Blizzcon 2015 was on over the weekend so here is a quick round up of the news about Blizzard’s big games including World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and the forthcoming Overwatch, plus other tidbits of news. We start with a trailer for World of Warcraft: Legion which can be pre-ordered right now.
“World of Warcraft: Legion is one of the most intense chapters in the Warcraft saga yet, filled with features and content that will push new and veteran heroes to their limits,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment. “Whether players want to boost a new character or get a head start on mastering a Demon Hunter, they’ll be primed and ready to battle the Burning Legion when the expansion launches next summer.”
Overwatch was finally confirmed for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One with a release in Spring 2016, although the official website still lists it as June which isn’t very Spring at all. Pre-ordering via the official site means you will get a Noire skin for Widowmaker, Overwatch’s assassin.
The team unveiled a new map called “Hollywood” which is set in a movie studio, and revealed the last three characters for the game, taking the total up to twenty-one.
Genji, a cybernetic ninja, is an expert assassin capable of extraordinary feats of agility, including reflecting enemy attacks with his blade. D.Va is a former pro-gaming superstar who pilots an experimental military mech in defense of her home country. Mei travels the globe applying her scientific expertise to protect the natural world; in battle, her arsenal of climate-manipulating technology has the power to put the opposition on ice.
Three new heroes for Heroes of the Storm have been announced along with a new Arena mode, and a new battleground, Towers of Doom.
Starcraft 2 is getting some new mission packs called Nova Covert Ops. There are three packs, each with three missions, and they will take place after the conclusion of Legacy of the Void. There will be new weapons and gear, and Blizzard will continue to tweak the multiplayer ladder to make ranks “feel meaningful.”
And finally there was news for Blizzard’s mobile Warcraft spin-off, Hearthstone. “The League of Explorers” is new adventure that “sends brave duelists far and wide on harrowing expeditions to recover a mysterious lost relic.” The expansion will also introduce four new explorerers, Elise Starseeker, Reno Jackson, Sir Finley Mrrgglton, and Brann Bronzebeard.
There was also a liveblog in which Blizzard responded to fan questions, you can read the whole thing below courtesy of Wowhead.com.
My question is about Alleria. Her group never got to see that the Orcs weren’t as evil as everyone thought, does that mean they will be part of the factions conflict?
No. But when we finally discover them in Legion, the way you view WoW will change. Nothing to do with that, but amazing stuff is in store.
Is there any hope of sub races, such as Taunka or Dark Iron Dwarves being playable in the future?
There were tens of thousands of votes for this one, I’ll take it. So our mission is to sell the class and the race–the fantasy. So the easy answer is yes, we’d love to do it. But the more difficult answer is how will we do it? We’ll be working on it.
Warcraft has always been about community. Can we have affiliated guilds with a cross guild chat?
Something along those lines we’d like to do, Warlords and group finder shaped the social situation. It’s not something for Legion at launch, but it’s something to work from.
Flight in Legion?
It will be unlocked in later patches.
What will you be doing with Bolvar?
Absolutely beyond this expansion, he’s going to be there. For now, there will be a cameo.
Will there be more cosmetic class quests, such as green fire?
Yes, no, maybe. So we definitely have a wider array of class quests because of artifacts–there are different quests for each artifact. We’re definitely interested in class content, it’s the focus point of this expansion, but it may not be stuff specifically like the green fire.
About the shared tap system. Will it be implemented for old world rares and bosses?
We’re looking to take it a step forward beyond that. In Legion, we want to change how tapping works period. Rather than when one person is hit, what if it allows four to five people to have it tapped at the same time. So that way when you see someone, you don’t grumble and avoid them but you also don’t feel obliged to group with them to make the quest faster. You just organically cooperate.
Will you try to release one expansion a year…or one every two years?
Faster launch is still the goal, we don’t know if we’ll get to one a year. Our overriding commitment is to quality. That being said, we’ve expanded the team and we’re trying to get more done to entertain more effectively than before.
Is Sargeras’ tomb where gods remain or just a monument?
Great question, at the moment it’s just a monument.
Guild housing or guild quests?
We call raid bosses guild quests (laughter). Obviously guilds are near and dear to our hearts, they’re important to the social structure; ultimately they’re a social structure more than anything else. We’d like to give people the ability to be in multiple guilds at some point.
Will there be a new battleground in Legion?
No, we’re focusing on revamping the honor system and improving PvP.
Will you update Exodar or other areas for Legion?
No, probably not.
What protects Dalaran from being invaded or destroyed?
The Dalaran we see will be upgraded intensely. You’ll find the secrets of Dalaran and learn exactly what protects it. Hint: it’s big.
Do you have any plan to address stories that are about Cataclysm? We’ve had five years…
Yeah, yeah. I’ll say sure, but we want to. We’ll get around to it.
Won’t people running challenge modes only take players with optimal keystones?
No, all keystones will bring people to a random dungeon and keep the same effects. It’s like Hearthstone Tavern Brawls.
Will you improve the bank and storage?
We’re adding new systems like transmog to make the bank less messy.
Is Titan’s Grip for fury warriors dead?
No. The artifact is just too small, we’re planning on making it bigger. It’s alive and well. Holding two two handers is a distinctive thing for warriors.
Can we get a clear lore answer: was the patch 6.2 Archimonde the same Archimonde in WarCraft 3?
I’ll tell you what… we got an expansion called Legion that will answer the questions. The Archimonde thing: yes, maybe. But the expansion will absolutely get into the multi-legion vs single legion thing. And it probably has something to do with Alleria. No it doesn’t. (laughs)
Can we have more character slots per server?
We’re giving you one more in Legion. No more than that.
Will Legion have new scenarios?
Scenarios as they existed in MoP will not exist, but we’ve taken what we learned from scenarios and made them into the game. For example, the Broken Shore 40 person experience is a seamless scenario.
What if you order a physical CE, how will you get early access?
You can call customer support, they’ll swap out keys.
What about multiple specs and artifacts?
We don’t want the stumbling block to playing multiple specs to make you feel like you have to grind multiple weapons and spend more time. In fact, it should be a reward–we’ll have a lot of catch up mechanisms to let your second and third weapon catch up to your main quickly. The one area there will be a differentiation will be in relics.
Can we please have three specs?
Um, sure. We’ll do it. If you’re a druid, we’ll let you have four.
Why are you removing multistrike but not versatility?
Multistrike is just another form of crit, it just didn’t work well for class fantasies. We kept having to adjust specs and classes to make it work. But with versatility, it doesn’t have that problem; it also has a defensive component. We like that PvPers and tanks like it.
Will there be more catch-ups for alts, like speeding up rep grinds?
Sure. We look at alts a lot, but in Warlords we had catch up mechanics which helped out. It makes sense of things to be a bit faster the second time you do it and we realize more people like to have alts. It’s just a balance we have to strike, we have to make it interesting and engaging the first time around without being daunting the second and third.
Will we ever see an event like the AQ gates in Legion?
No, there’s stuff kind of like it, like invasions happening and a server level participation against them. Moving forward we talk about it all the time–we think fondly of it, we just have to find the right time and place then execute it. 800,000 linen required to open the gate–yeah, no.
Will Karazhan be relevant in the Burning Legion?
Yes. We’d like to see it as a 5-man player dungeon… (joking, but not)
Will we find out what’s beneath Tirisfal Glades?
Yes, one of the artifact quests will show that.
Where is Wrathion in Legion?
He’s definitely there… he may have some interest in Highmountain. If he were to be lurking, it would be Highmountain.
Will there be any interesting raid mechanisms like Karazhan chess?
In the spirit of dumbing things down, we’ll make it a checker’s event.
Is there any interest in making old world materials relevant for professions?
Kind of–in Legion we have so many cool things, we didn’t want to go back. We can make them relevant but we don’t think players would enjoy it.
Will we get more lore on Foresaken, Worgen, Gnomes, and more?
Yes, always. There will be a lot of Tauren lore in Highmountain, there will be some Foresaken lore as well. Gnomes… I love Gnomes… and so we probably won’t do anything for Gnomes. Kidding. We’ll totally do something for them.
Will old gods be featured in Legion?
Will there be more than one raid per tier?
Yes, clearly we have two planned at launch. But looking forward to the future, we like the idea of breaking down raids to be smaller–with varied environments, different instances.
Do you plan to make smaller raid dungeons for players who are limited in time?
It’s not really about size, a lot of it is about the layout. Look at Highmaul, look at the shortcuts and how quick they are to navigate. You won’t always have to clear the old bosses to work onto that. We’re mindful of time limits.
Will you be bringing back reforging?
No. We think we have a lot of customization and reforging isn’t necessary.
Do you ever think you’ll put some bad luck mechanic, if items don’t drop for three years of trying for example?
We have some bad luck protection, I mean, we take a look at it but part of the coolness of things is their rarity. There’s a difference between a power item or a cosmetic item, though. The ones that are about luck are important.
Where is the dance studio?
Still a feature we’d love to do, but not in Legion.
Do you plan to introduce classic realms?
No we do not plan to. It is too hard to maintain that many versions of the game.
Will artifacts lock you into using that weapon type?
Yes. Sort of. We wanted to define unique fleshed out weapons and in many cases, that means committing to that type of weapon–like two swords vs one sword. We know some people won’t like their artifact, but we focused on making them as cool and defined. You can transmog your artifact though.
Are we ever getting alliance character development without death or the character getting lost?
Can you talk in class halls with other factions?
No, language barriers still exist. The one exception is demon hunters, whom can speak demonic to each other.
In Legion, will we see any alternate universe heroes?
Will we see anymore Gilneas?
Yes, Greymane plays a big part in this expansion. We’ll also see Gilneans who weren’t afflicted by the curse and hear their story.
A new PvP system without PvP gear?
You’ll get strongboxes based on your arena rating or RBG rating, whichever is higher. You’ll get that gear from those strongboxes.
Will we be seeing the final expansion boss while we level up or in early raids?
Absolutely, yeah. It’s how you build up a thirst to kill them. We are doing that–yes.
Do you plan to make Mythic or raid finder flex size?
Definitely having issues getting 20 players for Mythic. Flex would be problematic for Mythic, that is to say while they’ve gotten better at tuning, there are still inconsistencies. Flex raiding is hard for mythic because mythic players are min-maxers. Is 20 the right number? The answer continues to be yes, because there’s 12 classes. We’d like to do more to help you find people to raid with, but we don’t want to reduce it down to 15 or anything.
Any chance we’ll see more classes getting new roles, like a Warlock tank?
No, we’re focused on Legion and what’s great for Legion. We want to make class fantasies reality, we don’t want to divert a class off to something that’s not what the class should be.
How will we find groups for challenge dungeons?
Group finder and your guilds/social circles will be the ideal spot for this. Because the keystones are hard to come by, having one that yields loot will be a commodity. Unlike world bosses, where you try to rush to do it on a Sunday and it’s hard to get a group, the keystone should probably be more desirable since most will be used up and you should be able to find a group.
Can you address split raiding in Legion?
Yes. I (Ian) really hate split raiding. No one likes having to gear, run, and play five different characters to funnel to players. They don’t know if there’s a great way to stop it though, other than personal loot which solves the problem but brings up other issues.
Will the old Nefarian encounter in Black Wing Lair gain a new Demon Hunter class call?
Yes! We added Monk after all. Demon Hunter may have one, like double jump related possibly.
In Legion, what is the one thing you really like that you think people won’t notice?
– Hunting down all the new legendary items from the world will be fun. I think the ability for these to have transformational effects will intrigue players.
– Something small: we have a lot of awesome UI improvements, selection circles and nameplates. A lot of things that make the game out of the box much more useable.
– We made a lot of melee changes, lots of adjusted weapon trails.
– Scaling levels should feel natural and they will be awesome, if we pull it off. We’ll see more people grouping and the alt experience will be different.
– Class accessories–artifacts are a lot like class accessories, so you’ll see things like librams and other cool objects that will come with artifacts. So class accessories will exist in Legion and help fulfill the fantasy.
– Legion is the expansion that has the most VO of any expansion they’ve done. What it actually means is practically every group out there has aggro lines, death lines. In general you get more immersion.
– Challenge modes.
If you could mention it, your favorite class spec and artifact weapon?
– In terms of pure aesthetic, axes for the Blood Death Knight are the coolest looking to Chilton. Ashbringer was one of the first fleshed out artifacts, best functionality.
– The Fire Mage runeblade for Ian. It’s hard to make a caster sword that delivers and it does–plus its quest is awesome!
– Holy Priest.
– Blades of the Fallen Prince–the Frost Death Knight sword.
– Blades of the Fallen Prince–artifact made out of the remnants of Frostmourne.
– You guys are all wrong: Eagle spear! Melee hunter is amazing.
Is Jaina a Dreadlord?
Yeah, sure she is. (No. She’s not obviously.)
Source: Wowhead / Press release