Well, just like that BlizzCon has come and gone, and it was awesome. Having been to the four most recent BlizzCons this was hands down the best. Not only did they announce a new IP (Overwatch), there was tons of news for their existing titles including the announcement of a new Hearthstone expansion that is right around the corner.
Cons and You
What I enjoy most about conventions, BlizzCon included, is hanging out and meeting new people who all share many common interests. Sometimes when we stick with a close circle of friends we forget this but if you just say “hi” to a stranger, or ask them how their Con is going so far, you’ll often be amazed that within just a few seconds a passionate discussion about something you really enjoy is taking off. This happened over and over again at BlizzCon and I met many interesting folks from all walks of life. There’s something pretty cool about sharing your gaming stories with someone you just met and having it really resonate with them - we all know that time we were geeking out on someone who really didn’t give a crap - not here. Even if you can’t attend BlizzCon, I implore you to find a convention close to you that is about something you’re interested in, video games or otherwise, and go check it out. And don’t be shy.
Goblins vs. Gnomes
During the opening ceremony Blizzard announced the first expansion for Hearthstone titled Goblins vs. Gnomes. This new expansion of just over 120 new cards is going to completely shake up the game, if not blow it up. What was even more exciting was the announcement of its release date: next month!
The expansion will introduce a new minion type: Mechs. Many of the new cards will synergize with Mechs as this expansions theme is all about the wacky inventions of Goblins and Gnomes. Some cards already in the Classic set will be converted to the Mech type such as the Demolisher and Harvest Golem when the new set becomes available. Here are some examples of new cards that will work take advantage of the new minion type:
Several cards in the new set will continue the random effects that Hearthstone is known for which will keep games interesting and slightly unpredictable. Here are three new cards that demonstrate that:
Blizzard is taking the randomness a bit further as well with random summons and card draw (potentially from outside your deck):
The idea behind the Deathrattle effect on the Piloted Sky Golem and Sneed’s Old Shredder above is that something is piloting them. When they are defeated the pilot ejects from the busted mech and parachutes down to the board safely. Yes, that is actually the animation you’ll see when a mech is defeated with this particular Deathrattle mechanic. It’s pretty damn rad. In the case of the Piloted Sky Golem, the pilot is a random 4-cost minion that doesn’t even need to be in your deck or collection. You can see how this is going to be really fun to play with and keep competitive play exciting.
The new cards can be purchased with real money, existing gold or crafted with arcane dust (just like you could with the classic cards) - no new currencies are being added. A new Goblins vs. Gnomes card pack will be added to the in-game store alongside the Classic packs. Unlike the Curse of Naxxramas Adventure, all of these cards (as far as we know now) must be acquired through packs or in the Arena - there is no indication that PvE content of any type will award GvG cards. And speaking of Arenas, once the expansion launches Arenas will reward GvG packs instead of Classic packs as they do now.
Also coming with the expansion, as you may expect, is a new board to play on. This board was what was shown at BlizzCon in the demos but the interactive elements were not yet working. As you’ll see, this will probably be a very fun board to click around.
Along with the release of this large expansion is the long-awaited spectator mode. This is something the community has been hoping for since the early days of the closed beta. The spectator mode will allow you to observe a game that someone on your friends list is currently playing if they have the “Allow Spectators” option turned on in their game. When you spectate in on a game, you see exactly what your friend sees. As a spectator you’re able to mouse over their cards in hand and all the cards on the table without being intrusive - they can’t see your cursor or any hover states on the cards. Not only will it be fun to invite friends into your game before your next epic play but it’ll be a wonderful tool to teach and learn the game as well. As of this writing I am not sure what the capacity is for spectators per game but as the player you’ll have access to a list of all those currently observing your game.
Someone got our letters. BlizzCon attendees were finally treated to footage of the upcoming Warcraft film by director Duncan Jones. Even cooler, the footage was screened in a custom built Dolby Atmos theater. Along with some of Blizzards cinematics, viewers were treated to the same footage that was shown at ComiCon earlier this year as well as a single, brand new completed shot. While the ComiCon footage is a short trailer of sorts, it featured mostly incomplete, work in-progress shots. The quality of the completed shot that we were shown after the mini trailer was pretty staggering. It was a 10-15 second close up on the Durotan's face where his emotion is clearly readable and near photo-realistic. Visually it was easily on par with, if not greater, than what audiences saw in the most recent Apes film.
Let us know what you thought about BlizzCon and all the crazy news in the comments below!