BlizzCon X: 2016 Coverage

Blizzcon 2016

Ruin Gaming returned to Anaheim California for the tenth Blizzcon. Blizzcon 2016 had a massive turnout, the introduction of new franchises: Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone have greatly broadened the reach of Blizzard games. The expansion of Blizzard into the first person shooter and console gaming have had a dramatic impact on turnout to the event. Blizzard has invested a great deal of time and effort to encourage the maturation of E-sports, announcing a major initiative for Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm, allowing for professional contracts, salaries and benefits for players in addition to collegiate level competition with scholarship and tuition rewards.

Executive Summary

Blizzcon 2016 largely focused on expanding and refining Blizzard’s existing game franchises. No new intellectual properties were formally announced, which is not surprising considering the recent addition of Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm. The original trinity of Blizzard Games Starcraft, Warcraft and Diablo all have additional content and major features coming out through the end of 2016 and into 2017 detailed below. World of Warcraft: Legion will include Argus, the home world of the Drenei in the upcoming 7.3 patch and not in an entire expansion. The focus of the World of Warcraft panels focused on coming content for the current Legion expansion. Similar content expansions for Hearthstone “Mean Steets of Gadgetzan” Expansion, Overwatch announced the professional Overwatch League and new maps, Heroes of the Storm will feature additional maps and heroes.

Blizzard 25th Anniversary 

25 years ago, a small group of gamers set out to create the kinds of game experiences they loved playing—and Blizzard Entertainment was born. Since then, the team at Blizzard has transported millions of people around the world to fantastic worlds of fantasy and science fiction.

NPQAY5BPNBHM1478282854692

Overwatch

Overwatch League: The Path to Glory

Overwatch played a central roll at Blizzcon 2016, during the opening ceremony Sombra, a new hacker character was announced in a cinematic alongside new game modes and new maps: Eco Point and Oasis. The new Arcade mode features one on one and three versus three arenas. There will be several rotating game modes available as well with new rulesets and rewards.

Sombra, Eco point and the new Arcade mode will be available Tuesday during the weekly update following Blizzcon.

Overwatch E-Sports League

Blizzard has created a new Esports system designed to encourage talented players to become professional players by providing financial support and benefits. The objective is to create a professional team based environment similar to traditional professional competitive athletics, allowing for fans to support teams and franchises.

More coverage from Polygon: Blizzard E-Sports

New character Sombra

Sombra is an exciting new character, featuring inovative “hacking” gameplay allowing her to steal abilities.

Stealth and debilitating attacks make Sombra a powerful infiltrator. Her hacking can disrupt her enemies, ensuring they’re easier to take out, while her EMP provides the upper hand against multiple foes at once. Sombra’s ability to Translocate and camouflage herself makes her a hard target to pin down.

More information on Sombra: Sombra

World of Warcraft

Blizzcon 2016 revealed information on the upcoming 7.1.5 and 7.2 patches coming for World of Warcraft: Legion. Ion Hazzikostas lead designer on the World of Warcraft team gave a strong presentation outlining a model for consistent content delivery in large and interim patches. The coming 7.1.5 patch is an example of a “small” patch that Blizzard will release between major raid tier content releases. The objective of these smaller interum patches is to avoid content droughts and to ensure more consistent new content and adjustments to existing game content. Ion stated that the objective was to update existing content to ensure that content was relevant and “evergreen” as part of the core WoW experience beyond any given expansion. Timewalking dunegeons, seasonal events, updating legacy content is part of this plan.

New Content

Timewalking dungeon content has been expanded to include all of the Mists of Pandaria content. Timewalking dungeons allow players to “scale” to the original max level difficulty of the content. Special cosmetic rewards, gear, mounts and other items are available as rewards.

The Brawlers guild returns! Removed just prior to the launch of Legion the Brawlers guild has returned with dozens of new challenging encounters and even raid bosses.

Micro Holidays: Blizzard will introduce new game modes for brief periods of time to test out new concepts in game. Examples of these new mini holiday events are Ahn’Qiraj Remembrance day involving faction wide contests to complete objectives in the infamous vanilla world of warcaft zone. Additional events will be introduced over time, a light hearted “Volunteer Guard Day” was mentioned in which players assume the duties of Horde and Alliance guards in their respective capital cities.

In more long-term additions, Patch 7.1.5 will add what Blizzard is calling “micro-holidays.” Where holiday events in the game normally last for a week or two and offer a lot of different rewards, micro-holidays will only run for a day or two and will be there just to shake up what players are doing, not to provide rewards or achievements. One example is Ahn’Qiraj Remembrance Day, which takes place on Jan. 22, the day that the gates to Ahn’Qiraj were first opened by players back in 2006. Another is Volunteer Guard Day, where players can take on the role of a city guard and go on patrol.

Artifact system improvements, in patch 7.2 new artifact traits will be added to all artifact weapons. Additional levels to existing artifact traits have also been added. New artifact relics with multiple trait improvements were revealed as well. New artifact appearances available through solo class challenges were unveiled.

Consistent with the increased content release schedule for Legion Ion stated that patch 7.1.5 will be available on the public test realm on the Tuesday reset following BlizzCon followed by the major 7.2 patch.

Blizzard says patch 7.1.5 will go up on the public test realm immediately following BlizzCon, with a release on live servers not far behind. As soon as 7.1.5 is live, Patch 7.2 will go up onto the PTR. Blizzard says this aggressive pace for new content will continue and that players should expect new test realm content every time something moves to live servers. The developer said a patch 7.2.5 is in the works, and beyond that hinted that players may be headed to the Legion planet of Argus in the future.

Class Balance

Blizzard made many fundamental class overhauls for the launch of World of Warcraft Legion, some of those changes were less well received than others. A fresh look at improving and balancing classes to improve viability and player enjoyment will be introduced for the 7.1.5 patch.

The Tomb of Sargeras

The major upcoming raid tier patch of 7.2 will introduce the Tomb of Sargeras! Sargeras, the dark Titan, creator of the Burning Legion is one of the major foes within the pantheon of Warcraft Lore. In patch 7.2 players will lead their class orders to battle the Legion and claim a foothold to assault the Tomb of Sargeras, now infested with the Legion and their allies. This offensive will involve the creation of a player build staging area similar to the effort to conquer the Sunwell raid in World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade. The effort against the Legion introduces “The Armies of Legionfall” the combined forces of the class orders that players have been constructing throughout the Legion expansion so far, unleashing the power of the pillars of creation – ancient artifacts of the world forging Titan demigods central to Warcraft Lore.

Mischief Charity Pet

In keeping with the charitable tradition of previous Blizzcons, the Mischief Fel Kitten pet has been announced:

Meet Mischief – Make-A-Wish® Charity Pet Coming Soon Get ready to welcome a little disorder into your Order Hall—meet Mischief, the next World of Warcraft pet coming to the Shop! This fel feline is preparing to stir up some trouble this holiday season . . . but trust us, it’s for a good cause. Starting December 1 through the end of the year, when you adopt Mischief the Fel Kitty the full purchase price will be donated to Make-A-Wish, helping them grant the wishes of children throughout the world with life-threatening medical conditions. Keep an eye out for more details on www.worldofwarcraft.com. For more information about Make-A-Wish in the U.S., visit wish.org and outside of the U.S., visit worldwish.org. – Make A Wish

 

Heroes of the Storm

In Development: New Heroes Brawl Battleground – Blackheart’s Revenge

This pirate’s out for a little treasure, and a lot of revenge! On our upcoming Heroes Brawl battleground, Blackheart’s Revenge, will be up to your team to either stop Blackheart from destroying his target, or aid him in his ghastly quest for vengeance!

In Development King Varian Wrynn

The High King of the Alliance will step out of Stormwind Keep and into the Nexus on the week of November 15, 2016. Take a quick look at the first multi-class Hero in Heroes of the Storm, Varian!

In Development: Ragnaros

Here’s a first look at our upcoming Melee Assassin, Ragnaros, The Firelord! Incinerate your foes with Sulfuras, Meteors, Lava, and Blast Waves, or take over a fallen structure and rain fiery destruction on your enemies with the power of the Molten Core. Ragnaros will be hitting the Nexus the week of December 13, so be sure you’re attuned to Molten Core before then. By fire be purged!

Heroes of the Storm – BlizzCon 2016 Announcement Trailer

We introduced you to Varian, Ragnaros, Blackheart’s Revenge and more at BlizzCon 2016. Now take a closer look at all of the epic new content making its way into the Nexus in the coming weeks.

A king has fallen, and a lord has risen. Introducing Varian and Ragnaros, Heroes of the Storm’s two newly-announced Heroes, launching in November and December of 2016.

“A New Hero” // Heroes of the Dorm Documentary – Teaser Trailer

Heroes of the Storm adds World of Warcraft’s Varian Wrynn, Ragnaros

Diablo – 20th anniversary

Diablo 3 is getting a Necromancer 4 years after its launch

Diablo 1 was originally released on December 31st 1996. To commemorate the 20th anniversary Blizzard has announced a new annual event: http://www.polygon.com/2016/11/4/13530784/diablo-3-diablo-1-level-details-darkening-of-tristram

The original Diablo will be 20 years old this Decemember. To commemorate this anniversary Blizzard has announced an annual event: The Darkening of Tristram. This event allow players to experience the original Diablo in the Diablo III engine…in glorious “retrovision”. The four bosses and 16 levels of the original Diablo have been introduced under the old Tristram Cathedral. The Diablo team has gone to great lengths to recreate the original Diablo experience, reducing texture quality, limiting character movement to the original 8 directions and limiting frame rate as well as introducing retro user interfaces and reduced quality audio effects to further add to the 1996 Diablo Experience.

Celebrate 20 years of Diablo by traveling back into the depths of the Cathedral where it all began in this upcoming Diablo III: Reaper of Souls content update. Get ready to explore a monster-filled dungeon 16 levels deep, and come face to face with the four main bosses from the original game—all with retro touches like special graphics filters and eight-direction character movement. – Blizzard

The original Diablo anniversary was intended to only include older soundtracks from previous Diablo games, the retro project took off from there with many developers investing their personal time to recreate the entire retro experience.

Players who enter the Tristram Cathedral will have access to a variety of “new” rewards including loot, pets, portraits and special cosmetic items including a new helmet legendary gem slot the iconic Soulstone from Diablo! The Darkening of Tristram event will be available to all owners of Diablo III on console and PC.

Necromancer Class

Slated for release in late 2017 the Necromancer returns to Diablo. Command the army of the dead against the forces of Hell. A favorite of many classic Diablo fans, this dark anti-hero provides a unique spectrum of skills and a more active minion management system than the Witch Doctor caster class. Corpse explosion, armies of skeletons and golems round out the Necromancer’s arsenal. The Necromancer will be available for testing on the Diablo PTR in late 2016.

A new class is coming to Diablo III: Reaper of Souls: the Necromancer! Coming in 2017, the Rise of the Necromancer pack will allow you to master the dark arts, draw your magic from the power of death itself, and command mighty armies of risen warriors—oh, and explode corpses, too. Discover more about all the Diablo III content coming in 2017 at the Diablo 20th Anniversary panel on Friday at 5pm PT on the Main Stage. – Blizzard

Starcraft II

Co-op Commander Preview: Alexei Stukov

Former Terran vice admiral and current-infested leader of Stukov’s forces, Alexei Stukov will be joining the ranks as the newest StarCraft ll commander! Leading forces of infested units and structures, this unorthodox commander is sure to overwhelm foes.

Hearthstone

Take On the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan

Head to the back-alleys of Azeroth’s biggest trade city and try your luck with the criminal underground in Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, the upcoming new expansion for Hearthstone. Add 132 new cards to your collection, and build new strategies around the three notorious crime families that rule Gadgetzan’s streets: the weapon-smuggling Grimy Goons, the assassins of the Jade Lotus, and the mana-hungry Kabal. Visit www.gadgetzan.com to learn more, then tune in to the Hearthstone – What’s Next panel at 12:30pm PT on Friday on the Main Stage. – Blizzard

 

Other Blizzard News

Co founder returns to Blizzard

http://www.polygon.com/2016/11/4/13511596/blizzard-prodigal-son-returns-allen-adham

Legacy Servers

Nostalrius posted additional information regarding their plans for Vanilla Legacy Servers. Polygon has provided extensive coverage of their plans: Nostalrius announcement.

Argus

World of Warcraft: Legion players will journey to the demon planet of Argus in Patch 7.3