BlizzCon 2019 Recap: Diablo 4, Overwatch 2, and more
Blizzard’s annual celebration always has big surprises and memorable moments in them. It’s an event that gaming fans are always excited about. This year, BlizzCon 2019 had bombastic announcements, historic moments, and its own share of controversies. Let’s spend a moment to talk about what happened over the past weekend and catch up on the latest news on Blizzard’s flagship event.
BlizzCon 2019 Announcements: Brand New Games
BlizzCon 2019 unveiled two new games in the pipeline. These two games don’t have exact release dates yet, but it seems like both games won’t see the light of day until 2021.
One of these two games is the most-awaited sequel to one of Blizzard’s longest-running franchises. Here’s the trailer for that game:
Diablo IV takes place thousands of years after Diablo III, and stars a new big baddie: Lilith. This isn’t the first time players would encounter Lilith, though. She was a minor boss in Diablo II, and she’s heavily mentioned in books and lore in Diablo III. However, this will be the first time Lilith will be taking the center stage. It’s an exciting new direction for the Diablo franchise which never really had a shortage of monsters and demons to slay, but giving us a new antagonist besides Diablo is refreshing.
The core gameplay for Diablo remains intact. Diablo IV stays true to the grind and loot system that Action RPGs revolve around. It features three classes at launch: The Sorceress, The Barbarian, and the Druid, each with their own unique skills and abilities. We’re hoping that more classes would be released later on, just as how four new classes were introduced in Diablo III through two expansions. However, from what we’ve seen so far, all three classes seem fun to play. My personal favorite is the Druid, which could transform into his bear form to savagely maw at throngs of enemies.
The announcement of Diablo IV caught me by surprise. Last year, the developers announced Diablo Immortal, a mobile game set between the events of Diablo II and Diablo III. I thought that this game would release first before Diablo IV would be announced. Probably, due to the pressure and the disappointment of fans from last year, Blizzard felt it’s necessary to announce Diablo IV this year. For me, it worked. It worked so well that I ended up buying Diablo III: Eternal Collection on my Nintendo Switch just to review myself with the game’s lore.
Blizzard unveiled its multiplayer arena shooter’s sequel during BlizzCon 2019. It took everyone by surprise – nobody was really expecting an Overwatch sequel. It also doesn’t feel like a sequel, rather a very elaborate expansion.
Overwatch 2’s main reason for being is to tell a clearer story for the characters. In the first game, we only get glimpses of the story from lore texts and voice lines, but we really didn’t have any narrative to follow in-game. If you wanted to learn more about the characters and the conflict they were in, you’ve had to do your own research and piece things together yourself.
In Overwatch 2, Blizzard introduced a story mode. It plays similar to Left 4 Dead, where you and three other players take part in PvE stages. In this mode, heroes level up and gain new talents, traits, and abilities, giving Overwatch’s gameplay a layer of RPG mechanics. Other than that, the gameplay feels the same.
The sequel’s story takes place a couple of years after the original. We see Wilson assembling the old crew back together to save the world. Just like any other anime time-skips, Overwatch 2 features new looks for the familiar faces. With updated models and designs, Blizzard added freshness on characters that have been going stale for a time now.
Meanwhile, owners of the original Overwatch will get to save their skins and carry them over to the new game. However, it might not be enough incentive for players to jump in. Blizzard reported that the new multiplayer features to be introduced in Overwatch 2, like new heroes, game modes, and maps, will roll-out on the first game. Therefore, aside from the Story Mode PvE experience, there’s nothing much going on for Overwatch 2. Unlike Diablo IV, Overwatch 2 didn’t make me want to revisit the original, much less buy Overwatch: Legendary Edition for the Nintendo Switch.
Sadly, we could confirm that Blizzard really did scrap their planned Starcraft spin-off in favor of these two games.
Meanwhile, two other Blizzard games will have new expansions: Hearthstone and World of Warcraft.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands
World of Warcraft’s next expansion will see players journeying to the land of the dead. In the epic trailer, we saw Sylvanas dueling the Lich King. Victorious, Sylvanas takes the Lick King’s Helm of Domination instead of claiming the Frozen Throne. She breaks the Helm and opens a rift between Azeroth and The Shadowlands.
In the new story campaign, players will travel to The Shadowlands, an in-game location that those who frequently die will be familiar with. We expect the expansion to make sweeping changes to Azeroth’s landscape. We know so far that Shadowlands will introduce a lower level 60 cap for players, as well as a rogue-like end-game dungeon. Everything else will be revealed later on.
Hearthstone: Descent of Dragons
Blizzard’s cheery collectible card game will have its third and final expansion soon, called Descent of Dragons. It will conclude the trilogy story of the League of Explorers, who are now trying to stop the League of E.V.I.L. from awakening a great force.
As the name suggests, the expansion is focused around Dragons. Each good-aligned class will get a special dragon for their collection, while the evil-aligned classes will have access to Galakrond, the Father of Dragons. Galakrond’s a powerful card, whose devastating effects could be strengthened further with the expansion’s new mechanic: Invoke. Casting cards with the Invoke keyword will make Galakrond more powerful, may it be on the battlefield, the deck, or the graveyard. That way, when Galakrond finally appears, it will only be a matter of time until your opponent concedes.
Descent of Dragons is now available for pre-purchase until its release on December 10. The pre-release comes in 60-booster and 100-booster packages, priced at $49.99 and $79.99, respectively.
Warcraft III: Reforged
Warcraft III: Reforged was announced a long time ago. The reason why it’s in this list is because the game’s multiplayer beta rolled in during BlizzCon 2019 weekend. Blizzard promised that the Warcraft III Remaster will be coming out in 2019.
Warcraft III: Reforged will have the Frozen Throne expansion in it, too. However, aside from updated HD graphics and higher resolution, there’s nothing new with the game. It only offers a fresh coat of paint for a beloved RTS classic.
Meanwhile, BlizzCon 2019 was also the venue of a historic moment in esports. Hearthstone pro Li “VKLiooon” Xiaoeng became the first woman to become a Hearthstone Global Champion. Winning $200,000, VKLiooon swept her opponent at the Grand Finals, 3-0. She’s also the first woman to ever win a championship at BlizzCon.
VKLiooon shared in her victory speech that she didn’t let the discouraging words of other people from stopping her. According to her, a male fan had told her not to bother lining up at a Hearthstone competition, saying “this isn’t for you.” Two years later, she became a global champion. She wants to inspire other women to follow her footsteps, saying:
“I want to say to all the girls out there who have a dream for esports – for competition, for glory — if you want to do it and you believe in yourself, you should forget your gender and go for it.”
Pieces like this will continue to become news items until it becomes a standard. Ther are women who could play games and compete just like men. For now, we have to acknowledge these achievements, because, in spite of all odds, women win in esports tournaments. Little girls are usually discouraged by their parents from playing video games and are thus less exposed to games, making them less likely to develop the necessary skills to compete in esports. However, with examples like VKLiooon, females in the gaming world are becoming a more common occurrence.