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 Blizzcon 2017 News

Best of BlizzCon 2017 News

By: Andrew Harmon, UI & Marketing Designer

BlizzCon 2017 has come and gone and, as usual, there’s a ton of exciting news to sift through. This year’s event was filled with the usual expansion announcements and game updates, but also contained some genuine surprises. Read on to find out what happened at one of the year’s biggest gaming conventions.

Moira

Overwatch

Overwatch is a bit of a wild card as far as BlizzCon expectations go - it’s the newest Blizzard IP and doesn’t have expansions you can set your watch to like Hearthstone and World of Warcraft. While some Overwatch announcements get leaked days or weeks in advance, Blizzard played this one close to the vest and pulled out some surprises for fans of the class-based shooter.

New Hero - Moira

Fans have been hoping for a Talon support hero for a while now, and Blizzard is ready to deliver with the introduction of Moira – a morally questionable scientist with the power to both heal allies and deal damage to enemies. Think of her as a bit of a mashup between Mercy and Zenyatta, with a little bit of Tracer thrown in for good measure.

New Map - Blizzard World

Overwatch got a new map (Junkertown) only a short while ago, so people weren’t expecting another one so soon. This hybrid map is pure fan service and takes players through a Blizzard theme park – let’s just call it Blizzneyland – with lots of nods to popular Blizzard franchises throughout.

New Skins

Speaking of paying fan service, Overwatch is getting a host of new hero skins that cross over into other Blizzard realms as well as a couple from previous animated shorts. The best part about this is that these skins will all be available in default loot boxes!

Overwatch World Cup

With the upcoming launch of Overwatch League, Blizzard had a few things to prove about Overwatch’s place in esports. Fortunately, with the finals of the Overwatch World Cup, they were able to erase any doubts. To start, Blizzard revamped Spectator Mode for this tournament, which helped to distinguish the teams and add some flavor beyond a normal game of competitive Overwatch. But what really set it apart was the gameplay -  the finals were exciting from start to finish and many teams were, surprisingly, able to make South Korea work for their gold medal. If this is a sign of things to come for Overwatch League, Blizzard should have a success on their hands.

New Animated Short

Making its debut at BlizzCon, “Honor and Glory” is the latest animated short exploring the backstory of the characters of Overwatch. This one features everyone’s favorite rocket-hammer-wielding German knight, Reinhardt.

Battle for Azeroth

World of Warcraft

There are three things in life you can be sure of: death, taxes, and a World of Warcraft expansion announcement at BlizzCon. While that was once again the case this year, Blizzard was ready to look to the past as well as the future when it comes to their 13-year old MMORPG.

Battle for Azeroth

The latest expansion for World of Warcraft takes place following the invasion of the Burning Legion in Azeroth and proves to be somewhat back-to-basics, at least thematically. As you may have surmised from the title, there’s a renewed struggle for power, pitting the Horde against the Alliance once again. With a new maximum level of 120, players will explore new continents and dungeons, recruit allied races to fight for their faction’s cause, and take part in new PvE and PvP experiences.

Leveling Updates

In World of Warcraft: Legion, players were able to explore new areas in any order they chose due to level scaling – this meant that no matter where they went, enemy and dungeon difficulty would become easier or harder based on the level of the player. Building off of that new concept, Blizzard is introducing level scaling to the rest of the World of Warcraft and greatly expanding the level ranges for many of the existing zones. Expect to see these changes roll out in the next few weeks.

World of Warcraft - Classic

After years of pressure from fans pining for the good old days of the original World of Warcraft, Blizzard has announced plans to make available a classic version of the game that will mirror the original – pure, uncut, and before any of those other “casual” expansions tainted the hardcore experience that was vanilla WoW.

Kobolds

Hearthstone

More than any other Blizzard game, Hearthstone relies on a steady stream of expansions to keep players interested. Fans of Blizzard’s digital TCG have gotten used to getting a new expansion roughly every four months in order to keep the meta from feeling stale, but Blizzard gave them a little something extra this time around in the form of a new game mode.

New Expansion - Kobolds and Catacombs

Hearthstone is going back to its fantasy roots with its latest expansion, Kobolds and Catacombs. The expansion will feature the usual slew of new cards, including legendary weapons for each class. Blizzard is also throwing a new keyword into the mix – Recruit. Cards with this keyword will pull a minion from your deck and put it directly into the battlefield.

New Play Mode - Dungeon Run

Just when you thought Hearthstone couldn’t get any more random, they introduce a “roguelike” play mode to the game. Dungeon Run is a completely free-to-play mode in which players will have to defeat up to eight random bosses, picking up cards to add to their deck as they go. This should go a long way for players who complain about the monotony of playing against the same decks over and over in ranked mode.

StarCraft II

StarCraft II

One of the more unexpected announcements of BlizzCon was StarCraft II going Free to Play. This is a move designed to get more people playing the game, especially when it comes to its online competitive and cooperative modes.

Free to Play

Starting November 14, versions of SC2 such as Starter Edition, Legacy of the Void, and The Complete Collection will simply be known as StarCraft II, with much of that content becoming free for all players. It appears the only content players will now have to pay for are the story campaign versions of Heart of the Swarm, Legacy of the Void, and Nova Covert Ops, as well as any cosmetic enhancements, of course.

New Multiplayer Content and Updates

As part of new multiplayer content, Blizzard is introducing a new co-op mission as well as a new commander that is actually two separate characters – Han and Horner. Additionally, many units are receiving an overhaul in an effort to better balance the game.

Dragons of the Nexus

Heroes of the Storm

Constantly living in the shadow of top-dog MOBAs League of Legends and DOTA2, Heroes of the Storm is continually making improvements in order to be competitive. This year’s announcements introduced some new heroes, but were mostly focused on improving the core gameplay experience.

Dragons of the Nexus Event

There’s a lot to unpack here, but Blizzard is adding new characters, cosmetics, and gameplay changes under the moniker of Dragons of the Nexus. The latest update includes two new dragon-themed characters in Overwatch’s Hanzo and World of Warcraft’s Alexstraza as well as new sprays, emojis, and portraits. Additionally, a new quest is available to unlock portraits based on achieving specific tasks during the event.

Gameplay Updates

Outside of new heroes and cosmetics, Blizzard is reworking many aspects of gameplay for Heroes of the Storm - including increasing the camera field of view, making it easier to see stealthed heroes, increasing the impact players have during the laning phase, implementing mercenary camp updates, and making improvements to matchmaking accuracy. In addition, Blizzard voice chat will be added directly into the HotS client, making it easier to communicate with teammates.

All Aboard the Hype Train

As one of our favorite game developers here at Outfox, we are always excited to hear such big news from Blizzard. And this year's BlizzCon did not disappoint. Personally, I'm excited to hop on the Overwatch PTR and give Moira a try – the game desperately needs a support hero that people want to play. I also can't wait to time travel back to 2004 and the glory days of lava-hopping my way to Molten Core attunement with WoW Classic. Which announcement has you most excited? Hit us up on Twitter or Facebook with your thoughts!