Blizzard Entertainment has kicked off BlizzConline, a fully virtual version of its perennial community and gaming celebration, with a slew of Diablo II, Diablo IV, Hearthstone, and World of Warcraft updates.
During the event’s opening ceremony, company president J. Allen Brack and development leaders for Blizzard’s franchises reflected on the past and shared a look at the future, revealing the following games and game updates.
DIABLO II: RESURRECTED
Diablo II, one of the most acclaimed titles in PC gaming history, returns and Hell has never looked better. Blizzard revealed Diablo II: Resurrected, the definitive remastering of Diablo II and its Lord of Destruction expansion – two hallmark entries in the company’s genre-defining action role-playing series.
Diablo II: Resurrected welcomes back veteran heroes and invites a new generation of players to experience the game’s sinfully dark storyline, thrilling loot chase, and visceral hack-and-slash gameplay with modernized visuals that take advantage of the latest gaming hardware.
Diablo II: Resurrected takes the 2D sprite-based classic and brings it into the present with full 3D physically-based rendering, dynamic lighting, revamped animations and spell effects – all delivered in up to 4K resolution. All 27 minutes of the game’s classic cinematics, chronicling the journey of the mysterious Dark Wanderer, are being remade — shot for shot — from the ground up. The nightmarish sounds of Sanctuary and its memorable soundtrack have also been reinvigorated to support Dolby 7.1 surround sound. By leveling up the game’s audio and visual capabilities, Diablo II: Resurrected will showcase the depth of gameplay and hallmark designs that continue to entertain players around the world to this day.
“Diablo II was a pivotal game for Blizzard and millions of players around the world. With Diablo II: Resurrected, we’re excited to bring this classic back to PC and also to consoles — with cross-progression on supported platforms — so that players can relive their memories, or experience Diablo II’s timeless gameplay for the first time, on their platform of choice,” said J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard Entertainment. “With the new high-resolution audio and video in Diablo II: Resurrected, the game is as fun and engrossing today as it was twenty years ago.”
For those who would prefer a more nostalgic experience, players will be able to freely switch back-and-forth between the modern graphics and the original experience at any time with the press of a button. While Diablo II: Resurrected may look like an all-new game, Diablo II’s signature gameplay and systems are completely intact, quirks and all, adding a few highly-requested quality of life improvements, such as a shared stash.
Diablo II: Resurrected features seven highly-customizable character classes for players to choose from – the Amazon, Barbarian, Necromancer, Paladin, and Sorceress from the core game, as well as the Assassin and Druid from the included Lord of Destruction expansion. Players will be able to make each character their own by selecting skills and talent builds, crafting and socketing items, collecting complete gear sets, acquiring unique arms and armor, assembling Rune Word combinations, and much more.
Diablo II: Resurrected is an all-inclusive package containing a lifetime of adventures. It will take players to the deadly world of Sanctuary, where they will face Diablo, the Lord of Terror, and the forces of Hell through all four thrilling Acts of the original Diablo II campaign. They’ll meet beloved mentor and scholar Deckard Cain, fight alongside the Archangel Tyrael, and encounter other pantheonic characters who have become an indelible part of gaming history. This edition also includes all of the content from the Lord of Destruction expansion, with the journey continuing into Act V, where players will brave the dangers of Mount Arreat before facing Baal, the eponymous Lord of Destruction.
Developed by Blizzard Entertainment and in-house studio Vicarious Visions, Diablo II: Resurrected will be coming later this year to Windows PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch. With cross-progression between supported platforms, players will be able to play as their characters — and keep all their stuff — no matter what supporting platform they’re playing on.
Blizzard also unveiled the Rogue for Diablo IV, with a dark cinematic trailer and gameplay footage of the new player class in action. The Rogue is a swift, deadly, mobile class with unparalleled versatility. Rogue players can choose from a variety of ways to attack and trap their enemies and can enhance their combat through poisons, shadow magic, and specialized techniques.
Hearthstone will soar into a new era in the coming weeks with the start of the Year of the Gryphon, which is set to introduce large-scale changes, hundreds of new cards, and bring thrilling new ways to play. The Year of the Gryphon will lift off with its first new expansion Forged in the Barrens, inspired by the iconic World of Warcraft locale where millions of brave Horde adventurers cut their teeth (or tusks) and began forging their legends.
Coinciding with the start of the Year of the Gryphon is the launch of the new Hearthstone Core Set, which replaces the existing Basic and Classic sets with a curated selection of 235 cards (including new and previously-released cards), reinvigorating the game for both existing players and newcomers. Launching alongside the Core set is the new Classic format, which will allow players to craft decks and compete using Hearthstone’s original sets of cards, as they were in 2014.
Coming later this year is Hearthstone Mercenaries, an all-new single-player and competitive game mode that invites players to assemble and upgrade teams from among Azeroth’s mightiest heroes and villains and put them to the test in an everchanging series of engaging tactical battles.
Players will see their mercenaries gain experience, equipment, new abilities, and evolve into more powerful versions of themselves while battling through highly replayable, randomly generated roguelike missions.
“The Year of the Gryphon will be yet another exciting and eventful year filled with new content and new experiences in Hearthstone,” said J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard Entertainment. “Forged in the Barrens will take us to a place straight out of World of Warcraft that’s dear to us and to many of our players, the new Core set will continue to shake up the game on an annual basis, and Hearthstone Mercenaries and the new Classic mode will introduce even more awesome ways to play.”
FORGED IN THE BARRENS EXPANSION SET
Forged in the Barrens hearkens back to World of Warcraft’s roots, introducing 135 all-new cards inspired by the characters and stories that define this beloved, hardscrabble setting. In addition to new keywords and game mechanics, Forged in the Barrens will introduce 10 Legendary Mercenary minions, each representing a different Hearthstone class, whose stories will play out across the Year of the Gryphon – including in the upcoming new game mode Hearthstone Mercenaries.
Starting today, players can prepurchase the Forged in the Barrens Mega Bundle (USD $79.99), which comes with 85 card packs from the expansion (five of which are Golden Card Packs, which contain all Golden cards), and two random Golden Legendary cards; the Hamuul Runetotem card back and alternate Hero; and perks for Hearthstone Battlegrounds that last until the next expansion. Also available is the Forged in the Barrens Pre-Purchase Bundle (USD $49.99), which includes 60 packs from the expansion, two random Legendary Cards, and the Hamuul Runetotem card back.
Hearthstone Mercenaries is an upcoming all-new single-player and competitive game mode in which players collect mighty characters new and old from across the Warcraft universe and level them up in exciting tactical battles. Mercenaries is scheduled for release later this year, with more information on the mode to be shared closer to launch.
HEARTHSTONE CORE SET & CLASSIC FORMAT
The Hearthstone Core Set will arrive alongside the launch of the Year of the Gryphon. Free to all players to unlock as they level up and updated every year, the Core Set replaces the existing Basic and Classic cards with a curated collection of 235 new and existing cards meant to keep Hearthstone fresh and provide an approachable on-ramp for new players. The Core set will consist of 160 class cards and 75 neutral cards, among them reimagined Legendary minion versions of Warcraft’s most fearsome dragons, including Deathwing, Malygos, and Ysera.
Also coming with the Year of the Gryphon is the Hearthstone Classic format, which invites players to experience the game as it was when it launched in 2014. Sitting alongside Standard and Wild, the Classic format will be fully supported, with its own rewards and rankings, and will include all of Hearthstone’s original cards as they were in the game’s early days.
WORLD OF WARCRAFT
For World of Warcraft, Blizzard announced Chains of Domination, the first major content update coming later this year for the recently-released Shadowlands expansion, as well as an all-new charity pet program that will yield two separate pets — Bananas the monkey and Daisy the sloth — for all modern WoW players once donation goals are met. Blizzard also revealed Burning Crusade Classic, an authentic recreation of the acclaimed first World of Warcraft expansion – also coming later this year, and included in players’ existing World of Warcraft subscription at no additional cost.
Later this year, World of Warcraft players will return to the fel-scarred ruin of Hellfire Peninsula to stop the incursion at its source; rediscover what lurks below the fungal forests of Zangarmarsh; and face down Illidan the Betrayer once again in Burning Crusade Classic.
“The World of Warcraft community made it clear that they wanted WoW Classic, and now they’re eager to continue their journey into The Burning Crusade,” said J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard Entertainment. “Since the launch of WoW Classic and as we rolled out content updates, we’ve learned a lot about what players want from an experience like this in 2021. We’re building on that to ensure players’ new adventures in Outland are as epic as ever, whether they’re taking a return trip through the Dark Portal or joining us for the very first time.”
Burning Crusade Classic builds on the epic foundation of World of Warcraft Classic, providing players with an opportunity to experience the next legendary chapter in the Warcraft saga. Through the launch and over the course of content updates to follow, the recreation will bring back the features of the 2007 original, including the following:
The Shattered Realm of Outland: Traverse the treacherous crags and spires of Blade’s Edge Mountains, where even dragons fear to roam; hunt alongside the uncorrupted Mag’har orcs among the floating islands of Nagrand; battle demonic agents of the Legion in the shadow of the Black Temple; and much more.
Two New Playable Races: Fight for the Horde as the blood elves, seeking a new source of the arcane power that once sustained them, or join the Alliance as the draenei, exiles from Outland in search of a new home.
Gather at the Arena Gates: Assemble your most trusted allies and prove your PvP prowess in 2v2, 3v3, or 5v5 combat in Arenas such as the Ring of Trials and the Circle of Blood.
Take Wing on Flying Mounts: Take flight in the chaotic skies of Netherstorm and soar over fel-touched Shadowmoon Valley with the introduction of flying mounts in Outland.
Master Challenging Raids and Dungeons: Conquer 5-player dungeons set in the crystalline fortress of Tempest Keep and the Caverns of Time, where heroes bear witness to Azeroth’s past. Raid the haunted halls of 10-player Karazhan, and gear up over time for a climactic confrontation against Kil’jaeden in 25-player Sunwell Plateau.
New Options for Heroes: Carve gems of power to socket into players’ gear with the Jewelcrafting profession; choose between the Aldor or Scryer factions in Shattrath and earn their unique rewards; create a paladin on the Horde or a shaman on the Alliance; and more.
Before entering the Dark Portal, players will be presented with a choice for each of their existing WoW Classic characters: to progress to the Burning Crusade era along with the rest of the Horde and Alliance heroes on their realm, or to continue adventuring in the original WoW Classic content on all-new “Classic Era” servers coming with the rollout of Burning Crusade Classic. Players who want to experience the best of both worlds will have the option to “clone” each WoW Classic character as an optional paid service, allowing each hero to venture forth into Burning Crusade Classic while their copies continue their original adventure on a Classic Era realm.
For players who don’t have characters ready for the journey beyond the Dark Portal and are interested in adventuring in Outland with their friends, Blizzard will also offer an optional level-58 character boost service closer to the expansion’s launch. To help preserve the integrity of players’ accomplishments in WoW Classic, this boost will not be usable on Classic Era realms or on the new blood elf or draenei races; in addition, players will be limited to boosting only one character per World of Warcraft account.
BLIZZARD ARCADE COLLECTION
Blizzard also announced the Blizzard Arcade Collection, a digital set of its original hits, updated and available now for Windows PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (also PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S via backwards compatibility).
On Windows PC, the Blizzard Arcade Collection is included as part of The Celebration Collection, a commemorative bundle of in-game items for Blizzard games that was released earlier this month to mark the company’s 30-year anniversary. (Players who have already made this purchase will automatically receive the Blizzard Arcade Collection.) A version of this bundle is also coming to consoles today as The Blizzard 30-Year Celebration Collection.
“The Lost Vikings, Rock N Roll Racing, and Blackthorne ultimately made it possible for us to go on to create Warcraft, Diablo, and StarCraft, so we thought the Blizzard Arcade Collection would be a fun and fitting way to look back at our roots as a company,” said J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard Entertainment. “Many Blizzard gamers around the world fondly remember their time with these games and have often asked us to bring them back for modern platforms, so we’re thrilled to not only do so with this release, but to amp up the experience with new features and functionality available for the first time in each game.”
The games in the Blizzard Arcade Collection come in their Original Editions and also upgraded Definitive Editions, with each version featuring custom key mapping and the ability to rewind up to 10 seconds. The Original Editions of The Lost Vikings and Blackthorne also include “watch mode,” which lets players watch a playthrough of the game and jump in to take control at any point. The ability to save progress anywhere is also included in all versions of each game, with the exception of the Definitive Edition of Rock N Roll Racing. An array of bonus materials rounds out the Blizzard Arcade Collection, including game art, development assets, unused content, lore, interviews, and more.