Since the release of World of Warcraft‘s latest expansion, Warlords of Draenor, the fate of one of the game’s most prominent features has been in question. Today, an interview with lead designer Ion Hazzikostas (via Polygon) has confirmed what many suspected – the ability to use flying mounts isn’t coming to Draenor, and tentatively may not be available in future expansions either. The decision was later confirmed by a Blizzard poster. This gives Draenor the distinction of being the only continent where flying isn’t an option for players, and has left some players frustrated to the point of leaving the game entirely. This decision, while well-intentioned, may be one that Blizzard comes to regret.
Blizzcon starts tomorrow, and I could not be more excited. Though I wasn’t able to make it out to Anaheim to attend the event live this year, I will be spending the whole weekend watching it on my couch. Got my snacks, some liquor, and most importantly my Blizzcon Bingo card. Behold:
Not sure how many of my predictions will come true, but it should be a fun show nonetheless. If you wanna make your own Blizzcon Bingo card and have access to Photoshop, you can download this PSD file with all the assets I used.
Have a good con!
For many PC gamers, Blizzcon season is an exciting time of the year. More than just a fan gathering, Blizzard uses their annual convention to drum up hype for upcoming releases, saving their biggest announcements for this event. Here are a few things to look forward to as the gaming community’s eyes turn to Anaheim this weekend:
1) New information about the Warcraft movie
While Blizzcon weekend is typically when the newest expansion for World of Warcraft is announced, Warlords of Draenor will be a mere week away from release, and Blizzard is unlikely to put a damper on the pre-launch excitement by turning a spotlight on the next expansion to come. Instead, a panel early on Friday will feature information about the Warcraft movie which is slated for release in early 2016. A teaser was shown earlier this year at Comic-Con, and given that the teaser was never released for public consumption Blizzcon may be the public’s first look at it. Both the film’s director Duncan Jones and creative lead at Blizzard Chris Metzen will be on-hand for the Warcraft movie panel on Friday, and hopefully they will have some juicy new information to share in advance of an official trailer.
2) An official Legacy of the Void reveal
We’ve known since 2008 that the Starcraft II story arc would be split across three separate games, and we received part two, Heart of the Swarm, back in 2013. It’s been over a year since that game’s release, and news about the final installment, Legacy of the Void, has been hard to come by. Since there won’t be a World of Warcraft expansion to announce this year, Blizzcon 2014 is an excellent opportunity to show off what the Starcraft team has been cooking up. We may get a glimpse of the opening cinematic during the Opening Ceremonies, with more granular details (the mechanics of the campaign, new units and features, etc.) to follow at the ‘Starcraft II – What’s Next’ panel later that day.
3) Details on the first Hearthstone expansion
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft has been a big hit for Blizzard, drawing in over 20 million players and necessitating a dedicated Hearthstone stage at this year’s Blizzcon. It’s been over a year since the game’s release but we have only received one content patch, July’s ‘Curse of Naxxramas’ solo adventure. The team has long been talking about the game’s first full expansion, which will introduce over 100 new cards as well as potentially some long-planned features like a spectator mode for use in tournaments. There hasn’t been much information about what exactly we can expect from the new cards, but several media outlets have received parcels with blueprints in them and a message about a big announcement at Blizzcon. Coupled with the Goblin-themed card back introduced for the November season of ranked play, we may be seeing a Goblin expansion announced at the ‘Hearthstone Fireside Chat’ panel on Friday.
4) Heroes of the Storm open beta news
Heroes of the Storm, the Blizzard MOBA that began development as a Starcraft II map and spun off into a full-fledged game, has attracted a lot of attention because of its unique take on the genre, and demand for access to the game’s testing phase is high. Fortunately, those without beta access might not have to wait much longer. In early October, the game’s servers were moved over to production hardware, marking the beginning of the final phase of the ‘Technical Alpha’ that the game has been in for most of the year. At that time, the final account wipe took place, so any purchases players make from this point forward will stick with them until the game’s release, indicating that the Heroes team is getting closer to being ready for public testing. If we’re on the cusp of the public beta, we can expect it to be announced at the Opening Ceremonies, but if not there’s always the ‘Heroes of the Storm Overview’ panel later in the day.
5) A new game announcement
Since Blizzcon is the heart of Blizzard’s hype machine, there’s no better place to announce a brand new game. In the wake of the panel schedule being posted on the Blizzcon website, some people noticed that the two hours immediately following the Opening Ceremonies are conspicuously panel-free. Historically, that time slot has featured information that year’s big announcement – in 2013 they talked about Warlords of Draenor, and in 2011 the slot was dedicated to Mists of Pandaria, neither of which were announced prior to the convention. Though Blizzard’s mysterious MMO codenamed Titan was unceremoniously cancelled, it’s possible that some of the ideas behind it were recycled into something new. Maybe we’ll see a new game related to the Overwatch trademark taken out earlier this year. None of this confirms that Blizzard will have a big surprise announcement this year, but there’s enough evidence of something big to get real excited.
All said, this is shaping up to be a great weekend for Blizzard devotees. Tickets for Blizzcon are long sold-out, but if you want to watch the announcements live you can pick up the Virtual Ticket and stream the event live all weekend. Even if you don’t, Blizzard news travels real fast, so expect anything big to make the rounds in short order.