Monday, August 24, 2009

Blizzcon 2009 Takeaways

I was lucky this year since I had a friend who managed to charm tickets from the Blizzcon website. There were three of us refreshing the website constantly, but somehow he managed to get in as number 20 in the queue while I was number 8,000. Blizzard has to come up with a better system for selling Blizzcon tickets one day. Even one of the VPs admitted that in the future they might just have to move the convention out of Anaheim and get a bigger venue. This year there were about 26,000 people attending and things were definitely more crowded even with the added hall.

Still being stuffed into a convention hall with 26,000 nerds was a small payment for getting a lot of first hand experience with the next generation of Blizzard games. Just like last year they had demos for Starcraft 2, Diablo 3 and World of Warcraft. Starcraft 2 had the Terran singleplayer campaign up and running though I spent all my time trying to kill my friends in multiplayer. The Diablo 3 demo had the new monk class and allowed the exploration of a desert zone with multiple cave-like dungeons. It always had the longest line, but was proably the most enjoyable demo. The World of Warcraft demo had the goblin and worgen starting areas, but overcrowding made it hard to complete any of the quest objectives.

Instead of spending all my time in the Cataclysm demo, I focused my attention more on the World of Warcraft panels. There were some pretty big announcements and not all of them related to the new expansion. I’ll try to order everything in a time frame in case you want to browse

Revamped Onyxia Encounter (Nov 2009)
10-25 man raid with upgraded gear (showed a 2-hander with 700-1000dmg)
T2 helms from Ony keep the same look

3.3 Icecrown Citadel Patch (around late 2009, early 2010)
Will include three 5-man dungeons (wrathgate type elements)
Cross-server LFG tool for dungeons
Guide system that will reward people who forms groups in LFG and complete dungeons
Icecrown Citadel (12 bosses including Sindragosa and Arthas)
-awesome fight involving a horde/alliance airship battle

Cataclysm Expansion (probably 2010)
-All the leaked features like goblin and worgen (worgen have cool hats)
-Hunters and Warlocks get major revamps (no mana, soul shards changed)
-All of Kalimdor and E. Kingdoms revamped and made flyable
-Heroic Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep
-Rated Battlegrounds which give arena points (requires pre-made team)
-New advancement system called Path of the Titans
-Elimination of Spellpower, Mp5, Defense, Armor Penetration (stats simplified)
-Guild Leveling System and Talent Tree (raidwide Rez, Summon, Etc)

7 New Zones (2 newbie 1-15 zones)

4 New Raids (all apparently done at release, so say devs)
The Firelands (Ragnaros no longer "too soon"), Skywall, Blackwing Descent, Grim Batol

10 New Dungeon Instances
Grim Batol, Uldum (2), Deepholme, Skywall, Abyssal Maw (2), Blackrock Caverns, Heroic Deadmines, Heroic Shadowfang Keep

I’ll have some pictures and videos of the contests to put up as soon as I have everything organized. I'm very glad that Blizzard is going with a revamp of the old world instead of just focusing on end game content. However, the sparse amount of video and details make me think that this expansion is still pretty far away. Most likely its more then a year away. Luckily, Blizzard seemed pretty sure about SC2 being ready for a 1st quarter release since only the BattleNet revamp is holding it back.