BlizzCon 2014: Opening Ceremonies

BlizzCon_2014-2153 BlizzCon 2014 Day One came and went as fast as the tickets required to get in! Let me tell you that it delivered. The news, games, and competitions were fantastic. This ranks up there with BlizzCon’s of the past when it comes to announcements. The cosplay was in full swing. I saw lots of familiar faces from BlizzCon’s past and a lot of new great ones. BlizzCon_2014_Cosplay-6429 The atmosphere was as electric as ever. More than 20,000 fans descended upon the Anaheim Convention Center in droves hungry for anything Blizzard was offering up as well as a chance to meet other fans who are as passionate for Blizzard games as they are. BlizzCon_2014_Cosplay-2330 We caught up to a number of Cosplayers while the opening ceremonies were underway.  We will have even more pictures from the Cosplay Contest a little later on, but here is a taste: [gallery columns="9" ids="153334,153333,153336,153322,153323,153324,153325,153326,153327,153328,153329,153330,153331,153319,153320"] The day started off with the opening ceremony with Mike Morhaime speaking as usual. This year was a little different from years past. He spoke about the 20 year and 10 year anniversaries of Warcraft and World of Warcraft respectively. He didn’t go into his usual spiel about the numbers of players in the games being larger than most countries. This year he kept it more about the people who play from all around the globe. He addressed the gamers in the audience as well as the gamers who were watching worldwide about the hate and discrimination that has been going on in the gaming world as of late know more commonly as “gamergate”.  Mike Morhaime says it best so I’ll quote him on his plea to us as gamers to double our efforts to be kind and respect each other: BlizzCon_Opening_Cer-0515 "I'd like to take a moment to talk about something serious. Over the past couple months, there's been a small group of people who have been doing really awful things. They have been making some people's lives miserable, and they have been tarnishing our reputation as gamers. It’s not right. BlizzCon is a great example of how positive and uplifting gaming can be. Let’s carry the good vibes from this weekend out into the world all year round. There is another person on the other end of the chat screen; They’re our friends, our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters. Let's take a stand to reject hate and harassment! Let's redouble our efforts to be kind and respectful to one another. And let's remind the world what the gaming community is really all about.”   [gallery columns="9" ids="153280,153281,153282,153283,153284,153285,153286,153287,153288,153289,153290,153291,153292,153293,153294,153295,153296,153297,153298,153299,153300,153301,153302,153303,153304,153305,153306,153307,153308,153309,153310"] The crowed agreed with him and the applause were long and loud. From there he went on to talk about upcoming games and events that would make up Blizzard 2014. He announced a total of four e-sports tournaments being hosted at BlizzCon 2014. World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Heroes of the Storm, and Hearthstone. I can’t even begin to describe the new StarCraft II stage. It can change shapes depending upon the map being played. It’s like a huge moving piece of art. It is really a tribute to just how much e-sports have grown over the past several years. BlizzCon_Opening_Cer-0493 This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Warcraft franchise and the 10th anniversary of World of Warcraft. To commemorate all of the World of Warcraft memories over the last 10 years Blizzard has produced a documentary called “Looking for Group”. This documentary aims to give thanks to the community of gamers who are passionate for World of Warcraft and to celebrate with them because it is them and their passion who make all this possible. The documentary will air this Saturday, November 8 at 5PM on the main stage at BlizzCon and will also be aired on the World of Warcraft Tournament live stream channel (www.twitch.tv/warcraft)   as well as on the World of Warcraft and Hulu websites. Also on Saturday Blizzard is throwing a party out in front of the Anaheim Convention Center and it is open to the public. There will be food trucks and contests as well as other surprises we haven’t yet been told about. This is really great of Blizzard. This is the first time in BlizzCon history that they have sponsored something outside of the Anaheim Convention Center for all the Blizzard fans in the area to participate in. As we all know, the tickets sell out in a couple of minutes and this allows those who weren’t fortunate enough to get tickets to still participate and experience it to some degree. So, if you live within driving distance we definitely recommend that you make your way down to BlizzCon and join in the festivities. BlizzCon_2014-2170 Blizzard has always been a company that likes to support a good cause. They do so by giving us players a non-combat, in game item to purchase on their website or lately right from the game menu. These items allow Blizzard an opportunity to donate the proceeds to their cause of choice. It is a win for all involved. The players get something to use in game as well as be part of the giving process and Blizzard gets help those in need. On December 3rd Blizzard will releasing an in game pet, Argi (http://www.wowhead.com/npc=88807). For every Argi purchased between December 3 and December 31 100% of the adoption fees ($10.00 in the U.S.) will be donated in support of the American Red Cross to help assist in their Ebola relief efforts. Definitely a great cause. It’s great to see such a great company and a great community get together to join in on the fight against this horrible disease. Also announced at the opening ceremony was the fact that the World of Warcraft movie has finished principal photography and is moving along nicely. Duncan Jones will be here at BlizzCon 2014 giving us more information about the movie. I can’t wait to hear how far it has come along and who is going to be in it as well as what hero they are going to play. The movie studios along with Blizzard Entertainment have set up two new websites where we can go to find more information about the move. Check out fightforthehorde.com if you’re a horde player and fightforthealliance.com if you’re an alliance player. Also be sneaky and check out the other to learn more about what your enemy is up to. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer!!    

BlizzCon 2014: Heroes of the Storm & New Blizzard Title!

Heroes Of the Storm LogoBlizzard announced some new additions to Heroes of the Storm as well as when we can expect it to move from the technical alpha to closed beta. The new heroes include Jaina Proudmoore, the Lost Vikings, and Thrall. The crowd got really loud and excited when the Lost Vikings were shown to be in the game.  Heroes of the Storm goes into closed beta on January 13, 2015. This game looks great. Hopefully the we can see a release date in 2015 and that the game play is very competitive with a high skill cap so tournaments will be great.   [gallery columns="8" ids="153084,153048,153083,153082,153081,153080,153079,153078,153077,153076,153075,153074,153073,153072,153071,153070,153069,153068,153067,153066,153065,153064,153063,153062,153061,153060,153059,153058,153057,153056,153055,153054,153053,153052,153051,153050,153049"] StarCraft II Legacy of the VoidStarCraft II is not to be outdone this BlizzCon. They announced a new expansion titled Legacy of the Void. StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void continues the story of Blizzard’s award-winning StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty® where the first expansion, Heart of the Swarm®, left off, with a new campaign that brings the sci-fi saga to an epic conclusion. Protoss legends Artanis and Zeratul attempt to unite their race in an intergalactic fight for survival against an ancient evil from the Void that threatens the universe. The fates of Terran hero Jim Raynor and Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades, also hang in the balance. The great thing about this expansion is that you don’t have to own the previous versions of StarCraft II to get started. You just buy the new game and you get all the rest. This is very cool for people looking to start their campaign against the Protoss, Zerg, or Terran. I spent a few hours playing this game and the story so far is amazing and the quests are really fun. I can’t wait to play it when it comes out. [gallery columns="8" ids="153090,153101,153086,153087,153088,153089,153091,153092,153093,153094,153095,153096,153097,153098,153099,153100,153102,153103,153104,153105,153106,153107,153108,153109,153110,153111,153112,153113,153114,153115"] Hearthstone Goblins vs. GnomesHearthstone got some love too this year. This game has been wildly successful for Blizzard and they don’t show any signs of slowing down the development of this new franchise. Hearthstone, which was only released last year, is already releasing a new expansion. The expansion is called “Goblins vs Gnomes”.  Goblins vs Gnomes immerses Hearthstone players in an epic rivalry between goblin engineers and their gnomish counterparts. Though wildly brilliant, these pint-size tinkerers don’t always have the upper hand on the mechanical contraptions they create, and the results can be wonderfully unpredictable. This sounds very similar to their trinkets and contraptions inside World of Warcraft!! The new cards coming in the expansion are filled with wild and wacky inventions as well as some faces that will be familiar to World of Warcraft® and Hearthstone players. This expansion is playable today at BlizzCon and will be released in December and will have over 100 new cards. Additionally the game will be released for select Android Tablet devices before the end of the year and select phones early next year. This should make all the Android fans out their very happy. [gallery columns="9" ids="153134,153118,153119,153120,153121,153122,153123,153124,153125,153126,153127,153128,153129,153130,153131,153132,153133,153135,153136,153137,153138,153139,153140,153141,153142,153143,153144,153145,153146,153147,153117"] The biggest announcement at this year’s BlizzCon is the announcement of an entirely new franchise!! It has been 17 years since Blizzard has released a new universe, according to Chris Metzen, if he did his math correctly. The game is a 6v6 team-based shooter game set on a near future Earth. Blizzard wanted an emphasis on heroes and boy did they deliver. The heroes in the game look amazing. You can find out more about each here at www.playoverwatch.com. Each hero has an amazing story and some amazing abilities. What is different about this game is that you an switch heroes anytime you want. If your team needs heals, then you can switch to a healer. If a tank is needed, switch to a tank hero. This is a pretty drastic break from the usual idea of pick a character for the game and stick with it. This new concept led to some really fun game play and some exciting matches. The game moves very fast and is so much fun to play. I can’t wait for the release. Speaking of which, for Blizzard to just now announce this new franchise out of nowhere one might expect that it is in some pretty early stages of development. This might be true but the game is far enough that it is playable today at BlizzCon and will go into beta in 2015. This is really good news. I was worried we would just get a cinematic and some press but nothing tangible. I am super excited to play this with all of my gamer friends! To sign up for beta, head on over to www.playoverwatch.com.   [gallery columns="9" ids="153148,153149,153150,153151,153152,153153,153154,153155,153156,153157,153158,153159,153160,153161,153162,153163,153164,153165,153166,153167,153168,153169,153170,153171,153172,153173,153174,153175,153176"] [gallery columns="9" ids="153223,153222,153221,153220,153219,153218,153217,153216,153215,153214,153213,153212,153211,153210,153209,153208,153207,153206,153205,153204,153203,153202,153201,153200,153199,153198,153197,153196,153195,153194,153193,153192,153191,153190,153189,153188,153187,153186,153185,153184,153183,153182,153181,153180,153179,153178,153177,153176,153175"] [gallery columns="9" ids="153224,153225,153226,153227,153228,153229,153230,153231,153232,153233,153234,153235,153236,153237,153238,153239,153240,153241,153242,153243,153244,153245,153246,153247,153248,153249,153250,153251,153252,153253,153254,153255,153256,153257,153258,153259,153260,153261,153262,153263,153264,153265,153266,153267,153268,153269,153270,153271,153272,153273,153274,153275,153276,153277,153278"] To bring Day 1 to a close was the talent show hosted by Chris Hardwick. Jay Mohr didn’t make it this year which really bummed me out. I really enjoyed the hosting Jay Mohr did over the years. He interacted well with the crowd and contestants and had a great sarcastic sense of humor. I was, however, pleasantly surprised by Chris Hardwick. He was great on Talking Bad and is great on Talking Dead but I wasn’t sure how he would do hosting BlizzCon. He did great. He was very funny and charismatic. He went into the crowd and may have even gotten groped by a guy who ran up to hug him which lasted a very long time. Chris told him he should wash his hands. As usual, the consumes were great. I liked the dancing and music a lot more this year than in the years past. My favorite music act was a band named “Awesome City Limits”. You don’t see too many bands with a violinist at BlizzCon but they pulled it off. They were so good that they took home first place in the talent contest. I can’t wait to see what Day 2 brings!