Blizzcon 2011: A Round-up
Last weekend in the US, Blizzard Entertainment hosted their annual Blizzcon event and released information about upcoming games to the world. Don't expect clear release dates, but here's a summary of the major announcements, game-by-game:
World of Warcraft
The fourth expansion for Blizzard's incredibly popular MMORPG was announced. It's called Mists of Pandaria and will include newly-increased max level of 90, a new race - the Pandaren, a new class - the monk, a revamped talent system, pet battle system and challenge-mode dungeons amongst other tweaks.
Pandaren are a neutral race of anthropomorphic pandas, first seen in the Warcraft games. They will be open to both Horde and Alliance and you will have to pick a side at a certain level (I believe it's level 10). The monk class is a light-armour hand-to-hand combat specialist who's able to specialise in damage, tanking or healing - putting it directly against druids, paladins and shaman for most flexible class in World of Warcraft.
The pet-battle system will enable players to pit their vanity pets against one another in what can only be described as Pokémon style. Challenge mode dungeons pit groups against the clock using normalised gear so every group entering faces the same challenge. There will be leaderboards and loot will be determined by how well you face the challenge!
The new talent system completely replaces the current one, and is bound to cause some of the most discussion amongst players. Instead of three separate talent trees, classes will now have talent sets that unlock every 15 levels. Each class will have its own talents, available to every specialisation.
Also, for a limited time, customers who buy an annual pass to World of Warcraft will receive Diablo III when it's released, access to the Mists of Pandaria beta test and the in-game item Tyrael's mount for all characters on the account.
[Quick disclaimer: I don't play Starcraft]
The next game in the Starcraft 2 series is Heart of the Swarm, and Blizzard not only launched the trailer (above), but also held panels to discuss game balance in Starcraft 2 as well as talking about both single and multi-player aspects of the game.
The single player campaign includes 20 missions and focuses on the Zerg race as well as allowing players to take the role of Sarah Kerrigan. There's no release date as yet, but you can expect it to be 'expansion priced' and you can already opt-in to be considered for the beta of the game on Battle.net. The multiplayer campaign will include the 'Starcraft Arcade' where modders can charge for their work and Blizzard can sell some premium maps
Blizzard Defense of the Ancients
Allowing you to pit characters from Blizzard's games against one another, DOTA is coming out 'soonish' and pits five players against five others, each trying to kill the other team's god - which stand at either end of the map. Characters include Kerrigan, Zeratul, Arthas, and Thrall, taking a variety of roles. It's a competitive battle arena game, with added the added Blizzard fun factor.
Still no release date for Diablo III, possibly the most anticipated hack 'n' slash dungeon-crawling game by fans of the genre. But it's expected to be early 2012. Aside from the annual pass for World of Warcraft promising a free copy of the game, there was additional Diablo III goodness at Blizzcon - namely, the reveal of the Collector's Edition of the game. As well as the game, this will include a soulstone-shaped 4Gb USB drive with both Diablo II and Diablo II: Lord of Destruction on it, and a cool Diablo-head stand to rest it on. It also includes in-game items for Diablo III, World of Warcraft and Starcraft 2, a soundtrack, an art book and a behind-the-scenes DVD/Bluray. No pricing is available, as yet.