BlizzCon 2017: New Heroes, Vanilla WoW, Free StarCraft 2

Posted by | November 06, 2017 | News, PC, PlayStation 4, Video, Xbox One | No Comments

BlizzCon 2017 took place last weekend. Blizzard Entertainment hosted esports tournaments for nearly every one of their games, including the Overwatch World Cup Finals and Hearthstone Inn-vitational.

Blizzard also announced the seventh expansion for World of Warcraft and new content for Hearthstone, Overwatch, and Heroes of the Storm.

Overwatch

The biggest news was the announcement of Overwatch’s next hero, Moira. Moira is an Irish scientist whose genetic experiments put her in touch with Overwatch’s black ops team, Blackwatch. She created the shadowy technology that transformed Reyes into Reaper.

On the battlefield Moira is a support hero. She fires beams of energy that hurt enemies and heal allies, as well as replenishing her own health. Blizzard has not yet announced a release date for Moira. She would be the fifth post-launch hero and the 26th overall.

Overwatch is also getting a new map, called Blizzard World. Like Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard World will incorporate elements from all of Blizzard’s other games, including HotS, World of Warcraft, and Hearthstone. Blizzard World is coming in 2018.

Blizzard also released their latest animated short, called “Honor and Glory.” It focuses on Reinhardt.

The Overwatch League was formally introduced and detailed. The inaugural season will feature 12 teams in two divisions, Atlantic and Pacific. The season will begin on January 10, 2018 after a preseason event on December 6-9.

  • Pacific Division: Dallas Fuel, Los Angeles Gladiators, Los Angeles Valiant, San Francisco Shock, Seoul Dynasty, Shanghai Dragons
  • Atlantic Division: Boston Uprising, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, London Spitfire, New York Excelsior, Philadelphia Fusion

The season will be made up of four weeks, with each week separated by about 10 days. During a match week, matches will be played from Wednesday to Saturday. The final match on Saturdays will feature title matches with their own individual winnings, letting teams who are out of postseason contention still compete for prizes.

Each season will consist of 40 total games. The top team in each division will get a bye for the championship playoffs.

The inaugural season matches will all take place at the Blizzard Arena in Lost Angeles. All the Overwatch League teams are still setting up their own areans. In the future each team will have their own arena in their home cities.

  • Stage 1: January 10—February 10
  • Stage 2: February 21—March 24
  • Stage 3: April 4—May 5
  • Stage 4: May 16—June 16

World of Warcraft

The seventh expansion for World of Warcraft was announced at BlizzCon. It’s called Battle for Azeroth and features a globe-spanning war. The opening cinematic was shown at BlizzCon.

“Conflict is at the heart of the Warcraft saga, and in Battle for Azeroth, tensions that have been simmering for a long time escalate into all-out war,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO of Blizzard Entertainment. “World of Warcraft players are incredibly passionate about the characters and factions they identify with in the game, and this expansion will make them prouder than ever to declare their allegiance to the Horde or to the Alliance.”

Battle for Azeroth will feature new areas, new playable races, new loot, and new cooperative 20-player Warfronts inspired by classic Warcraft. Battle for Azeroth will also expand the level cap to 120. Battle for Azeroth is coming in 2018.

In a surprise announcement, Blizzard revealed that they’re working on an official server for ‘Vanilla WoW,’ called World of Warcraft Classic. As show in the trailer, this server will feature the long-running MMO before any expansions were added, circa 2004-05.

Fans have been clamoring for a vanilla server for years, while Blizzard has firmly rejected the idea as a technical impossibility and nostalgic wistfulness.

It looks like fan outcry finally won out. No release date for World of Warcraft Classic has been announced.

Hearthstone

Hearthstone’s third expansion of the year was revealed at BlizzCon: Kobolds & Catacombs. Kobolds & Catacombs will add 135 new cards to the digital card game.

New game mechanics include Spellstones, which are cards you hold in your hand for several turns to empower them before playing. New legendary weapons, one for each class, have been added. Everyone one will receive one free Legendary Weapon the first time they log into Kobolds & Catacombs.

Kobolds & Catacombs also adds a new single-player mode called Dungeon Runs. They’ll be completely free to play, and designed like a classic dungeon crawl.

Kobols & Catacombs will release in December.

Heroes of the Storm

The next two heroes to arrive in Heroes of the Storm were announced at Blizzcon: Hanzo from Overwatch and Alexstrasza from Warcraft. One channels the power of the dragon while the other is literally a dragon. Hazo will be a ranged assassin while Alexstraza will be a support hero.

The heroes will be added during the Dragons of the Nexus event, which runs from November 14 to December 12. The event will feature several quests that reward unique new portraits.

Blizzard also explained several major changes coming to HotS next year. New changes include zooming out the camera, changing neutral merc camps, and completely reworking stealth mechanics and heroes. These changes will arrive for testing on the PTR on November 20.

Starcraft II

Starcraft 2 received either the least or most interesting news depending on if you already own the game. It’s becoming free! Starting November 14, Starcraft 2 will be completely free to download and play, including the full Wings of Liberty campaign and ranked ladder. Multiplayer will include all the latest units and updates through the most recent expansion and patch.

“StarCraft 2 is one of the highest-rated PC games of all time, and we’re excited to give even more people around the world a chance to find out why it has inspired such a passionate global community,” said Morhaime. “With the massive Wings of Liberty single-player campaign, endlessly replayable co-op mode, prestigious ranked ladder, comprehensive map-making tools, and more, StarCraft 2 now delivers the ultimate real-time strategy experience completely free.”

If you want to experience the single-player campaign in the Heart of the Swarm or Legacy of the Void expansions, you’ll still need to purchase them.

Players who already own Wings of Liberty will be able to download Heart of the Swarm for free by claiming the digital gift through Battle.net before December 8.

Eric Watson

About Eric Watson

Eric is a freelance writer who enjoys talking about video games, movies, books and Dallas-based sports teams. Every week he watches a random film from his collection of several hundred DVDs and live tweets about it @RogueWatson. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla. He lives near Fort Worth, Texas with his wife and daughter, two dogs, two cats, two fish tanks, some hermit crabs and a bookshelf full of Transformers.