Sunday, November 3, 2013

Blizzcon 2013: SWAGs, but no YOLO

In the software industry, or at least at my company, we often use the term SWAG--stupid wild-ass guess, not the teenager slang version--when making estimates, because honestly, guessing the future is hard when you haven’t had a chance to talk to people, prototype, or just research. And so with Blizzcon in a week, I figured I’d throw up some SWAGs about what I think Blizzard will talk about.

(I must be getting old. That title makes me cringe.)


We know we’ll see the Invitational, and I’m rather interested in finding out how these higher ranked players go about deck building and playing. While Hearthstone feels really straightforward, there feels like there’s just that hint of depth that I’m missing, and I can’t wait to see if that hint gets played out.

We also know there’s a fireside chat which will talk about the current metagame, and future features. I fully expect that better deck-building tools will be announced, as that’s a pretty large weak point in their mostly ultra-polished client. I’m going to guess that they will also continue to iterate on daily quests. The Arena feels mostly complete, so I don’t think we’ll see many changes to that mode. I doubt we’ll see a release date announced either. With the WoW panel just before it, I’m not sure they want to be drowned in what gets announced there, and I don’t think they feel they’re ready for release anyhow.

Speaking of which...

World of Warcraft

Even without insider information, we’ll see the next expansion announced. I mean, the Friday panel is called “What’s Next.” MMO-Champion thinks it’ll be called Warlords of Draenor, and given Boubouille’s track record, I think I believe him this time around, as opposed to The Dark Below, or Corgis Unleashed.

Shamelessly stolen from the MMO-Champ boards because it is delightful. And I would totally play the crap out of it.
So what’ll be in this expansion? For some reason everyone keeps saying Time Travel. Not sure where they got that idea. Blizzard’s modus operandi so far has been new discovered landmass--Cataclysm excepted, and they’re already on record as saying that the dispersed feel of Cata was not conducive to a good expansion--so I figure it’ll be a previously undiscovered landmass of Draenor in Outland. The other option I could think of was doing the Cata-style revamp on Hellfire Peninsula and Zangarmarsh, then re-purpose the rest of Outland to be 90+ content. Lots of folks hate going through Outland, and it’s not nearly the scope of redoing all of Azeroth. Revamping two zones is well within reach of their developer resources.

As far as lore is concerned, perhaps we’ll run into a set of orcs who are still corrupted by the Burning Legion (making a good segue into a Burning Legion expansion or raids). Draenor/Outland would also mean more Draenei and Blood Elf storylines, as well. And of course Turalyon and Alleria. Illidan, too, since Metzen has stated he’d love to give the Demon Hunter a chance at redemption

I expect we’ll see the level cap be 100 rather than 95. It makes for a nice round number for the tenth anniversary, plus the heirlooms go to 100. I’m not ultra-confident on this one; it’s really a stupid wild-ass guess. But I’m fairly confident we’ll finally see the number squish. Given the feature exists in nascent form already, we’ll likely see level/item scaling for older dungeons, too.

Blizzard seems pleased with how classes and talents are working these days, so I figure those will stay mostly untouched. Rogues are overdue for an overhaul, and such an overhaul worked okay for Warlocks. However, the glyph system was effectively a prototype of the new talent system, and doesn’t have a good niche anymore, so I’ll bet there’ll be an update to that feature.

Things I think we won’t see are a new class, spec, or race. They've already got a tonne on their plates for balance and diversity with the classes and races they have today. We may get a preview of one or two new character models, but I doubt they’re anywhere near complete, and nor do I believe they will be complete for the expansion drop. I also don’t believe we’ll see a release date or target for the next expansion (though if I had to guess, I’m thinking August with a 5.5 path in between). There’s been a lot of talk about fixing up professions as well, but given the number of times they’ve talked about fixing them, I’m going to guess they’ll talk about it yet again, but not actually implement any such fixes.

Starcraft II

According to Wikipedia, “by August 2013, the story for Legacy of the Void was written, much of the cinematics were done, and voice actors were in the studio recording dialogue for the game.”

Given the schedule--on which I see very little SCII--and the one panel only has balance discussions, it seems like we won’t see much about the Protoss expansion. I think this game will be relatively low key given that both WoW and Diablo III will have a lot of expansion talk, and we have two new games, Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm.

Heroes of the Storm

Blizzard’s new MOBA, we’ll see game play and discussion panels. Nobody has seen footage of the game in action yet, so I expect a lot of buzz and new videos/info. Otherwise I honestly couldn’t care less. I’ve played League of Legends, not really my thing. Though I admit, that a lot of people really, really like LoL and other MOBAs.

The LoL booth at PAX East and PAX Aus 2013. PAX Prime was also just as packed, but I apparently forgot to take a photo. Trust me, it was crazy. Blizzard clearly wants a piece.

Diablo III

We already know a fair bit about the DIII expansion, Reaper of Souls, and the schedule shows they’ll talk about the new Crusader class, as well as new mechanics. I don’t think there’ll be anything new per se, but I expect concepts already revealed (Loot 2.0, the new Paragon system, new monsters, AH-less future, etc.) will be expanded upon.

So those are my predictions. I kinda cheated by waiting for the schedule to be announced, but overall I think there’ll be a lot of exciting stuff nonetheless, with a focus on WoW and Heroes of the Storm. We’ll see how accurate (or more likely, inaccurate) my predictions are.

What do you think? Anything you’re excited or trepidatious about? Predictions of your own?


  1. I missed the onset of corgi-hysteria (I thought my guildmate was crazy - didn't realize it was A Thing), but I'll be damned - that box art has sold me. I LOVE IT. Corgis plzkthx. AT LEAST give us a corgi battle pet that doesn't drag its ass on the ground. Please?

    1. Haha! After The Dark Below trademark surfaced, someone had gone and registered Corgis Unleashed under Blizzard's name to show that anybody could apply for a trademark under any name. An epic response to The Dark Below hoax. And yeah, that box art is amazing. Whoever put it together is awesome.