So here we are, the last big gaming convention before the year is out and it's a big one. Blizzcon has quite the reputation amongst the gaming community for attracting a huge amount of attention from both fans and the media, hosting some of the biggest E-Sports tournaments in the world, having memorable contests and cosplay that is not completely ridiculous.
This year is no different and on Friday 21st October, the 2011 edition of Blizzcon will get underway in Los Angeles. I will give a quick overview on what we can expect to see, separated into 3 distinct categories: World of Warcraft, Starcraft 2 and Best of the Rest. It's unsure as to what we can expect out of Diablo 3 since the game has been in beta for a good while and has already been shown at numerous Blizzcon's, so we may not get any further information until launch. We may get a release date, if we're lucky though.
The virtual ticket allows you to watch the official live streams from the convention, the tournaments for WoW and Starcraft 2, the various developer panels and the Foo Fighters concert on the final day. However, it's price is rather steep at $39.99, £24.99 and 29.99 Euros, although it does include an exclusive WoW pet and Starcraft 2 in-game item.
Fortunately, Blizzard don't really seem to care about people uploading recordings of panels and other events, so you can watch anything you've missed on Youtube after the convention, if you really want to watch the coverage, but don't want to cough up the cash. Blizzard have also confirmed on the official Blizzcon site that VoDs of the Battle.net Starcraft 2 invitational finals will be uploaded after the convention, although a battle.net account is presumably required.
World of Warcraft
It's been an interesting couple of years for Azeroth, the corrupted leader of the Black Dragonflight, Deathwing, is attempting to bring about the end of all life, Thrall has stepped down as the leader of the Horde to aid his dying world using his abilities as a 'super' shaman and we had an entire levelling zone dedicated to Indiana Jones references (No, seriously, it was actually pretty fun!).
Now with patch 4.3 available for public testing and Deathwing's....erm, death looming on the horizon, fans of the world's biggest MMO are eager to see what is next. Blizzard have already confirmed that 4.3 will be the final raid tier for the Cataclysm expansion and will be followed by a world event, which is indicative of a new expansion being in development.
As well as the Arena PvP tournament, class balance and lore panels, there will be a live raid run by presumably a world class raiding guild, whether it will be a special event like 'The Defence of Orgrimmar' at Blizzcon 2010 or an actual in-game raid instance such as 'The Firelands' remains to be seen. A 'future features' panel is also scheduled, which may also talk about the future of the game and any announcements.
Wow, where to begin! Heart of the Swarm, the GSL Finals and, of course, the Battle.Net invitational finals, there is so much amazing shit that is going to go down on this one. I have no idea who is doing the commentary for this, but it's highly likely that Day9 will be there or another big bad in the e-sports commentary scene (The official Blizzcon may have more information on the tournament). Whatever the outcome, these are bound to be some of the most intense matches of the year considering only two players from each region were granted entry. Those who made it in include the likes of NaNiwa, Select, Dimaga, Sheth, Brat_OK as well as many other lesser known players from China, Russia and the Oceania region.
The odds appear to be heavily stacked towards Zerg, due to every region possessing at least one qualifying zerg player, with the suffering Protoss being in dead last with only 2 qualifying players in the form of NaNiwa (Europe) and Nifi (Taiwan) fighting in rememberance of Aiur. However, the Terran could be the dark horse of the tournament, qualifying alongside the Zerg in most regions. A more detailed breakdown can be found at: http://eu.battle.net/blizzcon/en/blog/3129101
Blizz has also been teasing brand new units for each race in Heart of the Swarm's multi-player as silhouettes. Although a new Protoss unit teaser is nowhere to be seen at this point in time, it may indicate that they have something special planned or the community managers have been way too busy with preparations. New story and campaign details are also a given, probably in the form of an full trailer for the expansion, as are any future changes in multiplayer and balance.
Best of the Rest
Bored of Diablo? Sick of Starcraft? You can always watch a bunch of randoms walk around on stage as Blizzard characters (see above) or (attempt to) perform World of Warcraft dances on stage. They are always awesome to watch with some genuinely funny moments that have been known to do the rounds on the internet, like this little from last year:
Note: He didn't actually, break a bone in his leg, but he tore a ligament from what I remember which is still pretty nasty considering. You've got to admire the enthutiasm though.
More information concerning Blizzcon 2011 can be found at:
The event will run from 21st-22nd October 2011. A full schedule of planned events can be found at: http://wow.joystiq.com/2011/10/06/blizzcon-2011-schedule-of-events/
WoW fansite MMO Champion has released a schedule for both days of the convention, the best part? It dynamically changes depending on your timezone, so you can just tune into the free stream over at Blizzcon at the specified time and watch the action (Battle.net account is required to view the stream unfortunately, but it's easy and free to create one).
Free Blizzcon stream (restricted functionality without a Virtual Ticket) -