We are little over 2 months away from BlizzCon 2019 which is building more hype than in recent years. Many Blizzard fans, myself included, were disappointed with what came out of BlizzCon 2018. With the exception of Warcraft III: Reforged, many of the announcements were not met with overwhelming enthusiasm. Between some new character reveals for Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm and the questionable Diablo: Immortal mobile game, there was much left to be desired. BlizzCon 2019 should be a return to grace if the rumors and speculation are to be believed.
The big announcement for Overwatch fans last year was Ashe, the leader of the Deathlock Gang. While a new hero is almost a given at this year’s convention, I am hoping for a little bit more. Many speculate that Overwatch 2 will be the biggest announcement at BlizzCon this year. As Overwatch is continually updating with maps and heroes, I would hope that this would be the game’s first expansion rather than a completely new edition to the franchise.
A continuation rather the a new game would allow for a revitalization of things that we love rather than leaving the original by the wayside. Overwatch can be a divergence for the FPS norm where previous editions of the game are left by the wayside for a shiny new model where nothing much has changed.
Given the way that Overwatch tells its story, Overwatch 2 could provide unique ways to provide even more lore. Instead of forcing players into only playing one type of character through the campaign, an expansion could take place through the lens of different heroes and villains. This would allow for a story telling vehicle that can take place in any time during the Overwatch lore as well as opening the door for a new heroes to be introduced for the current state of the game.
Further, a campaign could be the way to introduce a new game mode as Overwatch has done in the past with co-op. I for one would not be opposed to a Battle-Royale mode where I could build an ice fortress as Mei or even a PVE mode resembling Fortnite‘s Save the World. Regardless, I think Overwatch is long overdue for something more than just a new hero and more skins. An expansion could be that big way to kick off BlizzCon 2019.
If you followed coverage of BlizzCon 2018, then you undoubtedly heard the negative reaction to the mobile exclusive Diablo: Immortal. The announcement was met with boos and fans thinking that the game was just some elaborate April Fool’s prank that Blizzard is known for. Given last year’s debacle, Diablo certainly needs something to bring fans faith back into the franchise. Diablo 4 could that catalyst.
Diablo 4 has been rumored to be announced for multiple BlizzCons since the cancellation of Diablo 3‘s second expansion. Diablo: Immortal appears to have functionality and elements that fans would love to see in Diablo 3 which may point to possible additions in an upcoming Diablo 4. Or at the very least, developers know exactly what the fans want.
I would hope that Blizzard is anxious to rectify their obvious misstep and put time into the Diablo 3 fan base that hasn’t received much love in recent years. Even if they pivot away from dungeon crawlers entirely different with Diablo 4, it will be better than nothing. I myself am not an avid Diablo fan but I know every year is fraught with tempered expectations surrounding the franchise. Maybe this is the year the crawler returns to being a major staple at BlizzCon once again.
Outside of the Starcraft II World Championship, I don’t imagine that we will see anything huge for the franchise. Then again, what else is new? The most recent buzz surrounding Starcraft was the rumored “battlefield-like” game that was in development. The game has sense been cancelled as it is believed Blizzard is diverting resources to the aforementioned Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4. Maybe in a couple years we can see Starcraft III in development or even a Starcraft 1 “reforged” but with other projects seemingly eating up resources, I fully except to see a new unit or skin as the only thing fans can look forward to. Hopefully they don’t give us a mobile game that fans are unhappy with.
World of Warcraft
I fully expect World of Warcraft (WoW) to be a main attraction again this year. World of Warcraft Arena World Championship and World of Warcraft Mythic Dungeon Invitational All-Stars will certainly draw big crowds. Warcraft III: Reforged should take a significant amount of stage time this year as there has not been a ton of information since its announcement last year. I also expect there to be at least WoW Classic panel to talk about the release dates of content given its launch in August. However, I think the biggest announcement for WoW will certainly be a new expansion.
Blizzard has the expansion and release down to a science. Battle for Azeroth was announced at BlizzCon 2017 and then was released just 8 months later. With the way that the cinematic ends at Queen Azshara’s defeat, I can see Blizzard announcing the next expansion that puts on a collision course with the Old Gods again next summer. The gap between next summer and the release of Classic should give fans to enjoy their nostalgia for nearly a year then be ready to return to the current state of the game. For those who are not moving to play Classic, I anticipate new Allied races in mean time. What is the new expansion lull without reputation to grind?
A new expansion? Is there really more to say here? Outside of a tournament, I don’t see there being anything really exciting for Hearthstone fans. The only thing that I can see being an interesting addition to the franchise is the announcement of a new competition format. Given the reception of specialist, the game is in need of a more exciting way of doing a pick-ban phase than even the conquest format. A bigger surprise and one that I think would would shake up the game would be the introduction of a new class. Perhaps a monk deck can save us from control warrior.
Heroes of the Storm
Admittedly, Heroes of the Storm (HotS) is the game that I have the least experience with. I played the game briefly when it release but alas, my League of Legends addiction was too strong. However, it seems to falling the way of Starcraft II where outside of new characters there really hasn’t been any additions to the game. The fully original character that was realized last year is surely an interesting development. However, I am not sure if new characters will satisfy fans if Overwatch and Diablo receive major announcements. I do not believe that Blizzard would go the mobile route for HotS, but we didn’t see Diablo: Immortal coming so who knows?
It has been over 3 years since Overwatch’s release. It may be time for a new property to be released separate from the already established games. I am not very optimistic about something totally new being released if Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 are to announced. Blizzard has a foothold in MMO, FPS, RTS, card games, and dungeon crawlers, so I am not sure what else they could possibly do.
However, if Overwatch is any indication, Blizzard has the talent to create a new world that is distinct. Given the increased focus on Esports, I don’t think they would release anything doesn’t capitalize on that market. That being said, I would be interested in Blizzard taking on the full blow single player RPG market. Maybe Diablo 4 could fill this gap if they come out of left field but I would much more intrigued in Blizzard‘s take on post apocalyptic/dystonian universe. I think it would be the best way to merge all of their creative properties with plenty of Easter eggs like we see in Overwatch.
I attended BlizzCon in 2008 and 2009 marking 10 years since I have been in the Anaheim Convention Center. Despite the time gap, I still as excited for the convention as I was as entered my first ever convention in BlizzCon 2008. Even if just the nostalgia of the event takes over, I believe that I will enjoy my time being immersed in Blizzard properties again. Be sure to keep posted on But Why Tho? A Geek Community for coverage of the event and a follow up to see if any of my predictions even came true.