Blizzcon 2011: Day 1

Blizzcon this year had a few notable changes from last year, but was otherwise very similar. Unlike last year they began letting people in as early as 9:30 and will presumably do so tomorrow as well. The change is welcome, as it gave people significantly more time to settle in and also allowed for some amount of exploration before the start of the proceedings.

I took a brief turn around the building before taking a seat for the opening ceremony, and immediately noticed that the WoW section of the convention was effectively cordoned off and hidden from prying eyes. It was pretty obvious that there was going to be a big WoW announcement, and given how much we already knew about patch 4.3 it was equally obvious that it would be the next expansion.

Mists of Pandaria seems like it has a ways to go before it'll be ready for launch, but what I did play felt pretty typical of WoW. Simple starter quests, fluid starter zones, and beautiful vistas. The only jarring aspect was the lack of auto-attacks on the Monk class. It didn't take long to figure out, but it was unexpected.

Overall, however, I'm not terribly excited about the expansion. Obviously I don't play anymore, but I never completely wrote out the idea of briefly reappearing in Azeroth to take a gander at what might have changed. In fact, Blizzard's changes mostly serve as a reminder that the game is no longer being designed for people like me.

In essence, Blizzard has given up on content as a means of progression, and is instead wholly focused on cosmetic or gear-based progression. You "progress" toward the look you want for your character by getting the hard to get cosmetic loot from Challenge Dungeons. You "progress" by getting better gear through valor points. It hardly matters that I can acquire the valor points by doing anything I want if in the end the only progress I truly make is always better gear. Picking daises for druids daily and killing evil overlords should not reward the same epic gear, no matter how many daisies you pick.

On the upside I was glad to hear about questing moving away from the linear mess it was in Cataclysm, and I'm sure many people will be overjoyed at the launch of a new pokemonpet battle system.

The Diablo 3 boothes are sadly just the beta content, and doubly sadly no D3 beta keys were given out. The special rewards for the new yearly WoW subscription don't appeal to someone who has given up on WoW. It will likely stem the tide of canceled subscriptions somewhat, but it's too little too late in my case.

What is interesting on the Diablo 3 front was an edited trailer "The Black Soulstone" and the Diablo 3 art featured prominently on various promotional materials. The Diablo pictured in these materials is distinctly feminine which is extremely interesting when the trailer and tidbits from the beta are taken into consideration. My pet theory is that Deckard Cain's adopted daughter/granddaughter/niece/whathaveyou, being the daughter of the previous host of Diablo and a powerful witch, will be forced to revive him using her own body in some convoluted plan to protect the black soulstone and defeat Azmodan. I have no idea how Belial fits into this.

I have not yet had the chance to try the new SC2 Campaign or the revamped Blizzard DotA, but I have had some change to try the new SC2 units. It's hard for me to say how well they work given that I'm terrible at SC2 and there's very limited time to do anything, but they seem to do their jobs nicely. I'm only peeved that Blizzard seems intent on removing the Carrier and Mothership. What gives???

There were some extremely awesome SC2 matches today, and I very, very highly recommend the GSL finals. The level of play that went on, the back and forth battles, and the insane precision and determination of each player was absolutely phenomenal.

Tomorrow will likely be somewhat less exciting given there are no more big reveals to be had, but there will be plenty of SC2 matches to watch and the D3 Q&A so all is not lost.

Also someone in a minecraft/Paladin T2 costume fell off the stage during the costume contest. Hilarity.

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