On Friday evening Blizzard kicked off its annual BlizzCon event and it was chock full of announcements for new games.
Of course, BlizzCon would be marred by protests due to Blizzard’s decision in October which saw Ng Wai “blitzchung” Chung, stripped of his prize money (this decision would ultimately be reversed) and banned from playing professional Hearthstone for a year. That decision was made following Chung’s appearance in a post-match interview in which he expressed support for protestors in Hong Kong.
So on Friday following peaceful protests at the event, president at Blizzard, J. Allen Brack opened up BlizzCon with an apology.
“What I’m most unhappy about is two things. The first is, we didn’t live up to the high standards, that we really set for ourselves. And the second, is we failed in our purpose and for that I am sorry and I accept accountability,” said Brack.
The statement drew cheers from attendees but online the apology has been met with disdain. Internet denizens have picked the apology apart and questioned what exactly was apologised for. As people have pointed out, not only is Blitzchung never mentioned by name, neither was Hong Kong.
A clip from the opening ceremony was uploaded by IGN and the like-dislike ratio speaks volumes. You can decide for yourself whether Brack was being sincere or not by watching the video below.
Of course, BlizzCon is not just about controversy (although the last two years would have you believe controversy is as much a part of Blizzard as Warcraft) it’s about games.
As much as we aren’t the biggest fans of the publisher these days – there is no denying it knows how to make videogames and cinematics.
Case in point is the announcement trailer for Diablo IV which will have you muttering “By three they come” for the next few days.
There is a new big bad to face and the game will reportedly go back to its dark roots. There will be blood, lots of blood, occult symbols and gore aplenty. Blizzard also showed off a gameplay trailer showcasing a Sorceress, Barbarian and a Druid which will return as a playable class.
The cinematic trailer is excellent albeit a bit NSFW due to the gore. There is no release date for Diablo IV just yet but it looks rather far along in development if this gameplay demo is anything to go by.
Next up in the “new game” category is Overwatch 2 which looks like, well, more Overwatch.
The game will now feature a single-player story mode for those players looking to learn how to play a new hero in a low pressure environment.
According to a report by PC Gamer, Overwatch 2 share a number of similarities with Left for Dead including in-game powerups such as health packs, grenades and turrets. Heroes will also be chosen on a first come first served basis and interestingly, hero availability will depend on the map that is being played.
For other Blizzard games, Hearthstone is getting a new expansion to round out the year in Descent of Dragons as well as a new 8 versus 8 mode called Hearthstone Battlegrounds.
Battlegrounds looks to be Autochess for Hearthstone. Players will be able to upgrade their hero and recruit a team of minions to fight for them. An early access version of the game is available from 5th to 11th November with a Global Open Beta scheduled for 12th November.
Hearthstone Battlegrounds will be launched from within the Hearthstone client rather than a standalone game.
Finally, World of Warcraft players will be headed to a place they’ve likely already visited once or twice without knowing – the Shadowlands.
Players will be headed to the land of fallen heroes and foes with the next expansion simply titled Shadowlands.
As with Diablo IV, the cinematic trailer is excellent.
Long time players will know the phrase “There must always be a Lich King” is not an empty threat and we see why that is in this trailer.
The good news is players will get five new zones to explore as well as be able to pledge allegiance to Covenant which grants new abilities.
There are three versions of the game to pre-order with the base version simply offering you access to the new expansion. The Heroic edition includes a 120 Character Boost and a mount. The Epic Edition of the game includes 30 days of game time, the Anima Wyrmling pet, Eternal Traveler’s Hearthstone and the Wraithchill weapon effect.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands lands on PCs in 2020.