20th anniversary

Celebrate Diablo’s 20th Anniversary in Each Blizzard Game

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December 31 marks the 20th anniversary of the original Diablo. Blizzard Entertainment is hosting a minor celebration across all their games with special events, games, and loot.

“Blizzard Entertainment is thrilled to commemorate twenty years of Diablo,” states the news post. “We’re ready to celebrate our passion for the world of Sanctuary and the brave heroes who inhabit it! Here’s to twenty years of loot!”

Each of Blizzard’s ongoing series is celebrating:

  • Diablo III – The Darkening of Tristram tribute event. The Cathedral levels of Diablo 1 have been recreated in Diablo III, including some “familiar items.”
  • Heroes of the Storm – The weekly brawl will feature a Diablo theme. As with other brawls, playing three games nets you a unique portrait.
  • Hearthstone – A Diablo-themed Tavern Brawl, and a new Diablo card back.
  • Overwatch – Loot new sprays of the Diablo III classes, and a new Diablo player icon.
  • Starcraft II – A new Diablo-themed portrait.
  • World of Warcraft – “Strange things are afoot in the world of Azeroth as denizens of Sanctuary cross over into an unfamiliar world.”

No details on when the Diablo event ends.

As far as multi-game events go, this one is pretty weak. New retro content in Diablo III is nice, but the rest are lame. To be fair, Blizzard is also in the midst of their big Overwatch Winter Event, and other holiday events for various games.

Diablo is widely considered the grandfather of the entire Action-RPG genre. It wasn’t the first to define the genre, but it was the first to popularize its loot-driven, fast-paced gameplay. Decades of games have built upon that solid gameplay loop, from Borderlands to Destiny.

Blizzard’s own Diablo II remains one of their most beloved titles. The very long-awaited Diablo III had a rough launch. It was criticized for some jarring changes. After years of feedback, patches, and updates it has been embraced by fans, and become a worthy successor.

overwatch

Earn Free Winter Loot Boxes by Logging into Overwatch

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If you’ve lapsed, or haven’t yet tried one of the biggest games of the year, now is a lucrative time to jump in. To further celebrate their Winter Event, Overwatch is giving out five free Winter Loot Boxes, just for logging in. You’ll have to do it before January 2nd, when the Winter Event ends.

The Winter Loot Boxes contain special unique loot that’s only available during the Winter Event. This includes unique new Winter and Holiday-themed skins for many characters. These skins, as always, are among the rarest loot.

Overwatch is also on sale right now, both digitally via Battle.net Shop and physically at Amazon, GameStop, and Best Buy. It’s discounted to $29.99, while the Origins Edition is $39.99. The Origins Edition is useful for fans of other Blizzard games, as it comes with a collection of digital goodies such as a Hearthstone Overwatch card back and a Baby Winston pet for World of Warcraft. It also includes five unique skins for Overwatch characters.

The Winter Event is the third Seasonal Event that Blizzard has run this year. Events include new loot and new Arcade mini-games. The Winter Event presents Mei’s Snowball Offensive, in which everyone plays Mei and hurls snowballs at each other.

Blizzard’s hero shooter has enjoyed widespread critical acclaim and commercial success. Overwatch has earned numerous Game of the Year accolades from prominent gaming sites, including here at Pixelkin. Stephen called it “a brilliantly designed game that is possessed of a level of polish that is rarely seen in games today.”

overwatch

Overwatch Presents Holiday-Themed Webcomic with a Big Reveal

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Tracer is queer!

Now that I have your attention, Blizzard Entertainment has, rather sweetly, confirmed that Overwatch’s most popular character and face of the game is queer through a new webcomic.

The comic, titled “Reflections,” tells the story of Tracer racing home during the holidays using her chronal powers. Through good deeds and a bit of luck she ends up with a gift for her special someone, who happens to be a woman named Emily, and the two share a tender kiss.

overwatch

Naturally the internet is losing its mind.

Blizzard’s hero shooter Overwatch is one of the most popular games of the year. The fandom has exploded thanks to Blizzard’s colorful and diverse cast of international heroes and villains. The stories and setting surrounding the multiplayer shooter have been teased through short videos and webcomics.

“Reflections” is written by Michael Chu and drawn by Miki Montillo. It’s the tenth webcomic they’ve done, which typically focus on expanding one hero’s backstory.

A bonus treat is the penultimate panel, which shows a montage of scenes of other Overwatch characters celebrating the holidays in their own ways.

overwatch

It’s worth nothing that Tracer’s sexuality has zero bearing on the game itself. This isn’t a BioWare RPG love-fest, it’s a multiplayer shooter. The revelation is being treated just as you expect in an increasingly divisive world: disgust, annoyance, support, and love.

No, a video game character’s sexuality shouldn’t warrant its own headline. But reading through comments (which I don’t recommend) you’ll quickly realize why this is a big deal. Gaming in particular often comes under fire for under-representing anything that isn’t the default straight white male. Overwatch has one of the most compelling character designs in years, with a wide range of body types and ethnicities. It’s natural that they would include a range of genders and sexualities.

Blizzard’s Michael Chu has previously confirmed that “they are definitely LGBT heroes” in Overwatch. That’s heroes, meaning multiple. “It’s very important for us to have diversity and inclusiveness of all types, and that includes LGBT characters.”

Here’s an official statement that Blizzard sent Kotaku:

As in real life, having variety in our characters and their identities and backgrounds helps create a richer and deeper overall fictional universe. From the beginning, we’ve wanted the universe of Overwatch to feel welcoming and inclusive, and to reflect the diversity of our players around the world. As with any aspect of our characters’ backgrounds, their sexuality is just one part of what makes our heroes who they are. From the very beginning of our work on Tracer’s story, it just felt right to make this an aspect of her character.