In the dungeons and raids panel we got a sneak peak at the planned changes for patch 4.1, the first major content patch after Cataclysm is released. The highlights included:
- Firelands Raid, a new 10/25 player raid to take the fight for Mount Hyjal to the elemental plane of fire and the home of Ragnaros
- Abyssal Maw Dungeon, a new 5 player dungeon that extends the storyline of Vashj'ir, one of the two starting zones in Cataclysm
- Enhanced dungeon and raid maps, showing detailed boss information such as lore, loot and abilities
- Revamped lower level dungeons, rebuilding the classic 1-60 dungeons in Azeroth in line with current dungeon philosophy
In the cinematic panel we got glimpse into the enormous effort Blizzard put into their in game cinematics. Both the Goblin and Worgen starting experiences have in game cut scenes, and while the Goblin cinematic has been in the beta for a few weeks now, the panel took the opportunity to premier the Worgen cut scene for the first time.
Other panels, such as the Quests & Lore panel or the Class panel were an open Q&A. Often open Q&A's live and die by the quality of the questions being asked and the engagement of the crowd. Thankfully this year the questions were reasonably sensible and both the crowd and the developers on stage provided solid entertainment.
The news on StartCraft 2 centred on a new set of custom maps that have been developed by Blizzard that will soon be available on Battle.net. These new maps include:
- Aiur Chef
- Blizzard DOTA
- Left 2 Die
Blizzard DOTA drew especial interest as the StarCraft map is based on the incredibly popular WarCraft RTS mod Defense of the Ancients. DOTA is a 5v5 team game where we control a hero and must level up, buy items and work together with our teammates to defeat waves of units and ultimately destroy the opposing team's King Tower.
Unfortunately there was no news on the first upcoming expansion to StarCraft 2, Heart of the Swarm. Blizzard confirmed that development was progressing on it however given it wasn't available to playtest we can assume that there's still a lot of work to do and fans of Jim Raynor and Kerrigan will just have to wait a little bit longer to find out how their story continues.
The big news for Diablo 3 that we were all waiting for was a release date. Unfortunately Blizzard didn't feel that this was the time to let that particular cat out the bag, so all Diablo fans will just have to wait a bit longer to find out when they will be able to free their inner demon killer.
We did however find out what the final class will be for Diablo 3, the Demon Hunter. The Demon Hunter is a ranged class, using lightening quick reflexes to dish out death to any demon standing before them. With a pair of dual crossbows the Demon Hunter brings an entire arsenal of arcane gadgets and mystical traps to the battlefields of Sanctuary.
Also confirmed at BlizzCon for Diablo 3 was team-based PvP in an arena setting. This is brand new for Diablo and will provide us with a different experience than we've seen before in this world. Diablo 3 will be fully integrated into Blizzard online Battle.net matchmaking system which has worked so well for StarCraft 2.
With the five classes now fully released from Blizzard we can but hope that Diablo 3's release date will be announced for 2011 and that by the next BlizzCon we'll have played this much anticipated title.
Diablo 3 Key Features:
- Five powerful character classes to choose from, including the barbarian, witch doctor, wizard, monk, and demon hunter.
- Brand-new 3D graphics and physics engines enhanced with spectacular visual effects
- Numerous indoor and outdoor areas detailing new regions in the world of Sanctuary
- Interactive environments with dangerous traps and obstacles, and destructible elements
- Randomly generated worlds bolstered by scripted events for endless and dynamic gameplay
- Vast assortment of fiendish monsters, with unique attack patterns and behaviors
- New quest system and character-customization options for the ultimate action RPG experience
- Multiplayer functionality over Battle.net with support for cooperative and competitive play
BlizzCon this year had a different feel to it. In previous years Blizzard have had at least one major announcement up their sleeve but that wasn't the case here. The reason? 2010 has been a big year for Blizzard. They've never released two games in the same year, and with the massive success of StarCraft 2, and the huge anticipation of Cataclysm who could blame them for taking things a little easy at BlizzCon.
They did provide us with some interesting news and an insight into the upcoming changes to WoW along with an appreciation into the amount of work that goes into the games they make. With the lack of a major news item however it seemed the pressure was off the Blizzard staff a bit this year and it appeared, to me at least, that they decided to have a little bit more fun.
BlizzCon is always a great event, and 2010 was no different.
Now, all we have to do is survive Deathwings ascent from Deepholm, and we'll be looking forward to BlizzCon 2011.