BlizzConline couldn’t fully replace the vibe of their in-person show at Anaheim, but this year’s virtual convention did at least provide some decent announcements. And while an Overwatch sequel and long-awaited updates to Starcraft wasn’t on the cards, fans did finally get their long awaited Diablo 2 remaster, a new class and gameplay for Diablo 4, a new Hearthstone expansion, and for World of Warcraft Classic fans: Burning Crusade.
The first announcement Saturday morning Australian time, however, was a remaster of a different kind. It was Blizzard Arcade Collection, a digital re-release of Blizzard’s classic games Blackthorne, Rock N Roll Racing and The Lost Vikings. It’s not just available for PC this time, but the trio of games is being made available on the Switch, PS4, Xbox One and next-gen consoles (but not with any special enhancements for the PS5 or Xbox Series X).
The next cab off the rank was the unveiling of a new class for Diablo 4, the Rogue. Returning to the franchise for the first time since Diablo 1 — the Rogue was only a mercenary in Diablo 2 — the Rogue incorporates not just elements of the Demon Hunter, but also the Assassin from Diablo 2.
In an embargoed pre-release, Blizzard showed off the Rogue’s abilities including caltrops, Ice Barrage, a poison-style attack, and the AOE rain of arrows ability. The Rogue isn’t restricted to ranged play though: Blizzard’s official trailer reveal showed a string of close-up dual dagger attacks.
World of Warcraft had plenty of news, both for Classic fans and Shadowlands players. For those playing Classic — and those keeping up with leaks — the big reveal was Burning Crusade Classic.
A crucial detail for WoW Classic players is that you don’t have to carry your character over. “Prior to Burning Crusade Classic’s release, WoW Classic players can decide whether to advance each of their characters to the Burning Crusade era with the rest of their realm, or to continue playing the original WoW Classic content on new Classic Era servers,” Blizzard announced.
They also added, in an embargoed interview with Kotaku Australia before BlizzConline, that a one-time-per-account level 58 boost would be made available for those who just wanted to jump straight into the Burning Crusade content. It’s also worth noting that your character will be cloned if you carry over to BC, so you won’t lose your existing character.
For those playing modern WoW, the main update is Chains of Domination. It’s the first major expansion to Shadowlands, further expanding the domain of the Jailer and the City of Secrets. There’s a new 10-boss raid called the Sanctum of Domination, a new PvP system, and a mega 8-boss Mythic dungeon called Tazavesh, the Veiled Market.
Diablo 2 fans finally got their long-awaited remaster, Diablo 2 Resurrected. Made by the team behind the recent Tony Hawk Pro Skater remake, Diablo 2 Resurrected isn’t just a PC game this time around. It’ll be coming to last-gen, next-gen consoles and the Nintendo Switch, with cross-progression and cross-generational play (so PS4 and PS5 can play together), but not full cross-play.
There was no official release date for Diablo 2 Resurrected beyond “2021”, although a small closed beta would be running for PC players later this year. It’ll retail for $69.95 on PC; no word on console pricing yet, or a physical release. (More details about the Diablo 2 remake can be found in our full chat with the developers here.)
Hearthstone had arguably the most announcements out of the entire show. Along with the new Core set, first announced earlier in the month, Hearthstone was getting a new expansion and a new game mode.
The new expansion, Forged in the Barrens, adds 135 new cards and a new keyword called Frenzy. Frenzy is basically a one-time effect that pops whenever a minion survives damage.
Along with a year-long story that will cover 10 legendary mercenaries, Hearthstone is also getting a separate Classic mode allows the game experience Hearthstone as it was before the Curse of Naxxramas cards and keywords were added. It’ll have its own separate rewards and rankings, too.
But that’s not all: Hearthstone is also getting Mercenaries, a separate roguelike “strategy RPG” mode. There wasn’t any gameplay shown off, but the general idea is that you’ll start by recruiting famous Warcraft heroes (like Sylvannas) who will then gain loot and XP every time they win a battle. (More details on that here.)
Hearthstone Mercenaries will launch “later this year”, with more details to be revealed at a later date. The expansion, meanwhile, will launch in a few weeks when Hearthstone‘s Year of the Gryphon roadmap begins.
Diablo Immortal also got a shoutout during the online ceremony, although there was no major announcements about release dates.
Overwatch 2, at least, revealed a ton of new information and changes they’re trialling for the sequel after the opening ceremony. We got to see what the talent system looks like and some of the potential upgrades. There was also a sweet Dad Beard for Soldier 76, a kick-arse railgun for Soujourn (at least in its secondary fire; the primary is a straight up rifle). The plan is also to release hundreds of PvE Hero Missions, although that sounded more a goal in the long-term, not for Overwatch 2‘s launch.