BlizzCon is always the wildest weekend of the year for Blizzard. With semi-new hits like Hearthstone and Overwatch, BlizzCon's scope has only grown wider over the years; the news that bursts from it more exciting and surprising for fans than ever before.
This year's BlizzCon has been no exception so far. From Overwatch to World of Warcraft, all of Blizzard's adored properties have new surprises in store. Rather than taking way too much time out of your day parsing through all of the updates, we recapped all of the day's biggest news about Blizzard's biggest titles.
StarCraft II Goes Free-to-Play
Free-to-play games are the new hotness: just look at the success of the biggest MOBAs out there, from League of Legends to Dota 2 to even Blizzard's own Heroes of the Storm. (Easily the least popular of the three, but nonetheless.) StarCraft II was first among Blizzard's many announcements during its opening ceremony. Starting November 14th, StarCraft II is effectively free-to-play. All players will gain free access to StarCraft II's Wings of Liberty campaign, ranked ladder play, and all the game's co-op Commanders—at least up to level five. The game's also getting a new Co-Op Commander: Mira Han and Matt Horner, a dynamic duo piloting both air and ground units.
Heroes of the Storm Gets Some Familiar Faces
Heroes of the Storm is no stranger to cross-Blizzard-pollination. A plethora of Overwatch characters have joined the MOBA to date, like D.Va and Zarya. Today, Blizzard announced a few more heroes are joining the immense roster: including some outside of Overwatch. Notably entering the Nexus are Hanzo, everyone's least favorite hero from Overwatch, and Alexstraza from World of Warcraft.
Heroes of the Storm is getting some quality of life issues as well, implementing voice chat, performance-based matchmaking, and a bigger update is on the way in 2018, which will refine the game as 2017's big update did.
Hearthstone's New Expansion is Revealed
For being a World of Warcraft card game spin-off, Hearthstone sure has made a name for itself. During today's opening ceremony at BlizzCon, Blizzard revealed Hearthstone's next expansion that's arriving in December, entitled Kobolds & Catacombs. The expansion will bring 135 new cards to the game and bring players to the dungeons beneath Warcraft's Azeroth.
The most notable part of the expansion is its new single-player mode called Dungeon Runs. It sounds like a brutal mode in practice: you're pinned in a grueling boss rush, and if you lose at any point, your run is swiftly ended. Dungeon Runs aren't directly tethered to the expansion either. The mode will be free for all players, with no pre-built decks required for playing.
If you're looking forward to the expansion, you don't have much longer to wait. Plus, Blizzard's rewarding players for their patience with a free legendary minion card, Marin the Fox, on November 6th. If any players log in on the day the expansion launches, they'll receive a free random legendary weapon as well. 50-card packs for the expansion cost $49.99 for pre-purchase.
Overwatch Introduces More Than Just a New Hero
Last year, Sombra graced BlizzCon's stage on behalf of Overwatch. She was an offense character with a talent for hacking. This year, BlizzCon decided to up the hype around Overwatch. First, Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan revealed a new map for the game: BlizzardWorld, which is centered on exactly what you'd expect. BlizzardWorld is a faux-theme park designed with all of Blizzard's games in mind, bringing the whole Blizzard family together on one single part-assault, part-payload map.
Next up was a new hero, which many fans predicted would happen. The new hero is named Moira, an evil-inclined "hero" joining the vast Overwatch roster. She's a support-healer, the first new support-healer since Ana joined Overwatch as the first new hero all those year and few months ago. Watching Moira in action makes her look like a strange hybrid of Zenyatta and Reaper, between the orbs and the shadow abilities. In an Origins video revealed during the "Overwatch: What's Next" panel, it's revealed that Moira was a scientist who gave Reaper his powers. Both Moira and BlizzardWorld will be available to play on the PTR soon.
During today's "Overwatch: What's Next" panel, Blizzard also revealed a host of new skins for Overwatch heroes. The skins are lovingly designed after other Blizzard properties, themed after the upcoming BlizzardWorld map. The new skins won't be tied to some event though: they'll make their way to base loot boxes, like all the rest of the default Overwatch skins. Blizzard also confirmed to us that more skins will be released outside of events to base loot boxes in the future.
Last and probably least, Blizzard debuted a new Overwatch animated short starring the ever-gruff Reinhardt. Like all animated shorts from Blizzard, it's impeccably animated, it's a little bit sad but also a little bit sweet. Reinhardt's turn as star in "Honor and Glory" is no exception, and you can watch the seven-minute short for yourself below.
World of Warcraft Goes Back to its Roots
Back to Azeroth it is then. Or so goes World of Warcraft's upcoming expansion, the first since 2016's Legion. The new expansion, entitled Battle for Azeroth, has yet to determine a release date.
In the meantime, Blizzard also announced a "vanilla" World of Warcraft experience, an attempt to replicate the early days of the MMO in World of Warcraft Classic. This will be separate from the new expansion Battle for Azeroth.
During today's "World of Warcraft: What's Next" panel, World of Warcraft's game director made an announcement about some big changes coming to the game's PvP and PvE servers. Now, World of Warcraft will no longer have a division between the two servers, which has been largely unchanged since 2005. Players will instead have the option to opt into PvP optionally. Bless.
Stay tuned to this hub for more news to be updated all weekend!