deaths Breath gets new color on drops, and there will be changes for gear comparison on followers too!

Talk switched to items of which there will be 50 new Legendaries, 10 new Sets, Demon Hunter gets a “ninja” Set, and Legacy of Nightmares bonus triggers if you don’t have any other bonuses on!  There will be Set Dungeons just for those with those Sets and if you complete all 24 then you get an exclusive wing rewards!

Seasons in 2.4 started with lots of talk about the past, but then talking about what’s coming starts with a pants and boots transmogrify, new rebirth option so you can start the same character over in a season after mailing all the items to yourself for later!  Season 2 was 7 weeks long, S4 about 4 months long ending in December, there will be a break between Seasons, S5 should be 3 months long, new achievements, new Journey, more frames/pets (Wicker Man)/pennants/wings (Andarial), cutting Seasonal only Legendaries, guaranteed 6 piece set w/Journey completion, a new tab we can buy for 500k and then a stash tab EVERY Season you compete the Journey for a max of 10 tabs!!

HearthStone – My HS moment came when I was eating and watching the pro players while listening to the stream casters and at the end of the second match they miscalculated the health of one player so they were counting him out on his “final” turn but instead he pulled off a win that they didn’t expect…and they are professionals!  Now I don’t feel too bad about missing my counts!  :}

You can find out more details here and all the cards here!

Heroes of the Storm – There are 10 heroes in some phase of development at Blizzard!!  Right now there are lots of ranged characters being played so more to be released and we were given an inside peek at the process and learned a vision sync meeting means it is ready to go after the design process: paper design 2 weeks, tech design 2w, AI playsets 1w, design playtests 8w, dev team playtests 4w.

Lunara based on a WC3 dryad bounces forward and does not mount up, stacking DoT, AoE ground, slows enemies with DoTs, long range attack/leaps over heroes like the Artanis charge, wisp redirectable, magic reduction skills too at 13 for self and 20 the team!  This seems like the best of 4-5 heroes all rolled into a single hero!!

Greymane, took art from comic, shapeshift is important for the hero, ranged then melee, Darkflight/Disengage, alchemy cocktail for ranged, dash/melee swipe, marked for kill (silver bullet)/go for the throat reuse timer if death of a hero!

Cho’gall lots of talk about no assets, (wasn’t he in WoW?) also my bet is a certain placed spike in the master skin gets removed before launch! This started as a 2004 April Fools joke, and they started with why can’t you do it?  The problems were riding shotgun/4 heroes/picking the hero, but the answers were it’s fun/tune him up/have solutions!  Cho has a dash strike, immolation and Gall has casting low cooldown and makes him active with wave strike and bouncing ball.  Rune Bomb/Runic Blast working together, hero is balanced to potentially take out several opposite heroes, always a double kill, and has awesome mount dynamics!

Overwatch – Beta in a few weeks 82k matches played, 7:34 abarrage match time, Pharah most played hero, best chance of winning w/Symmetra.  This was always planned for the console and is not being ported at all!  There will not be any playing against PC players or other networks, a lot like D3 is setup right now.

Hollywood map – Why? Fantasy behind locations, real world locations just Blizzard-ized, Goldshire Studios, “backlot”, sound stage for a “B movie”, escorting movie director,

New heroes – Mei, put her crew into cryogenic stasis but she was the only survivor, assists and helps team, hard to kill as a result!

D.Va Korea gets attacked and they develop probes, then need to expand to mechs that are pilot driven and they took gaming pros, flying was at iteration 3 of the hero and not in the original design!

Genji family pretty boy from the clan, Hanzo in charge of him, fought each other and Hanzo left him for dead but Mercy brings him back with the robot body to take out the clan!

StarCraft 2 – First panel was about the future of SC2 Nova Covert Ops!  Some free, some paid, unit skins, voice overs, more Arcade features like contests and paid content.  There will be a 9 mission arc with 3 mission stories the first before June, and the last by December!  Nova is playable, working for Valarian, and Terrans are war-torn, so what do they do with peace?  Defenders of Man is a new faction but they just might be backstabbing the Emperor and Nova is in a DoM during the cinematic we saw!  A lot of focus onplayer collaboration, and this is in the design phase right now, so they are working on things like ladder revamp (meaningful ranks, accuracy, transparency), Archon and 2v2 tournaments, separate MMR per race (ranked/unranked), exploring big changes w/focus on community collaboration.  Co-op missions focus, new capture point mission ready to go live soon after Legacy of the Void, more Commanders (Phase-Smith Karax had more call downs from Spear of Adun, super chrono boost).  A reminder that LotV standalone product that doesn’t need anything else to play with!!

World of Warcraft – The feature I heard about was Class Hall which was an upgraded Garrison feature so you aren’t so alone!  Check out all the other changes here!

Enjoying the coverage of BlizzCon?  Want to ask some questions or give me ideas for future articles?  Reach out to me on Twitter @rusty_schmidt!

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Rusty Schmidt
Rusty Schmidt has been into gaming since the family had to get a second Atari 2600 so everybody could play at once and interested in computer gaming since playing Math Blaster and The Oregon Trail all the way back in 5th grade. Later he found the original Diablo and StarCraft games to get hooked on Blizzard games and eventually stopped playing SNES games trading them for PC games because of the online persistence of worlds like SWG and WoW. Currently a Blizzard Correspondent, he looks forward to becoming a Senior Blizzard Correspondent for Nerdvana some day.