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Welcome to BlizzCon 2023!

by - 5 months ago

BlizzCon 2023 has officially started!

After a brief cinematic featuring many of the characters Blizzard fans have come to know and love over the years, Blizzard President Mike Ybarra took the stage to open the festivities.

One of the main points of Mike’s speech was pointing out that the Blizzard community has always been a bit different in how it brings people together from across the street to around the world, both online and in real life. He discussed the team’s commitment to allowing that growth to continue into the future.

Mike then introduced Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming. Phil reaffirmed the statements that Mike made, and addressed each of the current franchises by name and how they have influenced gaming over the years, each bringing something special to the table. Microsoft is committed to fostering a workplace of trust and inclusion for Blizzard to ensure that the future of Blizzard is brighter than ever as a part of Microsoft.

After Phil’s speech Mike returned to the stage to address the Blizzard team directly, calling them some of the most talented individuals in the gaming industry and thanking them for everything they do to make some of the most entertaining games in the industry. Mike pointed out that we would be hearing from both new friends as well as returning friends as a part of the weekend and officially welcomed everyone to BlizzCon.

The first game we get to hear more from is Overwatch 2 with Game Director Aaron Keller taking the stage.

Keller talked about how every day they see millions of players jump online and take part in matches. With the massive influx of players the team has decided to review their core systems and make sure that players are getting the best experience possible.

As a part of the first announcement Keller introduced Dion Rogers – Art Director for Overwatch 2. These two have been working on Overwatch since even before it was known as Overwatch, and one of their favorite parts is introducing new heroes to the game.

Rogers exited the stage and a cinematic began playing, introducing the new Samoan Hero: Mauga.

Mauga is playable on the BlizzCon floor, will be available to players at home at the conclusion of the opening ceremony during the weekend of BlizzCon, and will be officially introduced to the game in Season 8.

After introducing Mauga and hearing from Soe Gschwind about the Overwatch World Cup taking place through the weekend, Aaron Keller returned to the stage to talk about the collaboration between the Overwatch team and Le Sserafim and the limited time play-mode available to celebrate the event.

As a part of the conclusion of his speech, Keller revealed that the team is working on a new PvP Mode: Clash, to be released in 2024. A new map: Hanaoka, a revamp of the Hanamura map, will be one of the first available for Clash. The team is also working on overhauls of many internal systems, including their competitive reward system.

Keep an eye out for more Overwatch 2 news through the weekend for more details.

The Diablo IV team got the tough task of following Overwatch. After a cinematic showing some of the most epic moments since the release of Diablo IV General Manager of the Diablo team, Rod Ferguson, took the stage.

Rod talked about how hungry the Diablo community was for a new game four years ago at the last in-person BlizzCon. He talked about Remastered Diablo II and Diablo Immortal and how they whet the appetite of Diablo fans around the world, stating that 60% of Diablo Immortal players had never played a Diablo game in the past.

Then he addressed Diablo IV. Over 1.6 billion hours have been played in Diablo IV. The most recent set of patch notes for Season Two were over 14,000 words long.

After Rod spoke, he handed the stage off to Chris Wilson and Tiffany Wat, two Production Directors for the Diablo team. They announced that in an upcoming revamp players will be able to level faster, reaching level 100 approximately 40% faster than they are currently able to do. The reward system will be improved to better reward players for the level of monsters they are defeating. General quality of life improvements are also being added to improve the overall gameplay experience including making gems a craftable material, freeing up that much-needed bag space.

The team also teased an upcoming mid-season event: Midwinter Blight, revealed that work on Season 3 is underway, and that work on the first expansion for Diablo IV: Vessel of Hatred, is ongoing and will be released in 2024 and will include a never-before-seen Diablo class.

Up next: The Warcraft Universe

John Hight, General Manager of the Warcraft teams took the stage first to discuss the lasting impact of the Warcraft franchise, which began almost 30 years ago and discussing that the teams have been hard at work on the next generation of games to continue for the next 30 years.

First up from the Warcraft universe is Hearthstone, about to celebrate their 10th anniversary in April of 2024. Showdown in the Badlands is the next expansion to Hearthstone, releasing November 14th.

The team announced that they are releasing “Catch-up packs”, packs of up to 50 cards from expansions within the last two years to allow players to build their collection to be able to jump right back into the game even if they haven’t played the game ever, or just haven’t played in a while.

Battlegrounds will also be getting a new mode: Battlegrounds Duos, which allows players to team up with their friends instead of fighting against them.

Following the Hearthstone team, the latest entry to the Warcraft series of games: Warcraft Rumble, got its time in the spotlight.

Vik Saraf, Executive Producer of Warcraft Rumble, took the stage to give us more information about the game and announce that it is available to play for everyone right now.

Consisting of a PvE game, a PvP component, and many different customizations for players to build the army they want, the Warcraft Rumble team feels like they have a truly special game on their hands.

Seasonal play begins today with Season 1, and each season will introduce a new mini for players to build their armies around. Season 1’s new hero is the Undead Banshed Queen: Sylvanas Windrunner. More information will be forthcoming at the panel later today, including information on upcoming Raids.

Holly Longdale took the stage to talk about World of Warcraft. The game is rapidly approaching its 20th anniversary and she recapped some of the epic experiences the players have been through over the years, including some of the recent developments in World of Warcraft Classic, including Hard Mode.

After recapping those experiences, Longdale revealed the next step for the Classic group of games: Cataclysm Classic, coming in the first half of 2024.

Cataclysm Classic will introduce Seasonal Mode, with the first season being called “Season of Discovery”, allowing players to change their class playstyle. Want to play a tanking Warlock or healing Mage? Go for it! Starting with an initial level cap of 25, players will then be introduced to a new 10 player Blackfathom Depths raid. In future seasons the level cap will raise, and even more content will be available. Classic Cataclysm will launch November 30 with the initial season.

For Retail, the final patch of Dragonflight will release November 7th and will include one additional raid, then begin the story of our transition into what’s next for the Warcraft universe.

(Re)Introducing the Executive Creative Director of the Warcraft franchise: Chris Metzen

Chris reclaimed his place on the Warcraft stage, calling on Horde and Alliance alike. He then began discussing the background of Warcraft. 20 years of stories, and what have we left unfinished over the years. What has Magni been trying to warn us about? Will there finally be a conflict between the forces of the Light and the Void? What have the Titans been doing since the dawn of civilization?

All of these questions coming together began to reveal a storyline that has been the backbone of the story for the last 20 years of Warcraft, and set us up for the next 20 years of World of Warcraft.

World of Warcraft: The Worldsoul Saga!

Not a single expansion, but a story to be told over the next several years and expansions. The team is hard at work to expand this franchise and is excited to reveal what they have been working on. It will be a new experience for players with faster, more frequent major releases. Instead of debuting the next expansion the team is showcasing the next THREE expansions!

World of Warcraft: The War Within will be expansion 10.0. In this chapter we descend into the heart of Azeroth, interacting with new and existing underground kingdoms including the Earthen and Nerubian kingdoms.

New Zones, Warbands, a new Allied Race, and more when the next expansion comes in Fall of 2024.

Preorders of the Digital Deluxe Epic edition are already available and include a Dragonflight Raid-ready character boost!

World of Warcraft: Midnight will be expansion 11.0. This chapter returns us to the old world: the ancient lands of Quel’thelas. This expansion will see us defending the Sunwell and reuniting the ancient Elven tribes of Azeroth.

World of Warcraft: The Last Titan will be expansion 12.0. This chapter also returns us to the old world of Northrend and Ulduar, bearing witness to the return of the Titans to Azeroth. We uncover a vast conspiracy that will challenge everything we think we know about the Titans and their plans for Azeroth.

The first portion of the next edition of World of Warcraft comes in Fall of 2024 and is available for preorder now!

That’s it for our coverage of the BlizzCon 2023 opening ceremony but keep an eye out for individual updates from each franchise through the course of the weekend, and enjoy!

Timothy Prine


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