What We Learned At BlizzCon 2014

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The doors are closed. The darkened interior has been stripped of merchandise, gaming pods and fast food stalls. The banners are gone from the outside of the Anaheim Convention Centre. BlizzCon is over for another year, but 2014 will go down as one of the best ‘Con’s the Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo faithful has ever witnessed – and not just because a certain metal band closed the event. Here’s what we learned at BlizzCon 2014...

1. Blizzard Hates Trolls

While Gamergate* wasn’t explicitly mentioned, Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime had a few choice words to say on the subject of trolling and online harassment in his BlizzCon keynote. The upshot? He and Blizzard are less than impressed with the practice of hounding people through social media and would prefer it if the trolls could lay off. It’s not just a lousy practice, he said, it gives the whole gaming community a bad name.

“They’ve been tarnishing our reputation as gamers and it’s not right,” Morhaime yelled from the BlizzCon podium. “Let’s take a stand to reject hate and harassment and let’s redouble our efforts to be kind and respectful to one another. Let’s remind the world what the gaming community is really all about.”

*If you don’t know what Gamergate is, we envy you and urge you to keep it that way. Move on. Nothing to see here.

2. There’s A New Shooter In Town And It’s Called Overwatch

The biggest surprise at BlizzCon was the fact that Blizzard had a brand new game to show off in the form of Overwatch – and it’s a shooter. In it twelve players split into two teams of six and hammer all holy hell out of each other using guns, hammers, bows, fists, sniper rifles and more.

Not only that, every character in the game has some sort of superpower and these range from time manipulation to teleportation to flight to body transformation. Seriously – there’s one guy in Overwatch who can change into a gun turret capable of turning anything they hit into paint. Imagine The Avengers designed by the people who brought you_ Team Fortress_ and you’re getting the idea.

3. Hearthstone Is Growing And Expanding

This year, Blizzard released a virtual trading card game called Hearthstone, which is essentially a less complicated and complex riff on Magic: The Gathering on PC. The success of it has caught everyone off-guard and over the last several months, Hearthstone has made the jump from PC to tablet and has become a staple on the eSports circuit.

The reason for this is because it’s digital crack and like any good dealer, Blizzard knows its fans can never have enough. This is why a new expansion Hearthstone: Gnomes And Goblins is set for release next month. There are 120 new cards for players to torment each other with, including the Mad Bomber, who burns both enemy and friendly cards indiscriminately and the Exploding Sheep, which is a sheep… that explodes… well, duh!

4. The World Of Warcraft Movie is still a thing

There’s no official trailer yet and JJ Abrams’ Star Wars has chased it into next year’s release window, but don’t worry, the World Of Warcraft movie is still in the pipeline.

To allay fears that the movie had stalled, Blizzard had director Duncan Jones – whose previous credits include Source Code and Moon – on hand to field questions, backed by a bunch of blokes dressed in prop armour from the movie. Apparently no expense has been spared in recreating the world of Azeroth and Jones described the film as “Avatar meets Lord Of The Rings”. We shudder to think what that bastard child is eventually going to end up costing.

5. Metallica Are Still Awesome

BlizzCon has seen some pretty high profile closing acts – Tenacious D, Foo Fighters and Ozzy Osbourne among them – but it’s no disrespect to any of them to say that Metallica set the gold standard in closing out the ‘Con this weekend. The hits came a clip; Sad But True, Battery and there was even an extended rendition of Master Of Puppets. As the lights went down, thousands of fans left Anaheim with their ears ringing and goofy grins plastered on their faces.

Setlist

Hit The Lights Master Of Puppets Ride The Lightning Harvester Of Sorrow Fade To Black Fuel Cyanide Sad But True One For Whom The Bell Tolls Creeping Death Enter Sandman Battery Seek & Destroy

What World Of Warcraft characters would Metallica be?