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At 11:30am PST Mike Morhaime, CEO of Blizzard Entertainment took the stage at the fourth BlizzCon, a massive celebration of Blizzard Entertainment game titles, focusing in on Diablo, Starcraft, and World of Warcraft. While his presentation was fairly generic and didn't reveal anything exciting, the mildly comic introduction (featuring a particularly funny stab at Ret Paladins) closed when he brought Chris Metzen (Vice President of Creative Development) on stage.
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Diablo 3 Fourth Playable Class Announced - Monk
Chris Metzen's stage presence was huge, as usual, with a mix of comedy and enthusiasm little seen in game developer presentations. And why shouldn't he be in a good mood, considering he had the honor of presenting two of the biggest announcements from the company this year. Shortly before noon, Metzen addressed the Diablo fans in the crowd, then proceeded to unveil the fourth playable class in the upcoming Diablo 3. The new class, the Monk, joins the Wizard, Barbarian, and Witchdoctor in the lineup of Diablo 3 classes, with a fifth still yet to be announced (though we are assured the announcement will not be at BlizzCon 2009).
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World of Warcraft Next Expansion Announced
Immediately following the eventful Diablo 3 announcement, Metzen segued directly into World of Warcraft, where he teased the audience with a little banter about "unsubstantiated lore" rumors floating around the internet of late. He then proceeded to shock even the most die hard of us with when he announced the new World of Warcraft expansion pack: Cataclysm, then gave extensive details and aired a trailer. It would be impossible to cover everything he announced in this summary and the following panel discussion, so here's the highlights.
- New Playable Races - Goblins (Horde) and Worgen (Alliance)
- Return to the Old World, with a complete overhaul of all Kalimdor and Eastern kingdom zones, questlines, items, and more.
- Deathwing returns as the star of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
- Seven new zones announced, including Hyjal, Uldum, and the zone containing the lore rich Grim Batol
- Guild Advancement System
- Level cap raised to 85
- Flying mounts throughout all of Azeroth
- New Race/Class combinations (Tauren Paladin, Dwarf Shaman, Troll Druid, and more)
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Battlenet Revamp - Blizzard Games as a Social Network
After the epic Diablo 3 and World of Warcraft: Cataclysm announcements were a long panel with extensive details on the new WoW expansion, followed by a Diablo 3 Heroes and Monsters Panel which revealed additional information, particularly about the just-announced Monk class. At 3:30 a long discussion kicked off focusing in on a complete revamp of Battlenet, the Blizzard facilitating system for online Starcraft, Diablo, and Warcraft play launched in 1996.
The goal of the revamped Battlenet is to transform it almost into a social networking tool for Blizzard games. With all of their titles tied into Battlenet, Blizzard hopes to allow players across all of their games to communicate regardless of what games they're playing. Additionally every account would be tied in with a profile where players can put various bits of information. A main feature of this is to allow players who know Bob Jones as Cerritus in World of Warcraft, to find out his Starcraft II screen name and play with him via Battlenet. This way friends, both real life and in-game can stay connected across all Blizzard titles.
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After a long day of panels, the night finished off with the three big contests of the evening: Costume Contest, Soundalike Contest, and Dancealike Contest. Comedian Jay Mohr hosted and amidst jokes about gamer nerds and illegal leafy greens, expressed repeatedly his affinity for blue women, particularly during the stunning Costume Contest which featured barely legal Night Elves, Succubi, Draenei, and Trolls prancing around stage.
The Costume Contest was the highlight of the evening, with dozens of WoW, Diablo, and Starcraft fans paraded across stage - some in costumes that must have taken years to make, and others in little different than what they wear on any other day. Of all of them, there were six finalists and three winners. People dressed as: Mother Sharaz (WoW, Black Temple raid), Mistress of Pain (Diablo), Shaman in Tier 7.5 (WoW raid gear), Kel'Thuzad (WoW, Naxxramas raid boss), Valeera Sanguinar (WoW, comic character), and a Paladin in Tier 8.5 (WoW raid gear). Here are some images of the more spectacular costumes of the evening.
Collection of highlights from BlizzCon's past and present.