BlizzCon Opening Ceremony Reveals Sombra, Diablo Remake, and More
BlizzCon's opening ceremonies are the main thing to watch for upcoming Blizzard Entertainment updates, games, and more. This year was no different, as big news dropped for Overwatch, Starcraft II, Diablo III, and more.
In case you missed it, here's everything you need to know about this year's announcements!
This year marked a number of anniversaries for Blizzard as a company. BlizzCon 2016 marked the 10th annual BlizzCon, the 25th anniversary of Blizzard Entertainment, as well as the 20th anniversary of the Diablo series. Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime took the time to thank both employees and fans of Blizzard for their dedication and passion for the company over the years.
Morhaime also briefly announced that Allen Adham would be coming out of retirement to rejoin the Blizzard Entertainment time. Allen Adham was one of the original founders of Blizzard Entertainment, and major consultants throughout the company's early history.
Originally passed off as a homage to Overwatch's launch earlier this year, Sombra quickly hacked into the presentation to reveal her animated short, "Infiltration". In this short, we get to see the inner workings of Talon operations, as well as some insights into the motives and mentality of Overwatch's latest hero.
Interestingly enough, Sombra is not actually the villain she was made out to be. In fact, she appears to be a character who enjoys indulging in pure chaos. In the beginning Sombra aids Widowmaker and Reaper as they break into Volkskya Industries -- only to stab them in the back without their knowing and taking advantage of the situation to bolster her own resources.
Morhaime also announced that there would be several new maps and game modes coming to Overwatch in the coming weeks. These new maps include Oasis and Ecopoint Antarctica.
Oasis is a map that takes place in a desert area that has been terraformed completely for habitation. This high tech city will roll out as a new map in the future.
Ecopoint Antarctica is a map specifically designed for arcade 1v1 and 3v3 game modes. This map takes place in the facility where Mei was cryogenically frozen, and is expected to hold fast-paced battles between smaller groups than traditional games. It was also used to highlight a revamp of the Arcade mode system coming soon.
According to Morhaime, all of these features will be present in the Public Test Realm by December.
Not particularly unexpected -- but entirely well received -- was the announcement that Alexi Stukov will be joining the already strong list of co-op commanders available for players in Starcraft II. Stukov will play quite differently from previous commanders. Unlike other races, Stukov's army is a unique Terran army composed solely of infested units.
His main gimmick is to infest the enemy army, slowly taking control of the entire map. From the looks of it, the best way to take advantage of him during gameplay is for commanders to be much more aggressive. This means attacking the enemy base as opposed to the usual turtling or hit-and-run strategies co-op players might be familiar with.
Blizzard's CEO also welcomed DeepMind to the stage to announce a new partnership in which the researchers at DeepMind will be developing AI for Starcraft II. They are also looking forward to having competitions for public programmers to start hosting tournaments between AI programs, as well as the possibility of a future tournament between DeepMind's AI and BlizzCon's Starcraft II human champion.
Last but not least, the Nova Covert Ops will have its final episode released on November 22nd, 2016. This episode will wrap up Nova's story that takes place after the events of Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void.
Heroes of the Storm
Heroes of the Storm also saw its fair share of announcements at BlizzCon. First up is the announcement of two new characters coming to the Nexus: Varian Wrynn and Ragnaros.
Varian and Ragnaros both have unique methods of play. The Alliance hero will be the first multi-class hero in Heroes of the Storm, able to function in six different positions, including the four traditional classes depending on which perks are upgraded over the course of the game.
Ragnaros, on the other hand, will be able to take over allied towers and become somewhat like a map boss in both size and strength. Excelling in clearing lanes with ease, Ragnaros can be expected to be one of the best suited lane pushers and defenders in the game upon release.
Diablo III's 20th anniversary is at hand, and what better way to celebrate it than by bringing back the Necromancer from Diablo II? Almost as if hinted at by his release in Heroes of the Storm, the Necromancer will be returning to the Diablo universe as a playable character in 2017. He (and his female counterpart) will arrive as part of the "Rise of the Necromancer" pack. This also means that it will likely be paid content.
What will be released for free as part of the anniversary, however, is a recreation of the original Diablo game in Diablo III. The final details are not yet set in stone, but the new area will see pixelated filters, 8-directional movement, and a 16 level dungeon which will host the 4 main bosses of the original game.
Mike Morhaime briefly touched upon World of Warcraft, telling fans that the game will still see new content in 2017. One of these features includes the Felkitty pet for those who donate toward the next Make a Wish Foundation event. While other content for 2017 has been promised, very little was touched upon during the ceremony.
Meanwhile, Hearthstone saw the announcement of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, a new series of cards for the popular Warcraft-themed card game. This new expansion will see players teaming up with one of the three gangs of Gadgetzan, each faction featuring its own unique play style and cards.
That's it for now!
BlizzCon has just started, and there will be plenty more yet to come. Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more updates or watch BlizzCon's live stream here (provided you have a virtual ticket).