BlizzCon 2011 Highlights

BlizzCon 2011 took place in the Anaheim Convention Center over the weekend. As a celebration of some of gaming's most popular franchises, Blizzard used this opportunity to make many announcements of release of new content for their WarCraft, StarCraft, and Diablo games, previews of content for upcoming games, and Blizzard developer Q&A sessions.

So instead of fighting through the masses of 26,000 Blizzard fans to get the most out of the convention, the following is a compilation of the biggest news regarding BlizzCon 2011.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Announced

The major announcement at this year's BlizzCon is the fourth expansion to World of Warcraft, called, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria. It was officially announced during the convention's opening ceremonies. The expansion will host a series of new era of quests, raids, PvP, profession, and instances. The following are key details regarding the upcoming expansion:

  •     New talent system
  •     Pandaren race
  •     Pannaria region
  •     Monk class
  •     90 level cap raised to 90
  •     Dungeon challenge mode
  •     PVE Scenarios
  •     Pet Battle System

World of Warcraft Annual Pass Announced (With Diablo III access and Other Freebies)

Blizzard's president and CEO Mike Morhaime announced during the opening ceremony the new World of Warcraft Annual Pass, a 12-month subscription to the MMO that can be billed monthly. Current WoW players who sign up will also be able to have free access to Diablo III to download an play the day it becomes available. Nice!

If that isn't enough of an incentive to join, Blizzard is throwing in a bunch of other virtual freebies as well. Players will get the in-game World of Warcraft mount, Tyrael's Charger. Players will also gain access to the beta of the next World of Warcraft expansion as soon as it goes live.

Diablo 3 Limited Edition Details Announced

Similar to the kick-ass StarCraft 2 Special Edition, The newly-announced limited edition of Diablo 3 will be a giant box full of game-related goodies. Officially announced during the BlizzCon press conference, the Diablo 3 Limited Edition will include a behind-the-scenes DVD, a USB drive shaped like Diablo's skull (that houses a copy of Diablo 2), a giant art book, an in-game WoW item Tyrael's Charger for those who register their limited edition, and of course, the Diablo 3 game itself.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria
Will Feature a Pet Battle System Similar to Pokémon

Although players have been able to collect pets in the WoW universe for quite some time now, Blizzard announced that the new WoW: MoP expansion will include a pet battle system not unlike Nintendo's Pokémon. Players will be able to customize their pets with new names and items, and even battle each other.

Blizzard's lead designer walked BlizzCon attendees through the new system, showing that players will be able to take three pets to fight at a time using turn-based fights. Each of these three pets will be able to choose from three (out of six) abilities, and “Master Trainers” can be battled across the world to unlock new abilities.

Pets can be caught in a variety of ways. Some will be wild, and can only be fought out int he world under specific weather and time conditions. Some will be given away during promotional and season events, and some will even be (you guessed it) sold for real money in the store. Now that Blizzard has included their own version of Pokémon within WoW, players can now find more opportunities to catch 'em all…all over again.

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