There is something unique about the BlizzCon experience. Not only does Blizzard Entertainment fill a convention with about 30,000 people participating live, they also have an incredible participation online through their virtual tickets.
The opening ceremony was actually broadcast on many platforms and it was available for anyone to watch; the ceremony spanned through all the Blizzard Games, with an introduction by Mike Morhaime, CEO and President of Blizzard Entertainment, to provide a very quick overview of the last year for Blizzard games. He not only went through the main achievements for each game, but he also focused on esports,which is the new focus in terms of revenue for certain gaming companies,.
The focus of Mike Morhaime’s introduction was the community around Blizzard. The keynote speech opened with a trailer of Blizzard fans and employees focusing on what Blizzard and their games gave to them with a sprinkle of emotions as the common thread of all the speakers. The keynote speech also wanted to continue to focus on the community and pretty much celebrated what makes Blizzard games so popular: the audience. One of the strongest statements of the night by Mike Morhaime was this:
There are no strangers at BlizzCon, only friends you haven’t met yet.
As mentioned, Blizzcon is a celebration of Blizzard Entertainment and the opening ceremony focused on all the games featuring at BlizzCon with announcements and trailers. Blizzard has a unique and outstanding artistic side to its gaming experience and it has always transpired particularly well in their trailers. They are probably some of the best animated trailers of all times, as an absolute statement, and Blizzard has not dropped the ball this year, keeping the movie-like quality of the trailers also during the trailers presented, which were plenty and well placed!
Star Craft 2 was announced by Morhaime and, not only there is going to be a new expansion; yet the strongest announcement for the audience was that Star Craft 2 will be free to play, starting on November 14, the players will get the Wings of Liberty campaign.
Heroes of the Storm’s production director, Kaeo Milker, started the trailer fest by presenting the trailer: Dragons of the Nexus. Two new characters will be added to the pool of heroes available, Alexstrasza—a woman who transforms into a dragon (or viceversa?) from the World of Warcraft world and will be added to the ranged support category—and Hanzo, the Shimada assassin/archer who is one of the most polarizing characters who will join the ranks as ranged damage dealer. The trailer presents a fight between the two and it focuses on the fantastic reptile animals. Here you can check out the list of all the new content that Dragons of the Nexus will bring to Heroes of the Storm.
There is another aspect that Heroes of the Storm distinguishes itself from the other Blizzard games, besides being a melting point of the Blizzard world. It is the ability of the creating team to come up with the best skins, characters that have been in the Blizzard world, and the ability to present old characters with new looks is just particularly well put together and impressive.
Hearthstone’s game director, Ben Brode, made an outstanding and fun presentation—it was an interactive game; a very unique way to share with the audience the changes and the new cards and gamemodes being introduced in the game. Thumbs up for the stage and the interactive presentation of the expansion. It genuinely was one of the most inspired, original and refreshing announcements of the evening.
Overwatch presented a lot of content in its slot and Jeff Kaplan, game director of Overwatch, really wowed the audience. Most of the announcements were expected and it is satisfying that the developers of a widely successful game are really connected to the gamers and tend to execute on the wishlist of the community. Not only there is going to be a brand new map (a payload map), it presented a brand new character (healer) and a brand new cinematic trailer dedicated to Reinhardt.
This trailer is focuses on Reinhardt and his decision to rejoin Overwatch (remember, Overwatch has been outlawed and shut down primarily because of the shady activities that Reyes carried out with Blackwatch, the secret services of Overwatch). Reinhardt is interacting with a young lady who refers to her father (her tattoo seems identical to the one Torbjorn has, so she might be his daughter? That got me intrigued, I just want to know who she is) and tries to convince Reinhardt that he should not rejoin Overwatch. This leads to a flashback to a young, and arrogant, Reinhardt as a crusader, fighting against the Omnic invasion in Eichenvalde. It was funny the reference to Reinhardt’s hair, which is a recurring reference throughout the game,so much that Reinhardt has a spray when he was a crusader and his hair looked fantastic.
Moira, the new character, seems one of the most interesting healers Blizzard has announced in a while (trailer). It reminds of the skill set of Zenyatta—by having healing and damaging skills—and a Symmetra and Mercy vibe in the way the damage and healing, respectively, are applied. Her abilities are really provided by her hands and the hands provide the duality of her moral ambiguity. The art of Moira is just spectacular, she is androgynous and dark in her looks. She has different hand art for the healing side and the damaging side, the nail colors are different, the feel of Moira is just evil and good at the same time. Jeff Kaplan also made a fun comment about Moira; something along the lines of: if you are trying to spell Moira, it is OPAF. So exciting, a healer with strong mobility, apparently a versatile kit, less aiming skills yet extremely powerful, she will change the healing meta in the game, possibly ending the Mercy domination.
What is her background story though? Moira is a scientist (geneticist) who did experiment and was blocked by Overwatch but embraced by Blackwatch. Moira and Reyes delved into the human experimentation, which also explains Reaper’s wraith form. She is currently a member of Talon, sitting at the table of the leaders of Talon right next to Doomfist and Reaper himself.
Finally, let’s talk about something fun that was announced during the opening ceremony—imagine a theme park based on Blizzard’s game. This is exactly the basis for the new map, Blizzardworld. It is a hybrid map (conquer a point and then transport a payload). The details on the map are mind blowing, it is an ode to Blizzard’s history of gaming (and the peculiar part is that there is no Overwatch elements in the theme park). The detail of the stylized murlok as a symbol is just the cherry on top of the cake.
Finally, World of Warcraft had its time on stage. The announcement was quite big, with the introduction of the new expansion, a new installment that will be focusing on the antagonism between the Horde and the Alliance. Not only the players will go back to the roots, the events will take place in Azeroth, becoming Battle for Azeroth!
The expansion will introduce new allied races that each player will have access to, it will introduce a two new continents, one for the Horde and one for the Alliance, new dynamics, new characters to get to know; a king for the Alliance that needs to prove himself after the Alliance lost King Varian. The audience was also given an incredible trailer presenting Battle for Azeroth and it was all a fan could ask for. Take a look here!
The opening ceremony is also available for you in case you are interested to watch it in its entirety, find it below!
Have you watched the opening ceremony of BlizzCon? Are you excited about the announcements? What is your favorite announcement? Let us know in the comments below!