Blizzcon 2011: day one round-up

Tom Senior at

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.

Diablo 3 gets team deathmatch, achievements and battle standards

Tom Senior at

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.

Diablo 3: 70% of items appear beyond normal difficulty

Tom Senior at

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.

Diablo 3 has "something like 2.8 trillion builds"

Tom Senior at

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."

Challenge Dungeons and PVE Scenarios: How Blizzard is revamping WoW's instanced content

Josh Augustine at

Described by Tom Chilton as "PVE Battlegrounds", Scenarios are a brand-new type of content coming to WoW in the Mists of Pandaria expansion designed for super-short instanced group content. Challenge dungeons are new, top-tier challenging group content designed to test group coordination and speed. Find out all the details after the jump.

Blizzard demonstrates HoS campaign evolution system, says story choices carry over

Nathan Grayson at

Given that Diablo III's (allegedly) right around the corner and WoW's just a race of English-language-butchering kittens away from having the market cornered on cuddly things in MMOs, StarCraft's sort of gotten shoved into the background during this year's BlizzCon.

And that's really a shame, because it's doing some pretty damn awesome stuff.

Prepare for PvP in WoW's upcoming battlegrounds

Lucas Sullivan at

To many WoW players, PvP is the heart and soul of the game. The sweet satisfaction of slaying your target is just so pure, and killing in a new setting makes it even better. With that in mind, Blizzard's announced four new battlegrounds in the Mists of Pandaria expansion, each with their own inspiration and objective. See what we'll be playing nonstop once the gates to these stomping grounds open up.

Pokémon coming to WoW with companion pet battles

Josh Augustine at

I think Evan said it best when he tweeted, "Wowkemon?" this morning when Blizzard announced that "pet battles" would be coming to World of Warcraft. But Blizzard's new system is even more similar to the classic pet-collecting game than most people thought at the announcement. Read on to see how pet-lovers will be spending all of their WoW time in the future.

Kung fu fighting (fast as lightning) with the new Monk class in WoW: Mists of Pandaria

Lucas Sullivan at

With the reveal of the new Monk class in the next World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria, Blizzard's taking a whole new approach to combat. As the bruiser Monk class, available to every race except Worgen and Goblins, you'll be flinging punches and thwacking enemies with impunity through the new content. They've even got an entirely new approach to killing mobs in WoW: absolutely no auto-attacking. Here's everything you need to know about the class that let you live out your Pandaren Brewmaster fantasies.

First glimpse at Blizzard DOTA; may be entirely free-to-play via SC2 Starter Edition [Updated]

Lucas Sullivan at

With a wink and a nod, Chris Metzen revealed a new trailer for the official Blizzard DOTA map for StarCraft II at this morning's BlizzCon Opening Ceremony. This map may not have the same hype level as StarCraft II's new multiplayer units, but Blizzard has wisely chosen to focus on another asset in their expertise: finding the humor in fights to the death. Alongside offering a new creep, lane, and jungling experience, Blizzard has hinted at "a way to play Blizzard DOTA for free, possibly by including it as part of the StarCraft II: Starter Edition." Check out the four hero roles and the nitty-gritty of the raucous hero-versus-hero romp.

New details revealed for Mists of Pandaria and Blizzard's plans for the future

Josh Augustine at

After the opening ceremony, Blizzard held a WoW-only panel to reveal additional details about the Mists of Pandaria WoW expansion coming out. This post was updated as the information was revealed, and holds most of the big news we learned about the expansion.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria trailer shows new lands and Pandaren race

Tom Senior at

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!

Official list of unit changes in Starcraft II's Heart of the Swarm expansion

Josh Augustine at

New units, changed units, retired units: a ton of changes are coming for StarCraft II with the next expansion. Just revealed today at the opening ceremony for Blizzcon in Anaheim, CA, we have the full official list of changes. Read on to see what's happening to your favorite race!

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria announced. Adds new playable race, new class, new zones, level cap raised to 90

Tom Senior at

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.

World of Warcraft Annual Pass announced, subscribers get Diablo 3 free

Tom Senior at

The World of Warcraft Annual pass has been announced at the Blizzcon opening ceremony. The annual pass will cost €12.99 / £8.99 a month. For a limited time, those who sign up will be able to download the full, digital version of Diablo 3 for free when it's released. Subscribers will also get Tyrael’s Charger WoW Flying Mount, which will arrive with the launch of patch 4.3, and access to the World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria beta when that goes live. The annual pass is available to buy know on the Blizzard site.

The Diablo 3 Collector's edition was also announced during the opening ceremony. The big boxed edition will contain an art book, a collector's edition soundtrack, behind the scenes DVD documentary a DIABLO SKULL and a 4 GB USB stick. There's still no release date for Diablo 3.

StarCraft 2: new Zerg, Terran and Protoss units spotted at Blizzcon

Tom Senior at

The show hasn't even started yet, but someone on Reddit has been busy taking snaps of the cardboard cut-outs at Blizzcon 2011. They reveal two new units for StarCraft 2. The first is a new flyer, The Viper. It's described as a "flying unit with support abilities. It can grant detection to units, create a cloud to hinder ranged attacks and abilities, and quickly pull units to safety (friendly) or their doom (enemy)."

The second Zerg unit is called the Swarm Host. "This Zerg host can gradually spawn endless waves of attackers while burrowed to overwhelm your enemy." Eek.

Another two images show three new Protoss units, including the Protoss Replicator, which can copy enemy units and their abilities. The Tempest is a devastating new capital ship and the Oracle can see what enemy buildings are constructing, and distrupt the enemy mineral line.

Three new Terran units are also shown. The Warhound is "a versatile factory unit." The Battle Hellion is, as many guessed, a Hellion that can transform into a more durable walking bot. Finally, there's the Shredder that can "deploy a whirlwind of death around it." See the images and descriptions of all these units below. Exciting news for StarCraft fans, but which of the new units is more OP?

Blizzcon 2011 kicks off today, here's what to expect

Tom Hatfield at

The annual festival celebrating all things Blizzard is set to kick of later today. We've flown Rich out to kill ten wordboars and level up his reporting skills till he finds us some news, and there's sure to be plenty. Blizzard are pretty guarded as to what's on the agenda, but there are some huge potential announcements. We'll be covering them all for you throughout the two day event.

PC Gamer US Podcast 245 - Helicopter Freeman vs. Jet J.C. Denton

PC Gamer at

This week, on a very special episode of the PC Gamer Podcast...Josh returns from BlizzCon to tell us about Diablo III's Demon Hunter class. We share our spoiler-free experiences in Fallout: New Vegas (also, how is Dan already on his third playthrough). Evan tells us why Tribes deserves to be remade, and Logan describes the unique anatomical advantages of a civet vis-à-vis coffee.

Download, and hear us say words about games.

No Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm at Blizzcon

Tim Edwards at

The second part of the Starcraft II trilogy will not be shown at Blizzard’s fan festival this October, says Starcraft II lead designer, Chris Sigaty. Speaking to PC Gamer, Chris explained that the next game won’t be on display, or shown. There is hope - a story panel the Blizzard team are planning might answer some of your questions, but don't expect to know what happens to Kerrigan and the gang.