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20

World of Warcraft Classic – We’ll See

I didn't expect to see this coming out of Blizzcon, but I did expect to see it eventually: Blizzard is creating a classic World of Warcraft server/experience. 

"I am pleased and also a little bit nervous to announce the development of a Classic server option for World of Warcraft," said J. Allen Brack, Executive Producer of WoW.

Brack went on to say, "This is a larger endeavor than you might imagine, but we are committed to making an authentic Blizzard-quality Classic experience." We want to reproduce the game experience that we all enjoyed from the original classic WoW – not the actual launch experience. So please bear with us, it’s going to take some time, but it will happen."

Here's the welll-made trailer/announcement.

How Will WoW Classic Work?

There's absolutely no information, but I love to speculate.

I think this can go down a number of ways. Two of the more obvious ones being simply a new server (or 10) launch. That brings its own series of challenges given the client.

They could also launch a completely separate client for the classic experience and have it launched right off the Blizzard launcher. Possible.

They could also turn this completely upside down and make it an extension of your current server. You use the temporal discombobulator thingy and your character goes back in time. The experience becomes some uber cavern of time experience -- a lot less likely.

Assuming they launch new servers and a new client (my opinion the most likely), they have the choice of keeping the assets updated or truly rolling back the client and clock to the graphics and experience of vanilla days.

EverQuest, no stranger to the progression server / classic server experience, has been handled in multiple ways. The player-run server was literally the old assets and client. The official servers use the newer graphics and UI features in order to make it somewhat manageable for them.

No Thank You

Regardless of what Blizzard does, I think I'll pass. I played Vanilla for years. I server-first killed nearly every raid boss. I was the leader of three guilds (on three servers) to do it. I opened the gates of AQ. I was that no-life braindead raider who lost myself to the game. Never, ever, again.

There are people who enjoy that type of arduous 'challenge' -- though I strongly oppose the idea that any of it was difficult gameplay. It was difficult in that it took TIME, and it took PEOPLE.

Today's WoW is more accessible, but also more difficult to execute gameplay on the raids themselves (the ones that aren't public raids).

Where WoW is concerned, opposed to a game like EQ, I never felt the journey held much for me in Vanilla. It was always about reaching the destination. The reason a progression server or 'classic' experience works for me in EQ is that I enjoyed the journey and never reached or cared about reaching the end.

Let's see where Blizzard takes this classic experiment. I like their candor stating upfront that it's a challenge and not a small feat to accomplish. 

8

My Absurd Blizzcon Wishlist

It’s that time of year again! It’s Blizzcon eve, and I’m going to make a few wishes upon a star and hope they come true.

Here’s what I really hope we see this weekend from Blizzard.

Warcraft 4

I really want to see this become a reality. Technically, I think they’ll do an HD remastered version of Warcraft 3 and Frozen Throne before we ever see a new Warcraft game, but that’s a mistake in my opinion.

A new RTS game would be a huge hit for Blizzard, and surely a success. Blizzard could use the Starcraft engine and no one would even care. I will never stop wishing for Warcraft 4 to be announced at Blizzcon.

A New MMO

Probably the most absurd of all my wishes is that of a new MMO (which we wouldn’t see until 2025). Diablo, Starcraft, Overwatch, or new IP. I don’t care. I’d like something new in the MMO space. I think Blizzard may even be the only company capable of figuring out how to launch a F2P MMO and succeed without the game being complete garbage. I’m not saying I want it to be F2P — quite the opposite — but I think they could experiment and succeed.

Overwatch PvE

I think it would be awesome if Blizzard took the Overwatch PvE gameplay to a new level and created a PvE campaign or some sort of PvE mode of sorts. I’d settle for a horde mode that stays all year long with lots of maps and features that really build up the PvE gameplay.

Action-Adventure Game

I’d like to see an action adventure game in the same vein as something made by Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series. I think the Diablo property could possibly lend itself to something like this, or even the Warcraft property. Something single-player with a story.

Warcraft Adventure Game

Okay, so maybe not Lord of the Clans, but I’d love a Warcraft adventure game. Something point and click all about story. A retro throwback with humor, easter eggs, and lots of Blizzard class.

Not More of the Same

I’d be perfectly fine if we didn’t see a WoW expansion, Overwatch Hero/expansion/map, Hearthstone expansion(s), Diablo 3 season announcement, Heroes of the Storm hero, or Starcraft DLC announcement. Anything but more of the same would be a wish come true. I’m not saying it’s bad — no, it’s all quite good. I just want something new and mind-blowing to come out of Blizzcon this year.

Okay, those are my wishlist items! They’re absurd, and I’d be in complete shock if any of them were to ever come true. What are your Blizzcon hopes and dreams?

1

Blizzcon Roundup – My Thoughts on What Matters Most

Blizzcon has come and gone, and I want to take a few minutes to reflect back on some of the news coming from the company that has consistently captured the attention of most people in this space.

If you’re looking for more of a roundup, I recommend Shacknews. Scroll back through a few of their posts like the one reviewing WoW’s 7.2 update and the Keynote roundup. There’s also MMO Champion for the overall “what’s next” in WoW. I’m not going to cover all of the news side because I’m an opinion guy, not press or journalist.

So here’s what matters most to me, and what I’m excited about (and why).

Diablo 3: Rise of the Necromancer

I welcomed the news of a new ‘character pack’, despite still not knowing what I’m going to have to pay for it. This year was about 2-3 years too soon for them to announce Diablo 4. In fact, I would be upset if they did. They failed so hard on Diablo 3 — yes, I still think so even after they improved it — that I would be bothered by them immediately jumping into 4. I need to see some serious brainstorming from them before I would even trust them on it again.

The Necromancer class is fantastic, and I only wish it came out sooner. Diablo 3 is, unfortunately, on the edge of dead for me. Will this be enough to revive it…. probably not, but this next news might be…

The Darkening of Tristram

The original Diablo makes a return in The Darkening of Tristram, which is a “retrovision” look back at the original Diablo. Featuring 16 levels, a boss, old school graphics, old sound track, and four direction movement, this throw back seems like the best news to come to Diablo 3 yet — and it’s free.

Darkening of Tristram

While the Necromancer MAY bring me back, this will absolutely 100% get me to reinstall. I only wish the scope was greater than the cathedral.

What’s Next for World of Warcraft

Patch 7.1.5

Really big news coming in 7.1.5, mainly the Mists of Pandaria Time Walking and class updates (which I can only hope will be good news for me). The artifact catch up mechanics also pique my interest. One thing I really like about sticking with my Druid is that I can be a tank, a healer, a melee dps, or a caster dps. What I can’t do is keep them all up.

Patch 7.2

You want to know what I like about patch 7.2? There’s lots of neat things coming like Tomb of Sargeras, a new dungeon, more artifact talents, etc. What I like most is that THERE IS A PATCH 7.2 and Blizzard actually has a plan for this expansion.

Karazhan 2 Wings

I was just lamenting how long it takes to get through Karazhan. Well, in a few months (fingers crossed) there will be upper and lower. That’s pretty neat. But isn’t that a bit late, Blizzard? I mean, ToV is coming. Cathedral of Eternal Night (A new dungeon) is coming. We’ll have Nighthold too. Will this gear actually be that good? I suppose from the final secret boss it might be, but otherwise I can’t see needing it.

Druid Wearbear Form

Heck yes. Best news out of Blizzcon. This is so ridiculously needed, and SO FREAKING COOL!

Druid Wearbear Form

If they make this hard to obtain I’m going to rage. It’s the least they can do after making our class mount (form) look so stupid.

Druid Class Mount

Blizzcon Overall

Sort of a lackluster event. The news for World of Warcraft was fantastic. There’s not a WoW player out there who can justifiably way “that’s a let down” for the coming months. But this news didn’t need Blizzcon. Can you imagine the event if there wasn’t a Legion? “You can play some old looking Diablo levels and hey there’s some Hearthstone cards. Grats kids!”

I’m excited for when the huge year comes next year, but I think I’ll REALLY be looking forward to the year after that when they finally announce Warcraft 4.

Read between the lines here where Mike Morhaime said in a Blizzcon interview…

“We love RTS games but right now our focus is still continuing to evolve StarCraft II—and to the extent that MOBA games are RTS—continue supporting and evolving Heroes of the Storm,” Morhaime said in an interview (via GameSpot). “I love that there is so much passion and interest around Warcraft IV. I would love to see Warcraft IV at some point in the future, but that is not our current focus.”

Let’s look at the facts.

  1. He would love to see Warcraft 4.
  2. It’s not their current focus

It’s coming. The announcement will be made in 2018. They’ll release in 2020. 2020 being hindsight, hindsight being they should have done this WAY sooner. It’s coming guys. It’s coming.

10

Blizzcon is Upon Us: WoW Legion’s Launch Date, Predictions, et al

Blizzcon’s opening ceremony kicks off in exactly 4 hours from now, and I’m going to squeeze in here and drop a few predictions as well as what I hope to see announced.

World of Warcraft: Legion

First, I have to address the gorilla in the room: Legion’s launch date. Check out the marketing collateral below and pay attention to the fine print at the bottom (click to enlarge):

[su_lightbox type=”image” src=”https://www.keenandgraev.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/wow-legion-perks.jpg” class=”pointer”]wow-legion-perks[/su_lightbox]

Legion will release on or before September 21, 2016. There are a few ways to interpret this information.

  1. The people convinced this is the release date and are cancelling their subscriptions because they won’t do HFC for 10 more months.
  2. The “I knew there was a reason to hide subscription numbers!” group (who likely do not play)
  3. People who look at WoD coming out a month before its drop dead date who now think August is the date.
  4. The people who think this really doesn’t mean a whole lot / will happily play WoD / don’t care.

I personally think this is their drop dead date and that they will release sooner. I’m also pretty sure they’re going to giving Overwatch a very nice window. I’m predicting April 2016. I think that’s a nice 5-6 month window for them to hold a beta and finish up. I’m on the bleeding edge of extremes here, I know. The likely release date probably IS September 2016.

Overwatch

We’ll get a release date. They’ll talk about the cost of the game, some business model plans, etc. Lots, and lots, and lots of hype. The more I think about how badly they want to hype Overwatch, the more I think we’ll see Overwatch in April, and Legion in August-September.

Starcraft

I’m not expecting any announcements for Starcraft’s current projects. I think Legacy of the Void coming out is a big enough deal that they won’t overshadow it with anything else in the SC2 universe. However, I want to see announcements regarding a modernized version of the original Starcraft and Broodwar being brought to the SC2 engine — with multiplayer — by 2017.

Diablo

I’m actually expecting nothing for Diablo except for a similar announcement about Diablo and Diablo 2 (plus expansions, minus Hellfire) being modernized to the D3 engine and coming out as full games — with multiplayer — by 2017 as well.

Classic Games

I’ll continue in the same vein and say that I hope a nice part of the opening ceremony will hype their revival of the ‘classics’ and for them to official come out and state that they are working on these revitalization projects. The job listings are there for these projects already, it’s just time to make it official. I truly hope to see Warcrafts 1-3 being a big part of this project.

Hearthstone

Cards? (And probably a huge emphasis since this game prints money)

Heroes of the Storm

More heroes and stuff. I will be shocked if HotS gets much if any time in the opening ceremony.

Warcraft 4’s Announcement

Yes, I look forward to Warcraft 4’s announcement every single year. I hold my breath, I get disappointed, and I come back next year to do it all again. I really do think they could build off the hype of Legion and a Warcraft 3 revival to announce Warcraft 4 coming in 2018 or something.

Console and Tablet Announcements

We know that Overwatch is coming to consoles. I think this is a big market for them. Now, as far as tablets go, I think we won’t hear a thing. They kept Hearthstone — their juggernaut F2P — completely nonchalant when it came to iOS releases. I doubt we see much pomp and circumstance over tablets.

A Big Year for Blizzard

Blizzard can go big this year in ways they haven’t been able or willing to in the past few years. With Overwatch, classic revivals, and a strong expansion on their list it’s entirely their game to lose right now. This Blizzcon can set the pace for the next three years without even breaking a sweat. Let’s see what happens!

47

Only Blizzard

Overwatch New Blizzard IP

Only Blizzard can both excite and disappoint me at the same time. Only Blizzard can be unoriginal and draw this amount of hype. I wasn’t expecting them to be original. In fact, I wanted them to make another Warcraft RTS game. I’m disappointed by the fact that they are still drawing this out as long as possible. It’s inevitable. There will be another Warcraft RTS game. It’s going to happen. The 20th anniversary of Warcraft would have been a good time.

Instead, we now know that Blizzard’s next new IP/Franchise is going to be Overwatch. Overwatch is a first-person shooter that looks shockingly just like Team Fortress 2. Blizzard is rarely ever completely original. They simply take what has worked well in the past and blown it up into something bigger and arguably in many instances (no pun intended) better.

The basic premise of Overwatch DOES appeal to me. I really do enjoy shooters like this, and I really do enjoy the zaniness brought about by this type of setting. I’m a fan of the art style… I’m just a fan of all of it. They seem to have a great offering for characters to play with different roles and abilities.

I imagine Overwatch will be free to play with the same kind of hats and costumes model as TF2. This is the route they’re going with their games. I keep saying over and over that Blizzard knows their money is in games like Hearthstone (seriously, did you see how much they were hyping it during the opening ceremony of Blizzcon?) and now Overwatch. Their COMMUNITY is in games like WoW. It will be interesting to see how they balance this transition.

Bottom line(s)…

  • I’ve never played a Blizzard game that I did not enjoy immensely.
  • I love each and every one of Blizzard’s franchises.
  • Blizzard makes high-quality games.

Therefore…

Overwatch will be a great franchise full of high-quality games that I enjoy immensely. Damn you for not announcing Warcraft 4.

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