BlizzCon 2017 kicked off on Friday night with a plethora of huge announcements – including a new character and map for Overwatch, a vanilla server for World of Warcraft, and a StarCraft 2 campaign going free to play!
BlizzCon is the annual convention and celebrations of everything Blizzard. This year’s event is the 11th one, and was hosted at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. The event includes costume contests, artwork contests and esports, as well as workshops and the chance to meet some of the staff who make the games happen. Plus, Blizzard announce their plans for each of their franchises for the coming year, making it a must-see for Blizzard fans.
Here we have the rundown on all of the biggest announcements from the weekend.
Overwatch announces new playable character Moira and Blizzard World map
For Overwatch fans, there’s two big announcements — a new playable character, Moira, and a new map.
Moira is Overwatch‘s 26th playable character — a geneticist who works for Talon, and has a history with Reaper’s Blackwatch organisation. She can inflict an enormous amount of damage, can heal teammates and can teleport.
Moira will be available on the Overwatch Public Test Realm (PTR) on PC, before being rolled out officially to PC and consoles.
The new map is called Blizzard World. This fun new map incorporates all of Blizzard’s franchises in a Disney World style theme park. The map is packed with references, including an arcade area based on Heroes of the Storm, an area based on World of Warcraft’s Azeroth and a Hearthstone tavern, plus themed rides.
Blizzard World will be rolled out on the PTR soon, before being available for all platforms early next year.
World of Warcraft announces new vanilla server and Battle for Azeroth expansion
There are two big announcements for World of Warcraft, too — a new official vanilla server, World of Warcraft Classic, and a new expansion, Battle for Azeroth.
The most exciting announcement for fans of World of Warcraft has to be the announcement of an official vanilla server, available as World of Warcraft Classic.
This new server will be based on the original World of Warcraft game. This has been a big request from players who have wanted the opportunity to return to the classic game after the Burning Crusade expansion, which dramatically altered the game’s landscape and gameplay when it launched back in 2007.
There has been no release date for World of Warcraft Classic — it’s currently in its development stage.
The new Battle for Azeroth expansion pack will offer two new fabled kingdoms to explore — the Zandalar empire and the kingdom of Kul Tiras.
The new Zandalar empire will be only open to champions of the Horde, with new playable races Highmountain Tauren and Nightborne. The kingdom of Kul Tiras will be only open to defenders of the Alliance, and will include new playable races the Lightforged Draenei and Void Elves. Players will need to recruit the expansion’s new playable Allied Races to their side, and can then rediscover Azeroth through a revamped levelling experience with zones that scale with your character.
The expansion will also allow players to explore the uncharted islands of the Great Sea, with new, ever-changing enemies, environments and objectives for a new, fresh experience everytime.
Battle for Azeroth will also introduce Warfronts. These are large-scale, 20-player PvE battles, inspired by classic Warcraft conflicts. Players will be able to capture resources and take on enemy commanders
The level cap will also be increased to 120, with new quests for max-level characters and new armour, using a brand new resource — Azerite.
StarCraft II is going free to play
Blizzard has announced that StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty will be going free to play from 14th November.
The first campaign of StarCraft II will be free — and players who currently own Wings of Liberty will receive the Heart of the Swarm expansion at no additional cost. Ranked multiplayer will also be free, but players will have to unlock it after achieving 10 First Wins of the Day.
Other single-player campaigns including Heart of the Swarm, Legacy of the Void and Nova Covert ops will still need to be purchased to play.
While some areas of the game were already free to play through the starter edition, this announcement makes the lines much clearer for new players — and Blizzard hopes this will also encourage some new players into the game, making it more accessible.
Heroes of the Storm
Two new characters are coming to Heroes of the Storm: Hanza from Overwatch and Alextrasza from World of Warcraft.
Heroes of the Storm is Blizzard’s free-to-play online battle arena, incorporating characters from all of their franchises. Both characters do ranged damage, with Alextrasza able to transform into a dragon when her health is low.
Both characters will be available to play next year.
Hearthstone has new Kobolds and Catacombs update
Blizzard has announced that the new update for Hearthstone is Kobolds and Catacombs.
This new update returns Hearthstone to the roots of fantasy, with players exploring dungeons and finding loot. This will open up a new single-player mode called dungeon run — reminiscent of rogue-like games. Players will receive eight random bosses and will earn new cards as they play. If they lose, the deck gets thrown out and they will have to start again.
There will also be new cards available, including a new legendary, Marin the Fox. Marin the Fox will be available to anyone who signs into the game from next week. Plus, the expansion comes with a new keyword: Recruit. Cards marked with Recruit will allow players to pull a minion from their opponents’ deck and pull it into play.