Blizzard’s announcements at BlizzCon were crowd pleasures, and the company announced several new games and even more expansions and updates. On the list were “Diablo 4” and “Overwatch 2,” and fans of “World of Warcraft” and “Hearthstone” were told of new features and modes coming to the games over the next year.
One of the biggest announcements was “Diablo IV,” and attendees were the first in the world to play a public demo of the game. “Diablo IV” introduces a new story line and gives players new choices, including some customization of their characters, like skin-tone. The publisher’s description says, “True to the franchise’s roots, Diablo IV will deliver visceral combat, gruesome and varied monsters, an epic hunt for legendary loot, and endless playability and progression.” Blizzard added, “Players will find a lifetime’s worth of adventure scattered across a land rooted in unique ecologies and inhabited by dangerous new foes.”
The new installment will add randomized dungeons, and while players can still expect solo and coordinated party-play, “Diablo IV” will also provide opportunities for groups of players to encounter each other in the same shared world. This includes mega PvE events and PvP combat.
“Sanctuary has been a home to Diablo players for more than 20 years, and it’s with our own deep passion for the series and a deep appreciation of the community that we announce Diablo IV today,” said J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard Entertainment. “We’re excited to be returning to the dark, quintessential Diablo gameplay that players love while expanding the world and story in new ways, and we can’t wait for more people to be able to experience it.”
For the first time in the series, Sanctuary will be a contiguous, seamless landmass comprising diverse regions ranging from the burning desert of Kejhistan, to the verdant werewolf-infested forests of Scosglen, to the harsh and rugged wilderness of the Dry Steppes. Blizzard also released the official class descriptions:
The Barbarian, known for their unparalleled strength and brutal melee combat, utilizes a new and more powerful system in battle, Arsenal, which arms them with the ability to carry and rapidly switch between four different weapons at a time by assigning them to individual attacks.
The Sorceress hearkens back to their Diablo II roots and shapes the elements to obliterate their foes by impaling them upon jagged spikes of ice, electrocuting them with bolts of lightning, or raining flaming meteors from the sky.
The Druid is a savage shapeshifter whose updated playstyle empowers them to fluidly transform between werewolf, werebear, and human form to unleash the raw power of nature’s fury on the forces of the Burning Hells.
These three iconic characters honor the legacy of the franchise and exemplify how Diablo IV builds upon the series’ history by preserving the core Diablo fantasy while allowing players to explore untapped gameplay possibilities with fresh inspiration.
Players will be able to experiment and discover countless character builds through customizable talent trees and skills, a loot system filled with legendary and set items to collect, runes and rune word combinations, and even personalized mounts for traversing the open world. “Diablo IV “is currently in development and will be coming to PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
“Overwatch 2” wasn’t exactly a surprise, but fans at the event seemed just as excited to get the confirmation. The new installment will offer cooperative missions that challenge players to stop threats around the globe, but the game didn’t forget about PvP. Players will also battle each other in the next evolution of competitive Overwatch play. If you play Overwatch now, your existing players’ accomplishments and loot collections, as well as the current Overwatch roster, will be ready in the new game. The publisher also promised “a new generation of heroes,” and new maps, and there will also be a new Push map type.
“With Overwatch 2, we’re building the cooperative, narrative-driven game experience that players have been asking for since the original—and that we’ve wanted to make for a long time,” said J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard Entertainment. “We’re looking forward to telling the next chapter of this epic story in-game, and we’re excited to give players a whole-new kind of co-op experience built around progressing and customizing their favorite heroes—all while providing even more of everything they love about Overwatch today.”
In the sequel’s cooperative Story Missions, players will experience the advent of a new Overwatch as Winston, Tracer, and other members of the original Overwatch join forces with a new generation of heroes. Players will take an active role in the Overwatch saga as a new global crisis unfolds through a series of intense, high-stakes four-player missions. As the story progresses, players will team up as different sets of heroes and fight to defend the world from the omnic forces of Null Sector, uncover the motives behind the robotic armies’ attacks, and come face-to-face with rising new threats around the globe.
The game will also include Hero Missions, where the Overwatch team will be called upon and deploy across the planet, defending cities against robot invasions, taking on elite Talon agents, and battling the villainous forces laying siege to the world. In this mode, players can level up their favorite heroes and earn powerful customization options. To help realize these missions, the sequel also introduces significant engine upgrades that support larger maps for co-op (PvE) play, as well as the wide variety of new enemies and factions that players will encounter on their missions. The game also introduces visual enhancements designed to bring players’ favorite heroes—and their new looks for Overwatch 2—to life in greater detail. “Overwatch 2” also will improve the 6v6 play. In addition to carrying forward all of the original game’s heroes, maps, and modes—as well as existing Overwatch players’ accomplishments and loot collections, the sequel adds new heros; new maps and locations; and the new Push map type.
Blizzard also stated that current Overwatch players will battle side-by-side with Overwatch 2 players in PvP multiplayer. Also, current Overwatch players will be able to play “Overwatch 2” heroes and maps, ensuring the core PvP experience remains dynamic and vital for today’s community in the Overwatch 2 era. More details on Blizzard’s plans, including some of the new heroes joining the fray, will be announced in the future as development continues.
The publisher also detailed the new “World of Warcraft” expansion, called “Shadowlands.” The company stated, “Sylvanas Windrunner, fallen leader of the Horde, has pierced the veil between Azeroth and the realm of the dead, setting in motion a series of events that threatens to upset the cosmic balance between life and death.” According to the company, players will enter into the Shadowlands to find the realms of the dead in upheaval. Under the normal order, departed souls were delivered to a realm appropriate to the lives they led, but now, all souls are being funneled into the Maw, where the most wicked are damned to suffer for eternity. As they seek to right the cycle and uncover the extent of Sylvanas’ designs, players will forge bonds with the Covenants who hold domain over different planes within the Shadowlands. The official descriptions read:
The steadfast Kyrian of Bastion, whose discipline and duty compels them to safeguard souls from the mortal realm as they pass into the Shadowlands. The mysterious Night Fae of Ardenweald, who fiercely defend the spirits of nature from those who would deprive them of rebirth. The cunning Venthyr of Revendreth, who feast on the souls of the prideful and vain in a gothic realm of opulence and torment. The warlike Necrolords of Maldraxxus, who forge the undead armies that serve as the first line of defense for the Shadowlands and honor those who seek power and glory in battle.
In the Shadowlands, players will find former foes like Uther the Lightbringer and Kael’thas.
“Shadowlands is taking us somewhere we’ve never dreamed of going in the Warcraft universe, and that’s incredibly exciting,” said J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard Entertainment. “We can’t wait to explore the great beyond, catch up with old departed friends, and forge an epic new chapter in the Warcraft saga together with our players.”
The new expansion allows World of Warcraft players to cross into the Shadowlands and experience the afterlife across five new zones. These include the fields of Bastion, the scarred battlefields of Maldraxxus, the eternal twilight of Ardenweald, the opulent keeps of Revendreth, and the horrific Maw. Players will be called upon to forge a bond with one of four Covenants that rule Shadowlands’ new zones, setting the tone for their journey through the expansion with a full Covenant Campaign. As they level up, they’ll get new abilities based on their choice, including class-specific abilities for each Covenant—as well as developing Soulbinds with specific Covenant members, which grant them access to that character’s specific traits and bonuses.
At the heart of the Maw lies Torghast, Tower of the Damned, a cursed otherworldly prison where the wickedest souls in the universe are locked away. Highly replayable and inspired by roguelike games, heroes are invited to explore its ever-changing halls and chambers and do battle with the minions of the Jailer, Torghast’s vile ruler. Those who brave its trials can claim legendary treasures and help free the heroic spirits wrongfully trapped within The expansion will introduce a new leveling system. Current max-level characters will begin Shadowlands at level 50 and work toward the new level cap of 60. To combat Sylvanas’ assault on Icecrown, Bolvar Fordragon— the revered former paladin who took on the mantle of Lich King to keep the Scourge at bay—has raised heroes from among all the peoples of Azeroth to bolster the Death Knights of Acherus. With Shadowlands, pandaren and all allied races will now be able to become Death Knights.
There will also be new appearance options for all races, which will be made available to players when they create new World of Warcraft characters (or alter existing ones at the in-game barber shop).
“World of Warcraft: Shadowlands” is available for pre-purchase digitally from the Blizzard Shop starting today, with three different options all designed with player preference in mind. The Base Edition of Shadowlands is available for $39.99 SRP, providing a new lower entry point compared to previous expansions. The Heroic Edition ($59.99) includes the expansion; a level-120 character boost; and the Ensorcelled Everwyrm mount, which provides access to a questline through which players can earn the Vestments of the Eternal Traveler transmogrification set. The Epic Edition ($79.99) includes the Anima Wyrmling pet; the Wraithchill cosmetic weapon effect; the Eternal Traveler’s Hearthstone, designed with a unique visual effect; and 30 days of game time, in addition to all of the contents from the Heroic Edition. All bonuses from the Heroic and Epic Editions are unlocked immediately upon pre-purchase.
In addition, pre-purchasing any edition of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands will open the ability for players to create pandaren and allied race Death Knights once the Visions of N’Zoth content update for the current expansion, Battle for Azeroth, arrives in the coming months. “World of Warcraft: Shadowlands” will be available on or before December 31, 2020.
Blizzard didn’t forget about “Hearthstone,” and the company officially unveiled “Descent of Dragons,” a new 135-card expansion. Set to release on December 10, the conclusion to Hearthstone’s first-ever year-long story line will arm players with draconic firepower—including the ability to transform into Galakrond. The company added, “The League of E.V.I.L. plans to bring doom to Azeroth by resurrecting Galakrond—the father of all dragons—who’s playable in different forms in Hearthstone as a set of five new Hero cards. Available to the five “E.V.I.L.” classes—Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, and Warrior—Galakrond takes on a form appropriate to the corresponding class, each with a unique Battlecry and Hero Power. Cultist minions and spells with the new Invoke keyword will trigger the effect of Galakrond’s Hero Power. Invoking multiple times upgrades Galakrond into his two increasingly stronger forms, the mightiest of which is Galakrond, Azeroth’s End—which comes into play with a quadruple-strength Battlecry and a powerful claw attack.”
Blizzard stated that Hearthstone players who log in when Descent of Dragons swoops arrives will receive all five Galakrond Hero cards free.
“We love constantly exploring new ideas with Hearthstone, from telling an epic year-long story to introducing fun new ways to play,” said J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard Entertainment. “Descent of Dragons embodies that value—we think players will have a blast with all of the new cards as well as the new gameplay mechanics we’re introducing with this expansion.”
Until launch, players can pre-purchase two different Descent of Dragons card pack bundles: a 60-pack bundle, which includes a Descent of Dragons-specific golden Legendary card and the Shattering card back; and the massive 100-pack Mega Bundle, which includes those bonuses and the new Deathwing playable Warrior Hero. These bundles are available for $49.99 and $79.99, respectively; one of each can be purchased per account.
Blizzard also detailed “Hearthstone: Battlegrounds,” an all-new way to play. “Hearthstone: Battlegrounds” is an eight-player auto-battler featuring 24 unique Heroes, in which players will recruit minions, strategically position them, and watch as they battle for supremacy. The free game mode is designed as a standalone experience that uses Hearthstone as a foundation, but it does not involve building or maintaining a card collection. “Hearthstone: Battlegrounds” will be available to everyone when it enters open beta on November 12. While nonessential for play, Hearthstone players will be able to unlock optional bonus features when they acquire card packs from the most recent expansion (starting with Descent of Dragons). This includes free packs, those acquired with in-game gold, or those purchased with real money. At 10 packs, players unlock comprehensive stat-tracking in Hearthstone: Battlegrounds (slated for release following beta testing); at 20 they can choose from three different Heroes instead of two at the start of each match; and at 30, players unlock the ability to taunt or playfully communicate with their opponents using a visual emote system.
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