Blizzard had a relatively quiet and unimpressive BlizzCon 2018, but the company had plenty to show during its celebration this year, along with an apology to address recent controversies.
Whether you were looking forward to news on Overwatch, Warcraft, or Diablo, the BlizzCon 2019 opening ceremony had something exciting to show off.
The first game announcement during BlizzCon 2019 was the long-awaited Diablo IV, which was introduced with a cinematic teaser trailer as well as a quick gameplay demonstration. In a very dark village, we first see a burnt-out building covered in blood in its interior, and as villagers attempt to escape, they are nearly overrun by a swarm of monsters.
Inside a building they believe to contain treasure, they are soon met by a priest who uses one of their bodies to summon forth a terrifying demon: Lilith. With comically large wings and horns on the side of her head, she is referred to as the “Daughter of Hatred” and will likely be the game’s main antagonist.
Blizzard aims to make Diablo IV a dark game more in line with the first two titles, and every monster and character in the game will have its place in the world. Three playable classes have been revealed — Sorceress, Barbarian, and Druid — each offering different types of players an option for battling the game’s many enemies.
There will also be enemy camps and friendly towns to visit, as well as special player-versus player zones. Though previous iterations of the game were reportedly experimenting with new perspectives, Diablo IV will remain an isometric action-role-playing game.
No release date has been given for Diablo IV, but it will release on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.
The show-stopper at BlizzCon 2019, Overwatch 2 is a full-blown sequel to the original 2016 hero shooter, but Blizzard is taking a different approach to how it offers content. The sequel includes a few different player-versus-environment options, such as story missions and replayable “Hero” missions, and you can customize and upgrade abilities for your heroes. All characters, which now number more than 30, have been given redesigned appearances for the game, as well.
However, player-versus-player content will not be split from the first Overwatch. All maps and characters will come to the earlier game, and players in one game will be able to compete against those in the other. Any cosmetic rewards you unlocked in Overwatch will transfer to Overwatch 2, so there is no downside to going to the newer version. There is also a new mode called “Push” that will be available across quick play, competitive play, and The Overwatch League.
No release date has been revealed for Overwatch 2 yet, which could mean it is heading to the PS5 and Xbox Scarlett with cross-play support, but that remains to be confirmed officially. It will be coming to PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and Battle.net as of now.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is the next full expansion for the long-running MMO, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary. For the first time ever, players will be able to go to the Shadowlands, an afterlife that serves the entire Warcraft universe. There, you will meet fallen characters from the series’ past, and as the realm even predates the Titans, there are sure to be a few surprises in store for players.
The conflict for Shadowlands was speculated to involve the Lich King Bolvar, but that hypothesis was literally shattered during the announcement cinematic. In the short video, Sylvanas approaches the Icecrown Citadel, where she is met by Bolvar and the two engage in combat. It appears Bolvar gains an edge, but Sylvanas quickly traps him, rips his mask off, and destroys it. She won’t need those fancy tricks to enforce her will on Azeroth or the Shadowlands.
“This world is a prison and I will set us all free,” she says to Bolvar before breaking a seal between the living world and the Shadowlands.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands will release in 2020, and a pre-purchase is available today. Content coming to the current version of the game will add raids and battlegrounds inspired by earlier expansions and vanilla World of Warcraft, and special mounts and pets will be available during this time.
The Warcraft card game Hearthstone also got its time in the spotlight during the opening ceremony, where the next expansion called Descent of Dragons was revealed. The expansion includes a new way to play called “Battlegrounds,” which is inspired by auto-battler games, and it adds legendary hero cards for the dragons Ysera and Galakrond. The expansion will be available December 10 with pre-purcahse available today, and those with Virtual Ticket or a pre-purchase can start playing on Tuesday.
The other major news coming out of BlizzCon 2019 had nothing to do with a game announcement, but Blizzard’s past actions. After suspending a competitive Hearthstone player for one year and rescinding his prize money over comments he made regarding the ongoing Hong Kong protests, Blizzard president J. Allen Brack admitted that the company hadn’t lived up to its own standards, and emphasized that everyone should be able to express themselves.
Brack also said Blizzard moved too quickly in its decision on the issue originally, and that it took too much time to explain to fans what had happened. However, he did not give concrete information on further steps Blizzard will be taking to address the controversy.
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