Is it just me, or was this one of the most underwhelming BlizzCons in, well, ever?
I had a gut feeling from advance mentions and hints that we should be setting our expectations really low for BlizzCon this year, but it turns out that “low” wasn’t low enough. I could forgive the extremely annoying preshow announcers (who were calling the experience of eating breakfast cereal “AMAZING!”) and even the various low-key presenters who looked painfully uncomfortable in front of the crowd (I’m looking at you, J. Allen Brack), but this was obviously a year in which the studio had nothing great to say about its lineup.
World of Warcraft had no new expansion nor classic server announcement to spring on us, and so instead we got a lame tease of Patch 8.1 and a Summer 2019 launch date for WoW Classic. That’s pretty much it. I wasn’t expecting much, but c’mon… they could have at least hinted at 8.2 or beyond. They might have said something about Old Gods. I watched the keynote looking for some reason to be really enthusiastic about WoW, and they gave me nothing. I know they talked a bit more about future patches in the panel, but even after reading up on that, I’m not seeing anything that new, surprising, or engrossing.
Overwatch had a strong showing, although that isn’t at all interesting to me. Heroes got a new hero, Hearthstone got a new expansion, and StarCraft II got its corpse dragged in front of everyone so they could acknowledge that it still exists.
The Warcraft III remaster — which had been rumored — received some positive reception. I suppose it’s something if we’re not getting Warcraft IV, but again, I’m not that keen to play a game that I played way back when I was still in love with RTS titles. I’ve moved on.
Then there was Diablo. We all knew that this show was going to be Diablo’s moment, and with multiple projects in the works, perhaps we were going to get a lot of reveals. Instead, Blizzard talked up the Nintendo Switch launch and then announced Diablo Immortal, an MMO mobile version.
Now to be fair, this is kind of interesting to me. I’ve really wanted a good Diablo experience on my smartphone ever since I had my first iPhone back in 2009, and I am sure that I’ll be playing this a lot more than I did Diablo III. It does seem like a good toilet break — er, Bio Break — game, doesn’t it? As long as it loads quickly and plays smoothly, I’ll be there. I know it’s a huge disappointment to many, and I get why, but I’m a little more flexible on this because I’m not as passionately invested in the Diablo franchise.
Alas, with that one medium-sized bullet fired, Blizzard slunk off-stage and we weren’t left with much to be that excited about. I suppose that WoW Classic’s demo is supposed to bear the weight of that franchise at this moment, but in a way, that all feels like last year’s announcement leftovers reheated.
I guess it’s a good sign for me that my decision to push WoW to the gaming backburner is justified. There is a lot else to play and a busy month of gaming ahead, so I’ll stay the course and hope that next year’s BlizzCon will give us something to talk about once more.