Blizzard have announced that their massive annual convention won't be happening this year. Instead, they'll be devoting more time to finishing their many projects. "In light of our jam-packed schedule, we’ve decided to hold the next BlizzCon in 2013," Blizzard say in a statement on Battle.net, mentioning that they're currently "heavily focused on getting Diablo III, Mists of Pandaria, and Heart of the Swarm into players’ hands as soon as possible."
I'm a sucker for official merchandise. Not so much t-shirts and hoodies but classy stuff like plushies and figurines. That's why the official post-Blizzcon sale has got me interested. These products might be overpriced (and some might qualify as girl-repellent) but they're official and limited in number.
The special merchandise is available from now until November 18 at 10 a.m. PT. To gain access to the items, sign into the site with your Blizzcon 2011 ticket, virtual ticket or Blizzcon 2011 Pay Per View pass. Then enter your credit card details and bankrupt yourself!
Let us know what's in your basket/wishlist in the comments. I want the Diablo 3 t-shirt featured in the thumbnail image, lots. Whoops! I just contradicted the first line of this post. Sorry.
In the run up to World of Warcraft's Mists of Pandaria expansion, the virgin land of Pandaria has been hidden beneath a magical mist for an age, untouched by the conflict between Horde and Alliance. When the expansion launches, war will hit the shores of the Panda nation, but not right away.
We caught up with Blizzard lead system designer, Greg Street, at Blizzcon to discuss how the war for Pandaria will pan out. He tells us that it will start out as a peaceful land, but become increasingly war torn with the addition of each post-release patch.
Defence of the Ancients games are fast becoming the equivalent of hatchback cars. They’re mostly the same, but each manufacturer is going to put a different spin on it - a bigger bumper, maybe, or a sunroof designed to catch people with giant perms. Blizzard DOTA, though, is looking to shake things up a bit. At Blizzcon the devs outlined a number of intriguing changes to the classic DOTA formula designed to streamline the experience for new players and "get the depth back where it belongs."
We caught up with senior designer, Johnny Ebbert at Blizzcon for a to find out why why the developers felt as though they "really needed to simplify things," and why DOTA should become more like chess.
Blizzard have released videos of three of Mists of Pandaria's nine new dungeons. The word 'dungeon' is slightly misleading. These take place in huge jade palaces nestles among swathes of cherry-blossom. The fly-throughs give us a good idea of what Pandaria itself will be like, heavily influenced by far-eastern architecture and geography, but all shiny and WoWed up.
These dungeons are set on the new continent, which has been hidden beneath a mystical mist for centuries. The once peaceful isle is about to be torn apart. When the mists lift, the Alliance land on the Northern shore, the Horde land on the Southern shore, and they'll presumably have a great big fight in the middle. See more of the new continent in the other two videos, embedded below.
A bamboo curry’s worth of information on World of Warcraft’s panda-based race has hit the internet. In addition to Blizzard confirming details of the new animation system, an official website has launched and a video of the bears in action has leaked.
The video, sneakily shot by MMO-Champion, shows Pandaria’s starting area, as well as the impressive animations that bring the cuddly warriors to life. According to Blizzard art director, Chris Robinson, the Pandaren have ten times the facial bones as other races, making them more mobile and expressive. That's good news even if you're not planning to play as a panda. Blizzard say they'll be retro-fitting the tech to the old races, eventually.
Robinson said that “I want to stress as well that it's a massive undertaking to go back and do this. And to a lot of people it's something that won't be considered shiny new content.” Blizzard are also concerned about maintaining the "look and feel of the original models," and want to find a way of revamping the old races that won't put off players who have spent years with their characters.
At Blizzcon this year we caught a glimpse of the future of World of Warcraft, and it's full of kung-fu Panda monks. This time round there won't be a world-ending monster threatening to destroy Azeroth, only Pandas, and their lovely homelands of Pandaria. And a new Monk class. And new PVE scenarios. And a new poke-tastic pet battle system. Oh, and the talent system is being scrapped and rebuilt from the ground up.
One way or another, Mists of Pandaria is going to be quite something, but what do you think of it? Did the very mention of a race of pandas send you running for the 'cancel subscription' button, or do you dig the cuddly new race? If you're a lapsed subscriber, will Pandaria tempt you back into Azeroth? And what about all the other announcements at Blizzcon this year? Are you tempted by the WoW Annual Pass, and what do you think of Blizzard DOTA? And what about those new StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm units? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
It wasn't only the GSL finals that took place at Blizzcon 2011 this weekend. Blizzard threw a separate tournament with a $50,000 prize pot to take advantage of the wealth of top StarCraft 2 talent in California. It was a dramatic and close fought contest that resulted in one of the most spectacular StarCraft 2 finals ever. VG247 have spotted a video of that final game online. You'll find it embedded below. If you don't want to know who the finalists are, then read no further. If you want to see an incredible StarCraft 2 game played in front of thousands of rapt fans then you're in for a treat.
StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm won't just mean a massive shake-up for the StarCraft 2 esports scene, we'll be getting the Blizzard Arcade as well, a hub designed to show off the very best creations from the StarCraft 2 modding community. Blizzard plan to give modders more power with a suite of updates to the mod tools supplied with StarCraft 2.
Blizzard will release the full suite of art tools which will let designers export custom 3D models from popular 3D modelling software, 3DS Max. This will give modders the scope to create new buildings, units and tilesets, opening the doors to total conversions, and giving modders far more scope to create entirely new games within the StarCraft 2 engine.
The Blizzard DOTA Panel that took place earlier today at Blizzcon 2011 dropped a ton of interesting info on the features that will set the free StarCraft 2 mod apart from competitors like League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth and Dota 2. There was news of mounts, winnable boss monsters that live in the jungles between lanes, and the disposal of the traditional last hit method of earning experience. That's all well and good, but what does it actually look like? Find out in the many screenshots that have emerged from the conference today.
Kerrigan's lost the extra appendages and, apart from some weird hair, looks relatively human now. According to the Heart of the Swarm lore panel at Blizzcon 2011, she doesn't remember her time as leader of the Zerg swarm well, but has a good idea of the destruction that the swarm caused during her reign. Her thirst for consuming worlds has been replaced by a less megolamanic lust for revenge. She'll be at the centre of the StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm single player campaign. See her in action on the Blizzcon StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm preview trailer above.
Here are twenty new screenshots of Diablo 3 from Blizzcon, showing various denizens of the underworld being disintegrated by lightning bolts and powerful laser beams. There are a few different environments on show as well, from golden deserts to candle-lit crypts, daubed with arcane scribblings and infested with Azmodan's brutish legions. Not shown: vast, vast quantities of sweet loot. Click on each screenshot to see it full size.
Blizzard have revealed some of the major changes they're making to the classic defence of the ancients format for Blizzard DOTA. They've mentioned mounts, major changes to the vital last-hit system, spectacular capturable boss monsters, and the steps they're taking to try and make Blizzard DOTA's battles faster and more friendly. They also confirmed that Blizzard DOTA will be added to the free StarCraft 2 Starter Edition.
The Blizzard Arcade will arrive alongside the release of the StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm, Blizzard have just announced at a Blizzcon panel. The Arcade will act as a hub for user-made mods and games created using StarCraft 2's extensive mod tools. The Arcade will be available to everyone who owns StarCraft 2, not just Heart of the Swarm players.
Games available in the Blizzard Arcade will be free to begin with, but Blizzard plan to let mod makers charge for their games in future. The Arcade will be available from the front page, and take players to a central screen showing the most popular mods of the moment. A five star rating system and user reviews will help the best games rise to the top, and "what's hot" sections will give players quick access to the most popular games on the service. The mods will use StarCraft 2's matchmaking system to put players together.
The editor will also be improved, with debugging improvements, a cutscene editor, and custom UI editing tools.
Pandas Oh My God! World of Warcraft's fourth expansion has been announced. It will let us play as Panda warrior monks on the back of a giant sea turtle. It will open up the new real of Pandaria to the Alliance and the Horde. It will introduce a pet battling system in which you must catch wild monsters, level them up and make them fight for your own amusement. It's just one announcement of many in a brilliantly, stupidly hectic first day at Blizzcon 2011.
It's not all been about World of Warcraft, either. New units have been revealed for StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm, new trailers have appeared for Blizzard DOTA and Diablo 3, and we've learned something new about each one of Blizzard's upcoming titles. Below you'll find our guide to day one of Blizzcon. Get all the latest at a glance.
Blizzard are introducing team deathmatch mode to Diablo 3's player vs. player scraps. It's playable on the show floor at Blizzcon, and players will immediately notice that the mode supports 4 vs. 4 battles, up from last year's 3 on 3 demo.
The rules are simple. There are two teams, red and blue. When you die you only have to wait three seconds before you're back in. The team with the most kills in ten minutes wins. You'll be able to port any of your characters over and send them into the arena, but once you've started the match, you won't be able to change your build. Tweaking your skillset before each battle will be necessary to improve your chances.
A team of Diablo 3 devs hit the main stage at Blizzcon to talk about Diablo 3's difficulty modes. The differences between Normal, Nightmare, Hell and Inferno difficulties are important for anyone looking to get near the level 60 cap, but it's surprising just how different enemies and loot will be on higher difficulties. In fact, Blizzard revealed that 70% of the game's loot won't even appear in Normal mode.
Jay Wilson has been talking to the crowds at Blizzcon about character building in Diablo 3. Taking into accout each class' skill trees, passive abilites and item combinations, we certainly won't be short of ways to experiment. Talking about build numbers, Wilson said "we threw a crazy number up a couple of years ago, but we're more in the area of something like 2.8 trillion."
The focus on the design team is on viable builds, not optimal ones. Wilson admits that some players will always seek out the most powerful combinations, but points out that, unlike World of Warcraft, there's no guild to represent or raid roles to optimise for. In Diablo 3, the aim is that "you can play the character you want to play at max level, and not be beholden to anyone."
Here's the debut trailer for the new World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria which was shown about half an hour ago during the opening ceremony of Blizzcon 2011. The 90 minute Mists of Panderia panel is kicking off RIGHT NOW, so I'll be bringing you more info from there momentarily. Meanwhile, look! Pandas! In World of Warcraft!
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria announced. Adds new playable race, new class, new zones, level cap raised to 90
The Pandaren are coming to World of Warcraft! The expansion will add the Pandaren race and their homeland, Pandaria. We're also getting a new class, the monk, and the level cap will be raised to 90. The Pandaren will be both playable and a neutral race, unaligned with Horde or Alliance.
Mists of Pandaria will also add new PVE scenarios, a pet battle system and a new talent system.
In the new expansion, Alliance and Horde will take their conflict to Pandaria, a "land of balance and harmony and beauty, and hope." Previous World of Warcraft expansions have added colossal evil forces, in Mists of Pandaria "the true enemy of the franchise is going to be war itself."
New zones in Panderia include "the lush Jade Forest, treacherous Kun-Lai Summit, and other exotic areas of Pandaria designed for high-level characters."
This is mad. But amazing. The Pandaren were initially created as an April fools joke for Warcraft 3, but have since taken on a life of their own. A pandaren pet has previously appeared in WoW, and the lore has plenty of occasional references to the brewmaster. Chris Metzen just told the Blizzcon interviewers that Blizzard considered putting the the pandas into the Burning Crusade expansion, but never quite made it in. Now seems like a much more sensible time, especially considering WoW's launch in China.
The World of Warcraft panel will be kicking off shortly, we'll hear more very soon.