BlizzCon is like Christmas for Blizzard fans, and with good cause – all of the biggest announcements regarding all of their major franchises are made there, there’s a crap ton of exclusive loot, and big-name bands like Metallica and Linkin Park cap the whole thing off with an epic closing ceremony. Physical tickets to the event sell out in minutes, leaving most fans with only the option of getting a digital ticket and tuning into the action at home.
So what can we expect Blizzard to pull out of its hat this year? Let’s have a look at each franchise, and go over what we know, what we think, and what we hope will be shown over the weekend.
Blizzard actually surprised quite a few people by revealing the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion pack: Legion at this year’s GamesCon, rather than saving it for BlizzCon. Nonetheless, we can probably expect a lot of Legion information, and possibly even a solid release date. We know already that Blizzard plans to show the Warcraft movie trailer at Blizzcon, so we can also expect some more info on that. As for Warcraft 4… don’t hold your breath, fellas.
With Legacy of The Void releasing next Tuesday there’s not really a whole lot Blizzard can reveal about it at this stage. Apart from what appears to be a much more aggressive eSports showing (finally…), Blizzard probably won’t have that much StarCraft news this year. As Legacy of The Void does bring the StarCraft II trilogy to a close, Blizzard will be offering a panel on “The Future of StarCraft II“, to let fans know what will be happening with the franchise now that StarCraft II is finally “complete” – but I don’t expect it to be anything major.
Diablo‘s presence at this year’s BlizzCon is well… miniscule. The Diablo booth is smaller than the toilets, for Christ’s sake! All we have scheduled for Diablo is a single panel promising “A first look at upcoming feature content, including updated sets, new Legendary items and more!” (reportedly, the panel also mentioned “stash space” and “new set dungeons” briefly, before being changed). However, I believe Diablo has been given a deliberately small presence because Blizzard plans to do a surprise reveal of its second expansion pack. It certainly makes sense given the timing: It’s been a year and a half since Reaper of Souls, and none of Blizzard’s other major franchises are due for expansion/new game news. We also saw some info that pointed to Blizzard hiring for a new Diablo project a few months ago.
Hearthstone has quickly become Blizzard’s new golden goose, making a whole bunch of money and bringing eSports back into focus for the company. The Hearthstone World Championships will be running all weekend, and there are a couple of Hearthstone panels taking place, with the “What’s Next” panel being the most interesting to us. Given that The Grand Tournament launched not so long ago, we probably won’t get any news regarding an expansion, but we may get some info on the next singleplayer adventure, a-la Blackrock Mountain.
Heroes of The Storm:
Blizzard’s MOBA (or “Hero Brawler”, as it likes to call it) will, just like Hearthstone, have a very big eSports presence thanks to its World Championship. HoTS has new content delivered in the usual MOBA style – a slow trickle of new champions and maps released every few months – as opposed to the traditional Blizzard “expansion pack” delivery system. As such, we can expect the next two or three heroes to be revealed, as well as at least one new map during its “Battlegrounds” panel. The game is very new and still constantly evolving, so we may even see some pretty major shake-ups to the formula.
Overwatch is Blizzard’s newest title, and apart from a handful of lucky dudes that got into the closed beta, no-one has played it yet. We should get a solid date on when the game’s first “open beta” weekend will happen, allowing the general populace to give it a whirl. There will most likely be a lot of news regarding new heroes and maps, and we may finally find out exactly what kind of payment model the game will use (will it be free-to-play with microtransactions? Or a single, paid purchase?)
So that’s that for this year’s show. I really have my fingers crossed for some big Diablo news, but other than that, don’t go expecting anything more than a slow trickle of info. I certainly don’t think any new games will be revealed, with HoTS having only come out this year, and Overwatch being prepped for next year.
Be sure to check back here on The Escapist for all the news from the show!