WRUP: What aRe yoU (eager to) Play from BlizzCon 2023?
BlizzCon 2023 just ended about a week ago, and as we’re in the tail end of our hype for it, it’s the perfect opportunity for another special edition of WRUP. Rather than asking the Blizzard Watch staff what they’re currently playing, we’re going to be having a bit of a different edition of this column today.
The question is: out of everything that was announced at the convention — whether it’s games, expansions, story, lore, or new systems, maps, game modes, new characters, etc. — what are you most eager to get your hands on and play? Which announcements got you most excited, and you can’t wait to dedicate your time to?
- Hero Talents
- Diablo 4: Vessel of Hatred
Hero Talents really dominate the BlizzCon announcements for me. We know precious little about them — only the names of each specialization, and a few specific talents for Druids — but I already love the idea. I’m full in for options that let you specialize your class and playstyle, which the new talent system has done a lot for (in my opinion). But this seems to take it up a notch and let you hone in on a particular end game class fantasy, and all of them sound awesome. Do I want to be a Lightsmith? A Herald of the Sun? A Templar? Yes, yes, I want to be all of those things, even though I am not entirely sure what they are. (I mean, probably a Lightsmith. That just sounds really neat, right?)
The only problem with getting this excited this early, with so little information, is the risk of disappointment later. But everything we’ve seen looks really interesting, so I hope I’m not getting my hopes up too much. But getting to choose our own hero class, essentially, for our existing characters sounds amazing.
… oh, also Diablo 4: Vessel of Hatred. It’s going to be great to see the Diablo art team tackle the environmental design of Kurast, a dense jungle that is not bleak snow and sand. It’s Diablo so it’s always going to be a little bleak, but it will be bleak in a new color palette. The concept art looks excellent, and seeing that built out with the immense detail that’s been going into Diablo 4’s environmental design is going to be out of this world.
- WoW Classic Season of Discovery
- Diablo 4: Vessel of Hatred
I’m excited for all of the World of Warcraft stuff but in a head-to-head, I’m more excited for Season of Discovery. Part of the reason I really enjoy WoW Classic is because it satisfies my gaming desire to just… wander. Pick a direction, walk, explore, and that’s it. No excessive world ending or existential threats to constantly worry about, just exploration. Season of Discovery doubles down on that and gives me something new to try and find.
Diablo 4: Vessel of Hatred is something else I’m really looking forward to and it’s because I like the voice of a certain character. Quite literally music to my ears. Also more areas to journey to in Diablo 4 will be good for mixing up the seasonal content grind and I like the lush jungle setting it (appears) to be in. I like Season of Blood so far but right now I’m yearning for something different, and I most certainly will be needing something different after saving Estuar next year from another (or possibly two) world-threatening enemy.
- Season of Discovery
- Knaifu <3
- Warbands (with a transmog-heavy caveat)
I’m right there with Nick — WoW Classic, while certainly not the exact same type of “new wonder” experience as vanilla was back in the same, still very much feels like the WoW I go to when I want to feel like I have plenty of directions to go but no time-sensitive strings pulling me in any of those directions. And I’ve long missed the days of a datamine-less patch, so Season of Discovery is right up my alley.
Meanwhile, Rumble has been occupying much of my phone-gaming time. I perhaps have the benefit of never having played a similar genre of mobile title (at least not for long anyhow), so this feels like a fun, bite-sized Warcraft experience I can pick up and put down as I please. I loved the beta way back when, and I’m loving the release game. Here’s hoping I have Sylvanas as a Leader by the time this goes live.
And as far as stuff that’s a bit further off, obviously Midnight has my name written all over it. Of course, we’ll be seeing Xal’atath before that, so that is genuinely a huge draw for me with The War Within. (Although, I’d be lying if I said I weren’t worried we’ll be getting NuSylvanas out of Xal’atath but that’s a concern for another time.) Also a draw for me? Warbands! But not because I like playing alts — quite the contrary. I’m not sure Warbands are going to get me to play alts any more than I already do (which is to say, almost never) BUT! The account-wide transmog changes coupled with the Warband login screen have me very excited for all the ways I can make my crew of F*zzls (Fizzl, Fuzzl, Fazzl, Failzzl, etc.) look like they belong on the cover of a 90’s album.
I guess that’s a lot of Warcraft but hey — it was a Warcraft-heavy BlizzCon!
- The Worldsoul Saga
- Hero Talents
- Hearthstone Battlegrounds Duos
My answers are heavily skewed towards WoW this time. The Worldsoul Saga, bringing a story spanning three expansions to look forward to, already won me over right at the start of the convention. Not only do the new underground zones from The War Within look very refreshing, the two following expansions (Midnight and The Last Titan) take place on older Azeroth zones instead of yet more new landmasses, which is a shift I’ve wanted them to do for a long time now.
Warbands have most of the community very excited, and I’m right with them. Being the kind of player who’s always had several characters I treat as my mains instead of fully dedicating myself to just one, this system seems tailor-made for someone like me. There are achievements and accomplishments scattered among every character I’ve ever called a “main” at some point, so it’ll be great to finally have them all be unified under my account, and recognized as being feats that I, the player, accomplished.
Hero Talents add a kind of fantasy that I’ve wanted to see in the game for a long time as well: I’ve always wanted them to allow our characters to further specialize into those more “powerful” archetypes, like Dark Ranger or Farseer, which have been part of the game lore since Warcraft 3, at least. I hope that Blizzard changes some of the more generic names they gave to some of those Hero Specs, though, and pull even more from that old lore. And even if at the end of the day Hero Talents could be seen as just a new flavor of talent system, the fact that it has such a strong pull of fantasy and lore makes players care much more about it. It’s a great move.
Delves didn’t seem like much to me at first, but the more I thought (and read) about them, the more I realized that they’re yet another perfect system for a player like me. My raiding days are long gone, so I’ve always gravitated towards small-scale content that still allows for mastery, like Visions of N’Zoth and Torghast. The fact that this also has multiple difficulty levels and offers increasingly better gear rewards makes it the kind of activity that I can see becoming one of my main pastimes in WoW.
Other than WoW, I have to make a mention of Hearthstone Battlegrounds Duos, which I find to be a very interesting idea, at least. Maybe the mode won’t be for me in the end, but I’m eager to at least give it a spin. The videos I’ve seen so far of pro players trying it at BlizzCon were really fun.
- Rumble Raids
- Hearthstone Battlegrounds Duos
These days, I’m almost exclusively a mobile gamer. My life season and schedule just don’t have time for much else. I’ve been having a blast with Rumble since its release, and I’m excited to try out raiding Molten Core from my phone. Battlegrounds Duos sounds like a lot of fun. Both of these require a bit more socialization than the games currently do. I hope these new features will be an opportunity for players to expand their social circles.
- World of Warcraft: The War Within
- Diablo 4: Midwinter Blight festival
- Diablo 4: Season of the Orange Text
- Diablo 4: Vessel of Hatred
I really am looking forward to exploring the environments in the new expansion and trying out the various mechanics for myself. To be totally honest it felt a little thin on new features beyond the new zone.
Put down the pitchforks.
Delves sound neat, but they also sound like a rework of the Island Expeditions system that has been there since BfA, just in the open world rather than queueing from an NPC. Warbands will be a great quality of life improvement for people who play alts, but I still play the same main I’ve been playing since Vanilla 95% of the time. I don’t know if Warbands will mean I’m more likely to play alts, we will see. Hero Talents sound nice but are just another talent tree rework, we get those nearly every expansion. A new allied race with non-binary character customisations is overdue but not inherently new. Thinking about it out of the BlizzCon Reality Distortion Field, I’m seeing lots of QoL improvements but not much in the way of genuinely ground breaking or novel features. I’m trying not to be negative, I have already pre-ordered and fully expect to play and enjoy the expansion. Iteration on a design is fine.
For Diablo, again iterative improvements, I’m waiting to hear what the seasonal theme for the new Season will be, and the Midwinter Blight event sounds intriguing. I’m looking forward to hearing more about the new Diablo 4 expansion and seeing where the story goes next. Again, iterative design is fine, but very little actual detail was shared so it’s hard to get really excited about it yet.
I feel like for the World of Warcraft and Diablo franchises we got some names and some hand waving. I’m sure they will be great when we see them, but for now they feel a bit like stone soup — a lot of fuss and not much meat.
- The Worldsoul Saga
- Warbands (and unlocking transmog!)
- Earthen alongside Moira and Dagran
I was pretty shocked that they announced the next three expansions — although I do love that they did so. We’ve never had a high-level view of the direction of the franchise, and seeing how the next few chapters will follow one another (while not over-revealing what’s in the second and third part) is a very interesting tactic for them to take. While I’m not positive I’ll enjoy all of it, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how this pans out.
Besides that I’m very happy to see that we’re finally getting more account-wide stuff via the new Warbands feature. Being able to unlock transmog universally is such a fantastic addition too; no more worrying about a very rare drop happening on a character that can’t unlock it (even though I wanted Garrosh’s mount more, I only killed him on Plate characters just because I was afraid of the Tusks shoulders dropping on a class that couldn’t unlock it). It’ll also help with current content, it’s annoying to see a new piece of transmog drop from a rare that you can’t do anything with.
Finally, I love that we’re getting a whole zone with an Earthen civilization to learn about. Sure they’re not quite Dwarves, but I’m sure they share plenty of characteristics and it’ll be enjoyable to hang around with them. We’re also finally going to see Dagran — son of Moira, who will also be around — as something besides a baby with giant eyebrows. While I don’t expect him to become the next Anduin, I do hope he becomes a regular NPC for our characters to work with.
- Season of Discovery
- Worldsoul Saga
- Vessel of Hatred
I can not believe how excited I am for Season of Discovery. I know that I am a Classic+ detractor, but there is something about the ease of it being broken down into smaller parts that makes the Season of Discovery so very accessible.
Of course my heart belongs to the main story, so the Worldsoul Saga — starting with The War Within — is calling to me, with its promises of warbands, delves, and Xal’atath.
As for Vessel of Hatred, what do we know about it? Not much. Am I excited to play it? It’s more Diablo, so Hell yeah.
- World of Warbands: The Finally Having All My Stuff on All My Alts Saga — errr, WoW: The Worldsoul Saga
- Diablo 4, especially upcoming stuff like the Abattoir of Zir
As much as I occasionally have a sort of world-weariness about WoW, I’d be lying if I said the new announcements for The War Within and its followups didn’t get me fully hyped for the future of this game. Hero Talents have the potential to be cool as heck, I really like the underground environments they’ve built and how they don’t all just look like a cave, and just the little tidbits of story we have so far have already sparked some great discussion in my guild, including one I’m debating fleshing out into a Tinfoil Hat post. Spoilers, I guess.
But man, #1 for me? Warbands. Holy cow, man. In a game that has gotten less alt-friendly as time goes on, it is nice to see Blizzard essentially “pull the ripcord” (can I bring that back? I’m bringing that back) and say yes, fine, everything in The War Within except for your gear is account-wide now. (And with Warbound gear, even that gets shared.) Have fun! That’s what it’s about man, it’s about fun. A+, 10/10, no notes. Also really digging the Diablo character creator, characters-around-a-fire vibes of the camp screen, which is just such a minor detail but it’s cool, it’s fun.
Also just the concept of Xal’atath being around again got me to roll a Priest to run through Legion content, as their class hall is one story I’ve never experienced. Figured I’d follow Xal’atath’s story from beginning up through getting dropped off face-to-face with N’zoth, just in case there are any kind of cool interactions in the future.
Anyway also there is Diablo 4! Vessel of Hatred is so far in the future and has so few details that I haven’t really given it a ton of thought, though I am intrigued at the possibility of a wholly new class for a franchise like Diablo that has typically kept its character selections pretty small and themely. Instead, I’m focusing on upcoming immediate stuff like the Abattoir of Zir, which has me actually pushing to do stuff that will advance my Season Journey through that final chapter. (I was ignoring it for a while in favor of just leveling, but I’m sitting at 98.5 on my season two Druid and I can already look forward to the Journey being my major focus after that.)
- The Worldsoul Saga
- TWW: Warbands, Delves, and Hero Talents, oh my!
- D4: Midwinter Blight, Vessel of Hatred, Unnamed Classes of Unusual Secrecy
My answers also skewed into WoW because they got a little more attention this BlizzCon. Like the rest of the team, The WorldSoul Saga was exactly the kind of announcement I had NOT suspected and was floored by; it’s also the kind of connected, sweeping arc that grabs my curiosity and won’t let go. Warbands and Delves were made for players like me — a ton of alts, not enough time. Plus, I’m mostly happy when playing solo (barring raid time with my guild <3) so Delves and I will be best of friends. As for Hero Talents — I’m ready and waiting to embrace my new role as a Templar, Lightsmith, OR Herald of the Sun, they sound fascinating.
Now for my one true love — Diablo 4. For such short sections, we got a lot of goodies! I factually can’t say I’m looking forward to Malignant Rings because 1) they released this past Tuesday, and 2) I already have my first one from Varshan, so instead, I’m focusing forward. I know the Abattoir drops in four weeks, but frankly, I don’t know if I’ll be top-tier enough by the drop to tackle its first tier successfully. Instead, I’m looking forward to the dark Diablo twist on holiday events promised by the Midwinter Blight. Now, for the expansion — Vessel of Hatred looks SO DANG COOL… from the 40-second teaser. But we know so little about both it and its pending yet-unnamed class. In my (hah) copious downtime, I may revisit D2R’s Act 3 and smash an earlier version of Mephisto to get more experience in the region they’re honoring via redevelopment.
My only concern? The War Within’s targeted release is Fall 2024, D4: Vessel of Hatred’s is ‘late 2024’, and Hades 2 starts Early Access on Steam in Q2 2024. So, I have roughly seven months to become financially independent because all these games will definitely take over my life.
So, with sharing our favorite things, I guess BlizzCon 2023 hype is finally out of our systems, and we can move forward to other things! What about you? Did you enjoy the convention? And more importantly: What aRe yoU (most eager to) Play that was announced at BlizzCon 2023?
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