Blizzcon Postmortem

Well Blizzcon this year was definitely a thing. I’m going to ignore all the pieces that seem perfectly cool but aren’t for me, like Overwatch and HotS, and focus on the big things that I feel strongly about. And boy do I feel strongly. It’s a testament to Blizzard that even after all the time and frustration with some of their franchises, I still care enough about them to wish they were better.

I’ll start with Warcraft. There were three prongs for this franchise, two of which are banking solidly on nostalgia. The Warcraft 3 remaster seems pretty cool. I never actually played any of the Warcraft games before WoW, so I could see myself trying this out just to see some of those pivotal lore moments. It’s not anything I was hoping for, but I might still buy it out of curiosity.

The second piece of Warcraft news wasn’t very new but still makes me happy. WoW Classic development is moving along, by all accounts the demo was as painful and wonderful as I had hoped it would be. The timeline for release seems reasonable, and I’m sure will be perfectly calculated to keep people subscribed to WoW during a content lull in the modern game. Most importantly, it will be on that same subscription. Your $15 a month will buy access to both versions. This is a pleasant surprise. For me I think Classic might become my primary MMO for a while, but it will be nice to be able to duck into BfA also if the mood strikes me. On the flip side, I appreciate that this arrangement will let people dabble in Classic if they start getting bored of modern WoW. It will keep the overall subscription numbers up, and will keep the Classic servers more populated that they would be if they required an additional fee.

I’m more and more excited about WoW Classic all the time because I’m realizing that the current incarnation of WoW is just not for me at all. Nothing about the announcements for the new content in the works for BfA was that appealing. I still haven’t seen the full Uldir raid, so it is hard to get excited about a new one. I dislike the faction conflict and the set-up for Sylvanas’ eventual downfall, so the cinematic just made me sad. BfA is a game for an audience that doesn’t include me. I think the existence of WoW Classic is the key that keeps me from being unreasonably sad or angry about that fact.

Speaking of unreasonable anger, it’s time to talk about Diablo. Diablo fans have been running on the fumes of hope for years now. This year the franchise seemed to be getting a place of honor at Blizzcon, instead of being relegated to the kiddie table or ignored completely. You can understand that we were pretty excited. Obviously there was going to be some kind of big announcement. Unfortunately, we did not get any of the things we were expecting.

Diablo Immortal is a game I want to play. It looks fun, and it fills in a gap in Diablo lore. Cool! It is also deeply disappointing as a major Diablo announcement out of Blizzcon. Why? Because it is a mobile game. By definition it will be less complex, less hardcore than a pc or console offering. Because it looks backwards into Diablo’s history instead of forward with new story. And because it came without the merest sliver of a hint of motion on the core game, the thing the fans have been invested in for years even in the face of Blizzard’s occasional neglect.

I completely understand the anger and frustration of the assholes who stood up during Q&As and were inexcusably rude to the devs. I’m unhappy with this situation too. But lashing out is not useful to anybody. I’m a weird Diablo fan, because I want more of the full deep experience on the PC, but I am also super excited to try a more casual mobile offering. I would have been legitimately hyped about Diablo Immortal if it had also come with a promise of more “traditional” Diablo. Instead, this announcement seemed to say “you get Diablo Immortal instead of more actual Diablo”, and that felt terrible. I get that they aren’t far enough along with anything to say much, but a simple “we’re working on this” would have gone a long way. As things stand I am 100% sure I will at least check out this new mobile offering, but I’m desperately hoping for some pc Diablo news sooner than later. At least I still have the Torchlight MMO to look forward to.

So that was my Blizzcon. It was filled with lots of things that aren’t for me, and the realization that even the franchises I love from Blizz seem determined to move away from me too.

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