Blizzcon 2017 Roundup
Once a year, Blizzcon arrives to flood the game-o-sphere with brand new, never-before-seen Blizzard content. And this year was no exception. In fact, there was such a flood of content that you might be feeling overwhelmed. But never fear. VGFAQ is here to break down the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Blizzcon 2017.
Every Blizzcon heralds a flush of new content, but this year was truly bountiful. Almost every major Blizzard property received blessings from the Blizzard Gods That Be.
World of Warcraft premiered their new expansion complete with a stunning new cinematic. The “Battle for Azeroth” expansion comes with an increased level cap and additional continents, and could be a great intro for newbies. But old-school fans didn’t go overlooked this year either. Blizzard also announced the upcoming release of WoW Classic, a legacy version of the MMO that can be played without expansions, designed to evoke the classic WoW experience.
Hearthstone is also due for an expansion: “Kobolds & Catacombs” will come equipped with a free dungeon crawler style single-player mode. “Dungeon Run” will allow players to face off against CPU-controlled bosses to loot, learn, and level-up their character. Heroes of the Storm introduced two new playable characters: Overwatch’s Hanzo, and World of Warcraft’s Alexstraza.
And for Overwatch that was just the beginning. After double-dipping on the Heroes announcement, the team-based shooter announced a new hero, a new level, a new tear-jerking Reinhardt cinematic, and a buttload of new skins.
Blizzcon was also the place to be to see Canada get dunked on by South Korea live in living color. South Korea took home the Overwatch World Cup the second year in a row, with 17-year-old Hwang “Fl0w3R” Yeon-Oh becoming an overnight meme sensation for his incredible Genji and Widowmaker play.
It almost seemed like every Blizzard fan would walk away from Blizzcon this year with a bucketful of new content to call their own. Except, that is, for Diablo fans. Diablo was passed over for announcements and updates this year, much to the community’s immense disappointment. It seems unlikely that we’ll see Diablo III – or any major updates – before next year.
The ever-loyal StarCraft community also came away with less than they could’ve hoped for. The announcement that StarCraft II would soon be going free-to-play doesn’t bode well for those fans already critical of Blizzard’s free-to-play financial model. While the base game (“Wings of Liberty”) and multiplayer modes will be available for free, players will have to play to access further story content. Folks who already shelled out for the paid version won’t be getting much to compensate them, either. Devs have been talking about releasing a skin to “reward veteran players,” but nothing substantial.
It wasn’t all fun and games at Blizzcon this year. In spite of the event’s glitz and glam, there were a few things that left a bad taste in our mouths.
The announcement of WoW Classic was certainly exciting. But it exposed an ugly underside of game development. Longtime fans of the series have consistently voiced a desire for a “legacy” or “vanilla” version of WoW: one without expansions that stayed true to the game’s content and storylines at the time of its original launch. Until recently, such a version of the game was only available through the dedicated efforts of fans hosting “legacy games” on private servers. But in April of last year, legacy servers like Nostalrius were forced to shut down after they were hit with cease-and-desists from Blizzard – no doubt preparing to monetize the services privately-hosted legacy servers had been providing for free.
Another disheartening addition was the news that South Korea’s “Fl0w3R” would not be permitted to compete in Season 1 of the Overwatch League. The league, which starts in January, will have an age limit of 18 years or older, which bars the incredibly talented 17-year-old from competing alongside his teammates. Nate Nanzer of NYXL has gone on the record stating Fl0w3R will be competing in Season 2. But the ruling seems unfair – both to Fl0w3R, and to spectators.
Overwatch caught a bit more flack from fans when it was revealed that each World Cup team would receive dedicated skins with the hope of improving watchability. Improving watchability is great in theory, but fans were understandably skeptical. Custom skins that will only be worn for a single match represent a huge time sink for devs who could be designing more player-accessible content instead.
Overall, this year brought with it a multitude of both exciting announcements and vague disappointments. But as always, Blizzard put on a great show, and proved for another year running why they’re the only company in gaming that gets to host a convention with their name on it. Heck, Jeff Kaplan may have made the whole shabang worthwhile with this little Overwatch-related jab right here.