Opinion

BlizzCon: Preview on BlizzCon Eve

Images Courtesy Blizzard.

BlizzCon, the (mostly) annual event in which MMO giant Blizzard gathers masses of its fanbase both physically and digitally begins tomorrow (November 8th for those of you reading this past midnight). There’s a lot that we know, a lot of rumors floating around, and lots to be learned before the sun sets over Azeroth California tomorrow. For those of you who may not be interested in EVERY aspect of the company’s convention, I’ll break it down for you in easy-to-navigate sections. Pull up a chair and grab a good drink (you can get a few good buffs from this selection).

The Convention Itself

For those of you who are traditional convention-goers, BlizzCon is the ultimate in hyper-specialized conventions. The event is a two day mass of news from the company (and associated tournaments and panels) out in Anaheim, California. This year’s convention comes after a dry year (they wanted to focus on the games last year, or some other crazy publicity spin) and promises to be bigger than ever. It’s the forum in which games are announced, release dates are set, and expansions already known are previewed. Let’s be honest, though. The part people want to see the most (at least as far as a good reason to purchase the digital ticket aside from the in-game goodies) is the cosplay competition. Previous years have been mind-bogglingly good and this year will likely be no less. Of course, this being the first BlizzCon post-Mists of Pandaria, one might expect a higher percentage of fur-based costumes. Then again, the Pandaren have been in Warcraft lore longer than the World of Warcraft. While there are plenty of videos of past years’ contests on YouTube, for a bit more of a behind-the-scenes look this year, be sure to check out WoW Insider’s piece about the enigmatic cosplayer, Amanda Wisley.

Starcraft

There’s not too much news on the Starcraft front. It’s kind of a dying star, not to be too punny. Patch 2.1 is expected to hit the PTR (Public Test Realm) after BlizzCon and there’s going to be exactly one panel updating players about the game and an exhibition on Saturday.

Blizzcon Starcraft

Diablo 

The trailer for the first expansion for the game has leaked online already (oops, someone stole Blizz’s thunder on this one!) and there’s going to be a chance for those who are at the convention to playtest the game (and there’ll be a nifty panel to preview the game, too). Reaper of Souls is expected to release some time next year. Personally, I won’t be going back to Diablo III, but I know it’s just a preference.

BlizzCon 2011

Hearthstone

The newest baby of the Warcraft universe has a lot of people buzzing. I’ll tell you what, it’s Magic: The Gathering without the trouble of lugging around your decks (and “free”). Only a select lucky few (jerks!) have a beta key and are already playing the game (and it looks AWESOME!). Those lucky jerks have the opportunity to play in a tournament at BlizzCon itself. One of those people is the ever hilarious Day[9]. Do yourself a favor and check out his amazing preparations for BlizzCon. Unfortunately for the rest of us, the release date has been pushed back to 2014.

Hearthstone

World of Warcraft

Alrighty. Here’s the big one: the main event, if you will. Everyone is expecting to come out of the panels on Friday knowing a few more details about the newest expansion in the World of Warcraft universe. We all already know (well, if you’ve been watching The Grid you already know… if not, shame on you!) Blizzard has taken rights to the name Heroes of the Storm. It was previously considered as a name for the newest World of Warcraft expansion, though it’s been all but confirmed as the upcoming all-stars action game. Of course, any true announcement won’t come out of there, no. The big announcement will be at their 12:30pm (PST) panel: “World of Warcraft: What’s Next?” “What’s next?” happens to be the question on everyone’s lips right now. How about some predictions?

The first artwork from HoS, released today via Twitter.
The first artwork from HoS, released today via Twitter.

Personally, I’m going to agree with a forward (and backwards?) thinking Jeremy of Clearly Guilty as he predicted on a recent appearance of 8 Bits: Blizzard will be taking us back to Outlands. This seems to be supported by some lovely images of Ethereals and the Mo’arg going around the internet. Many of these sites are also claiming the name of the new expansion will be Warlords of Draenor, so we’ll just have to see. I’m REALLY pulling for Murlocs, but I may be sorely disappointed… again.

So, here’s a quick run-through of further evidence to possibly support the Outlands theory (for more in-depth history, check out this history of BlizzCon reveals over at WoW-Insider:

2006: Burning Crusade announced. Outlands added.

2007: Wrath of the Lich King announced. Northrend added.

2008: Cataclysm announced. Azeroth “changed.”

2011: Mists of Pandaria announced. Pandaria added.

Time to change? What are your thoughts? Leave ’em in the comments below and we’ll have to see who’s right when the sun sets tomorrow.

Also, you might as well kill some time before the live feed begins… WITH AWESOME. I dare you to count the WoW references. Bet you can’t catch ’em all!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8GI-1kkTDE&feature=share&list=PLuO8awQt6cY6qmk8uFs5MIxCZiOs1sII8]

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