BlizzCon 2018 Opening Ceremonies: Free For All

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BlizzCon 2018 Opening Ceremonies: Free For All

Blizzard Entertainment, the gaming goliath responsible for such games as Overwatch and Starcraft, held the opening ceremonies today for its annual gaming convention BlizzCon. BlizzCon is a two-day conference held at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. Historically, Blizzard has used BlizzCon as a platform to share upcoming features for their games, and the opening ceremony this year was no exception. The presentation was free to stream online, but content for the remainder of the event requires the purchase of a Virtual Ticket, available through Blizzard's website.

The opening ceremony was curated to satisfy everyone from the most casual gamers to the hardest of the hardcore, with announcements for all of Blizzard’s major games. Below are some of the highlights from the presentation:


Starcraft 2

A new commander was announced for Starcraft 2’s co-op missions in form of Zeratul, a popular Protoss character from the single-player story.


Heroes of the Storm

Fans of the MOBA “Heroes of the Storm” were treated with a cinematic introducing the first new character created entirely for Heroes, named Orphea. She is shown challenging the Raven Lord, using her own forms of dark magic. Orphea will be free for all Virtual Ticket holders and BlizzCon attendees, and available for gold (HotS’ in-game currency) for everyone else. No release date was given for Orphea. The video showed off a number of new skins for current characters, such as “Janitor Leoric” and “Cheerleader Kerrigan”, available for purchase in-game.


World of Warcraft

WoW’s recent expansion “Battle for Azeroth” saw the fight between the Horde and the Alliance reach new heights, with the tides recently turning in the Alliance’s favour. A new cinematic was shown, which can be found here in an official tweet from Blizzard.

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A new purchasable pet was announced through the annual charity pet fundraiser. This year, players can purchase the in-game pet Whomper for $10 to support Code.org, an organization focused on teaching youth about computer programming, with a focus on girls and visible minorities. The Whomper charity promotion is available until December 31st, 2018.


World of Warcraft Classic

Announced at BlizzCon last year, Blizzard revealed plans to let players explore the world of Azeroth the way it was when it was first released in 2004 with World of Warcraft Classic. It is now scheduled to release in summer 2019, and will be available for free to anyone with an active World of Warcraft subscription.


Overwatch

A new playable character named Ashe was announced for the online shooter, Overwatch. Ashe is shown wielding a rifle and a bundle of dynamite in the “Reunion” cinematic trailer. She is the 29th playable character in the game, and features a versatile skill set which allows her to traverse great vertical distances and call in a robot friend named B.O.B. for support. No release date was announced for Ashe, but like all other characters, she will be available for free to owners of the game.


Warcraft 3 Reforged

Blizzard’s support for classic games continues with a complete remastering of the the game that laid the foundation for World of Warcraft’s success, Warcraft 3. Titled “Warcraft 3: Reforged,” the game will see a complete overhaul of the original game, with new models, upgraded UI, and 4K resolution. The game launches in 2019, but preorders are available today on the Standard edition or the “Spoils of War” edition, which comes with perks for other Blizzard games including a mount for World of Warcraft, an exclusive cardback for Hearthstone, and unlockable characters in Heroes of the Storm.


Hearthstone

The third and final expansion of the year for Blizzard’s collectible card game Hearthstone was announced, titled “Rastakhan’s Rumble.” The expansion is set around the Troll race from Warcraft, and features a new keyword: Overkill. This triggers an effect when dealing more damage to a minion than is required to kill it, and plays into the gladiatorial competition, which is the central theme of the set. Each of the game’s 9 classes will receive two legendary cards, one Troll leader card and their associated “Loa” spirit card. Each class will also receive a Rare-type 0/3 spirit card, which comes into play stealthed for a single turn. Preorders for the new set are available today, and the cards will be available to use on December 4th, 2018.

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Diablo Immortal

The next installment in Blizzard’s loot-fueled dungeon crawler Diablo is coming to mobile devices in the form of Diablo Immortal. Those familiar with Diablo 3 will feel at home with the art style and characters of Immortal. The six classes found in Diablo 3 make their return, and the story is set in the time after Diablo 2. Immortal promises to be a “massively multiplayer online action RPG” available on both iOS and Android devices. No release date has been announced, but players have to option to pre-register for access on the Diablo Immortal website now.


Final Thoughts

BlizzCon’s opening ceremonies were a triumphant success, despite a few technical difficulties. The reveals during the show give players an understanding of what they should expect from their favourite games in the coming months. Blizzard does an amazing job building communities around their games, as evidenced by the reaction from fans, both in-person and online. As a fan of Blizzard’s products, I am excited at the thought of BlizzCon growing bigger, and driving the world of gaming and esports into the public eye more with each passing year.

Corey Pollack
Corey is a team member of one of the world's largest esports organizations. Corey is also the founder of Wave Digital Media, one of Canada's 60 fastest growing companies. You can learn more about Corey via our About page.