BlizzCon is almost upon us! This year marks a special BlizzCon: not only is it the 10th BlizzCon, but also the 20th Anniversary of #Diablo. Predictions, leaks, and rumors have been abound, but I fully expect Blizzard to surprise us all.
The hype is real.
#Overwatch is set to have a pretty good announcement this year, and for good reason. Blizzard has been killing us with tiny trickles of information over the past several months, and everything seems to be coming to a head at BlizzCon.
The latest mystery centers around the mysterious Sombra. The ARG has been building for some time now, and Sombra's hacking efforts have been targeting LumériCo and even Bastion, leading many to postulate she may even hack BlizzCon itself. Don't be surprised if she interferes with the opening ceremonies.
Early this morning an image of Sombra was accidentally leaked via the BlizzCon merchandise store and she looks as awesome as ever. The image could be literal, giving her cool energy powers, or metaphorical, that she's a puppeteer and controlling the Omnics under her through her hacking skills. This leads to exciting possibilities and how much havoc she could wreak in Overwatch's already precarious world.
It's very likely that she'll finally be revealed, as it seems a poor choice were Blizzard to drag this out any further. In-universe events have LumériCo opening a new factory today, and Sombra's hacking efforts have been increasing along with unrest in general.
This is the first BlizzCon since Overwatch released, so you know they have more up their sleeve. The panel after the opening ceremonies also hints at several announcements.
Join the Overwatch developers as they discuss the newest heroes, maps, brawls, and gameplay features in Blizzard’s team-based first-person shooter.
It looks like Overwatch is in for quite a reveal. There are plenty other heroes who have been hinted at in game/lore but not yet made an appearance. Sombra may not be the only one coming.
If you look at the schedule and the map, everything seems oddly quiet for Diablo. They have a small section right at the entrance of the convention hall and a single panel for the 20th anniversary on the main stage late Friday afternoon. This does not exactly indicate "huge announcement coming!" but I still hold out hope that they're being very sneaky and have something planned.
Blizzard has been hiring for an "unannounced project" for a while, which leads many to expect either a new Diablo 3 expansion or even Diablo 4. To not announce either would do a great disservice to Diablo, especially on its 20th anniversary. And especially combined with the art leak this morning.
Leaked in conjunction with the Sombra art was another piece: a pair of Necromancers. The Necromancer was a popular class in Diablo 2, and this could possibly be a nod to the beloved game...or it could hint at a new class! The art shows a female and a male, oddly reminiscent of Diablo's male and female pairs for each class.
The Necromancer is already in Heroes of the Storm as Xul. Though, if the class is to be added, this would mark a first where the character is added to Heroes of the Storm before it even makes it to the current game.
All signs point to yet another fun Hearthstone expansion. The #Hearthstone twitter account has been gleefully tweeting teasers for the past week, giving hints to a Gadgetzan themed expansion via an in-universe paper: the Gadgetzan Gazette.
The latest teaser adds in pandas to the mix via Mists of Pandaria and Pandaren. Could we have another themed Goblins expansion, much like Goblins vs. Gnomes? Perhaps even "Goblins vs. Pandaren"? It's an odd combo for sure, but nothing seems to be too odd for Hearthstone these days. And they seem to enjoy dipping toward the absurd. With the archaeology theme, we could also even expect some sort of continuation of League of Explorers.
If we do get an announcement, expect the expansion to be out soon. Goblins vs. Gnomes was announced at BlizzCon 2014 and came out the following month.
World of Warcraft
All will likely be quiet on the Warcraft front. With Legion barely two months old and patch 7.1 just having launched last week, we probably won't hear anything groundbreaking at BlizzCon. Which is all as well, since it just leaves more room for the other games!
The new mini-raid of patch 7.1 is set to go live the Tuesday after BlizzCon, so at most we'll hear about what lies just beyond: the second half still remaining of the first tier. Last we heard, The Nighthold was intended for early 2017, so we may even get a release date. If they stay true to their promise of offering regular content in Legion, we could even hear about the yet unknown patch 7.2.
Heroes of the Storm
Heroes of the Storm has been a little quiet lately, most recently adding Samuro to the game, so we'll probably get some great hero reveals or even maps. BlizzCon is the time to do the big reveals and who didn't love last year's groundbreaking Cho'Gall or Lunara? With so many characters to choose from all of Blizzard's franchises, hoping for one of each franchise is a little ambitious, and it's likely we'll follow last year's theme of three heroes.
But the fun of the speculation lies in who we can get! Perhaps we'll finally get Varian, and what better way to give a nod to Legion and Varian's sacrifice. Varian's counterpart, Vol'jin, wouldn't be out of place either, and it would herald in HoTS's first troll.
In the theme of celebrating Diablo, Malthael would be an awesome addition, as the titular character of Diablo 3's most recent expansion. Another great choice would be Aidan, the Dark Wanderer. A presence in all three Diablo games, adding Aidan would be a great way to tie in the games for its anniversary.
With the addition of a Widowmaker skin for Nova, Overwatch characters could also either be added as heroes or skins. Sombra seems to have her fingers in everything and maybe even she might hack her way into HoTS. It's unlikely, but one can dream!
StarCraft's story officially concluded with Legacy of the Void, so StarCraft news won't be anything revolutionary, but it still looks to be interesting. Last year's BlizzCon announced that the #StarCraft story would continue in mission packs, and we've had the most recent one in the Nova co-op.
The future of the game, laying in its Foundations for the Future panel, looks toward co-op. But the two panels of note are Multiplayer and AI panels. Some players have been hypothesizing a free-to-play model but, given how popular Starcraft is in esports and Korea, that seems unlikely.
Multiplayer also lends credence for co-op, but AI is the fascinating one. With the work Google has done with AI, there are hopes and dreams of a collaboration. It seems unlikely, but AI technology is growing at an alarming rate. The possibilities are endless, including AI adapting to maps and player strategy.
Mike Morhaime has expressed his love for the franchise, and it still takes its revered spot every year in the main arena, so it's not going anywhere any time soon. Blizzard plans to keep it going for a while so we can expect smaller updates rather than grand expansions.