[BlizzCon 2011] The View From the Floor, Day 2

Sponsored post: Thanks to LG for inviting GamePron to BlizzCon 2011!

BlizzCon day two started off much more low key than day one. With no central opening ceremony to draw everyone, the crowd trickled in later, and dispersed quickly to the things they'd missed the day before.

The lines for the Diablo III demo stations were the longest of the convention and took about an hour to get through. There was one set of stations for single player/co-op PvE and then a separate set of stations for the PvP arena.

3D monitor technology

3D monitor technology

The single-player was also available at the ASUS booth on a 3D monitor or at the Steelseries booth on a laptop, though it was luck of the draw whether there'd be an open terminal. I was able to spend some time with the single player build, and saw that Diablo III will run fairly well on a decent laptop, but a great set of headphones will improve the experience - though the noise of the con certainly wasn't adding to the experience. The co-op is just as fun and engaging as Diablo II. The new PvP arenas were fast-paced and frenetic - much more like an FPS death match than a WoW arena. This mode won't be that accessible until you really learn your character's abilities.

StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm had three lines set up, one for multi-player, one for single player and one for Blizzard DOTA. The line for DOTA rivaled the Diablo III line, while the single-player was about half of that and - interestingly - the multiplayer line was half again.

The draw of playing as Nova fighting against Thrall was so strong that the people on my team had queued up multiple times before. This game was very accessible. I chose Arthas and was happy to find that his abilities matched those of my Warcraft Death Knight.

Surprisingly, the line for the newly announced World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria, was practically non-existent all day. The zone really is beautiful and the Monk is fun to play. Despite some earlier glitches, the in-game music was working by the time I had my second playthrough and lives up to the high standards we've come to expect from the game. (However, it was a little odd having Blizzard reps telling us our time was up when half of the seats were empty...)

One thing I noticed while walking around the con was the large percentage of people in wheelchairs or with other assistive devices. It really goes to show how gaming is a hobby for everyone. It was also fun seeing groups of guildies meeting up together and to catch up in person with the people that I talk to on Twitter.

As the con was coming to a close, I went over to get a seat for the closing ceremony only to find out that every seat had been taken and the Fire Marshall wasn’t letting anyone else in. Apparently these “Foo Fighters” are a big deal (who knew?!).

Our intrepid reporter at BlizzCon

Our intrepid reporter at BlizzCon

Luckily the concert was being simulcast on all of the other panel and tournament stages, as well as various screens throughout the venue. I sat down as Blizzard house-band The Artist Formerly Known as Level 80 Elite Tauren Chieftain took the stage. In a bad case of “Opening Band Syndrome” the vocals and guitars were mixed too low and unintelligible. The band still rocked and soon the mix was fixed. And yes, that is Art Director Samwise Didier on vocals, StarCraft II lead producer Chris Sigaty on rhythm guitar, and Blizzard president, co-founder and CEO Mike Morhaime rockin' out on bass guitar.

After a couple of songs (including a guest appearance by George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher from Cannibal Corpse), the band revealed that they had a big announcement: They were going to change their name! Samwise couldn’t decide between Level 90 Elite Tauren Chieftain (L90ETC) or The Artist Formerly Known as The Artist Formerly Known as Level 80 Elite Tauren Chieftain. After looking at the two logos on a t-shirt, though, the band chose the former (to avoid having so many letters printed next to one's "Little Chieftain", says Samwise). The newly named band continued to rock down the house.

Former WoW server blade, auctioned for charity

Former WoW server blade, auctioned for charity

After the convention closed, there was an unofficial after-party at the Hilton Hotel right next door. The lobby floor filled up with several thousand people trying to rub elbows with the Blizzard employees who were staying at the hotel. It’s a great chance to chat with Mike Morhaime and Chris Metzen - or at least it would be a good chance if it wasn’t so noisy that you couldn't hear yourself talk...!

This year’s BlizzCon was a blast and everyone I talked to had enjoyed themselves. I can’t wait to come back and do it again next year!

GamePron was invited to attend BlizzCon 2011 thanks to LG!
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