With Blizzard’s annual celebration of their franchises just around the corner, beady eyes have been constantly on watch for anything that might hint at what the developer has planned for what is one of their two large events of the year. Unfortunately, today’s leak makes it seem like big announcements will be limited at this year’s show, with WoW’s Legion expansion, first seen at Gamescom, taking center stage.
World of Warcraft takes top billing in our best MMOs list too.
MMO-Champion noticed today that the official schedule pages have been updated and nabbed some images and all the details before they were taken down. What’s worth keeping in mind is obviously this information was not supposed to be public yet, so it’s possible this schedule is non-final, especially since it is missing some panels that had been announced. However, it’s not just a copy of last year’s and makes direct reference to Legion.
Speaking of, it seems like WoW will be on top again, despite the expansion already having been announced. The extra-long panel immediately following the opening ceremony is always the ‘main event’, and this time it’s a deep dive on what Legion has to offer. It’s an odd choice – there will be plenty of hardcore fans dying to see details on what Blizzard have planned, and Blizzcon has always been a mainly-WoW event, but casual viewers and mainstream media aren’t going to be as interested.
It’s also surprising in that many, myself included, were expecting big news on the future of Diablo to be coming out of this event. There is a total of one panel about the slaying-sim across both days, and it clashes with a Hearthstone panel on what is coming next for the card game – not exactly top spot. With no announced patches or products, and every other game happily moving along, a second expansion announcement was the natural assumption. Instead it has fewer panels than SC2, a far less popular game that has an expansion already fully detailed and coming out two days after the event.
In fact, based on these panels, the only game for which we can expect major reveals is Hearthstone. It’s been a little time since the last set release for the game and it’s due another Adventure – the single-player challenges that inject a few powerful cards into the game, rather than a full set like The Grand Tournament. The description for the event specifically mentioned “adventures to come” before it was taken down.
Another notable missing piece is a Warcraft movie trailer, panel or both. With the film out in the middle of next year, now would be the perfect time to start ramping up press for it, but all is silent on the scheduling front. Director Duncan Jones had even been teasing that it would appear, so it’s possible it will simply be part of the Opening Ceremony rather than having a spotlight on itself, but considering it got a full panel despite a lack of footage last year, it’s very odd. There aren’t even any suspiciously blank spaces where some of these announcements could be secretly fitting, as there was last year.
Overwatch has only a pair of panels, though one is titled What’s Next. Current rumours have it that the beta for the game should be starting some time before the show itself and in fact as early as next week. If that’s the case, expect details on which heroes are in development and how the game will change on the lead up to release. The similar Future of StarCraft II panel should also be interesting, as Chris Sigaty made it very clear in our interview that they plan to support the game for a long time to come.
Blizzcon kicks off on Friday November 6th. We’ll be bringing you as much news, hands on impressions, features and interviews from the show as we possibly can. Any of you folks planning to tune in this year?