On Wednesday afternoon, in front of a packed-out hall in the Koelnmesse at Gamescom 2011, developers from Blizzard took to the stage to update the world on their three colossal franchises. There were numerous new details revealed in the Q&A session, and Dealspwn were in attendance to hear the latest happening in Azeroth and beyond. Here are the highlights from the press session.
First up Blizzard spoke about its long awaited dungeon crawler Diablo III, announcing a new difficulty level; Inferno. Designed for players who have reached the maximum level of 60, the new difficulty will be filled with enemies with increased stats and aggressive nature, as well as incredibly rare item drops which will be randomly generated. These items will be among the most powerful available, but much like with loot system in Borderlands you may not always get all the stats ideal for your character, and will have to wait for the ideal item to drop at your feet.
The Inferno mode is a response to the admitted oversight with the end game content of Diablo II, with the developers conceding that there was no real challenge for those that levelled all the way to 99, out-levelling the hardest enemies in the game, which were only level 85.
Different appearances for weapons and armour sets on each difficulty settings was also revealed, as well as levelling systems for the various artisan professions, which would unlock increasingly better craftable items. All of these items, including the new randomly generated rare loot, will be sellable on the recently announced (and controversial) Auction House for real world money.
When questioned if the rumours of a console version for Diablo III were true, the developers happily danced around the question by heaping praise and excitement for the current generation of devices, before stating they had nothing to announce yet but to stay tuned. Read into that which you will.
However, the most exciting news to emerge from the Q&A session was that a beta for Diablo III will hopefully begin toward the end of the year.
Next up was news on the next instalment for StarCraft 2, the Zerg focused Heart of the Swarm. Following on from the end of Wings of Liberty (slight spoilers ahead, yo) players will take control of recently saved Sarah Kerrigan as she attempts to unite the scattered Zerg swarm in a mission to destroy the dastardly Emperor Minsk once and for all. A number of new features were discussed, including the addition of Battle Focus, which can be chosen before mission to grant Kerrigan with focused skills. For example, one Battle Focus would see her armed with stealth-based abilities, while another grants her some rather nasty offensive powers to unleash on the enemy.
Also discussed was the feature to gain and evolve different types of Zerg, ultimately upgrading them into sub-species which further enhances their capabilities. Zerglings, for example, could either become very powerful, or provide a bonus to create three for the price of one to quickly boost up your numbers.
Twenty missions will be available in total, although the developers were adamant that there would be a large amount of variation in the objectives. A StarCraft version of DOTA was also announced, although they admitted it would arrive shortly after the release of Heart of the Swarm some time next year.
The final topic was the next major patch for World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, with the big news that patch 4.3 will bring about the long-awaited Raid against main antagonist Deathwing. The developers promised an epic, multi-phase fight against the very angry dragon aspect, in which one phase will take place in the air as you and your fellow raiders force him to the ground. Three new instances will also be available which will set up the raid encounter.
Also announced was the new Darkmoon Faire Island, an eerie looking place which will become a new home for the traveling side-show attraction. New activites will be present, including the briefly mentioned Whack-A-Gnoll.
Also arriving with patch 4.3 are three new features for all players. Firstly, the wonderfully named Transmorphications, which will allow players to change the look of their armour sets and weapons to look like other armour sets through an in-game NPC. It means that should you wish your current top tier set to look like something from the original Molten Core raids you can do, although it was stressed that the designs of Legendary items would not be available through the service, to allow the much sought after items to remain special and unique.
The second new feature is Void Storage, which will allow players additional space beyond their bank slots to store their gear for extended periods of time, for a fee of their well-earned gold. This comes to aid the expected increase of items and gear held by players with the use of Transmorphications.
Finally, the addition of the Raid Finder will arrive with patch 4.3. Similar to the current Instance Finder, it will allows players to join up with others from across multiple servers to form a raid group to tackle the high end content.
Discussed towards the end, the Blizzard team told the filled out hall in Cologne that they felt that their success had not hindered their ability to take risks in the industry (the Diablo III Auction House being a grand example) and also mentioned that while they have no current plans to look into it, they would love for Battle.net to become a digital platform for other non-Blizzard games to be played on.
There were several topics that were brought up by the attending press, but with BlizzCon not too far in the distance many were told to wait until October to get the answers they were looking for.
So Dealspwners, does any of the new information have itching to go on a Zerg rush for more information on the Blizzard franchises? Looking forward to the new content and features coming in WoW? Hyped about the new randomised epic loot you can sell for money? Couldn’t care less? Sound off in the comments!