BlizzCon Day One & Overwatch World Cup 2017
Blizzard came storming out of the gate on the first day of BlizzCon 2017, with announcements and reveals on what seemed like just about everything, including a new Hearthstone expansion, a new support hero and map coming to Overwatch and much, much more. Friday was also the first day of the Overwatch World Cup, with South Korea showing why they’re considered the best team in international Overwatch. Let’s look at some of the big announcements from the first day of BlizzCon before breaking down the World Cup action throughout the night.
StarCraft II will become free-to-play on Nov. 14. Players will have access to the Wings of Liberty campaign, multiplayer ladders, and Legacy of the Void updates. The Heart of the Storm, Legacy of the Void and Nova Covert Ops campaigns aren’t going to be included in the free to play.
“With the massive Wings of Liberty single-player campaign, endlessly replayable co-op mode, prestigious ranked ladder, comprehensive map-making tools, and more, StarCraft II now delivers the ultimate real-time strategy experience completely free,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment.
Heroes of the Storm
Heroes of the Storm will see two new heroes entering the Nexus soon: Alexstrasza, A Healer who shares her health with allies and can transform into a dragon to empower her abilities; and the infamous Hanzo, which adds to the growing list of Overwatch characters added to Heroes in the last year.
World of Warcraft
WoW announced another expansion: Battle for Azeroth, which puts players in the middle of an escalation of the conflict between the Alliance and Horde.
“World of Warcraft players are incredibly passionate about the characters and factions they identify with in the game, and this expansion will make them prouder than ever to declare their allegiance to the Horde or to the Alliance,” Morhaime said during BlizzCon.
The expansion, besides having an epic trailer, will increase level caps and include two new areas for players to explore. Blizzard also announced the creation of a vanilla WoW server which is based on the classic World of Warcraft server. World of Warcraft Classic, as it will be known, hasn’t been given a release date yet, but fans shouldn’t hold their breath. Executive Producer J. Allen Brack said at BlizzCon it’s still in early development.
The newest expansion for Hearthstone will take players deep unground, to the domain of the Kobolds in Kobolds and Catacombs. The expansion will introduce 135 new cards to the game and a new single player mode called Dungeon Runs.
In this mode players start with a deck from their class of choice and face a series of stronger and stronger foes, randomly selected from a pool of unique bosses. As they progress, they’ll bolster their decks with cards looted from defeated bosses, including some exclusive to Dungeon Runs. Proceed with caution though, because losing a single battle will spell the end of Dungeon Run and players will have to start from scratch.
Finally Lucio, Mercy and Ana are getting some company (Sorry Symmetra, you’re not a healer!). Moira is the newest Overwatch hero introduced by Jeff Kaplan during BlizzCon’s opening ceremonies.
“If you’re wondering how to spell Moira, it’s O-P-A-F,” Kaplan said after her reveal trailer was played.
Kaplan acknowledged the Overwatch communities’ desire for an additional support hero.
“We all know you wanted a new DPS, but healers are important too,” Kaplan joked.
Moira is described by Blizzard as:
“A world-renowned scientist specializing in genetics, who now works in the employ of the shadowy Talon organization. She applies her vast knowledge on the battlefield to weaken her opponents and strengthen her allies. Her Biotic Grasp can drain life from enemies but can also be used to heal her teammates, while her Fade ability allows her to instantly escape danger by temporarily disappearing into the shadows. She can provide a surge of extra damage against foes—or added healing for friends—with Biotic Orb. Her ultimate ability, Coalescence, mends or maims those in its path; not even barriers can stop this powerful beam.”
It will be interesting to see whether Moira’s Biotic Orbs operate in a similar way to Zenyatta’s orbs or if they have a different way of working.
Blizzard also announced a new map: BlizzardWorld.
“The Overwatch team was thinking: what if there was a theme park dedicated to Blizzard? Wouldn’t that be cool?” Kaplan said.
Yes Jeff, yes it would. The map pays homage to other Blizzard games, and just looks great in general. BlizzardWorld will be a hybrid map, which means it will include both a capture point and a payload escort. Kaplan said fans would have the opportunity to play both Moira and the new map at BlizzCon, but everyone else will have to wait until early next year for the new map. No solid word yet on when Moira will hit PTR, but if it’s similar to last year and Sombra fans shouldn’t have to wait too long.
There was also a new Reinhardt cinematic short, “Honor and Glory”, which gives a look at Reinhardt fighting with the Crusaders and German Army in Eichenwalde during the Omnic Crisis. It’s impossible to not want to rocket-boost through a wall after watching it (Mei’s is still way cuter though).
Overwatch World Cup at BlizzCon
In addition to a new hero, map and cinematic; Overwatch fans got the chance to watch teams from across the globe battle it out in the quarterfinals and semifinals of the Overwatch World Cup. This is an opportunity for Blizzard to showcase their new spectator mode intended to make viewing easier. It does make it easier to distinguish which team is which thanks to really cool and unique home/away national skins, but the color outline for each team can get confusing as abilities are colored the same. This same system will be used in the upcoming Overwatch league so it’ll be interesting to see if Blizzard makes any changes before then.
The first Quarterfinal saw Great Britain overwhelmed by Sweden in a 3-0 sweep. Britain had limited time to practice together as a team before the tournament, and it showed. The U.K. team just didn’t have the cohesion that the Swedes showed. They played well, but in the end the more coordinated Swedish team got the victory.
Smex for team Great Britain played an impressive D.Va though, forcing Sweden to switch off of Mercy on Numbani. Sweden’s Tviq was a monster on Soldier: 76 , scoring a double-healer kill with one helix rocket on Numbani.
Next up, Canada faced off against Australia. The Canadians fell behind early, and it came close to being another 3-0 sweep. But, led by Surefour on DPS and XQC running tank, Team Canada won 3 games in a row to take the match.
China went up against France in the third Quarterfinal round. The Chinese team started out strong, winning Nepal seemingly able to handle France. Both teams played it close on Numbani too. France was able to pull off a win in the second game and started to turn the tide. On Hanamura, France capped both points, but China was unable to get the second. Another game for France. This set up a showdown in Junkertown. China’s Zhufanjun looked almost unstoppable on Bastion at first, with France not really putting up any kind of defense in the first round. France fought back and were able to complete their entire second round attack with only 1:16. This wasn’t all, they were able to hold China for almost 5:00, to win an epic game and match.
Finally, the United States took on South Korea in the most intense match of the night. The U.S.A. was seen by many as the team most likely to dethrone the Koreans and the match lived up to the hype. U.S.A won Nepal on the back of Sinatraa, whose aggressive Tracer play shut the Koreans down. Eichenwalde was close as well, but South Korea managed to pull it off. Then came Hanamura. Flow3r of South Korea decimated the defenses of the U.S. with top-tier Widowmaker play. The U.S.A. looked lost at times, but managed to pull off a draw. Keeping up with the Koreans wouldn’t be enough for the U.S.A. to last, though. Watchpoint and Oasis were all Korea, giving the champs the win and sending Team U.S.A. home.