This year it seems it was the Overwatch teams turn to embrace the day, or at least be the theme of the day.
It has become something of an annual tradition here to cover what Blizzard has been up to every April Fools. There have been years where the company has put a lot of effort into various items for the day and there have been years where April Fools has barely been a thing at Blizzard.
This year seems like an outlier, with a different feel altogether. In the past the level of effort has often correlated to highs and lows with the company itself. Last year, for example, was not a great year for the company, so it wasn’t surprising that people had little time for this sort of thing.
But with the COVID-19 pandemic raging around the world, I was curious to see if there would be any mirth on the first at all. Blizzard has been giving players benefits in light of the crisis, like an xp boost in WoW and unlocking all the heroes in Heroes of the Storm and co-op commanders in Star Craft II. It would be completely understandable to give the whole April fools thing a pass. But a little bit of humor in the right dose wouldn’t go amiss either.
And some of these ideas take a while to put together. I am going to guess that the giant cat that Bhagpuss wrote about over in Guild Wars II wasn’t rolled up over the weekend but planned well in advance.
Which brings us to Overwatch and its googly eyes on heroes at the select screen, and in the play of the game clip at match end, which I mentioned above. (This came as a tip from Blueline Basher. The screen shot is one from many in the forum.)
Following on that, over in the Heroes of the Storm forums there were April 1st PTR patch notes posted that included the addition of a new hero, Mercy. I got that Mercy was an Overwatch hero, but I know so little about HotS that I couldn’t really tell if the patch notes were a joke or if somebody on the team unironically posted an update on April 1st. And then I watched the video linked in the patch notes, which doesn’t really reveal itself until the very end.
The other Blizzard games, Diablo III, Hearthstone, StarCraft II, and World of Warcraft have all been quiet so far as April Fools is concerned. No news items or fresh blue posts with an April 1 date. It is still early in the day on the west coast, so maybe something else will pop up, in which case I will add it here, but for now that is all I have seen.
Update: We now have the annual WoW April Fools patch notes, in draft form, for patch 8.8.8. Icluded in the notes:
- High Dwarves
- Kul-Tiran Worgen
- Highmountain Goblins
- New Essences
- Class Updates
- New WoW Classic Flavors
If you are jonsing for a Blizzard April Fools joke beyond those your best bet is to look at past efforts. You can look at the posts I have done over the last decade:
- April 2009
- April 2010
- April 2011
- April 2012
- April 2013
- April 2014
- April 2015
- April 2016
- April 2017
- April 2018
- April 2019
If you want to go back further than that, there is the official Blizzard April Fool’s archive, though that stops at 2015, which is probably meaningful in some way.
In a way I am kind of happy they did something this year, if only to keep the long tradition alive. They haven’t missed a year since 1999, even if some years have been rather sparse.
For other games you can check out the post over at Massively OP where they are trying to round up the MMO front.
Other April Fools items: