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BlizzConline kicked off Friday with announcements from Blizzard on everything from Overwatch 2 to Diablo 4, Hearthstone expansions, the World of Warcraft universe and beyond. With festivities continuing Saturday, including the esports-centric Shock vs. The World Overwatch event and
Here’s a breakdown of all things esports that happened on Day 1 of BlizzConline and what you should watch for Saturday.
Overwatch 2 devs give story mode and competitive play updates
Blizzard is still mum on a release date for Overwatch 2, but the developer showed off a few features players can expect from the to-be-announced launch. Notable reworks of Overwatch’s support and tank roles dominated the discussion Friday, and players of those roles can expect to take a more active part in the fight in Overwatch 2. One example Blizzard provided was Reinhardt, who seems to have a bit more firepower with two Fire Strike uses, the ability to cancel out of his charge and more maneuverability. The goal, devs said, is to make tanks more than just shields.
The same could go for supports, who will have blanket passive healing effects in the next generation according to the Overwatch 2 showcase. Other player-friendly updates include the removal of the Assault mode and addition of two new maps: Rome and New York City.
Blizzard also showed off Overwatch 2‘s story mode and co-op content. The player-vs.-enemy modes feature hero leveling and skill trees as well as character-specific missions. Along with visual updates to Overwatch 2 characters and a variety of new Omnic enemies, maps and story-building elements, there should be plenty to do offline in the sequel.
Blizzard announces Forged in the Barrens and Hearthstone Mercenaries
Hearthstone‘s Year of the Gryphon is underway, and BlizzConline revealed the first expansion of 2021 on Friday: Forged in the Barrens. The set has a heavy World of Warcraft feel to it, with characters such as Shadowhunter Vol’jin making an appearance. The game’s new rogue-like randomized mode, Hearthstone Mercenaries, gives fans another way to play as well. The presentation gave few details on Mercenaries, but the game mode seems story-driven with a focus on replayability.
Blizzard did not give a date for release of the updates but said the new content will land in 2021.
What to watch for on Day 2 of BlizzConline
The main event Saturday is Shock vs. The World, an Overwatch League event that will pit the reigning OWL champions against pro players from around the globe in some off-beat matchups. The best-of-five competition includes a six-on-six regular showcase match, 12-person Roadhog showdown, one-on-one Lúcio duel and some lighthearted fun. Shock vs. The World runs from 3-4 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Hearthstone streamers will get an exhibition event of their own as well. The Hearthstone Streamer Showdown will take place from 5:15-6:55 p.m. ET with a “battle of wits” between prominent players.
Sean Morrison is the Editor-in-Chief of Upcomer, a former editor for ESPN’s esports section and is an adjunct professor at Indiana University’s Media School. Catch him on Warzone, Destiny 2 or Elder Scrolls Online, or just follow him on Twitter.