BlizzCon: A Random Goblins vs. Gnomes Discussion (Interview)

Posted by on November 15, 2014 - No Comments »

Goblins_vs_Gnomes_LogoEric Dodds is back within shouting distance of iTZKooPA, which can only mean one thing, interrogation time! The shelled one had his time with Eric when Curse of Naxxramas was announced at PAX East, including a little play time on the iPad. Now it’s time for the first expansion for Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, a massive 120+ card addition to the digital card game.

Dodds isn’t shy about meeting the first impressions of Goblins vs. Gnomes head on. Blizzard understands, even appreciates the conversation surrounding the randomness that the expansion will bring to the game. Coming this December, the design team has already spent countless hours refining the offerings of GvG. Dodds even tipped us off to a major change late in development. Mechs, the new minion type introduced as part of the expansion, were made more desirable by allowing synergistic cards to gain bonus whenever a mech was played, not just a Battlecry.

Numerous players commented on the upcoming Goblins and Gnomes inspired board. Unfinished during BlizzCon Dodds promises that the art team has some very unique ideas coming to fruition. We’re going to go out on a limb here and say explosions, random happenings and hilarity are incoming. That’s just a tip of the iceberg of our latest Hearthstone interview. Check it after the cut. If you’re looking for all 28 of the revealed cards, check out our first impression slideshow. Read more…

BlizzCon: Samwise on Metallica, Heroes of the Storm (Interview)

Posted by on November 15, 2014 - No Comments »

Blizzcon14_Heroes_SkyTemple_JainaVikingsThere are few things more badass than opening for Metallica. Being the Art Director for Blizzard Entertainment, the man responsible for the direction of so many million dollar franchises, may very well be one of them. Samwise Didier manages to juggle both of those feats with grace and pose. Actually, that’s a lie. He was more concerned for Metallica’s state of mind given that they were closing for Elite Tauren Chieftain at BlizzCon 2014!

Once Samwise wrapped up his humblebrag he moved on to discussing Heroes of the Storm. Hair flying in every direction the art director got a bit teary reminiscing that the Lost Vikings, one of three freshly announced heroes, was his first assignment at then Silicon & Synapse. Samwise discusses all things Heroes of the Storm with iTZKooPA, from map design to hero design, and even coaxes some release date chatter.

If you’re not in Heroes of the Storm yet, fear not as beta testing begins January 2015. Until then, check out our MOBA Monday stream for early coverage of Heroes of the Storm. And don’t forget to check out our HotS first impression from BlizzCon 2014. Read more…

BlizzCon: The Best BlizzCon Ever

Posted by on November 14, 2014 - No Comments »

Zenyatta_Overwatch_001BlizzCon 2014 by all early expectations was not that big a deal. My normal freelance employer that sends me out went so far as to drastically cut back on staff for the event. It was as simple decision in their minds. Without a weighty announcement and Warlords of Draenor coming out a week later the show was to be a dud. I expressed my reservation, explaining that I’ve heard inklings from the community, Blizzard employees and other industry heads that it wasn’t to be missed. That something interesting was coming. It fell on deaf ears.

Now a week after the event, we’re swamped in work. Details to the final chapter of the StarCraft II saga didn’t headline the show. A request to stop the Internet hate was merely a footnote. New heroes and maps for Heroes of the Storm awoken the crowd. The randomness of Goblins vs. Gnomes got people’s heads scratching. Wild eSports results, including the first Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft champion, had competitive gaming junkies on the edge of their seats. Cosplay peaked our…interests. The Warcraft feel is now physically real. Everything was second fiddle to the reveal of Overwatch. The first original property from Blizzard since StarCraft, Overwatch raised a ton of questions. Read more…

BlizzCon: Overwatch First Impression

Posted by on November 13, 2014 - No Comments »

Winston_Overwatch_007Many a people felt that BlizzCon 2014 was going to be boring. The reveal of Blizzard Entertainment’s first original intellectual property in 17 years (that dates back to StarCraft), put the kibosh to any such talk. If you’re just catching up to what this whole Overwatch thing is about then be sure to check out our Top 10 Burning Overwatch Questions before moving on to gameplay discussion.

Spawning from the ashes of Project Titan, a mammoth project that was to be a successor to the throne long held by World of Warcraft, Overwatch is a first-person team-based shooter set in a futuristic Earth. Sixty years from now the world had been ravaged by evil robots. Saved by the Overwatch, an institution of powerful beings from all over that was formed to combat the devastating invasion, the planet returned to prosperity. The once heroic institution of Overwatch fell into futility. Like nuclear weapons after the Cold War the heroes of yesteryear were no longer needed. Five years before the start of the game these powerful beings, be they human, dwarf, robot or animal, struck out on their own. Read more…

BlizzCon: The Future of Heroes of the Storm

Posted by on November 12, 2014 - No Comments »

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Heroes of the Storm has been progressing well. Blizzard Entertainment remains steadfast that the company’s entry into the bursting multiplayer online battle arena is so not ready for prime time that the Alpha Development label is still prominently featured. Sure, Blizzard announced during BlizzCon 2014 that HotS is heading to beta testing in January, but that’s two months away!

This wasn’t the only exciting news that fans of the fledgling MOBA were given during the opening ceremony of BlizzCon 2014. In addition to a rare release date from Blizzard, the company teased three upcoming heroes and two all-new maps set in the same, unique universe. These maps, which, if you’ve watched the MOBA Monday livestream, act as nearly-new game modes, aren’t tied to any existing Blizzard universe. Jaina Proudmoore and Thrall (as opposed to Go’el) are your more typical MOBA characters. At the front lines launching devastating attacks at opponents. The Lost Vikings, like Abathur before them, will once again shake up the expectations of MOBA players.

The full first impression, tons of screenshots and the trailer after the cut. Read more…

BlizzCon: The Fantastic Cosplay of Blizzard’s Community

Posted by on November 11, 2014 - No Comments »

 

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There’s nothing quite like the dedication, creativity and ingenuity of the Blizzard community. Check out these select poses, groups and the all around awesomeness that the community put together over the weekend. BlizzCon 2014 indeed had some of the best cosplay we’ve seen at the somewhat-annual gathering of all things Blizzard Entertainment. Read more…

BlizzCon: Goblins vs. Gnomes First Impression

Posted by on November 10, 2014 - No Comments »

Goblins_vs_Gnomes_LogoHoly crap! Goblins vs. Gnomes, the first full-fledged expansion for Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, is quite simply going to break any deck you have and eradicate the current meta for the digital card game. Warcraft players likely know why. It’s the very nature of the inventions that these tinkering races create. The creations tend to have an inherent flaw, they don’t always work to design. This will put players ever more at the feet of the random number generator (RNG) god.

This reaction is something Blizzard anticipated, even revels in. All of their literature for the GvG reveal admits to “interesting interactions” inherent to the first expansion. Quite simply the company selected the warring races of technical ingenuity in Warcraft to provide a “fun common theme” similar to what Curse of Naxxramas brought to Adventure Play. I’m sure you’ll eventually see me pulling out my hair after my Madder Bomber deals damage to the “wrong” target on the stream, but the risk of the play will assuredly become part of the fun.

Hit the jump for our full first impression, scan through all 28 revealed cards and don’t forget to return tomorrow for our interview with game director Eric Dodds. Read more…

BlizzCon: Top 10 Burning Overwatch Questions Answered

Posted by on November 8, 2014 - No Comments »

Overwatch_Poster_FinalIf you’re here then you’ll already aware that Blizzard Entertainment has revealed its first new intellectual property in 17 years. The glory goes to Overwatch, a first person squad-based shooter featuring former heroes of Earth turning to the darkside of the military, being mercenaries. The speculation for a reveal of some kind was huge, everything from a new WoW expansion to a Diablo expansion to a console game, and yes, even a new IP was possible. Some thought this BlizzCon would be boring. That’s certainly been proven incorrect.

Chris Metzen and Jeff Kaplan only had a few moments to showcase Overwatch. The first panel, which filled in that mysterious gap in the Main Stage after the opening ceremony, raised more still. Yeah, it provided us with expanded gameplay, a discussion of the game design and a breakdown of the heroes and expected roles. This naturally led to more questions. Here are the top 10 from the community.

What’s the story behind Overwatch? Who are these people and why do I care?

Overwatch is set in a very fictionalized future of Earth. According to Metzen, we’re sixty years removed from the present day. Technology must keep advancing at an insane pace to perfect mutant gorillas, blinking, force fields and such. Thirty years prior to this a great robot threat threatened Earth life. The response was the Overwatch, an institution of fighters large and small, powerful and agile from all over came together with a singular purpose of defending that way of life. After fending off this threat, which we believe will be detailed later, the institution struggled to remain relevant. Roughly five years before the game begins it collapsed and the heroes became private, independent contractors. Mercenaries.

How long has Blizzard been working on Overwatch?

Blizzard would not comment on this directly initially, often sidestepping the question by focusing on it being the first new intellectual property in 17 years. This has led many to believe that Overwatch is what was formerly known as Project Titan, an original IP set to be an MMO in a new universe. Overwatch indeed rose out of the ashes of Project Titan. This means that it’s been in development roughly forever. No wonder it’s so far along!

What’s the business model, single purchase, F2P or something else?

Blizzard steadfastly refused to address the issue. The current expectation is that it won’t be free-to-play. This assumption is mainly based on the lack of customization for characters, including skins and abilities, that would normally drive such a model. Blizzard specifically said that while they saw the potential for a male Tracer, etc., it was not a path Overwatch was currently entertaining. Read more…