BlizzCon 2013 kicked off today with Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime providing the opening keynote . During the course of the opening, Warlords of Draenor was announced as the latest expansion for World of Warcraft, and beta sign-ups went live for the firm’s Heroes of the Storm MOBA.
Titan, WoW won’t go full on F2P
During his opening remarks, Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime reiterated that Project Titan was put on hold for the time being, stating as he did earlier this year that the game wasn’t “up to the Blizzard quality in a reasonable time frame,” and that during the revamp, the team has “come up with something really great.”
He also reiterated that the firm’s signature MMO, World of Warcraft, would not be going 100% free-to-play any time soon.
“We’ve always taken the business model on a case by case basis,” he said. “In the case of World of Warcraft, the first 20 levels are free. It wasn’t designed as a free-to-play game. I don’t see that type of transition happening in World of Warcraft, although we are always looking for new ways to make the game more accessible.”
Warlords of Draenor announced as latest WoW expansion
Chris Metzen, SVP of story and franchise development came on stage to introduce the next chapter in World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor.
According to Metzen, the conflict coming will be the Alliance’s “finest hour,” mixing in all the history, and context of the game, by confronting the “ghosts of the past.”
“We have been thinking a lot about Warcraft, what makes it distinct, what makes it tick and about the early days,” he said (thanks CVG). “Many of you were with us during the events of Orcs and Humans, Tides of Darkness and Beyond the Dark Portal. The events of those came predicated what’s happening in the modern era of WoW
“There’s a huge amount of players that never lived those events, met those characters or had those adventures. As we’re thinking about where to go. Some of the baddest dudes ever in the Warcraft franchise almost had their way and conquered the entirety of the Eastern Kingdoms. If they had history would have taken a turn.
“What if those dark days could come again, what if those vicious villains could threaten our homes again. The conflict coming will be the Alliance’s finest hour. Horde, you’ve had to live with the consequences of Thrall’s disappointments, with Garosh’s reign of terror, but in the face of all that you have a chance at a new start, to redefine yourselves in this brave new world.
“But as is often true, to forge a brighter future, sometimes you must confront the ghosts of the past.”
The expansion includes the new Draenor zone, the level cap will be raised to 100, includes new dungeons and raids, hundreds of new quests, the ability to build and upgrade garrisons, and new character models will be introduced.
Players will also have the option to instantly upgrade one of their toons to level 90 so as to jump in and start playing in the new zones right away.
A session devoted to the expansion will be streamed at 3.30pm EST and if you have a virtual ticket you can watch it at home.
Two videos showing the creation of Draenor and a look at factions have been posted here, along with a set of artwork and screenshots.
Heroes of the Storm beta sign ups go live
During the opening ceremony after Morhaime left the stage, Heroes of the Storm, a “homage” to the player mods created like Defense of the Ancients, was discussed by Dustin Browder, vice president of both StarCraft 2 and the new MOBA.
“Heroes of the Storm is Blizzard the game,” said Browder. “A combination of all of our heroes and villains in one big battle to the death,” the company said during the opening ceremony. “It’s not just enough for us to pay homage to what our fans have created.
“We have to change the genre, Battlegrounds change the way people play.”
A cinematic trailer for Heroes of the Storm was shown before a clip of the Alpha version of the game. Both are posted below.
During the clip, Arthas, Kerrigan, Diablo, were all shown as playable. There were various characters and enemies from Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo, franchises, and the game has a very “WoW’ look to it.
The game is playable today at show and beta sign-ups are now live.
Hearthstone open beta starts in December, iOS and Android versions coming
Rob Pardo, the firm’s CCO, came on stage to discuss Hearthstone, the developer’s strategy card battle game. The game will go into open-beta next month and the tablet version is playable at the show and attendees get a special Hearthstone card – the Elite Tauren Chieftain.
iPhone and Android versions of Hearthstone are in development for and slated for release during the second half of 2014.
For those interested in the Warcraft movie, director Duncan Jones will be making a presentation tomorrow along with Blizzard’s Chris Metzen. The special effects director, Bill Westenhofer who worked on Life of Pi, will be at the panel as well. He’s been playing WoW since the start and has a level 90 character.