BlizzCon 2018 Opening Ceremony recap

It’s BlizzCon time again, Blizzard’s annual celebration of their evergrowing roster of titles. Prior to the show the rumours were flying on pretty much every front.

As it turned out most were, as is so often the case, wildly inaccurate! But there was plenty of new stuff to go round.

Before the opening ceremony itself began, a really interesting announcement from outside Blizzard itself. From now until the 18th of November gamers can claim a free copy of Destiny 2 on the Blizzard app. Just the base game, mind, not any of the expansions. Still a fantastic deal. Destiny 2 is not without its problems, particularly at “end game,” but it’s a barrel of fun until then!

Claim your free copy of Destiny 2 in the Gift area on the app.

The first announcement of the main event was quite the doozy, a new character for Heroes of the Storm that is entirely original. Heroes in the game are often drawn from other Blizzard properties, hopefully a new character is welcomed by the community so Blizzard can continue to expand the game in the future.

Cute girl with a tentacle monster special ability, though?

World of Warcraft got a whole slew of announcements, starting with the next charity pet to go on sale, Whomper!

Sure can’t imagine where they got that idea. Probably came from somewhere far, far away…

For those who’ve kept up with the current World of Warcraft expansion, a new lore cinematic was released. Varok Saurfang has been captured by the Alliance and is now in a cell deep in the city of Stormwind. King Anduin Wrynn comes to discuss the state of the Horde under Sylvanas.

A very important development in the current conflict, to say the least.

Last of all, though not at the opening ceremony, was an in-engine cinematic teasing the coming warfront. No release date, sadly. Hopefully not too long, the existing warfront is already wearing a bit thin.

Next up the show was meant to move to the Hearthstone stage, but unfortunately a technical issue prevented the sound from working. After a minute or so trying to fix it the feed was abruptly cut over to the Overwatch presentation.

Fans of Overwatch were in for a treat again this year, with a fantastic new cinematic and a new character announcement. Well, technically two new characters.

Reunion, the cinematic in question, features McCree and a great train robbery. Players may recognise the setting for the showdown between McCree and the Deadlock Rebels…

And if you’re thinking that the lady leading the Deadlock crew looks great, you’re in luck! Ashe has been announced as the next character coming to Overwatch. The 29th hero, to be exact.

Yes, Ashe’s Ultimate is to call in her towering robot cohort, Bob. Not sure how that’s going to work, but as Ultimate mechanics go it certainly sounds a bit… different?

And now, one of the games rumoured to be getting a remaster. Warcraft III: Reforged is coming some time in 2019 and will not only feature heavily upgraded graphics but also remade cutscenes, an updated UI and a new balance pass over the entire game.

Much of the lore of World of Warcraft has been based on the events of Warcraft 3, and while certain aspects have been tinkered with over the years it’s in this you can see the birth of the Undead civilisation and the turning of Arthas Menethil into the dreaded Lich King.

Whilst it is maybe not quite as graphically impressive as more modern RTS titles, it’s important to remember that Warcraft 3 also essentially birthed the MOBA genre. DOTA began life as a custom map designed in the world editor for the game. DOTA 2, along with others like League of Legends and Blizzard’s own Heroes of the Storm, is now played by tens of millions of gamers every day, with massive prize pools being offered in various competitions around the world. Don’t be surprised if something amazing comes of this remaster.

After Warcraft 3 the Hearthstone presentation was attempted again, this time on the main stage instead of the secondary one where it was originally attempted. Hearthstone’s bringing in some new cards (of course) in the latest expansion, Rastakhan’s Rumble.

Hearthstone people are a bit weird, but some of the new cards seem to offer some interesting new strategies, plus there’s free singleplayer content, the Rumble Run, where you fight against an array of champions from the expansion. Bit of something for you, whether you pay to play Hearthstone or not.

And last, closing out the ceremony, something one has to wonder what Blizzard was thinking in announcing here, Diablo Immortal.

Great cinematic, as we’ve come to expect from Blizzard. Wyatt Cheng of the Diablo team, presenting this on the main stage, was extremely enthusiastic about the game, but the crowd started to twig early that this wasn’t really going to be for them…

It’s a mobile title, coming to iOS and Android next year. Featuring seemingly the same heroes available in Diablo 3, minus the Witch Doctor but including the Necromancer, but with some new abilities not previously seen, the game takes advantage of the touchscreen to let you power and aim attacks with simple taps.

If you want a mobile Diablo experience, but don’t have a Nintendo Switch, this is an option that will be available. Even if some fans suspect it might be a very late April Fool’s joke. (Thanks Mugsy on the forums!)

While the fan response has been tepid at best, it’s interesting to see Blizzard even attempting this. Previously only Hearthstone, specifically designed for mobile devices, was an option for Blizzard gaming on the go. Whether the initial revulsion can be overcome will certainly be interesting.

And that’s the end of the Opening Ceremony. Some interesting announcements, regardless of which game you like. Except Starcraft, poor Starcraft was left out.

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