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BlizzCon 2017: the six biggest announcements

New Overwatch hero, vanilla World of Warcraft server and more

There were a plethora of announcements that came from Blizzard’s annual BlizzCon convention today, including a new playable hero for Overwatch and an official vanilla server in World of Warcraft.

It’s easy to get lost in the wave of news, so we’ve put together a list of the biggest reveals to catch you up to speed.

Meet Moira

The most exciting announcement came out of Blizzard’s Overwatch segment. Moira is Overwatch’s 26th playable character. Described as a geneticist who works for Talon, Moira has a history with Reaper’s Blackwatch organization.

Moira possesses the ability to inflict an enormous amount of damage on her enemies, according to Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan, and can also heal her teammates. She also appears to have spellcasting abilities.

Moira is the fifth post-release character to be added to Overwatch following Ana, Sombra, Orisa and Doomfist. She will be released on Overwatch’s public test region on PC before she’s available officially on PC and consoles.

BlizzardWorld Blizzard Entertainment

New Overwatch map is called “Blizzard World”

Along with a new hero, Kaplan also confirmed Overwatch is getting a new map, Blizzard World.

Like DisneyWorld, Blizzard World is a theme park that incorporates all of Blizzard’s properties, like Heroes of the Storm and StarCraft. Players will both attack and protect the payload in the map, according to Kaplan.

Fans of Blizzard games as a whole will be happy to note the map is packed with various fanservice-y attractions, including an arcade based on Heroes of the Storm, an area based on Azeroth from World of Warcraft and areas borrowed from Hearthstone.

The map will go live for all players in 2018.

World of Warcraft gets a major update and a vanilla server

Blizzard revealed the intro cinematic for World of Warcraft’s seventh expansion pack, Battle for Azeroth.

The expansion will include the usual increased level caps and new zones for players to explore, but will also focus on the conflict between the two major factions, the Alliance and the Horde. Horde players will travel to three new zones that make up the islands of Zandalar. Alliance players will be focused on three different zones set in the island nation of Kul Tiras. The update marks the introduction of new content that has never been seen before in game.

More information about what’s coming to World of Warcraft can found in our new, in-depth cover story.

Alongside the Battle of Azeroth announcement, Blizzard confirmed that an official vanilla server, otherwise known as a server based on World of Warcraft’s classic server, is coming to World of Warcraft. It will be available as World of Warcraft Classic.

“We want to reproduce the game experience that we all enjoyed from the original, classic WOW,” said executive producer J. Allen Brack, following a trailer that revealed the server.

Players have wanted an opportunity to return to the original-style gameplay for quite some time, particularly after the release of World of Warcraft’s Burning Crusade expansion, which radically altered the game when it launched in 2007.

Brack didn’t say when Classic would be released, but don’t expect it for quite some time as it’s still in development stages.

StarCraft Blizzard Entertainment

StarCraft 2 is going free-to-play

StarCraft 2 is going to be a free game going forward.

StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty will be free as of Nov. 14. Those who already own Wings of Liberty will receive the Heart of the Swarm expansion at no additional cost, according to Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime. Ranked multiplayer will also be given to players for free but players will have to unlock it after achieving 10 First Wins of the Day.

Remaining single-player campaigns, however, including Heart of the Swarm, Legacy of the Void and Nova Covert Ops will still cost $14.99 each.

Hanzo is headed to Heroes of the Storm

Overwatch’s Hanzo will get his chance to participate in another Blizzard game: Heroes of the Storm.

Blizzard confirmed that Hanzo will join its free-to-play, online battle arena title, proceeding to show Hanzo in action fighting World of Warcraft’s Alextrasza, who can transform into a dragon when her health is low. Alextrasza will also join Heroes of the Storm as a ranged support character.

Both players will be available to play in Heroes of the Storm next year when an update for the game drops.

Hearthstone’s next update is Kobolds and Catacombs

Blizzard has announced its next update for the company’s popular card-playing and trading game, Hearthstone.

“Kobolds and Catacombs” is a “return to the roots of fantasy,” according to game director Ben Brode. Players will spend their time exploring dungeons and finding loot. During a preview for the add-on, dragons, vaults containing an abundance of gold and the kobolds could be seen.

Brode also announced new cards from the expansion, including Marin the Fox, a new legendary. Marin the Fox will be available to anyone who signs onto the game starting at the beginning of next week. Brode confirmed the expansion comes with a new keyword: Recruit. Those cards marked with recruit will allow players to pull a minion from players’ deck and put it directly into play.

“Kobolds and Catacombs” will also usher in a new single-player mode called “dungeon run.” Players will receive eight random bosses during gameplay sessions, and earn new cards as they play. If players lose, the deck gets thrown out. Players will then have to start over.

For other big moments from BlizzCon 2017, including new animated shorts and in-depth updates to specific games, be sure to check out Polygon’s extensive coverage of the event.

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