Following up on a previous blog post, Saralyn Smith, Executive Producer of BlizzCon, announced the certain cancellation of this year’s BlizzCon due to concerns over safety and local guidelines that have been put in place over the Novel Coronavirus pandemic that has been upending convention plans all Spring so far.
But there’s still hope! She quickly affirms BlizzCon is not gone forever, but they’re projecting an online gathering “likely sometime early next year.” BlizzCon has already been well-established with an online-only “Virtual Ticket” for the past several BlizzCons, allowing viewers to quickly jump between stages and rewatch missed content if they decided to watch another stage live. With this background, going online-only may not be a huge technological hurdle for the company, leaving only the logistics of no-crowd presentations, cosplay and music competitions, as tournaments to contend with.
Traditionally, BlizzCon also hosted a gaming center where existing and especially new/beta content could be demoed, and this past BlizzCon we saw that ability rolled out to general Virtual Ticket attendees as well with World of Warcraft Classic able to be demoed for a short time window to stay-at-home attendees. I would imagine if there was such things to demo, this method could be broadly employed once again.
BlizzCon was anticipated by many to announce more on Diablo Immortal, hopefully giving us a firm release date and a more-developed playable demo. With how long it’s been in development, not to mention the straight-up platform cloning of Netease’s othergames, saving a lot of legwork in interface design and widget creation, I wouldn’t doubt it’s super-close to release.
There has also been leaks of a Diablo 2: Resurrected, just like we saw with Warcraft 3 Remastered. While there were hurdles suggested such as corrupted code or missing assets, the rumored launch date of “Q4 2020” might not be far fetched. For a remaster, assets would be recreated or re-imagined anyway, if not simply extracted from the game’s MPQ as is popular with common tools in the Diablo 2 modding world. Granted, with COVID-19 wreaking havoc to production timelines, a slip to announcing in the spring of 2021 would be understandable. However, if Q4 was the target, the game would practically be finished already and nearing the end of a closed internal beta, depending on how tightly they are keeping things under wraps. If you can’t tell, I personally am really excited to see if this rumor pans out, but I feel this is a highly likely scenario. Let’s just hope Blizzard-Activision has learned from their mistakes with Warcraft 3: Reforged and not overpromise and under deliver (cut-scenes anyone?), strip out features of the existing game, block access to the original Diablo 2 altogether, or try to assume ownership of fan-created mods. Just make it a stand-alone game that doesn’t impact the original. (And maybe add Adventure Mode bounties while you’re at it.)
Speaking of highly excited news: Diablo 4. We got a teaser trailer at BlizzCon 2019, which tells us it IS in development. How far along though? I’d have assumed the bulk of new information would be between Diablo 4 gameplay and design, as well as Overwatch 2 which was also teased. Even with a full-on gameplay trailer and a playable demo on the floor, they only showed three playable classes and a single playable level (with a few more encounters in the breakout sessions), suggesting there’s still a fair amount of work to be done fleshing [pun intended] out the assets and remaining classes like the Druid. With this in mind, I wouldn’t expect it to be imminently launching, so I’d say we, sadly, still have a year (or more likely two) to wait. Just please Blizzard give us Diablo 2: Resurrected to play with until then! Since Overwatch 2 was pitched as more of an add-on/upgrade rather than a full separate game, it may have a sooner-than-D4 launch date as well, giving you some FPS frustration venting in the meantime.
Lastly, World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is due to be released soon, and I’d personally assume an (optimistic?) August timeframe, if they keep to the regular release cadence we’ve been seeing to date. Once again, COVID-19 can throw a wrench into things, so a slip all the way into November wouldn’t be an unreasonable assumption. We do know for sure they said “2020” before the pandemic.
So what were you looking forward to or hoping to see from this year’s now-canceled postponed BlizzCon event? Leave a comment below!