BlizzCon is Blizzard Entertainment's primary event for making big announcements, and last week's conference didn't disappoint. Here are highlights about three of the biggest announcements.
I predicted that the Onyxia raid changes would bring on more contact with Deathwing the Destroyer; it turns out I was right — to an extent. At last week's BlizzCon 2009, Blizzard Entertainment announced that the next expansion to World of Warcraft will be named Cataclysm and will center around contact with Deathwing just as Wrath of the Lich King is centered around Arthas.
Cataclysm will add two new playable races: the Goblins (joining the Horde) of Undermine and the Worgen (joining the Alliance) of Gilneas. The Goblins, former slaves of the jungle trolls on the Isle of Kezan in the South Seas, emerged as brilliant engineers and thinkers to join the Horde during the second war (detailed in the game Warcraft II). This alliance lasted until the end of the third war (Warcraft III), where the Goblins realized they could double their profits by also befriending the Alliance. Unfortunately, those relationships went sour during the past years, so the Goblins have pulled away from the Alliance and fully rejoined the Horde. Meanwhile, the Alliance has discovered that the fabled walled kingdom of Gilneas is still intact, but some of the citizens have been horrifically transformed into Worgen, which are similar to werewolves. The Alliance has accepted these new members and is striving to find a cure for the Worgen curse.
Also announced for the Cataclysm expansion is a vast rewrite of both of the WoW Classic continents, Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. Brought on by Deathwing's disturbed machinations, nearly every zone in those continents will be redone to allow for questing by higher-level players and to allow flying mounts to be used. In addition, the player level cap will be raised to 85, and new race and class combinations are will be opened up, including Tauren Paladins and Gnome Priests. In addition, a new secondary profession, Archaeology, will be added. This profession will allow players to unearth artifacts and earn unique rewards.This is the Cataclysm Announce trailer from BlizzCon (note: all videos may not play from IE6; if you cannot view the video within the blog post, please click the link for the video):
Also announced at BlizzCon is the Diablo III Monk class. Adding to the already released Witch Doctor, Barbarian, and Wizard classes, the Monks of Invgorod are Holy Warriors who are able to cast magnificent spells as well as deal powerful physical damage. Apparently, these Monks are so powerful that they don't need a sword or other weapon and instead use their finely tuned bodies and minds to dispatch their foes.
Here's the Diablo III trailer: The Monk:
The other big announcement at BlizzCon is a major upgrade to Battle.net, coming with the launch of Starcraft II. These changes will include a state-of-the-art matchmaking system, achievement system, social networking, ladder tournaments, and an online marketplace. The biggest change is the new Real ID feature that will allow you to join your accounts and character names all under one account, which you can share with your friends. This will enable you to chat with your friends across realm, faction, and even game. Blizzard is going to eventually force all World of Warcraft players to convert their accounts to Battle.net accounts; the change will enable the new friends list to be integrated into World of Warcraft, extending communication even further in that game. It appears that you will be able to access this friends list from the Battle.net Web page, so you could connect via your mobile device and chat with your friends while you're on the move.
In this interview from BlizzCon 2009, GameSpot's Tom Magrino talks to Blizzard's Greg Canessa about the many features of Battle.net:
For more information about these and other BlizzCon announcements, see the official BlizzCon site. Also, check out GameSpot's coverage of BlizzCon. (GameSpot is a CBS Interactive brand.) We also have a BlizzCon photo gallery, Blizzard-themed costumes, goodies, art, and miniatures.