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[ Welcome to our Blizzcon 2013 coverage, sponsored by Megarom Games. You can see all the coverage in one place by clicking here. ]

Welcome to BlizzCon 2013! The seventh BlizzCon. The hordes have returned, people are acting crazy, thousands have gathered from all over the world, over 60 countries, all in one place for just one thing – Blizzard stuff. Costume contests, hands-on time with upcoming/new Blizzard games, the StarCraft II grand finals, eSports everything, swag, fandom, geekiness, and the passion of players.

Click through for our recap of the Opening Ceremony.

chrome 2013-11-08 14-08-02-70The opening ceremony kicked off with Mike Morhaime, CEO and President of Blizzard Entertainment. He reflected a bit upon past BlizzCons (gotta hype dat hype), thanked the fans for being so gosh darn awesome (the merchandise stand is right there). A little bit about the history of Blizzard, making games they like to play and hopefully you do too, etc.

The first BlizzCon only had about 4000 people, this year over 20,0000 tickets were sold. A quick video hyping up the StarCraft II finals of last year. Lots of woosh boom sweet music omg dat micro. This weekend is the culmination of eight months of tournaments leading up to the grand finals.

DIABLO

PC and PlayStation 4 version of the Diablo III expansion, Reaper of Souls, is playable on the show floor. Mike wants to say a few words about Diablo. Says “the biggest change is yet to come.” Mentions they’re getting rid of the Auction House, to a lukewarm response. Says the Auction House came with unintended consequence. Reaper of Souls is bringing major change to the loot system, more end-game content.

WORLD OF WARCRAFT

Morhaime thanks the WoW players for making Mists of Pandaria a success, and says there will be info about the World of Warcraft movie tomorrow, with director Duncan Jones there to talk about it. Lots of panels this weekend, regarding what’s next for World of Warcraft.

HEROES OF THE STORM

chrome 2013-11-08 14-16-21-51Dustin Browder is on next, to talk about Heroes of the Storm (Formerly Blizzard All-Stars). Now for a little video. What could it be? Ah, it’s for Heroes of the Storm. Jim Raynor walks through a sandstorm, comes face to face with Diablo and Kerrigen. He gets backup from Tyriel and a Ghost. Metal music starts playing, epic DBZ style battle ensues. The Lich King fights the Ghost. A nuke takes out Diablo. Sweet.

Dustin Browder, game director on Heroes of the Storm is on. Talking about how cool it is that Blizzard fans made the DOTA/MOBA genre. Totally taking credit for League of Legends. Talks about how Blizzard couldn’t resist wanting to make their own version. Says the feedback from BlizzCon 2011 was very positive on the early version. About to show a video of alpha gameplay.

Looks like mounts are still in, for quick movement around the battelground. Gates seem to block access to the enemy base, between towers. Creep camps are shown. Everything looks like Warcraft III style, which is not a bad thing. There was a giant bulky Murlock on the character select screen. Browder says they’re going to challenge the genre with maps, that dramatically change the nature of the battle.

For example, one map has a mechanic for collecting treasure, which will get a pirate ship on your site to nuke the enemy base. Another map has you gaining the allegiance of a giant monster that will rampage into the enemy base. Heroes of the Storm beta signups are going live today. The game is playable on the BlizzCon show floor. Browder thanks all of BlizzCon for helping to create Heroes of the Storm.

HEARTHSTONE

chrome 2013-11-08 14-28-32-42Chief creative officer of Blizzard Entertainment, Rob Pardo. Hearthstone was a secret project at Blizzard. Seems there was skepticism inside Blizzard (even though they have a WoW cardgame?) September last year, they did their in-company alpha, asked the whole company to play the alpha of Hearthstone for three weeks. Over 5000 hours of play later, they knew they had something going there. Blizzard’s first free to play game, their first tablet game. First time they announced something to the public and got it out in the same year. Hearthstone will go into open beta next month.

More good news for attendees and Virtual Ticket holders. A special Hearthstone card. Elite Tauren Chieftain. Gives both players the power to rock, with a Power Chord card. Shows it off. When the card drops, the lights in-game dim and powerchords play. Man, this is going to annoy the crap out of people online. I love it.

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Rob says that the hero cards are getting new Golden versions, earnable in a new Ranked playmode. There’s one more piece of Hearthstone news. Announcing it’ll get an iPhone version too, not just a tablet version. And an Android version! Phew. Both the iPhone and Android versions are in development, it’s still early on. Hopefully out in the second half of next year.

WARCRAFT MOVIE AND MEMORIES

Started the movie in 2006, “a long schedule even for us” says Rob. There will be a Warcraft movie presentation tomorrow. It’ll be WoW‘s 9th birthday this year. Rob talks about how they all used to play Dungeons and Dragons. Reminiscences about the early days of WoW. Black dragon Onyxia raid halcyon memories. The first time players could go through the Dark Portal. Apologizes for the Realm of Anchorage portal opening, that it was a bad idea to make everyone go to the same place at the same time in WoW. Talks about the pandemic that happened due to the corrupted blood debuff. Rob talks more about how many people are meeting for the first time at BlizzCon. Thanking the community for letting them be their dungeon master all these years. Welcome to the stage, Chris Metzen.

THE NEXT CHAPTER IN WORLD OF WARCRAFT

chrome 2013-11-08 14-42-10-43Senior VP, Story and Franchise development, Chris Metzen. Looking like a motivational speaker. He’s totally tweaking, talking about what is it that makes Warcraft such an endearing franchise. Namedrops the original trilogy names. Does an Alliance / Horde check, Horde wins in sheer volume.

The modern story of Warcraft starts 30 game years ago. Someone opened a portal between Azeroth and a dark world called Dranor. And through that portal came an army of brutal demon-pumped savages that took the world right to the edge. Led by characters like Black Hand, Killrog, Hellscream, etc, “some of the baddest dudes ever” they almost conquered the entire Eastern kingdoms. If not for the most unlikely thing, the races of Azeroth – humans, dwarves, high elves, gnomes. The various cultures of Azeroth who were never friends, banded together. Their Alliance saved the world.

Metzen asks, what if those dark days came again. What if a pantheon of evil threatened all of Azeroth again. How would the Alliance respond? And Horde? Taken some lumps lately. Thrall made some bad choices. Garrosh went bezerk. Gnomes and Elves running through Orgrimmar. Vol’jin’s leadership gives the Horde a chance at a new start.

So. Mr. Metzen. Get on with it. Twenty minutes of monologue, geeze. The next expansion for World of Warcraft: Warlords of Dranor.

Cutscene time! Sun rises above the forests of Dalaran. Orcs are called to battle. Draenei takes a potshot at an Orc, some tribal dancing stuff. Weapons being forged. New world, Draenor. Build and upgrade a garrison. New character models. New monsters, new items, new quests, boost to 90 and play immediately.

To establish a foothold on Draenor, players will construct, command, and expand their own Garrison, a customizable base of operations and refuge for the followers you recruit to your desperate cause. Warlords of Draenor also empowers players to instantly boost one character to level 90, making it so anyone can join the battle for Draenor alongside their friends.

Opening Ceremony, over! Stay tuned for coverage of the World of Warcraft expansion, coming up in an hour.

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