BlizzCon 2015 – Scoring Need vs. Greed

Last Monday I put up a post which I called “Announcements and Need vs. Greed” that outlined what I thought Blizzard would announce (need) and what I wanted them to announce (greed).  That was actually a good time to write, on my part, because I managed to post before any of the pre-BlizzCon leaks.

BlizzCon2015

Now it is a week later, BlizzCon is in the past, and it is time to match up what I wrote versus what happened.  This time around I will go in reverse order from last time.

Overwatch

Need:

  • Whoo hoo, Overwatch!!1!

Plenty of that!

  • More cinematics

We got that as well.

  • More beta slots

I did not see any mention of this however.

Greed:

  • Vague gesture at a possible launch date

We got “Spring” so I think that counts.

  • Even more cinematics

Do the character intro reels count?

  • How this totally isn’t Heroes of the Storm crossed with Team Fortress 2

Okay, maybe I was being sarcastic.  Still, with more heroes, and female heroes, I guess they were at least on track for that.

  • Some sort of benefit for WoW subscribers

Does something from the pre-order count?

So lots of Overwatch hype, and a business model.  You’re going to have to buy a box, virtual or otherwise.  My daughter was especially hyped up about the Overwatch news, right up until she found out it was going to be available on Mac OS.  It will run on Window, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, but not her iMac.  She was very grumpy about that.

Hearthstone

Need:

  • New card pack that will make the old ones feel obsolete and bring in some more money

Well, duh… in conjunction with something else at least…

Greed:

  • Another new battle mode

League of Explorers and all that.  That seems new-ish… I mean, there is a map right there on the playing board, right?  Maybe I should have paid more attention.

  • The ability to play within WoW, with benefits for WoW subscribers.

Not so much.  I want to play on that little board in my garrison.  I might even resubscribe for that.

People who like Hearthstone seem genuinely excited about being able to buy more stuff.  People like me, who played just long enough to get the hearthsteed… well, as long as it is making Blizz some money.

Heroes of the Storm

Need:

  • Reasons for people to spend money

More heroes, more skins.  That counts, right?

Greed:

  • Non-dull play mode

That was actually a trick statement, as I find the game itself dull.  Still, Arena mode will be a thing.  Wooo.

Even as a non-fan of HotS, I was at least amused that they took that long time WoW forum joke about two people each playing one head of two headed ogre and made it a thing.  Long live Cho’gall I guess.  I will be interested in how it spreads.  People at BlizzCon and with a Virtual Ticket will get the hero unlocked, but for everybody else you have to win two matches partnered up with somebody who has Cho’gall… playing as Cho’gall… to unlock it on your account.  I expect comedy, rage, and RMT to ensue.

StarCraft

Need:

  • Wooo, Legacy of the Void!

Well, we got that.

Greed:

  • Secret, surprise feature, like the ability to play the original StarCraft in SC2.

While there was a leak later in the week about Blizz hiring to convert StarCraft, Diablo II, and Warcraft III into something playable on current operating systems, that wasn’t talked about at BlizzCon and is somewhere out in the future.

Meanwhile, StarCraft 2 will be getting DLC next year.  So at least there will be new things to do after Legacy of the Void.  And StarCraft 2 was pretty good as a spectator sport at BlizzCon.  I certainly prefer it to any MOBA.

Diablo

Here is where the disappointment train pulls into the station.

Need:

  • A new Diablo III expansion

No

  • A vague timeline for beta

No

  • Something else special for people who complete season objectives

Sort of…

Greed:

  • Diablo IV announced – I actually think this is the way to go

Hah, no

  • Diablo and/or Diablo II being ported to the Diablo III engine

No

  • Diablo or Diablo II coming to tablets

No

For anybody moaning about WoW not getting enough time during the keynote, let’s talk about how much time Diablo III got.  None. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

This was not the year for the Diablo franchise.  There was one panel where it was announced that Diablo III would be getting a patch that would give players a new zone and a few other goodies.  That was it for Diablo fans.  Certainly nothing else to spend money on.  Blizz has been happy to announce how many boxes they have sold, but no new boxes are on the horizon yet.

So clearly BlizzCon 2016 will have the Diablo IV announcement, right?

World of Warcraft

Need:

  • The cinematic

We got it.  It was okay.

  • Chris Metzen on stage having an orgasm about the lore in Legion

There was some discussion as to whether or not Metzen had a “loregasm” or if it was just “loreplay,” but he was up there on stage doing what he does best.  Somebody on Twitter was complaining that he wasn’t dispensing details.  That isn’t what you put Metzen on stage to do.  He is the emotional call to action, not the numbers and specs man.

  • Hard dates for beta

Not so much.

  • Something vague about a ship date that will narrow it down to a three month window

I think “summer” pretty much fits the bill there, though remember when summer ends on US calendars.

  • A decent “hook” for Legion beyond “ten more levels and a class from Diablo III

There were lots of details in various panels that got people excited.  Now we just have to wait until it ships in about a year.

Greed:

  • A ship date

Didn’t expect it.  We’ll get that in May/June I bet.

  • Ravenholdt as the rogue Order Hall

So sorry.

  • Some reason to resubscribe today

I can pre-order Legion and have another level 100 character today… which would make six for me.  And that character would even get a level 3 garrison so I could expand my grind even further.

  • Some tie-in with the Warcraft movie

Not that I saw.  Did I miss something?

So lots of stuff about Legion.  I think people who complained about WoW not getting enough time at the keynote are forgetting that it isn’t 2009 any more.  There was a stretch there when WoW was pretty much the only game Blizzard had and BlizzCon was, essentially, WoWCon with a StarCraft tournament in the back room for the oddballs.

Now though, Blizzard has six balls in the air… well, five balls in the air and Diablo on the ground and rolling towards a dusty corner.  And they need some attention.  Would you buy the game that they didn’t mention in the keynote?

Anyway, Legion is the classic WoW expansion.  A new continent, 10 more levels, a new class, and an attempt to steer the ship in a new direction based on what they learned with the last expansion.  Specs will be differentiated, and you’ll be able to play all the specs on a character… so I guess having two level cap druids isn’t necessary any more… while skill trees will be more varied and will have more “meaningful” choices.

There is some further emphasis on exploration, though there will be no flying at launch, so people who can’t explore below 10,000 feet will be raging.  Hone your sense of entitlement and let the flight wars begin anew!

Then there is the whole scaling zones and dungeons thing.  You can go in any direction you want to level up, five zones will scale at need as will the five leveling dungeons.  Then there are five more level cap dungeons.  Cheers for getting everybody off the same pipe through the content, but I expect issues with the scaling and likely won’t be disappointed.

And then, after completely trivializing crafting in WoD, there will is an attempt to bring it back from the dead in Legion.

All of which is as maybe.  Things sometimes prove too complicated or prove unworkable in beta.

Still, despite my cynicism, it does sound like it might be time to plot a return to Azeroth.  My daughter seems keen, and doubly so after I explained the hunter specs to her.  Also, she has been trying out EVE Online for the last week and is so confused that she wants to just run quests and kill mobs.

We’re not running out to resubscribe today… and nobody in our house is pre-ordering Legion any time soon if I have any say… but after months away… I’ve been out since June and my daughter since March… Christmas break might be a good time to get cozy in front of a monitor and start wrapping up tasks in Draenor.  Coming in late has served us well in the past.  I think I enjoyed Pandaria as much as I did, in part, because we came in after the last big content patch.  So while others were wailing about the content drought, we were still figuring out farms and getting into pet battles.

Others looking at BlizzCon and WoW in particular:

11 thoughts on “BlizzCon 2015 – Scoring Need vs. Greed

  1. SynCaine

    The part I’m most interested in, from a ‘watch it burn’ perspective of course, is the level-scaling zones. Given how badly New Blizzard has botched the whole ‘accessibility’ thing, would it surprise anyone if the level scaling was horribly off and literally everything was super face-roll easy, to the point of annoying even the most casual of players?

    Beyond that nothing of real interest or note from Blizcon really. I still don’t see how Overwatch isn’t a HotS-level disaster, perhaps more-so because it will have a box price attached. The ‘buy because its Blizzard’ aura is fading, and the grumblings from the beta aren’t going to fuel a lot of hype trains come release, which could lead to some very awkward decisions for Bliz going forward with the game. At least with HotS, they can still talk about the number of accounts created to divert attention.

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  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @SynCaine – I have never been entirely happy with zone scaling in any MMO, whether it forces you to level down or levels up the content to you or lets you set your own level. It works for people in a sweet spot in the model, but tends to fail to a certain degree for anybody outside of that.

    The only place I have seen it mostly work is Diablo III, which might give some people hope, only there it scales to basically the highest level person out of a group of four max and you have other difficulty setting options if things are too easy. That isn’t going to be the case in Legion.

    I don’t have any real feel for how well Overwatch is going to be accepted mostly because I am long past my shooter days, so cartoon Call of Duty doesn’t really interest me.

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  3. bhagpuss

    Without a doubt this is the most interested I’ve ever been in a WoW expansion. It’s a low bar. Just knowing more than “It has Pandas” or “It has orcs” would clear it, frankly.

    Whether I actually end up buying it will have far more to do with what else is competing with it come Summer 2016, not least because I have WoW down in my mind as a game I can always come back to when I’m stuck for something else to play, which is, of course, how I came to play it in the first place.

    I think SynCaine underestimates the ability and even desire of true casuals to cope with things being “too easy”. Much more likely, I think, that scaling complaints will center around some things being “too hard”. Cf Heart of Thorns, appropriately, since Legion appears to be WoW’s GW2 hat-tip expansion just as HoT was GW2’s lurch towards WoW.

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  4. Mazer

    I still want to know how the scaling in Legion is even supposed to work. Multiple players at different levels can group and it’ll scale the content up to.. what? I can think of a couple mechanisms but it sounds like a lot more trouble than just scaling the player characters, which they’ve already done..

    I find this continued trend of giving us little tidbits of scaling content here or there (challenge modes, timewalking, now Legion zones) incredibly frustrating. I’m sure it wouldn’t be perfect, but hearing how Timewalking is so great when I can go to GW2 or FF14 and play the whole game that way is just.. gee, thanks…

    If you’ve already put in the work to scale me and my gear to 70, 80, and 85 surely we can work out from there. Throw some of the giant money pile at newer devs / interns and have them do all the fine tuning busy work, spend a year or two on it, just stop giving me little one off novelty systems.
    *grumblegrumble*

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  5. Fenjay

    It’s funny, but I have heard almost the opposite of Syncaine’s view of Overwatch and HotS. People seem really excited for Overwatch and are enjoying HotS. I can’t really comment much, not being a MOBA player, but my impression of it is LoL for those who are not sociopathic antisocial ultracompetitive 14-year-olds.

    Zone-scaling sounds like a bad idea to me, but for another reason. It seems to me that paradoxically, too much player freedom in MMOs is counterproductive, because if people don’t have to be social (by grouping up for content), they won’t.. and long-term, the social aspect is what keeps people around. With everyone spread throughout all zones while leveling, any group content or even casual contact will be minimized.

    The gameplay can be above-par but on MMO time scales, dealing with NPCs gets boring sooner or later. The last bastion of social activity in WoW is raiding, and hence the stories of people who login to raid and never do anything else.

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  6. Kiryn

    Zone scaling was actually one of the reasons I hated GW2. They tried to sell me on the freedom to go wherever I want, but it ended up backfiring because it meant there was zero variety in play experience. No matter what zone I went to, the mobs felt exactly the same to kill. Press these 5 main rotation buttons (you’re never getting more or different ones) dodge AoEs, if it’s too hard you can’t give up and go to a lower level zone to power up for a while before coming back because when you come back the mobs will be exactly as strong as they were before, except now you’ve wasted a bunch of time.

    I loved RPGs growing up precisely because I could tailor a boss fight to just the right difficulty for me by going back to easier areas and leveling up until I could just barely defeat that next boss. If the mobs were too easy, I could breeze through until encountering something challenging enough. If you scale every monster to always be exactly whatever difficulty the developers decide they should be, why even bother having levels any more?

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  7. SynCaine

    “I can’t really comment much, not being a MOBA player, but my impression of it is LoL for those who are not sociopathic antisocial ultracompetitive 14-year-olds.”

    Tough sell limiting by far the most popular game out as being only played by 14yr olds. In fact, that’s exactly one of the problems with HotS and why its basically a moba afterthought; LoL captures the ultra-hardcore, the middle tier, and the casual market, leaving the ‘I can only faceroll, and even that only 50% of the time” crowd to ‘play’ HotS. Which, as we are seeing, is a pretty tiny crowd.

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  8. Fenjay

    I was being hyperbolic when I said 14 year olds, so I apologize if it was inappropriate. My (again, uninformed) impression is that (many? most?) LoL games have a toxic atmosphere. I’d be curious to know if that’s the actual case.

    I’d also be interested in quantifying the number of HotS players described as “tiny”. Again I only have impression to go on, but a little googling has turned up a wide variety of answers, but some in the millions. I’m not sure what to make of how realistic the numbers are and how they compare to other games in the genre.

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  9. SynCaine

    Any large game is going to have toxic elements, such as WoW did with barrens chat. The MOBA genre is a team-based PvP game, one that makes it rather clear who the weak link is or when a large mistake is made. If HotS was a big success, it would have toxic elements. Hell, even with the player pool it does have, it’s still toxic to a degree (join a game and derp around, see how long it takes for someone to flame you).

    The only difference between LoL and any other game is the size of the player pool, and the fact that most players playing it (95%) aren’t very good (below plat), so don’t even understand in most cases why they are losing as often as they win.

    Most (90+%) of my games are perfectly enjoyable. I can’t remember the last time I had a true afk or intentional feeder. Down in the lower ranks, you are with the derps, so the rate increases, but at least the game gives you a way to escape ‘barrens chat’ by learning to play better.

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  10. JJ Robinson

    Syn is the classic LoL fanboy who immediately dismisses HoTS and the solid niche it has created for itself. Given the behemoth LoL and DOTA are, which btw was the case well before HoTS was even launched, playing as a solid third place, and gaining market share, makes that game very far from a disaster.

    HoTS is more creative, more team play focused, easier to pick-up, and IMO more enjoyable. The gameplay is very well polished, and the after watching the Blizzcon championships, it proves the gameplay is extremely diverse. The team compositions were all over the place, and it was enjoyable to see how that played out over the tournament.

    I’m interested in seeing how the new Arena mode plays, and I’m sure it will get flamed by all LoL and DOTA high-hards now matter the result.

    Keep on hating because HoTS is different, but it’s not going anywhere and is a success. Just because you enjoy a certain game, does not mean the alternative sucks. But hey, keep on keeping on.

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