BlizzConline has come and gone. It was certainly more subdued than any BlizzCon though, when you don’t have a packed auditorium cheering, you cannot expect the same energy.
BlizzCon Online over yesterday
Yesterday I went through what I considered the “important bit” for me, the status of WoW Classic and the coming of The Burning Crusade. But that was obviously not all that Blizzard had to talk about. So here, in my order of importance, are other bits from BlizzConline.
Diablo II Resurrected
This was the other item I was keen to hear about, and I was not disappointed. Blizzard officially announced their remaster of Diablo II. Having just replayed the original last year… and no longer really having the option since my big new monitor simply won’t work with it… I am excited to see this. I am pretty much a guaranteed sale here.
The return of the classic
What they showed… remastered 3D graphics as well as the option for the 2D experience… up on screen side by side with the original looked very good, both true to the original and updated to current standards. They also have some improvements… a larger stash, a more comprehensible character and skill sheet… that looks good. The details are up on the site for the product, including the graphical comparisons.
Plus they are going to launch it on PC, XBox, PlayStation, and Switch. Seems like they are going all in on this. They are even hyping up cross-play for different platforms, so you can access your character on any of the above hardware. I am only interested in it on the PC really, where it will be $40. (Or $60 with Diablo III and all its addons thrown in.)
As with Burning Crusade Classic, the deep dive panel (video here) was less technically focused… again, no slides or charts or numbers… and more about the drive to deliver both an authentic Diablo II experience and bring the game in line with modern expectations. The level of detail discussed was impressive. I suspect we’ll hear again from David Brevik about how Blizzard can’t do this, that, or the other thing, as occurs whenever talk of a Diablo II remaster comes up, but Blizz seems set to prove him wrong.
And it is expected to launch in 2021, though it wouldn’t surprise me if they did a repeat of the original for an end of the year release. That fact that the list December on the page where you can pre-order it… because of course you can pre-order it… seems a likely sign. We shall see.
I am excited about this, though I know Blizz has dropped the ball on the remaster thing before, back with Warcraft III. I hope they learned the right lessons from that. But if they are going out on consoles, this will have a lot of resources behind it.
It isn’t so much that I dislike the Shadowlands expansion… it seems interesting and fun in its own way, and I jumped on board at launch… it is more than when I stack rank what I want to play on a given evening it tends to fall into third or fourth place… fourth now that Valheim is on the scene. Unfortunately, that means I am so far behind on covenant stuff (they barely know me at this point) and have missed so much that I am probably out until the second summer of Shadowlands when they smooth out the curve to let the slackers catch up.
Anyway, they announced the first big content drop, the 9.1 Chains of Domination update. Kaylriene has a write up that covers it and the presentations in more depth than I could manage, so that probably ought to be your destination if this is relevant to your interests.
Blizzard Arcade Collection
Blizzard, on a retro rampage with their 30th anniversary, has brought back their original console titles, The Lost Vikings, Rock N Roll Racing, and Blackthorne, in the Blizzard Arcade Collection.
Back in the lineup
I have never played any of these titles. I know just enough about them to get the occasional reference to them in WoW… the Vikings, for example, are in Uldaman. But the games have been brought up to date and will be available on XBox, PlayStation, Switch, and PC. I might actually give this a try on my Switch Lite.
We have been hearing about this since BlizzCon 2018 when Blizzard failed to manage expectations after putting the Diablo franchise in the position of honor in the schedule, leading everybody and their dog to expect a Diablo IV announcement. They told us directly to not get our hopes up, but it was right there on the schedule. And then after the keynote the schedule was updated to say Diablo Immortal.
Still, the word out there is that it is a pretty solid title, sitting in the story line between Diablo II and Diablo III. I would probably give it a try on my iPad if it isn’t to dear in price… absolutely if it is free, though we know how that can go. Of course, that is part of the problem; we still don’t know many solid details about the game and the Blizzard site about it doesn’t have much to add. I feel like I know way more about Diablo II Resurrected after two days than I do about Diablo Immortal after more than two years.
I’m not going to play this. I played just enough Hearthstone to get the Hearthsteed mount in WoW, and then a bit more on my iPad, but it isn’t a game that holds me. I am just amused that they’ve thrown so many expansions and changes into the game that they’re ready to drag out a classic version… though I guess it has been six years. Time flies.
Diablo IV and Overwatch 2
We heard about the rogue class in Diablo IV and about the myriad PvE missions in Overwatch 2, but both titles are still more than a year out, so I just cannot get myself at all worked up. There are too many things to interest me between now and whenever to divert my attention. Also, the announcements were not all that earth shattering. I’m not saying there isn’t something Blizz could say about either that would kindle a deep interest, they’re just not there yet.
I mean, it is hard to argue with some of the solid announcements they had. There was enough WoW focused stuff to keep me engaged along with enough other stuff that it didn’t feel like the “WoWCon” BlizzCons of a decade back.
I was also happy it was free and readily available via multiple services and that the videos from the panels were uploaded and ready on YouTube almost immediately.
Still, it didn’t quite have the full BlizzCon feel. As I said previously, it felt different not being in front of a live studio audience. I may love the written word, but writing “the audience roared” and hearing a BlizzCon audience roar of its own accord in reaction to something announced on stage at the Anaheim Convention Center.
I didn’t mind the chatty nature of the panels. I like to hear the devs talk and they have done some nice videos in the past like that. I especially remember the series with some of the original devs talking about making WoW as part of the WoW Classic launch build up. But I am not sure that eight minutes of that in a 30 minute panel that is labeled as a “deep dive” is quite on the mark.
I felt that there was a lot less hard information presented and that the details that were given us often were not accompanied by the bullet point slide pages to which we have grown accustomed from past BlizzCon panels. It isn’t real unless it is in PowerPoint, right?
I also wouldn’t be surprised to find that the panels and presentations were all pre-recorded and just queued up to play. With no live audience and nobody holding up today’s paper in frame ransom note style how could we tell?
In fact, in writing that, I will swap to saying that I would actually be surprised to find that most, if not all, of the panels were NOT pre-recorded and queued up to play. I mean, why wouldn’t you go that route? Though, if you did, you’d think we’d get more slides.
So, it was good for what it was. Life in the pandemic dictates what we can do. I think they could have done better with info, but maybe the things I wanted had not been nailed down yet. I don’t think it had quite the impact that a live BlizzCon would have, but we still got some very big announcements.