BlizzCon is one of the biggest conventions in the video game industry. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Blizzard elected to go virtual for BlizzCon 2021, celebrating 30 years not in front of adoring fans, but rather alone at the Anaheim convention center.
The team here at Stropse covered the entirety of Day 1, bringing the most interesting piece of news from each of the respective channels.
As such, here are a few noteworthy announcements from Day 1 of BlizzConline.
As was the theme of the last year, BlizzCon started out with the message that “the last year was not usual.” Nevertheless, Blizzard made it known to all watching that the event was for its fans, as the company teased upcoming releases from Diablo, Hearthstone and World of Warcraft (WoW) as well as sharing more information about Overwatch 2.
Blizzard also announced its “Pet Charity Program.” In essence, every donor will receive an in-game WoW pet if certain stretch goals are reached. Proceeds from this drive will go to Doctors Without Borders, which touches on WoW executive producer John Hight’s main message: WoW’s potential to bring people together.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the announcements Blizzard made throughout the afternoon.
Among many things concerning Diablo, perhaps the most interesting tidbit is that Blizzard announced that it will be re-releasing Diablo II on PC and consoles, including the Nintendo Switch. This re-release will have updated cinematics and graphics and a remastered version will be available with the original 2D look of the game.
Additionally, Blizzard announced that the Rogue will return in Diablo IV for the first time since 1996’s Diablo. The Rogue joins the Barbarian, Druid and Sorceress as available character classes. This marks the first time that all four classes will be available to choose from.
Though no release date has been announced for Diablo IV, fans should not hold their breath for the game to release in 2021. Nevertheless, this news should excite longtime fans of the series.
For Hearthstone, the “Year of the Griffin” brings a myriad of new experiences such as the Forged in Barrens expansion, new game modes and a new spell classification system dubbed the “spell schools.” The “schools’” organize the game’s spells as either Arcane, Fel, Fire, Frost, Holy, Nature, and Shadow, with its own advantages, synergies and combos.
The Year also looks to fix issues players may be having by adding a new classic mode – allowing players to experience Hearthstone as it originally was – with legendary cards that had been banned or nerfed recently. Blizzard has included a new feature called the “Core Set,” which redoes many of the classic cards’ current states and adds 29 new cards for free.
In that same vein, a new game mode was teased: Hearthstone Mercenaries, which is touted to be a customizable single-player experience with equipment, new cards and challenges to beat. Lastly, Blizzard offered a free legendary card to all players: Shadow Hunter Vol’jin.
Check out the “Forged in the Barrens” trailer below.
Although Blizzard announced that Overwatch 2 will not be releasing in 2021, fans were still given a myriad of information to hold them over until the game actually releases. Fans saw new maps, hero changes, and updates that would tweak how said heroes played.
Perhaps the most interesting tidbit, Blizzard announced that Overwatch 2 will contain “Hero Missions” and a story mode. “Hero Missions” are missions players can repeatedly do in order to increase their character’s level without having to worry about competing 100% of the time. These missions will utilize existing maps – with subtle differences – and Blizzard has stated that there will be “hundreds” of missions, all with different objectives.
Story mode expands on the lore from the original game and will focus on the Overwatch team fighting the second Omnic Uprising. Each mission will have cinematic introductions and players will be able to choose any character they want, leading to different interactions.
Although there is no release date, the Overwatch 2 information Blizzard divulged should be enough to satiate fans’ taste’s for the time being.
World of Warcraft
One of Blizzard’s crown jewels, no BlizzCon would be complete without some news on World of Warcraft (WoW) and Day 1 did not disappoint. Blizzard announced that for Classic, a remake of the Burning Crusade expansion was coming and for Shadowlands, the Chains of Domination was announced as well.
It should be noted that though Burning Crusade does not have a concrete release date, Blizzard announced that the expansion will be divided into five phases: the first will have Karazhan, Gruul’s Lair and Magtheridon’s Lair raids; the second will feature the Serpent Shrine Cavern and Tempest Keep; the third will be the Battle of Mount Hyjal and Black Temples raids; the fourth will be Zul’Aman and finally, the fifth will be Sunwell Plateau.
Lastly for Shadowlands, the trailer dives deeper into the Maw, showing players what to expect from it and Chains of Domination. Not only will players have a more varied experience in the Maw, but there are so many other additions coming that it has to be seen to be believed.
In all, Day 1 of BlizzCon was packed with information. Be sure to check out Stropse‘s Day 2 Blizzcon converage.