BlizzCon is typically a great time for Blizzard fans the world over to rally around one of their favorite developers. While the company hasn't been entirely in the internet's good graces as of late, it did bring some big new announcements to this year's show to try and win back some favor.
Arguably the biggest, though also the most leaked, announcement from this year’s BlizzCon is Diablo 4, the next entry in the isometric looter franchise. Diablo 4 was revealed with a brand-new cinematic trailer and a gameplay reveal. The new entry appears to be something of an overhaul for the franchise, bringing with it a ton of new improvements over the previous game.
Diablo 4 seems to be exactly what fans have been asking for, at least from what has been shown so far. Blizzard has stumbled with the franchise in the past - just ask any fans of Diablo 3 how smooth the launch went. But with this year’s Blizzcon opening with an apology, it seems more than likely that Blizzard will pour more effort into a smooth launch to ensure that they stay in the good graces of their fan base.
Notably absent was Diablo Immortal, the mobile game largely responsible for many of Blizzard’s woes at last year's show. Not giving any updates on the project is a wise move, as doubling down almost certainly would’ve drawn the ire of franchise fans. It will be interesting to see when, or if, Blizzard gives an actual update on the project. It's always possible that Blizzard could just quietly release it to the wild, which may be the best strategy.
Blizzard’s announcement of Overwatch 2 was leaked ahead of time, but still came as something of a surprise as Jeff Kaplan took the stage during the opening ceremony. The new game, which seems to be a sort of hybrid between a full sequel and major update, will make a ton of major new additions to Overwatch, the biggest of which being a story mode for the game.
In addition, new characters will be making their way to both the sequel and the base game. Sojourn is the only new character to have been formally announced, but Blizzard is promising plenty more to come in the near future. These changes are a new chapter for Overwatch, which should help stimulate the game's player base and rejuvenate the competitive scene. The new updates look incredibly refreshing, though fans will just have to wait and see if that's actually the case.
World of Warcraft
There weren't many surprises at this year's Blizzcon, largely due to most of the major announcements leaking ahead of time. But one of the most exciting was the announcement of the next World of Warcraft expansion, Shadowlands. The expansion is putting Sylvanas as the foremost villain of the game, having been rejected by the Horde after they saw her true colors. In the cinematic trailer, Sylvanas is seen ripping the helmet off of Bolvar Fordragon, who took up the mantle of Lich King after Arthas' defeat at the end of Wrath of The Lich King.
Players will journey to the Shadowlands, World of Warcraft's version of the afterlife, in the new expansion, bumping into some fallen heroes along the way. Perhaps most importantly, the game will be getting a massive level squish - all the way back down to 60. The level squish needs a bit of explaining to really make sense as far as the logistics are concerned, but it does seem like a good way to get new players up to speed a bit faster. How that transition will actually work is still a tad bit confusing, but Blizzard will likely talk more in detail about it as it gets closer to launch. The company has successfully performed number squishes in the past, so this shouldn't be that much different.
There wasn't a ton of news about Hearthstone this year, though Blizzard did announce the next expansion, Descent of Dragons. The expansion is set to release on December 10th, and, as the name implies, will feature quite a few new dragons for the card game. The expansion will also add a new keyword, Invoke, which can be used to empower Galakrond - a central card in the expansion. All said and done, the expansion will add 135 new cards to the game.
It was a pretty big year for Blizzard fans. While there are still plenty of fans upset with the company for its various fiascos over the past year or so, the new game announcements are a clear attempt to make amends. Only time will tell if this actually amounts to anything, and Blizzard will have to be careful to ensure that their launches go smoothly, but the company is at least trying to make fans happy. Hopefully, its actions will help reinforce that.