Most Anticipated of 2014 – Blizzard Entertainment

Blizzard Entertainment has long been the premier PC game developer in my mind. They were one of the first companies to show me the glory of PC gaming, and to this day I have played every game they’ve made – and wanted to play every game they decided not to make *cough StarCraft Ghost and Warcraft Adventures cough*. Forgive me I appear to have a cold (sadly this isn’t just a metaphorical cold – I really am sick, which is why this is Wednesday in stead of it’s usual Tuesday). Well, in honour of Blizzcon this past weekend I’ve decided to make this Most Anticipated of 2014 article all about them…

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

I’d like to start things off with the most tentative of the things I’m excited about. I’ve been ‘free’ from the World of Warcraft for over a year now, having left as the Mists set in, and it’s given me much free time. Hence, well, this website really. But Blizzard is offering me enough temptations to give it another try even despite my key issues with some of what was done in Mists.

The big changes? Well, first, they’re adding a rather unique form of player housing that allows you to build your own garrison complete with different buildings and even a place to show off your pets. Everyone who knows me knows I love cute pets. If that weren’t awesome enough… you can also have followers in your garrison that will gather materials and craft things and go on missions for you.

Additionally, they’re finally bringing all the old character models up to par. A long overdue and most intriguing change. They haven’t shared the details about any of the important races(NE Male, NE Female, Draenei Female, Human Female, Troll Female, Tauren) but the few images we have are intriguing and promising.

There are also numerous smaller changes. They’re adding more ‘collections’ for toys and possibly tabards. They’re allowing people to level one character immediately to 90 with purchase of WoD. They’re also making a number of stat tweaks that sound both strange and intriguing like the removal of hit, dodge, and parry. Not sure how I feel, but I won’t judge until beta.

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The story seems so nonsensical that I fear for the future of a fantasy world I once praised as one of my six favourite fantasy worlds of all time. Time travel on its own is often bad for a fantasy world… but mixing timelines is usually a recipe for horrible storytelling. Usually. Maybe Blizzard can be one of those rare exceptions… but… my hopes are not high.

Especially given that even with the bare few details we have I can already see at least a half a dozen rewrites of established history that don’t make any logical sense. But I’ll reserve judgement until we know more. But right now… it’s not promising.

But in an MMO, story is never the most important aspect… so I’m still excited for the beta to see what happens and this may very well overcome the problems I have with WoW to make me play again. We’ll have to see.

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls

I probably should almost make two entries about this one, since after playing the console version of Diablo 3 I’m excited for both the PlayStation 4 and PC releases of Reaper of Souls. With this first expansion to Diablo 3, they appear to be striving to fix my core issues with Diablo 3’s original PC release. And, since soon afterward they’re releasing Reaper of Souls bundled with D3 for the PS4 as well, it’s an exciting time.

Diablo 3 suffered from poor itemization and an unsatisfying and predictable end-game, as well as very stale build options. The ability to change builds whenever you want doesn’t matter if you don’t have motivation to do so. They claim to have made massive changes to the itemization and go so far as to claim that Loot 2.0 will drive build diversity. Bold claims, and while I will reserve judgement until seeing it in action, I am hopeful.

Blizzard is adding a new class that rounds out their pantheon well – offering a sort of mid-range tank melee figure which will complement the archetypes already presented among the class lineup. The Crusader will be an interesting addition to the class lineup D3 already has, and I’m interested to see how this all plays out.

They’re also rounding out the experience by adding a free-roam adventure mode that emulates the experience from Diablo 2. Hopefully this can lead to a more satisfying game experience.

Heroes of the Storm

Blizzard DOTA, Blizzard All-Stars, Blizzard MOBA… this game has been known, officially or otherwise, as many things over the years… but it’s been a title that I’ve been excited for for the entire duration of its existence. And I still am, tentatively. The trailer they used to announce the game was one of the best trailers I’ve ever seen… and the StarCrafts video they released was an adorable teaser.

Just on a basic level… a new MOBA that isn’t going to feature denies is a very good start to me. Add in that they’re de-emphasizing last hits, which is kind of an archaic mechanic to begin with, and you’ve definitely got my attention. Denies and Last Hits in general are two of the mechanics I think MOBAs need less of.

But the real thing that has me excited is the same thing that has always intrigued me about this title: playing a MOBA starring all the heroes and villains from the Blizzard franchised I’ve grown up with. Seeing Kerrigan vs Sylvannas or Diablo vs Illidan or Velen vs Tassadar… the possibilities are endless. And exciting.

There are some reasons why I am hesitant… Blizzard is not an expert on balancing this genre. Some of the ideas they showcased feel unbalanceable and the map objectives seem disconcertingly impactful. But I have an open mind, so I’ll certainly give it the benefit of the doubt. I cannot wait until the beta for this game starts. It is going to be an exciting time… and hopefully we don’t have to wait too long.

One thing is for certain, next year is going to be one of the busiest in history for Blizzard Entertainment. Hopefully they know what they’re in for with this many releases!

 

Next week I’ll be covering the Most Anticipated PS4 exclusive titles, hopefully on Tuesday this time! Sorry for the delayed release on this one, illness took its toll on me!

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