I haven’t done this since 2011, but it’s time to revive the tradition. Let’s pull out the ol’ crystal ball and predict/guess/speculate wildly as to what we’ll see at the convention!
World of Warcraft
Traditionally, even-numbered years have been pretty light on WoW announcements. 2008 showed some footage of WOTLK, 2010 showed some footage of Cataclysm, and 2012, of course, never happened.
Now, Talarian, who I respect greatly, thinks that Blizzard’s consistent proclamations of “we’re moving to a faster release cycle” means that they have to announce something significant this year, like the next expansion. Possibly supporting this theory is a large block of unscheduled time on the Main Stage immediately following the opening ceremony; right now, the ceremony ends at 10:45 and a “Warcraft Movie Presentation” doesn’t begin until 2:15. I could definitely see the opening ceremony ending with a “oh, and stick around to check this out.”
Unfortunately, given Blizzard’s constant failure to actually succeed at speeding up development time despite promises to do so, I’m in firm “I’ll believe it when I see it” mode. Even if they are planning on speeding development, I’d expect an 18 month cycle to be a more likely initial target, meaning a Blizzcon 2015 announcement and a Spring 2016 release date.
I do think, though, they go ahead and release some info on 6.1, and with absolutely nothing to go on, I’m going to wildly speculate it’ll be Ogri’la 2: Two-Headed Boogaloo. Maybe another split double raid with Ogres and Arrakoa. No clue. What I DON”T want to see, though, is any alternate universe Azeroth shenanigans. “Garrosh convinces Iron Horde warlocks to open portal to Azeroth, recruits an Old-God corrupted Medivh, who rescues Illidan!” Ugh. No.
Legacy of the Void gets announced, with a huge info dump. (Well, technically, we already know the name so it’s not really an announcement, but stop arguing semantics.) This is the big headliner of the show. WoW’s not going to have much; D3 might have some news, but it’ll be too far out to get much love; HS/HOTS aren’t tentpole franchises. I’m so confident in this, I’m going to even say they’ll have pre-alpha demo stations for trying out some of the new Protoss stuff. No hard dates for anything.
I haven’t followed D3 for quite some time. I found a good sale on Reaper of Souls recently, so I picked it up and leveled a Crusader to 70…and then haven’t really touched the game again. That said, I can’t imagine they’re ending things with one expansion; after all, they’ve got a shiny new console edition to sell DLC on! (/sarcasm) Yes, I think they announce a second expansion, level cap increase, new class, all that jazz, though this is my least confident prediction. If they do announce a new class, it’ll be druid-themed, because honestly, they’ve left out the best D2 class for so long already.
HearthPwn has collated all the “Eye of Azshara” leaks/speculation, which seems pretty legit. I’ll agree; I say we see the expansion announced, with some of the new cards previewed. Expect there to be cards for newly prominent WoW figures (Vol’jin, Kairoz, some of the Warlords). Also, since there seems to be a mechanical bent to the cards and the last expansion was Naxxramas, it wouldn’t surprise me to see some Ulduar-themed content. They likely won’t announce a release date other than SoonTM.
Heroes of the Storm
I think HotS is going to be pushed HARD at this Blizzcon, much like Hearthstone was last year. It seems to be following roughly the same trajectory, so by my crystal ball, I think we can expect much wider alpha access to start post-Blizzcon, with open beta in January, and “official” release sometime next summer. Like everything else, I don’t think they announce any hard dates, though I do think they will announce a timeframe for open beta, something like “Winter 2015.”
Fair warning: I say this as someone who’d actually like to try the alpha and has yet to receive a key, so I may be projecting.
There will be a trailer for the Warcraft movie, that’s almost certain. They showed bits and pieces at another convention, but here’s where they give it some love.
I do not think there will be anything about the Warcraft remakes that Blizzard may or may not be working on. Several people have pointed out that this is Warcraft’s 20th anniversary, which is true, but I think a more likely date to release a WC remake, if it even happens, will be in concert with the movie release. I also don’t think there will be any out-of-left-field announcements, like an entirely new franchise.
So, to sum up:
- No new WoW news, save for some teasers for patch 6.1.
- SC2: Legacy of the Void is headliner announcement; demo stations, posters, swag, etc. No date.
- New Diablo 3 expansion, with level cap increase and new class. No date.
- New Hearthstone expansion, with cards for new WoW figures and Ulduar. No date, maybe a timeframe.
- Heroes of the Storm: no major new features, just announcement of open beta timeframe for Winter 2015.
- Trailer for Warcraft movie.
- No Warcraft remake news, no Warcraft 4. (Sorry.)
- No new franchises.
We’ll see on Friday! For everyone that’s going, stay safe, have fun, and try not to kill too many memories with alcohol!