Blizzard's annual celebration has kicked off with news of a Spring release for Overwatch, three new heroes for both the FPS and their MOBA Heroes of the Storm, and a new adventure for Hearthstone which is coming THIS THURSDAY.
You can watch that (for free) by tuning into the Virtual Ticket stream but the panels after that will be locked away behind the pay-per-view wall of the Virtual Ticket. DON'T PANIC, though, as we'll be updating you throughout the night with the biggest news coming out of them, whether you're a Hearthstone, StarCraft, WoW or Heroes fan. Also, if you're not already on an Overwatch beta binge, we'll bring you whatever morsals we can find on that, too.
The opening ceremony begins RIGHT NOW, but if for some reason you can't watch it, we'll update this post with the take home messages.
Blizzard's CEO Mike Morhaime has detailed some of the continuing support StarCraft 2 will be receiving after the release of its final chapter next week, starting with a mission pack called Nova Covert Ops. It will contain 3 new RTS missions centred around the Terran ghost herself, and release in Spring 2016.
Morhaime hands over to Duncan Jones, director of the WarCraft movie in association with Legendary Pictures, to introduce some of the cast. He brings on-stage Toby Kevel who will play Durotan, Ben Foster as Medivh, Dominic Cooper as King Llane, Clancy Brown as Blackhand, Daniel Wu as Gul'dan, and Paula Patton as Garona, before showing the full trailer that was teased earlier this week.
Speaking of, here's the full version of that trailer:
That out of the way, Dustin Browder takes to the stage to introduce a new mode in Heroes of the Storm called Heroes of the Arena. Players will have 3 random heroes to choose from, and a single Hero Ability, and thrown into a small battleground with a single objective. There was no telling when that will arrive, though we'll doubtless learn that at today's Heroes panel.
He also unveiled new Heroes Greymane from WoW, and Lunara from...somewhere? She didn't quite look like the Princess of the Moon from WoW. Also new Hero Cho'gall, who will be a SINGLE hero controlled by TWO players. As if that's not mad enough, the ogre will not be available in the shop or buyable in any way, but will be given for free to those at BlizzCon and watching on Virtual Ticket later this month. Anyone else looking to get ahold of the two-headed ogre will need to party-up with someone WITH Cho'gall and play for two games to earn it themselves. And if you party up with four Cho'gall-less chumps, you'll earn 400 gold for "helping spread the virus throughout the Nexus". He also detailed a new map, Towers of Doom.
Next up is details of Hearthstone's newest adventure, the League of Explorers. Brann Bronzebeard, Elise Starseeker and a couple of other WoW NPCs will feature in a single-player adventure about Indiana Jones-esque tomb plundering. New cards include Explorer's Hat which is Indie's classic fedora, a +1/+1 buff which once you get it will never leave as it also adds a Deathrattle which gives you another Explorer's Hat. Just like how Indie never lost his hat. Get it? Another is the Golden Monkey, which replaces your ENTIRE HAND AND DECK with Legendary minions. Which seems a little mad. But then, that's Hearthstone. League of Explorers will be released THIS Thursday.
On that bombshell, Jeff Kaplan takes the stage to talk Overwatch heroes. We've pretty much already seen what he's going to be saying thanks to some of the leakiest retailer protocols of the year, but there will be 21 heroes at Overwatch's eventual launch in Spring 2016 and will be available on Xbox One and PS4. However, a new map – McRee's home field of a Western-themed Hollywood set – and three new heroes were shown, cold weather climatologist Mei-Ling, Hanzo's brother Genji, and StarCraft 2 pro-player D.va. We also had a brief look at their abilities, of which Genji appears to be just the sort of Ninja that could get very very annoying in an FPS.
The Origins edition of the game, leaked through Amazon's front end, will come with five extra skins for some heroes, which reveal a little more about their backstories (hence Origins) as well as some digital goodies for other games, including Tracer as a character coming to Heroes of the Storm. All of those are outlined in the Origins trailer right here:
Chris Metzen rounds out the ceremony by showing the WoW: Legion opening cinematic, as well as setting the scenes for the expansion. As the Fire Legion returns to Azeroth, having conscripted the Warlock Gul'dan, Illidan Stormrage also returns to the franchise to fight the greatest evil yadda yadda, you know how this good versus evil thing goes by now. If you pre-order now you get access to the Demon Hunter class early and the expansion itself will release in Summer 2016.
Right, that's the lot, there'll be more information in the panels, which we'll be covering as they happen so you don't have to get a Virtual Ticket. Unless you definitely want access to that Cho'gall Heroes of the Storm character right away. Then I think you can probably still buy one.