All the reasons to pay attention to BlizzCon
The ninth annual BlizzCon — the gaming convention hosted by Blizzard Entertainment — is officially gearing up, and I’m already feeling nostalgic. It seems like just yesterday I was downloading The Wrath of the Lich King expansion to my PC, anxious to try out a Death Knight for the first time. But here we are, more than two decades after the birth of Blizzard, still anxiously awaiting the new releases in store. Luckily for us, Blizzard just announced the dates for BlizzCon (November 6th and 7th ), and tickets are on sale today. In preparation, let’s take a moment to consider all the reasons we need to start fangirling out!
Cons are extravagant celebrations for all the things we love
You go to festivals to see your favorite bands. You go to book signings to meet your favorite authors. You go to conventions to celebrate video games, comic books, and beloved TV shows. These are the facts of life. (You’re welcome.) The beauty of attending a conference is that there is absolutely no judgment if you feel like completely submerging yourself into the depths of video game glory. Everyone at BlizzCon is there for the same purpose. Everyone is as excited as you are. Everyone has been counting down sleeps. You are surrounded by merch, video game demos,people in cosplay, delicious food — it’s like a revival, but for nerds. It may seem overwhelming, but don’t be afraid to engage! This is not your everyday outing!
Exclusive sneak peeks
BlizzCon is notorious for letting attendees in on upcoming advances for various games. And because a company like Blizzard Entertainment is constantly updating their games, players always have something to look forward to. This is so invaluable, because hearing this kind of news before social media grabs hold of it is a tremendously rare thing.
The games! The games! THE GAMES!
Okay, so I cannot write about Blizzard Entertainment without presenting a mini-history of some of the best, most groundbreaking games in Blizzard’s repertoire.
Warcraft was the game that started the legendary feud between Orcs and Humans, Horde and Alliance. It is in this game that we would be introduced to Azeroth, and the mystic inhabitants residing there. This was a real-time strategy game, released in 1994, and had many competitors within the same genre. Warcraft, however, was a rare gem — able to ignite a franchise that would grow for decades to come. It would be a ridiculous understatement to say that Warcraft was ahead of its time. It was so intricate, so exciting, so addictive, and best of all, you could play the game with a friend! It’s no wonder Warcraft got off to such a popular start.
Blizzard was quick to follow up Warcraft’s great success with a sequel the very following year. Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness showed us just how much Blizzard was willing to step up their game (see what I did there?). This new edition to the Blizzard fan’s gaming library offered more equipment, better graphics, and the capability to play with up to seven other players! In 1996, Blizzard released an expansion for Warcraft II, this time taking players to the Outlands, in Beyond the Dark Portal (can you feel the foreshadowing?). It wasn’t until the new millennium that Warcraft III was released, but in the meantime, Blizzard was up to a whole lot of good.
Diablo is the ultimate game to keep you on the edge of your seat. The first Diablo game was released in 1996, just after Christmas, and it was a bit different from the Warcraft games in terms of player controls and character mechanics. In the first release, we are introduced to Sanctuary, a world divided and wilting as a result of the battles between Humans and Demons (did you just get chills?), and Diablo is about the scariest bad guy in the Blizzard universe. (Seriously.)
The sequels for Diablo created a complete experience for players, planting recurring characters and layered skill options throughout. When Diablo III came out in 2012, players were presented with a lot more options for classes, from Demon Hunter to Wizard, and, of course, the good ol’ Barbarian. The Demon Hunter definitely looked like the coolest, but being a compulsive caster, I was drawn most to the Witch Doctor. Even more importantly, gender options were introduced to players. I am always deeply in favor of MORE gender options in games — I’m a feminist gamer and proud of it.
Another wildly successful real-time strategy game from Blizzard Entertainment was StarCraft. Think Warcraft, but instead of Middle Earth, more along the lines of science fantasy. The Zerg (aliens), Protoss (aliens with robot-like technology), and Terrans (humans) all fight for control of Koprulu — and the game has an enormous, devoted following. These games are all about a quality, addictive experience, and the multiple sequels and expansions of StarCraft are just more evidence to the truth that Blizzard developers have always known how to win us over.
World of Warcraft
Now, you guys, I’m going to try my best not to get too nostalgic, but World of Warcraft is what got me re-invested in video games as an adult. I could write a million sonnets about my love for massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG’s), but I’ll spare you (only because I’m painfully bad at poetry). WoW, as the cool kids call it, brings us back to Azeroth, and back to the battle of the Orcs vs. Humans. Now, full disclosure, I didn’t play the original, vanilla WoW. I started playing during the first expansion, The Burning Crusade. I selected a Draenei Priest as my very first character, and I remember pre-ordering Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm, impatiently waiting to try out the new capabilities (my mind was blown when Cataclysm offered me flying mounts!).
These days, the World of Warcraft experience is almost entirely different from the first time I created an avatar. If you create a character now, you can choose one of 13 different character races — depending, of course on which faction you will join (Alliance or Horde). The most recent race addition was the Pandaren, playable by both Alliance and Horde players. You can also now select the Monk class, which can truly take on almost any role in a party. If you feel overwhelmed by all the class choices, feel free to test out a few to find your fit! No matter what race or class you pick, Blizzard has your back with enough in-game content to keep you interested for years. Whether you like to raid with your guild, run dungeons with a small group of friends, or dominate battlegrounds with strangers from around the world, WoW is absolutely the game for you.
The potential to play Overwatch
This is another sci-fi inspired, futuristic game I’ve been super excited to hear more about. Blizzard calls it, “. . .a team-based shooter where heroes do battle in a world of conflict.” And while that may sound pretty vague, the cinematic trailer was released at last year’s BlizzCon, giving us a glimpse of the gorgeous game. It is bright, it is fast, it is fresh. I can’t wait till its release, and I’m sure this year’s BlizzCon will allow players more up-close looks at what’s to come for Overwatch.
So, throw on your best Orc tusks and get excited for BlizzCon. This Fall, you could be there, in person, in the Anaheim Convention Center, mingling with other gamers from all over the world. Let’s all offer up a “Ding!” to a new year of BlizzCon!