So, I wanted to established my gaming cred on Monday with Big Guy on Gaming. Now, I’m going to show just how deep down the rabbit hole I’ll go.
I took off work on Friday, November 3, just so I could sit at home and watch the opening ceremony of Blizzcon 2017. Traditionally, this is when Blizzard Entertainment makes their big announcements, and this year was no different. An avid fan of Blizzard’s games, I was glued to my set in breathless anticipation. With the exception of Diablo III, every game that Blizzard makes had a huge announcement… or two.
World of Warcraft
For as long as I have been playing World of Warcraft, and it’s been ten years, I have had to listen to countless guild mates and forum posters opine on how the original game prior to the expansions was the most pure and correct way to experience the game.
Additionally, during that time, we heard Blizzard repeat that nostalgia isn’t as shiny as you think it is, and that they weren’t even going to entertain the idea. Then some folks started trying to do it themselves, copyright laws be damned, and I guess it spurred Blizzard to action:
I can’t comprehend the appeal, but that’s because I’ve fallen into the nostagia trap myself. I bought Final Fantasy VII on Steam, and while I still stand by that game’s story as one of my favorites, the gameplay mechanics were excruciating.
Why look backwards, when the future is just so beautiful:
This was the first announcement to really get my blood rushing and my heart pumping. That cinematic is outstanding, and the premise of reigniting the war between the Horde and Alliance is exactly what the doctor ordered. By the way, I’m an Alliance player, and while we might have a history of being boring goody two-shoes, at least we’re not furry fetish child murderers like the Horde. Theramore was a real city. You know what you did.
Now that I’ve alienated any reader who doesn’t play WoW, let’s turn to the reddit fan fiction announcement.
Oh man, the fan service is real. I like Overwatch despite being truly terrible at it (Junkrat main FTW), but this map is over the top. It’s not just a theme park designed from the other Blizzard IP’s, it’s a theme park designed from inside jokes from the other Blizzard IP’s.
I can’t wait.
Still, there were real announcements, too.
A new support, with a David Bowie skin, what more could you ask for? She apparently has a high skill floor, with a high risk, high reward play style. I’ll be curious to see if she’s able to unseat the current healers. As I understand it, she’s an amoral biologist whose science is helping the bad guys, Talon, be bad.
I say “As I understand it,” because Overwatch does not include any of its lore within the game.
Oh no, you have to wait for these cinematic masterpieces:
Wow, right? But if you’re not interested in seeking out those bits of story, you’d never know they exist. Well, aside from their prominent location in the Battle.net launcher. Overwatch also showcased a bunch of new non-event skins for the new year, including this one:
Yeah, that’s Nova from Starcraft 2 and Heroes of the Storm. That’s a “skin.” You might be saying, “No, that’s just the Nova model swapped out for Widowmaker.” I would not argue with you for making that statement. I would also not care. I want this. Of course, that wasn’t the only big SC2 announcement.
Free! That’s about $60 less than I paid for it half a decade ago. I’m not mad though, the game could use an infusion of new players for its amazing multiplayer experience. Unfortunately for me, I don’t care one bit about the multiplayer experience. So, I wanted to pass this way so you could get a BIG GUY HOT TIP, and discover an amazing game for free!
Speaking of free to play:
Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm
Hearthstone is introducing a new expansion to help you deposit your paycheck directly into Blizzard’s bank account. That may sound cynical, but this game is literally being studied by universities to analyze gambling addiction. For those of us who prefer a more casual experience, however, this expansion is also including a completely free dungeon crawling adventure very reminiscent to Munchkin. So yes, I’m looking forward to that.
Speaking of things I’m looking forward to, and the thing that probably has the least general appeal, there is the Heroes of the Storm “Dragons of the Nexus” event.
Heroes of the Storm legitimately requires you to love all of Blizzard’s games in order to be properly hyped by its announcements. If you don’t know, then your only hope is to be dazzled by that trailer. Fortunately, I am fully on board the hype train and can’t wait to leave the station.
Overwatch League eSports
Last but not least were the big Overwatch League announcements. Overwatch League is making a major play to legitimize eSports by setting extremely high requirements for participation. Teams around the world with real financial backing are required to provide real-world salaries and benefits befitting a professional organization.
Unfortunately for me, the teams launching this new league seem to be hugging the coastlines of their respective countries, with the South only having options in Florida and Texas. While I was at first drawn to those teams, I knew that for this to really work, I needed to get my wife on board. I showed her the roster of teams, their logos and team colors. She likes purple.
Therefore, we are now a Los Angeles Gladiators family.
Ok, sure, it’s until the day Atlanta gets its act together. For now, I’ll proudly rock the purple, and be impressed that the same company that owns the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche have decided to expand their empire by backing this team.
You can watch all the games for free at the Overwatch League website, which is exciting, though I hope that Blizzard continues to develop partnerships with traditional sports television channels. Sure ESPN is dying a slow cord cutting death, but it’s still ESPN.
If you’re interested, here’s the opening week’s schedule:
My team is playing Shanghai on January 10, and then Seoul on January 13, so show some patriotism and cheer with me as we take on the two Asian teams.
Are you interested in eSports? Does the Overwatch League interest you at all? How about all of those other announcements? Leave a comment below, and let me know!