Last weekend marked Blizzard’s annual fan convention, Blizzcon, in California. This get together has, in recent year, been the place where Blizzard announces new games and expansions, and because of this it has become one of the premier events on the PC gaming calendar.
This year has been a bit different though. Not only did Blizzard launch Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty a few months ago, but it is also set to release the next World of Warcraft expansion, Cataclysm, on December 7th this year. This has led to Blizzcon 2010 being surprisingly announcement poor. Even the opening cinematic from Cataclysm, which would usually have been unveiled at Blizzcon, was released a few weeks ago to tie in with advertising during an American football match.
The biggest announcement of Blizzcon was of the final character class for the upcoming (which in Blizzard terms likely means 2012-ish) Diablo 3. This is the Demon Hunter, the game’s ranged archetype. Demon Hunters dual wield crossbows as their main weaponry, and are capable of both Athletic moves as well as a bit of shadow magic thrown in. Demon Hunters join the previously announced Wizard, Monk, Witch Doctor and Barbarian classes to round out the choices that will be available when the game is released.
The news here largely revolved around four custom maps that Blizzard is planning to release over the coming months (and a casual mention that it looks like the second installment of SC2, The Heart of the Swarm, will slip to 2012). These are designed to show off the inherent flexibility in the Starcraft 2 editor and hence aren’t your everyday maps. There is Aiur Chef, based loosely on the cult TV show Iron Chef. There is also Left 2 Die, which combines one of the single player missions from the game with the zombies from Valve Software’s Left 4 Dead.
Starjeweled and DoTA
But perhaps the most interesting are ‘Starjeweled’ and DoTA. Starjewelled is a map in which players have to play bejeweled to earn energy, which is then used to summon units to play a tower defense game. DoTA is, on the other hand, a remake of the phenomenally successful Warcraft 3 map Defense of The Ancients. This is not to be confused with Valve’s recently announced DOTA 2, which is also based on Defense of The Ancients. Suffice to say that we expect to see some sort of legal shenanigans emerge over just who owns the rights to DoTA.
World of Warcraft
It wasn’t a big year for World of Warcraft announcements either. There is an ingame Moonkin pet that will be sold via battle.net with proceeds going to charity as well as the unveiling of the login screen for cataclysm. There was of course still plenty of content for WoW fans to devour, but no earthshattering announcements.
There was mention on the streaming video of the event that the mysterious project Hydra, Blizzard’s next generation Massively Multiplayer game, was now playable. Unfortunately it was also confirmed that the game is being kept under tight security and probably won’t be announced until at least 2012.