Wednesday, October 15, 2008

News Filter: BlizzCon 2008

  • This weekend, I was one of the several thousand people lucky enough to spend a bunch of money to get tickets to BlizzCon in Anaheim, CA. Thankfully the money was well worth it and now I'm going to rub how much fun I had in all your faces.
  • The thing you always read about BlizzCon or any other convention is the panels, so I thought would try to catch as many as possible. What you don't read about is all the other cool stuff that is going on. That's what I really ended up doing. I did sit down and hear the Diablo III Gameplay panel. It was, um, interesting. That's an appropriate descriptor. In retrospect, it's much more interesting to read about the panels on MMO-Champion or the like.
  • Instead of panels, I spent a lot of time waiting in lines. Lines seemed to be the primary attraction at BlizzCon. There were lines to get to the demos, lines to get into the stores, even lines just to get into the building. There were several lines I didn't even have the time to stand in, the place was that crazy. It was almost anticlimactic to reach the end of a line and find myself ushered to sit in front of a computer to play some demo. But since I could spend all my time in lines, I decided to try a few things out.
  • The first demo I got into was for Wrath of the Lich King. What I took away from this is that I need a better computer. It was really beautiful and played really smooth. I started a death knight, hoping to get a sneak peek at the opening zone, but all the characters were autoleveled to 80 and dumped at a random point in Northrend. Since that wasn't how I wanted to spend my time, I rerolled as a mage. Demo time was short, so I didn't have time to do much more than fly around, ooh and aah at the beautiful environment, and kill a few beasts. I did find the mage quest to earn the Portal: Dalaran spell, so that was my demo goal. All the creatures I faced were level 71-73, so I didn't have any problems and was able to complete the quest. Yay, me! If there was any question whether I was coming back to WoW from WAR, this demo definatively answered it.
  • Even better than that, however, was the demo for Diablo III. Again, we only had 15 minutes to play, but there was a set goalline and cooperative multiplayer was encouraged. Three classes were open to play so I took a barbarian (having not played a melee class since the first Diablo), my brother grabbed a wizard (having never played Diablo at all!), and we got matched with a witch doctor, so we had all the bases covered. First and foremost, the game played exactly like a Diablo game should, which is as big of a compliment as I can make. Yes some of the systems have changed and will continue to be tweaked, but it felt just right. I had been worried that going 3D might hurt the visuals, but again they've captured the look of the earlier games and even expanded the possibilities. I particularly enjoyed the destructable environmental bits, and that they didn't skimp on the wooden barrels. The three of us rushed through Tristram and the catacomb below them and finally took down the Skeleton King just before our 15 minutes were up. We had a great time and I'm really looking forward to playing more when the game comes out.
  • Funny enough, the thing I was most looking forward to this weekend was the early preview of the World of Warcraft Miniatures Game. I have a weakness for board games and miniatures, so this seemed like a perfect fit. I bought a starter and a booster as soon as I hit the show floor the first day (without benefit of waiting in a line) and signed up for a starter tournament. Then I walked off for a couple hours and forgot to show up for the tourney. Yeah, I'm not that bright. The Upper Deck folks were cool enough to put me in another round, though they did tease me a little bit. As for the game, it is really cool. The base set seems nicely balanced even with four very different characters, making for a close match. Adding a booster and building a team in the second round was a lot of fun, and that round was just as close. Luckily for me, I was able to win both rounds, so I walked away with an extra figure. They also gave out a vinyl Tanaris map as a door prize, and my partner in the second match and I both won one. It was a great experience all around and well worth the time. Kudos to Upper Deck for a fun game and a great event.
  • As much fun as I had, two days was plenty to see it all and live to tell the tale. I'd definately go back if the oppotunity arose, but my feet are glad it will be a full year before the next one.

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