Blizzcon 2013 kicked off today with a several big announcements for both existing and future titles including a new expansion for World of Warcraft featuring a new continent, gameplay and cinematic trailer for Heroes of the Storm which is now open for beta sign-ups and the plan for Hearthstone.
Firstly, the latest expansion for World of Warcraft has been announced: Warlords of Draenor. The expansion centers on the Alliance’s “finest hour” and will bring together the whole Warcraft mythos by bringing up the “ghosts of the past.”
“We have been thinking a lot of about Warcraft, what makes it distinct, what makes it tick and about the early days,” SVP of story and franchise development Chris Metzen told CVG. “Many of you were with us during the events of Orcs and Humans, Tides of Darkness and Beyond the Dark Portal. The events of those came predicated what’s happening in the modern era of WoW.
“There’s a huge amount of players that never lived those events, met those characters or had those adventures. As we’re thinking about where to go. Some of the baddest dudes ever in the Warcraft franchise almost had their way and conquered the entirety of the Eastern Kingdoms. If they had history would have taken a turn.
“What if those dark days could come again, what if those vicious villains could threaten our homes again. The conflict coming will be the Alliance’s finest hour. Horde, you’ve had to live with the consequences of Thrall’s disappointments, with Garosh’s reign of terror, but in the face of all that you have a chance at a new start, to redefine yourselves in this brave new world.
“But as is often true, to forge a brighter future, sometimes you must confront the ghosts of the past.”
Worlds of Draenor will feature a new Draenor zone, said to be a new continent and the homeworld of the orcish race before it was dispersed into the Outland.
The level cap will be increased to 100 and there will be new dungeons and raids as well as brand new quests. Players will also be able to build and upgrade garrisons. New character models have also been introduced.
StarCraft II game director Dustin Browder spoke at Blizzcon about the upcoming MOBA Heroes of the Storm which is now open for beta sign-ups.
“Heroes of the Storm is Blizzard the game,” he said. “A combination of all of our heroes and villains in one big battle to the death,”Blizzard said during the opening ceremony.
“It’s just not enough for us to pay homage to what our fans have created,” they said refering to community made mods, most notably Defense of the Ancients.
So far, the biggest concern when launching a new MMO, even from an industry titan such as Blizzard, is competition from other more established MMOs such as DotA2 and League of Legends. Blizzard’s Alan Dabiri is confident that Heroes of the Storm will set itself apart from other MOBAs.
“Pretty much every game we’ve ever released has been in a space where other people have games of the same type,” Dabiri said.
“When we released StarCraft or Warcraft there were plenty of RTS games, World of Warcraft is the same and even Hearthstone, there’s plenty of card games out there.
“We always take that experience and put a Blizzard flavour on it and I think that people have come to appreciate that. Personally, I think that it’s shown through the years that we’ve been able to succeed at that,” he said.
“But there’s a lot of other mechanics, we learned this from our other games, that we can have all these other cool gameplay elements built into the maps themselves to make the game more interesting.”
Dabiri went on to say that he believes Heroes of the Storm will be enough to even win over even the most dedicated League of Legends and DotA 2 players. “I’m not concerned about other people on the industry and other people in this space,” he said. “We’re just focused on making a fun, great game.”
Blizzard CCO Rob Pardo announced that Blizzard’s very own CCG Heartstone will be entering open-beta on December. As they should, Heartstone will also be getting an iOS and Android version which are currently playable at Blizzcon 2013.
The tablet versions are currently in development and is expected to launch late 2014.
Blizzard made clear that their latest MMO dubbed Project Titan is still currently on hold. “We really aren’t talking about that product right now,” COO Paul Sams told GameSpot.
“I think that all of us would love to see us do a new franchise,” he said regarding not only Titan but also regarding IPs in general. “What that really comes down to is having the right game, having the right reasons, and having the right kind of world to wrap around that game.”
“I think it’s difficult to launch a new franchise. I think it’s risky to launch a new franchise, but that has never been the reason to deter us.” Sams said. “It’s always been about doing the game we think we want to play next. What is the best franchise for that? Is it an existing franchise or is it one we should create? I think we have no concern and no hesitancy about building a new franchise if we think we have the right ideas and the right game to pair it with. Hopefully we’ll have some of those things to talk about in the future.”
There is still a whole day left of Blizzcon 2013, stay tuned for more updates.