Rounding Up BlizzCon 2017

Blizzard had a lot to show off at their annual convention - Gerry Hart and Amy Gildert reveal all.

Amy Gildert
20th November 2017

Blizzard's annual extravaganza has come and gone, leaving us all with plenty to think about and look forward to. Here, we will run through the biggest announcements of the show, from Overwatch's new character to the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion.

Overwatch: Amy Gildert

BlizzCon 2017 was a highly anticipated event, especially so for Overwatch fans, who received a variety of announcements and releases. The big news from the event is the upcoming release of a new hero: Moira, a Talon scientist. The Overwatch community has been asking for a new support hero for some time, and Moira looks like a game-changing addition.

She specializes in a hybrid of offensive capabilities and healing. With one hand she deals out a biotic spray that heals teammates, and with the other deals out a damaging beam to enemies that drains their health whilst replenishing her healing energy. As far as her other capabilities go, she is equipped with a Biotic Orb that bounces around the map as either healing support or damage, and a Fade ability that allows her to teleport a short distance. This ability is particularly interesting, as it revealed that Moira was in fact the scientist responsible for Reaper’s iconic Wraith form and Shadow Step ability. Her ultimate Coalescence looks particularly powerful, utilizing a long-range beam that simultaneously heals allies and damages enemies. From the sounds of her abilities and the gameplay clips released so far, Moira looks like an exciting addition to the support characters.

A Reinhardt animated short was also released, and it will tug at your heartstrings. Blizzard has been teasing fans with glimpses of Overwatch’s backstory, and ‘Honor and Glory’ is no exception. In addition to showing the present day reactions of Winston’s call to arms, it shows a young Reinhardt facing off against enemies in the Omnic crisis around the familiar Eichenwalde map. Frankly I’m not a big Reinhardt fan, but the short is compelling enough that I’m suddenly looking at the character with a whole new sense of appreciation.

[pullquote]From the sounds of her abilities and the gameplay clips released so far, Moira looks like an exciting addition to the support characters.[/pullquote]

New skins have been added for Widowmaker, Zarya, Doomfist, Roadhog, Reinhardt and Mei, and the new Reinhardt and Mei skins tie nicely into their animated shorts. Thankfully these new skins aren’t tied to loot boxes with specific time periods, so they should be available to earn or buy as soon as they are put into play.

Fans can also expect a new map in 2018 called Blizzard World, a theme park based around Blizzard games. The map is half payload and half assault, and features different zones that Blizzard fans will recognize, such as the entrance to Stormwind, a Hearthstone Tavern, and a Heroes of the Storm arcade for starters. Overall it looks like a fun and lighthearted addition to the map options.

World of Warcraft: Gerry Hart

November 3rd marked one of the biggest events in the annual gaming calendar with Blizzcon 2017. And whilst much of the focus was on Overwatch, there was plenty to be said for Blizzard’s venerable MMORPG World of Warcraft.

The primary revelation WoW-wise was the announcement of the next expansion, Battle for Azeroth. Whereas the previous expansion centred on the Burning Legion (hence the name), Battle for Azeroth focuses on the outbreak of war between the Alliance and Horde as shown in two dramatic trailers (makes you wonder when they were ever at peace).

To be honest, I’m in two minds about the new expansion. I’m not 100% on board with the primary focus being on the Horde/Alliance conflict, partly because there are far more interesting aspects of the WoW universe to explore (e.g. the Old Gods) but also in the world of Azeroth, geopolitics and personal drama seem to go hand in hand, and frankly I’m getting rather bored on WoW’s over-infatuation with its main characters. Yet at the same time, the new continents of Kul Tiras and Zandalar look gorgeous and the announcement of new races for the Horde and Alliance got me excited.

But even this, the announcement of a whole new expansion was overshadowed somewhat by Blizzard’s opening gambit. Despite years of insisting that fans “didn’t want” legacy servers and that such servers are technically unfeasible, Blizzard are developing World of Warcraft Classic Edition.

[pullquote]By choosing to make a classic mode of their own, Blizzard has already garnered an enormous amount of community goodwill[/pullquote]

It’s hard to overstate how big of a deal this is. For years, Blizzard has been pursuing fanmade classic servers such as the infamous Nostralius server, much to the chagrin of the WoW community. By choosing to make one of their own, Blizzard has already garnered an enormous amount of community goodwill. Additionally, its rather satisfying to see Blizzard admit their own defences didn’t stand up to scrutiny. Whether it’ll actually be as good as fans remember is another matter but it’s nice to see a little bit of gaming history officially curated, and will be an interesting experience to try.

Of course being a corporate event Blizzcon amounts to little more than a giant advert, and we have no way of knowing if any of the announcements made will actually be any good. Still, this year’s Blizzcon was pretty strong and I’m interested to see how its announcements turn out when released.

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