Blizzcon 2016 is in the bag, and while not having the mega announcement of past years there was still more than enough major news from the house of Thrall. So we here at MMOGames we’ve ranked what we thought were the biggest announcements from BlizzCon 2016 in order of importance to the gaming world.
Did I get any wrong? If you think so, please tell me in the comments down below.
(Dis)Honorable mention: No more Sombra ARG
Great idea guys, but waiting and hunting for the 70th “Your Offense class is in another castle” got… tiring, but it seems BOOP has saved you somewhat, so, oh well!
10. StarCraft Deepmind
Deepmind is Google’s adaptive AI that has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. Being the first computer program to ever beat a Go grandmaster (Go being one of the single most complicated games where it’s possible to play with up to 2.08 × 10^170 moves) and is now setting its sights on a more chaotic environment to learn from.
At BlizzCon it was announced that Blizzard would be teaming up with Google to open up Starcraft II to AI researchers starting next year. With the almost infinite chaotic environments and amounts of moves and actions being a massive step up from past Atari games and even the likes of Go.
If I was basing this list on announcements affecting the real world, this would easily win by a landslide. However, as far as gaming is concerned, it’s more of a long picture deal at improving game AI than anything else.
9. Brawls Coming to Warcraft
Weekly alternating Brawls have become a mainstay in Blizzard games as of late, so it was only a matter of time before they arrived to the company’s flagship title. While the weekly events have been going on for a while with Time Walking and Pet battle weeks, it never really captured the madcap silliness of the kind found in Hearthstone and Overwatch.
However, in an upcoming patch, players will now have the chance to take part in a set of random and, quite frankly, daft PvP scenarios. They plan to be to balanced PvP what a plasma cannon would be to CS:GO. Loud, silly and 100% out of character but probably the most fun you can have outside the Goldshire Inn.
Only a few of these Rotating weekly events have been announced so far including a 40 vs 40 raid taking place in the nostalgia of most of us who were unfortunate enough to try and level in Southshore before battlegrounds were added, an Eye of the Storm that randomly turns off the gravity, a 15 vs 15 Arena match that will in no way shape or form even resemble a balanced battle, Arathi Basin with zero visibility and 100% more Ice, and (my personal favorite) Eye of the Storm with rideable rams that knock people off cliffs called Eye of the Horn.
That pun is worth the price of Legion alone.
8. Necromancers Arrive
Diablo 2 fans rejoice as the edge high king has arrived to Diablo 3. Coming Soon™ players with this expansion will be able to throw bones and skeletons at people with reckless abandon. Playing as a mix of pet swarm and ranged attacker, the necromancer will play like the old Diablo 2 class while still adding new abilities and playstyles. Normally, this would rank higher on our list, but the lack of sequel (or even expansion) dulls the announcement a bit.
7. A MOBA Trailer Made us Cry
Varian and Ragnaros are coming to Heroes of the Storm. Varian has three distinct fighting styles while Rag can become gigantic and take over forts. I’d love to tell you more, but they played a haunting version of Anduins theme and it made us tear up a bit.
6 The Mean Streets of Gadgetzan
The new card expansion of hearthstone continues to take itself 100% seriously with the new Mobster inspired Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion. It will Add a new system of gang membership and Tri-class cards (cards that only work for 3 set classes).
I won’t comment too much on the cards themselves as, well, I am the worst Hearthstone player in the world. However, a few of the actually good players I know looked on with a sense of horror and glee at some of the new exciting combos (including one that lets you make your own custom spell card) and synergy between the new Tri-class cards (healer mages will be a thing i fear).
5. Sombra Boops her way into Overwatch
So, while the ARG was bad… The announcement of the newest member of the Overwatch cast was (leaks aside) a well received one with a skillset that might just be a game changer for the Wverwatch meta. Sombra, the 30 year old Mexican super hacker not only has by far the best looking character design but also has a unique gameplay design philosophy based around stealth and control that might just be a nightmare for traditional team compositions.
Somba is able to stealth around the map, teleport great distances and track her opponents behind walls. But most frightening of all, she is able to shut down almost everything within the game. Her hack ability is able to make health packs useless to opponents as well to disable Turrets, shields (including Reinhardt’s) and stop ultimates in their tracks, with her ultimate being an AoE hack that can stop last minute Zenyatta Pushes in a heartbeat.
As a support/tank player, this is a bloody terrifying idea, but is also makes me want try out Offense for once. Boop.
4. Diablo 1 in Diablo 3
For a limited time, players of Diablo 3 will be able to relive Diablo 1 within the Diablo 3 engine, and it’s free of charge if you have the Reaper of Souls expansion. Players will be able to delve into the sixteen levels of dungeon, all four original bosses, and, of course, cows.
Players entering this Dungeon will also have to deal with artificially tinny music, blurry pixel vision and be limited to only 8 directions of movement. Because this is an old-school throwback damn it!
3. WoW Tokens Usable for Paid Features
Seemingly hidden within the Q&A section, in answer to a player asking about the expanded use of WoW Tokens (the coins players are able to buy from blizzard with real money to sell to others for in-game gold), the dev team announced that plans were in motion to expand the use of these coins to include other in-game purchases such as realm or faction transfers.
For such a major thing, this has been slightly buried in the other news, but this brings World of Warcraft one step closer to free-to-play. High gold players might soon able to do pretty much anything in the game without paying a penny of a real world currency. Big move.
2. The Overwatch League
Blizzard has always been on the outskirts of the eSports in everything aside from Korea and StarCraft. With games like League of Legends, Counter Strike and DOTA 2 dominating, there has always been the feeling that Heroes of the Storm and WoW:Arena events have been playing catch up. But with Overwatch, the first major foot in the door was achieved, and now it seem Blizzard plans to just go ahead and kick the damn thing down.
The Overwatch league might just be the biggest change up in eSports since it has started to be taken seriously in the west.
It’s a new competitive league based on traditional sports leagues from around the world. Investors can bid for a City (at the moment just within the Americas) and when confirmed by Blizzard, they are able to start signing players who will receive full contracts with pay and benefits, akin to more traditional sports.
This is a big move for eSports as it lacks the financial Stability of many other sports, giving players much more safety and less stress to practice and play under. Also tying teams to major cities brings with it an almost built in fan base that comes with local sports teams.
This could be the first major steps in getting eSports, already a big deal to many, seen in a more mainstream light. ESports is here to stay!
1. World of Warcraft Content Plans
By 7.2, the following will have been added to Legion: 2 (3 if you count Nighthold) major Raids, 2 new dungeons, 4 major quest chains, 1 full new zone of content, a return of the Invasions, 100 odd new World quests, Class mounts, a new chain of class quests, the return of 3 player scenarios, another Time Walking expansion, several short one day holidays, 2 revamped arenas, PvP brawls, another Brawler’s guild with new bosses, new artifact appearances, New Illidan quests, and finally the end of 3 of the major stories started at the beginning of the game.
And by 7.3, we will at last be storming Argus, the home world of the demons.
Compared to 6.2, the final patch for Warlords of Draenor, it’s more than twice the amount of new content added in the nearly 2 year run.
And with their promise that the PTR would almost always be testing new upcoming content at all times, it seems that the days of the content drought are truly dead. Looks like they have plans for the aging titan for many years still to come.
Garrisons are dead, long live Legion.Related: Blizzard Entertainment, Blizzcon, BlizzCon 2016, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, MMORPG, MOBA, Overwatch, StarCraft II, Top List, World of Warcraft