In the opening ceremony at BlizzCon 2019, Blizzard Entertainment President J. Allen Brack apologized for the way the company handled the banning of a Hearthstone player who made political comments about China and Hong Kong during a live tournament, while standing firm in their disciplinary decisions.
Many remain unsatisfied with Blizzard’s actions and statement, but the conversation has quickly transformed into the huge new game announcements that were unveiled at BlizzCon 2019: Diablo 4, Overwatch 2, and World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. None of them have a release date yet, though Shadowlands is due out before the end of next year.
Overwatch 2 promises to dive deeper into the popular lore, world, and characters of Blizzard’s 2016 online hero shooter. The sequel will focus on cooperative PvE missions, divided into Story Missions and Hero Missions. Story Missions follow a campaign storyline, starting with the original Overwatch crew as they rebuild the team and defend the world from the robotic omnic forces of Null Sector.
Hero Missions are the more replayable mode where players can level up and customize their heroes, gaining new abilities to take on missions around the world. New enemies and larger maps will be added, as well as visual upgrades and enhancements over the original game.
Overwatch 2 will also include the 6v6 competitive multiplayer that the series is known for, and will even be fully compatible and playable with players of the original Overwatch, which Blizzard pledges to continue to support. The sequel will carry all the maps and content from the original game, as well as adding new heroes, new maps, and a new Push gameplay format.
“With Overwatch 2, we’re building the cooperative, narrative-driven game experience that players have been asking for since the original—and that we’ve wanted to make for a long time,” said Brack. “We’re looking forward to telling the next chapter of this epic story in-game, and we’re excited to give players a whole-new kind of co-op experience built around progressing and customizing their favorite heroes—all while providing even more of everything they love about Overwatch today.”
The Overwatch series is rated T for Teen.
The fourth installment of the long-running and still biggest action-RPG series was announced at BlizzCon 2019, and a playable demo was available on the show floor. Diablo 4 promises to deliver the same endlessly replayable dungeon crawling, monster slaying, loot gathering gameplay that has made the series so popular over the years.
New to the series will be the creation of a shared online world, allowing players to meet each other to dungeon delve, or battle one another in PvP combat, a mode that was eliminated in Diablo 3. Instead of magically teleporting to different chapters, the world of Sanctuary will be one big landmass to explore with all the deserts, swamps, and mountains that entails.
“Sanctuary has been a home to Diablo players for more than 20 years, and it’s with our own deep passion for the series and a deep appreciation of the community that we announce Diablo 4 today,” said Brack. “We’re excited to be returning to the dark, quintessential Diablo gameplay that players love while expanding the world and story in new ways, and we can’t wait for more people to be able to experience it.”
Three classes have been confirmed so far: Barbarian, Sorceress, and Druid, with the latter two last appearing in Diablo 2 (although Diablo 3 had a Wizard).
Diablo 4 is being developed simultaneously for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The series is rated M for Mature.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands
The next expansion for World of Warcraft will take players into the realm of the dead, Shadowlands. The veil between the living and the dead has been pierced by Sylvanas, and now all the souls are being drawn into the Maw.
The Shadowlands features five new zones, including the battlefields of Maldraxxus and the terrifying Maw. At the heart of the Maw is the Tower of the Damned, a new randomized dungeon inspired by the roguelike genre.
As they make their way though the Shadowlands, players will need to join forces with one of four Covenant factions, each of which holds domain over different regions of the realm of the dead. The Covenent choice is significant, as leveling up will grant new class-specific abilities and Souldbinds with specific members, granting new traits and bonuses.
“Shadowlands is taking us somewhere we’ve never dreamed of going in the Warcraft universe, and that’s incredibly exciting,” said Brack. “We can’t wait to explore the great beyond, catch up with old departed friends, and forge an epic new chapter in the Warcraft saga together with our players.”
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands will arrive sometime next year. World of Warcraft is rated T for Teen.