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GamesCom 2013 interview – Josh Mosqueira talks about Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, Return of Pandemonium Fortress & Necromancers

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Diablo 3 News, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, Featured Stories, GamesCom 2013

Blizzard Entertainment scheduled Blizzplanet, Millenium.org, InDiablo and GamersOrigin to sit together with Josh Mosqueira to interview him about Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. Blizzplanet correspondent Arthur Lorenz (known as Handclaw) was there to participate in this private round of questions with the press.

  • The Crusader was originally going to be a Darker Paladin, but later the class took a life of its own into something different.
  • Bloodmarch is an area outside Westmarch where the Black Soulstone was meant to be buried.
  • The Pandemonium Fortress — where the Worldstone had rested for milennia — will be revisited in this expansion.
  • The Necromancers are not too happy with Malthael the Archangel of Wisdom Death upsetting the balance by raising the dead.
  • No new Follower/Companion, but they have extra lore background, new features, and side-quests.
  • The developers see how well the Hellfire Ring (obtained through the Infernal machine event) has been received by the players, and they are currently experimenting with account-bound items to extend that experience.

BlizzCon New Class Speculation

The developers didn’t want to spoil too much about the Necromancers topic (asked by Handclaw); but it is obvious there is more than meet the eye. One of the developers mentioned the Necromancers are all about balance, and what Malthael is doing at Westmarch definitely affects the balance.

In an MTV interview with Jay Wilson a few years ago (August 5, 2008), he mentioned the Necromancer:

Wilson: I wouldn’t be opposed to looking at old classes. We are trying to design [the Witch Doctor] class so that if we did bring back the Necromancer, there’s room for him. We’re looking out ahead of time at what our expansions are going to be, so we’ve got to keep room open for some of those other classes down the road.”

 

It might be possible to see Necromancer NPC or a Necromancer class. The Crusader might or not be the only class for this expansion. They just want to keep some big surprises for BlizzCon. Another possibility is that the ripples of damage upon the balance wrought by Malthael might be like a kick on the wasp’s nest for the Necromancer. Maybe the second expansion will place the Necromancers in a bigger role than before considering the Diablo: The Sin War and Diablo: Kingdom of Shadow Lore.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we could see Zayl the Necromancer and Kara Nightshadow (Diablo: Legacy of Blood) — both from Richard A. Knaak’s novels. Note: Legacy of Blood and Kingdom of Shadow are reprinted in the Diablo Archive (752 pages).

UPDATE: A fan linked to this article, and got a blue response:

Vaeflare: If you’re keen to see what the Necromancer has been up to since the events of Diablo III, you’ll be pleased to know that you’ll have the opportunity to meet up with him once more in Reaper of Souls!

Also as Josh Mosqueira stated the interview with King Konger and elsewhere, we do not currently have any plans to add another class to the expansion. We feel the Crusader class is a truly epic, and fitting addition to Reaper of Souls, and we’re excited to share more about it with you in the months ahead. :)source

 

Grimiku: Vaeflare confirmed it earlier, but there is no harm in saying again. You’ll get a chance to meet a familiar necromancer npc, but the only additional playable class in Reaper of Souls is the Crusader. We’ll have more information to share about the Crusader in the coming months, but this armored, battle-worn, veteran will be a mighty addition to hero roster of Diablo III. — source

 

GamesCom 2013 Interview

In this GamesCom 2013 interview, the developers also talk about Nephalem Runs and Loot 2.0. Bare with us — GamesCom is the biggest gaming convention in the world. The recording is noisy. You might need to adjust the sound volume.

Why the Crusader, and where did the inspiration for the Crusader come from?

For a few reasons. We had an idea of having a sort of very heavy armored character, so we explored that for a while and we thought of the angle of make it a sort of a dark paladin sort of class and that idea took a life of its own and we went very far with it, and it became something really different at this point. So, way we describe it is a warmachine-made man, what if a modern armored division tank was an evil warrior? So we came up with this idea of a mid-ranged melee character, he wears heavy armor, he crushes his enemies, he has a big heavy flail and he has a shield which is as much a weapon as it is a defense mechanism. In addition he has a lot of holy wrath based damage, that he does, so he has some ranged abilities, too. So it‘s a neat mix of ranged and melee and he has become very different from the paladin at this point. He has become the Crusader.

 

We already know that you are going to patch Loot 2.0 before the expansion gets released. Are you considering to add any other features like the Paragon 2.0, and such before the expansion is ready?

Yea, we are considering all of the features, and tinker out which is more appropriate. Anything that is broadly systemic like that tends to be added in the game anyway. There is no reason for us not to give it up free. Probably a lot of more stuff will be free before the expansion goes live.

 

Will there be any new companions or any new content for the Templar or the Scoundrel?

There is a lot of new content for the old companions. We didn’t add a new companion. We have this idea that more is not better. Better is better. It’s how we say it. We figured we did not do enough to make the existing companions deep — we had a lot of grand plans for them in the first game; We are giving them a lot of more stories, they are actually getting side-quests — in Act V as well. So they are getting richer back stories. You get to meet, for example, the Scoundrel’s brother.

That’s new. No one knows about that yet. That’s our official leak for today’s interview.

 

Can you explain Nephalem Trials?

The idea for the Nephalem Trials takes a lot of inspiration from the Jar of Souls event from Act I. We wondered how to create this kind of micro-challenges to help us survey the pace of gameplay, the idea is that when you explore the world you come across a Nephalem portal, you jump into one of these Nephalem Trials. There are many different variations — one of the classic ones — you end up fighting waves and waves of enemies and you have a time limit. Depending how well, how many monsters you kill within the time limit you will be rewarded with a number of resplendant chests. So it’s a cool way to add a challenge to the game and add some variety.

Storywise, players met some of the Nephalem spirits that have been left behind in the world of Sanctuary, in the first game. At certain point, all humans were Nephalem. All humans had powers. The first generations of humans ever born had that. Eventually, they lost their powers, and as they were losing it, the leaders left behind guardian spirits for if in the future the Nephalem arose again, they could get guidance. These are the spirits that help you run these trials.

 

The new expansion adds a new Act with a new story, How much gameplay time takes to play through the whole story?

We haven’t finished the Act yet. We are not done making it yet. So it’s hard to say exactly how long it is, but I think more than ever, the game doesn’t end when you kill Malthael and defeat him. The replayability has been quitely expanded. Loot Runs is the first time we are talking about here at GamesCom.

Loot Runs is just one of the systems by the way, and the way that it works is extensively random dungeons. We take every single tile that is in the game, including all the new exterior ones are now randomized in Act V. We combined those in about 15-minute long dungeons at multiple levels with a variety of monsters.

With this monsters you need to work together, you need to change your tactics, very dense populated. Random boss fights and random loot. We take the promise of Diablo’s randomness, make that within a 15-minute chunks to add more end-game gameplay.

 

Almost all items we saw in this expansions are account-bound. Is this because of enchanting or is there another reason for that?

That’s something that we are experimenting with. The Hellfire Ring is something we believe responded really well. So we are seeing how to extend that system. We hope to hear some feedback from players here at GamesCom.

You get better items, but it’s your better items.

 

What variation of environments are we going to see in the expansion — we have seen some like Westmarch, Bloodmarch — what can we expect?

We were just sorta teasing some of the zones, but we can’t mention them. So I’ll cover the Bloodmarch.

The Bloodmarsh is an area outside of the city of Westmarch. It’s a very cool area, it’s one of our more fun and dangerous looking zones we have in the game.

Actually you see some of it in the opening cinematic, where the Black Soulstone is buried. Where Archangel Malthael comes and steal it from Tyrael. It’s underneath the Bloodmarch, and it does exist in the game right now.

The other area you will be exploring is the Pandemonion Fortress. It’s sort of the heart of creation, and that’s going to be a really great counterpoint to the more gothic feeling of Westmarch. The players will really love the journey from Westmarch to the Bloodmarch to the Pandemonium.

It’s a place where the angels and demons have fought over forever.

 

A lot of people are missing the darker side of Diablo II in Diablo III. Is the expansion going to be darker?

Dark side. I mean, Diablo III opens with a zombie apocalypse. It’s the end of the world, and meteors falling, and the armies of Hell are coming. Explain dark side.

For many years now we have really wanted to do a city tileset. A random city. So it all works with the same Diablo randomness, but still feels like a real city.

We actually tried to do that for a while, in Diablo III’s development, but we put it aside. As soon as we began work on the expansion, that was the first thing we tackled. So apart from the fact that it was a city, we didn’t know whether we wanted to do Westmarch years ago; and Death as the villain, has sort of made it definitely very grim and dark. That was heavy and gothic anyway before Death arrived and invaded it.

It’s a marshal city. It’s founded by the Paladin order when they were on their first grand crusade bringing their Zakarum faith to the west with fire and a sword.

It was founded by Rakkis. The soldiers of Bastion’s Keep are actually from the city of Westmarch. So we knew that we wanted to do Westmarch for a while, and not in response to anything in particular from Diablo III.

It’s not a reaction, but more than anything else an opportunity for us. When we started thinking about the expansion, they wanted Westmarch, another wanted the Crusader. When the team came across the idea of really focusing on Malthael the Angel of Death kinda rocked everything together and really allowed us to deliver — not just a gothic setting — but sub-apocalyptic and anti-apocalyptic that’s happening. It helps put everything together. The complete package.

The whole expansion is not the same color scheme. It’s not the same heavy gothic feel either. We just mentioned two of the other zones, and variety is a very important part of the game. It’s about replayability.

For us gothic doesn’t necessarily mean just round, black and gray. Gothic is more about the feel.

 

Are you going to make improvements to the Battle.net?

We are working on a lot of improvements. We didn’t announced any one yet. We are still working on them, and want to know a little more about — be sure — before we can talk about them, but there is a number of improvements to Battle.net and social services coming.

 

Given the theme of the new expansion, with Malthael being the Angel of Death, will we meet any Necromancer? … because it sounds like it would fit quite a little.

I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but … (at unison) MAYBE! **MAYBE!!!***

Obviously, bad things are happening. There’s a lot of death, and I think the necromancers are drawn to death.

Necromancers are about balance. If the army of death are taking over the world, that’s not balance anymore; and they need to do something about it.

 

Regarding the cinematic, Tyrael is hiding the Black Soulstone with the Horadrim. Are we going to know more about the Horadrim?

Yea, before the expansion ships, you are going to know more about the Horadrim. Tyrael has refound the Horadrim order. So they are a new Horadrim. The character that you meet at the beginning of the demo, he is a new Horadrim character that we spent a lot of time getting to know as well. So the Horadrim has been reborn. Cain passed that mantle down to Leah, and then we all know what happened with her. So, that didn’t work. Right? — the Kevin Marten yells: “SPOILERS!!!”

Josh Mosqueira says: “I didn’t specifically say what happened to Leah.”

Kevin Martens responds: “Oh shit!”

Josh Mosqueira finishes: “She’s not taking over the Horadrim. Let’s just say that.”

 

Note: That was a bit confusing. Are they considering Leah’s fate at the end of Diablo III a spoiler, or are they fooling around because Leah is coming back from the … death. Coughs … Malthael is rising the dead. Or because the Necromancers bring her back? Hard to decipher their code-talk.

Special thanks to Arthur Lorenz aka Handclaw (Blizzplanet contributor) who interviewed the Diablo III team at GamesCom, and thanks to the Blizzard US/EU PR teams.

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GamesCom 2013 – Blizzard Press Event Video

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Diablo 3 News, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, Featured Stories, GamesCom 2013

Blizzplanet staff member Arthur “Handclaw” Lorenz attended GamesCom 2013 to witness the Blizzard Entertainment press panel held on Wednesday, August 21 at 11:30am CEST.

Arthur saw history unfold as Blizzard Entertainment unveiled the new expansion titled Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. The videos below contain the whole press panel. Check out the new Crusader class, Westmarch vistas and great features to be introduced in the expansion: level cap increased to 70, Unlimited Paragon Levels, Nephalem Trials, the Mystic, end-game Loot Runs, Improved Loot 2.0, a new Act, and much more.

Visit the official Diablo III: Reaper of Souls website.

Video # 1

Video # 2

Video # 3

Nephalem Trials

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Press Release – Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Unveiled

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Diablo 3 News, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, Featured Stories, GDC 2013

Blizzard Entertainment deployed a press release to go in detail about the new expansion titled Diablo III: Reaper of Souls which introduces a new class: The Crusader, and a whole new Act featuring the new villain: Malthael, the Archangel of Wisdom Death.

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Upcoming expansion to the fastest-selling PC game of all time playable at gamescom

“Death, at last, shall spread its wings over all . . .”

COLOGNE, Germany—August 21, 2013 – The defeat of Diablo, Lord of Terror, should have given rise to an age of hope. Instead, it has drawn out a shadowy being of immense power, whose malevolent purpose is yet to be revealed. Announced today at gamescom, Diablo® III: Reaper of Souls™, the upcoming expansion to Diablo III, opens a dark and terrifying new chapter in the ongoing conflict over the mortal realm of Sanctuary.

Malthael, the fallen Archangel of Wisdom, vanished after the events depicted at the end of Diablo II: Lord of Destruction®. In Reaper of Souls, he returns as the Angel of Death and seizes the Black Soulstone, which contains the essence of the Prime Evil. It now falls to the players to track down Malthael and stop him before he unleashes irreversible havoc on the world.

Fortunately, a new hero is ready to join the cause and bring Malthael to justice—the Crusader. Driven by a centuries-long quest to cleanse the corruption blighting their beloved Zakarum faith, Crusaders are warriors of righteousness who have been hardened through relentless, brutal combat with the foul evils plaguing eastern Sanctuary. In addition to wearing immensely heavy armor and wielding a wide range of cruel and punishing weapons, this new playable class in Reaper of Souls uses battle magic to strengthen allies and weaken foes. A natural walking tank, the Crusader adds power and versatility to any party of adventurers.

“From the beginning, Diablo has always been about the struggle between good and evil, and Reaper of Souls explores the darker notes of that conflict,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “This expansion also represents a big milestone in the ongoing evolution of Diablo III, with key enhancements to the core gameplay, along with a new act to experience, a powerful new character class, tons of new loot, and even more end-game options. We think players will love playing Reaper of Souls, and we can’t wait to get it into their hands.”

In addition to taking the story of Diablo III from the legendary city of Westmarch to the unhallowed halls of the Pandemonium Fortress in Act V and introducing the incorruptible Crusader class, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls increases the game’s level cap to 70. Players continuing on with their existing Barbarian, Witch Doctor, Demon Hunter, Wizard, and Monk characters will benefit from an array of fearsome new spells and abilities as they advance in level.

The expansion also accentuates the key features of the Diablo franchise, with a greater emphasis on randomized environments to explore; epic new quests; horrific new monsters to defeat; and substantial updates to the loot experience, enabling players to further customize their characters with new and improved multilevel Legendary items, new Blacksmith and Jeweler item-crafting options, and more.

Diablo III’s Paragon progression system is also being majorly upgraded for the expansion, adding even *more end-game character advancement and replayability. Two new game modes—Loot Runs and Nephalem Trials—are being added as well, providing fun and rewarding challenges for players to tackle when they’re not busy saving the world.

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is playable on the show floor at gamescom, and Blizzard will be revealing further details about the expansion at BlizzCon and beyond as development progresses. For further information related to today’s announcement and all the latest news about Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, visit http://www.diablo3.com/reaperofsouls.

With multiple games in development, Blizzard Entertainment has numerous positions currently available—visit http://jobs.blizzard.com for more information and to learn how to apply.

 
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GamesCom 2013: Blizzard Press Event – Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Revealed

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Diablo 3 News, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, Featured Stories, GamesCom 2013

Blizzard Entertainment revealed the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls expansion trailer at GamesCom during a press event held at 11:30am CEST.

The Crusader is a new mid-range melee class wielding a longsword and a shield. The class is based on the Diablo II Paladin. The demonstration shows a Death Maiden in the Cathedral of the Zakarum.

The Angel of Wisdom Malthael plays a big role in the story as a villain. He will command dead angels as the Archangel of Death to punish Sanctuary and the remaining demons of the Burning Hells.

Archangel Malthael sees humanity as the largest group of demons, and wants to eradicate them. Tyrael and the new Horadrim wanted to hide the Black Soulstone deep beneath Sanctuary; but Archangel Malthael stole the Black Soulstone. (as seen in the cinematic below)

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The level cap has increased to level 70 and the expansion will introduce a new ACT.

The expansion will also focus on upgrades to the Paragon levels. New monsters include the Summoner of the Death, The Seraph and the Death Maiden. — fallen angels.

A new artisan will offer transmo services to change the appearance of your armor for that of another armor like in World of Warcraft.

Paragon levels will now be account-wide rather than individual characters. There is no cap to Paragon levels (Unlimited Paragon Levels). A return of an attribute system which uses Paragon points.

The Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is now playable at GamesCom where attendees can play as the Crusader class.

The new environment setting is gothic-medieval in nature in the lands of Westmarch.

Handclaw is at the press event taking video of the press event for Blizzplanet. The video will be available at a later time. Stay tuned. Additionally, Blizzard Entertainment scheduled an interview slot for Blizzplanet on Friday, August 23 with the Diablo III (PS3) team.

Further details of the Diablo III expansion will be revealed at BlizzCon this upcoming November 8-9th.

Malthael, the Angel of Death, has seized the Black Soulstone. It falls to the heroes of Sanctuary to stop him before he unleashes its dark power on the world. Today at gamescom, Blizzard Entertainment announced Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, the upcoming expansion to the fastest-selling PC game of all time. See the press release to learn more about this dark new chapter in the ongoing struggle between angels and demons over the fate of mankind.

 

The news is spreading so quick the hashtag Reaper of Souls have started trending on Twitter along with the hashtag Diablo 3.

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Videos

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SDCC 2013 Interview – Micky Neilson on Diablo III: Book of Tyrael and World of Warcraft: Bloodsworn

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Products News, Diablo 3 News, Featured Stories, SDCC 2013, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

Blizzplanet correspondent David Frazier interviewed Micky Neilson at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con on Friday, July 19th to forward a combination of SOL community and Blizzplanet questions about licensed products revealed at the Blizzard Licensing Panel, and about products that weren’t mentioned at the panel.

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PAX East – Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Press Kit

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Diablo 3 News, Event Coverage, Featured Stories, PAX East 2013, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

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Blizzard Entertainment Rob Pardo announced at PAX East a team of 15 developers was created exclusively to develop Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft planned to launch beta testing this Summer.

No one expected Blizzard to announce a free to play CCG game.

The game is slated for beta this summer and will be released later this year (2013). It will be released in PC and Mac first with an iPad release coming shortly after. No current plans it seems on Android or other mobile OS.

Official website revealed as well the beta signup page: http://us.battle.net/hearthstone/en/

As someone like myself who has played Magic: The Gathering since 1998, I can tell you that this game looks like an absolute blast. The MTG video games they have recently are quite fun and this seems to be along those lines. This game looks like something for casuals as well as competitive gamers. The booster packs are expected to cost around $1, but you’ll also be able to earn them – kind of the same way League of Legends and other free to play games work where you can slowly earn what you need or go ahead and pay up front.

We have an interview tomorrow for the new game. If you have any questions you’d like to see us ask add them below in the comments!

ANNOUNCEMENT VIDEO

FACT SHEET

Blizzard Entertainment’s Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a free-to-play strategy card game for Windows, Macintosh, and iPad. Designed to be deceptively simple and epically engaging for players of all backgrounds, Hearthstone features quick and lively duels that evoke the spirit of a friendly match played beside a crackling tavern fire.

Each player’s card deck centers around a hero representing one of nine iconic Warcraft classes, customized with a set of minions, spells, and/or weapons based on individual strategy and available cards. Players will be able to hone their skills in practice matches against the computer, and when they’re ready for the challenge, they can take on their Battle.net friends and other players in friendly duels. To further develop their decks, players will be able to acquire cards by crafting them and by winning or purchasing new card packs. With hundreds of unique cards to choose from, the potential card combinations and possible strategies are endless!

Game Modes

  • Play Mode: Duel opponents online to boost your medal ranking and earn packs of cards. Whether you’re a grizzled veteran, curious newcomer, or fall somewhere in between, our matchmaking system will pit you against worthy competition.
  • The Forge: Put your skills to the test in this mode where deck-building is half the fun. You’ll be presented with a series of card choices from which you must forge your deck, and then you’ll bring that deck into battle against other duelists. In addition to having a chance to win card packs as prizes if you duel well, all participants will keep the cards they selected for their Forge deck.
  • Practice Mode: Hone your skills and test out new deck ideas against basic or expert AI opponents, and unlock eight playable heroes in the process.

Key Features

Collection Manager: Peruse your ever-expanding card collection and build a variety of custom decks to suit all kinds of strategies. If you’re new to deck-building, you can also get guided help here on how to fill out your deck for competitive play.

Crafting: Disenchant those extra cards in your collection to receive arcane dust, the building block used to construct Hearthstone cards. You can then use this dust to craft the cards needed to complete one or more of your decks or your overall collection.

Friendly Duels: Want to challenge your buddy to a quick match (or just show off your shiny new cards)? Hearthstone is connected to Battle.net, so you’ll be able to fire up a game with a friend right from your friends list.

 

BETA TESTING

At the FAQ section below there are more details about beta. Beta testing starts this Summer 2013. You can sign up to participate in beta by going to the bottom of the page at the USA Heroesofwarcraft.com website or the Europe website.

Press Release

New free-to-play strategy card game for PC and iPad® lets you hang up your sword . . . and throw down your gauntlet

Hands-on demos at PAX East this weekend, beta test starting soon

BOSTON –(BUSINESS WIRE)– Pull up a chair across from an old friend at the tavern table and prepare for a few rounds of lively card-vs.-card warfare. Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. laid its virtual cards on the table today with the unveiling of Hearthstone™: Heroes of Warcraft™, a new cross-platform free-to-play game for Windows®, Macintosh®, and iPad®.

In Hearthstone, players build card decks centered around one of nine iconic Warcraft® character classes and duel each other for fun, glory, and the chance to win awesome new cards. PAX East attendees are able to go hands-on with Hearthstone this weekend, and Blizzard will begin beta testing for the game very soon—no, seriously.

“We’ve always loved collectible card games at Blizzard, so it’s been exciting to bring everything we love about the genre to life in Hearthstone,” said Mike Morhaime , CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment . “We’re putting a lot of focus into creating a fun new game that’s easy to pick up and play, but also has a lot of depth. We can’t wait to share it with everyone.”

Deceptively simple in design but epically engaging, Hearthstone will be instantly accessible to players regardless of their familiarity with Warcraft or collectible card games. Whether players prefer to wield magic or arms in battle, strike from the shadows or head on—or have never given any of that much thought—they’ll be able to jump right in, create a deck, and get in on the card-slinging action.

In addition to honing their skills in practice matches against the computer and taking on their buddies via their Battle.net® friends list, players can challenge each other in two competitive game modes. “Play Mode” features traditional head-to-head battles, with players facing off for a chance to increase their medal ranking and earn card packs along the way. And for a different type of challenge, players can enter “The Forge,” where they start each match by building a deck from a new set of cards, and then use that deck to duel other Forge participants. Aside from winning new cards, players will be able to round out their collections by purchasing new card packs or disenchanting some of their existing cards to craft the ones they’re missing.

With hundreds of cards to choose from, featuring a wide range of colorful Warcraft spells, weapons, and characters, players will have limitless possibilities for developing and fine-tuning their deck-building strategies. Further details about Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft will be announced as development progresses. To learn more about the game, stay tuned to http://www.PlayHearthstone.com. With multiple games in development, Blizzard Entertainment has numerous positions currently available—visit http://jobs.blizzard.com for more information and to learn how to apply.

 

Official Screenshots

Video Trailer

Jason Hayes announced via twitter that he composed the The Hearthstone: Warcraft of Heroes soundtrack.

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Hearthstone – Building The Fire

Blizzard employees/developers talk about the development of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft and more about Team 5 and their role at Blizzard.

FAQ


What is Hearthstone™?

Hearthstone is a free-to-play digital strategy card game that anyone can enjoy. Players choose to play as one of nine epic Warcraft® heroes, and then take turns playing cards from their customizable decks to cast potent spells, use heroic weapons or abilities, or summon powerful characters to crush their opponent.

Why is Blizzard making Hearthstone?

We looooooove collectible card games and have been playing them since our Silicon & Synapse days. Creating a digital strategy card game felt like a natural next step for us, so we put together a small team and have been hammering away at Hearthstone for a while now. We’re excited to be working on something different from our other games, which we’ve wanted to do for a long time. Same goes for creating a game for iPad® in addition to PC. It’s been a thrill to work on Hearthstone and to finally be able to reveal it to the community, and we hope everyone has as much fun playing it as we’ve had building it.

Do I need to know anything about strategy card games or Warcraft to play?

Not at all! We’ve designed Hearthstone so that anyone can get into it, no matter how familiar they are with the Warcraft universe or collectible card games. The game will teach you everything you need to know as you play it.

What are the key game modes and features?

Hearthstone’s key game modes and features include:

  • Practice mode: Hone your abilities and test out new deck ideas against A.I. opponents of basic or expert skill levels, and unlock new playable heroes in the process.
  • Play mode: Duel other players to increase your medal ranking—which indicates your skill level and the level of opponents you’ll face (resets weekly)—and earn new card packs along the way. Whether you’re a grizzled veteran or curious newcomer, or fall somewhere in between, Battle.net® matchmaking will pair you up against a worthy opponent.
  • The Forge: Put your skills to the test in this mode where deck-building is half the fun. Assemble a new deck by choosing from a selection of cards provided for the match, and then duel other Forge participants for a chance to win card packs. The cards you select to build your deck with are yours to keep and can be added to other decks in your collection after your Forge duels are complete. Note that you must trade in a certain number of card packs to participate in a Forge match (further details to be announced later).
  • Collection Manager: Browse your ever-expanding card collection, disenchant cards for raw materials to craft new ones, and build a variety of custom decks to suit your shifting strategies.

What’s the difference between “basic” and “expert” cards?

Basic cards are the “starter” cards that form the foundation of each hero’s class, and are earned each time you play a game (you can have up to two of every basic card in the game in your collection).

Expert cards are cards that can only be found in card packs or created using the crafting system (certain achievements grant them as well). They’re distinguished by their rarity—common (white), rare (blue), epic (purple), or legendary (orange). Generally, the rarer a card is, the more complex it is . . . often providing you with new strategic options. You can have any number of expert cards in your collection, though only two of any common, rare, or epic card, and one of any legendary card, can be placed in a deck.

Both basic and expert cards have important roles to play in all decks, regardless of whether you’re just starting out or are a Hearthstone grandmaster.

What are the different types of cards in Hearthstone?

Once you’ve selected which hero you want to play as, there are three types of cards you can build your deck with in Hearthstone: spells, weapons, and minions. Each card falls into either the “basic” or “expert” card set (see below).

How much does it cost to play?

Hearthstone is free to play, and there are a number of different ways to acquire cards through gameplay. In addition, players will have the option to buy additional card packs through an in-game store using Battle.net Balance or other supported payment methods, such as major credit cards. However, there is no requirement to purchase card packs in order to play Hearthstone.

What are all the different ways a player can acquire cards?

Players will earn their first set of cards as soon as they start playing Hearthstone, and certain game modes and features will award additional cards through gameplay. In addition, players will have the option to purchase additional card packs through the in-game store using Battle.net Balance or other supported payment methods, such as major credit cards. Here are the different ways to get cards:

  • Practice Mode: Play against A.I. opponents representing different classes to unlock new heroes and basic cards.
  • Play Mode: By participating in traditional head-to-head matches, players have a chance to win card packs.
  • The Forge: Build a deck by selecting one card from each of a series of randomized card choices, and then play against other Forge participants. The cards you pick to build your deck are yours to keep—play well enough, and you could win even more. Note that you must trade in a certain number of card packs to participate in The Forge (further details to be announced later).
  • Crafting: Disenchant expert cards in your collection to receive arcane dust, and then use your collected dust to craft other cards of your choosing. Basic cards cannot be disenchanted.
  • Card Packs: Purchase card packs containing five random cards using your Battle.net Balance or a variety of supported payment methods. One of the cards will always be of “rare” rarity or greater; in some cases, you may find that one or more additional cards has also “upgraded” to a higher tier of rarity.
  • Achievements: Certain achievements in the game may grant additional cards.

How many cards are available in the game?

There are over 300 cards in Hearthstone. All of these can be earned, with some cards granted for dueling the A.I. or completing achievements and others found inside card packs that can be earned by playing in Play mode and The Forge. We plan to introduce additional cards over time.

Can I trade cards to other players or sell cards for real cash?

No, Hearthstone is not designed to support these types of transactions.

Can players choose to battle against their friends in addition to taking part in match-made duels?

Of course! You will be able to play against your friends via your Battle.net friends list.

On which platforms will Hearthstone be available?

Hearthstone will initially be available for Windows® and Macintosh®, with a version for iPad coming later.

What comes in a card pack?

Each pack comes with five random cards. Your chance to receive a particular card depends on its rarity: common (white), rare (blue), epic (purple), or legendary (orange). You’re guaranteed to receive at least one card of rare or better quality per pack. Each card in the pack also has a chance to upgrade to a “Golden” version of the same card.

How do I apply for the beta test?

Just visit www.playhearthstone.com to opt-in with your Battle.net account!

How will I get cards in the beta test? Do I need to purchase them with real money?

We do plan to test the in-game store during the beta test, and players will be able to purchase card packs using their Battle.net Balance or other Battle.net-supported payment methods. Players will also be able to obtain cards through Practice mode, Play mode, and The Forge.

The card pack price in the beta test does not necessarily reflect what the final prices will be at launch.

Will the cards I earn or purchase in the beta test carry over into the live game? What happens if I purchased beta card packs for real money?

Prior to launch your card collection will be reset, and any cards you acquired through a purchased card pack or earned during the beta test will be removed. However, any purchases you made during the beta test will be credited back to you in the form of new, unopened card packs at launch, equal to the value you spent during the beta test. Please note that these will not contain the same cards as those received from card packs in the beta test. Also, as a thank-you for testing out the in-game store during Hearthstone’s beta phase, everyone who purchased a card pack in the beta test will get a special gift.

I don’t live in the US; can I still participate in the beta test?

We hope to launch a beta test in other game regions after the initial beta-test launch in North America, but we don’t have any specifics to announce at this time. Stay tuned for updates.

Where will Hearthstone be available?

Our goal is to make Hearthstone available in the same regions supported by World of Warcraft, but we don’t have details to share just yet.

 

THE LAUNCH DETAILS (SO FAR)


When will Hearthstone be released?

We’re not sure yet—what we do know is that we’re going to take as much time as necessary to make sure Hearthstone is as fun and polished as possible.

How do I get Hearthstone?

Once the game is live, you’ll be able to download it free directly from Blizzard. We’ll provide further details, including how to purchase card packs, as we get closer to launch.

What ages are appropriate?

Hearthstone has not yet received its final rating.

On which platforms will Hearthstone be available?

Hearthstone will initially be available for Windows® and Macintosh®, with a version for iPad coming later.

Where will Hearthstone be available?

Our goal is to make Hearthstone available in the same regions supported by World of Warcraft, but we don’t have details to share just yet.

When will the iPad version be available?

Hearthstone will be available in the App Store as soon as possible after its release on Windows and Macintosh PCs.

Will Hearthstone be localized? Which languages?

We’re planning to localize Hearthstone in the same languages as World of Warcraft wherever possible. We’ll post the final language list as soon as we can.

I play World of Warcraft, too! Can I earn anything for my WoW characters by playing Hearthstone?

We’re looking into a few possibilities and hope to have more details to share in the future.

How do Hearthstone and World of Warcraft relate to each other?

Both games take place in the Warcraft universe, and World of Warcraft players will recognize a lot of aspects of Azeroth in Hearthstone. That said, you don’t need to even know what World of Warcraft is to have loads of fun in Hearthstone.

 

THE GAME MECHANICS

What makes Hearthstone different from other card games?

We’ve designed Hearthstone to be easy to learn so that anyone can get into it—but it’s also deep enough that even the most elite duelists will find it a challenge to master. Hearthstone is designed around short, action-packed duels that generally take 10–15 minutes to play.

How many players can play in a multiplayer game?

More than one, but fewer than three.

Which heroes are featured in Hearthstone?

You’ll be able to build a deck based on one of nine epic Warcraft heroes, each representing one of the original World of Warcraft classes: Druid, Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, and Warrior.

Wait, what about Monk? Where’s Death Knight?!

The roster of heroes represents the nine classes that were available at World of Warcraft’s launch. It’s still too early to discuss our plans for heroes aside from these, though the game will continue to evolve over time. So practice patience, young monk! And death knight, you’re immortal, so you can chill for now too, right?

Will additional content be available in the future?

We plan to add more content and additional cards as the game evolves, but we don’t have any details to share just yet. Right now, our focus is making sure the game is as fun and polished as possible right out of the gate.

How does Practice mode work?

In the game’s Practice mode, you choose to play against a computer-controlled hero of any class at one of two different difficulty levels. Challenging that hero will unlock it for play and expand the types of cards you’re able to add to your collection. Players will earn a fledgling Mage deck just by launching the game, but that’s only the beginning of the journey. . . .

Can I create new decks or modify my current deck?

Absolutely! Customizing the perfect deck to suit your play style or to counter a rival is a huge part of Hearthstone. As your card collection grows, the in-game Collection Manager will help you create, save, and edit multiple decks for whatever situation or play style you can think of.

What if I’m new at deck-building and need some help?

We want anyone to be able to get into Hearthstone and build a deck without having to understand all the nuances of deck building. To that end, we’re developing a feature that will examine your deck and card collection and provide suggestions for what you should add. You’ll be provided with brief reasoning behind these recommendations so that you can learn a little more about how to build a great deck.

What comes in a card pack?

Each pack comes with five random cards. Your chance to receive a particular card depends on its rarity: common (white), rare (blue), epic (purple), or legendary (orange). You’re guaranteed to receive at least one rare or better card per pack. Each card in the pack also has a chance to upgrade to a “Golden” version of the same card.

What is a Golden card?

All cards found in a card pack have a chance to be upgraded to a Golden card when the pack is opened. This upgrade will affect the appearance of the card but not its power.

Does Hearthstone support asynchronous play?

Hearthstone is designed to be a fast-paced experience. That being said, we recognize that players may want to play the game in short bursts with their friends over a longer period of time, so we’re looking into the possibility of supporting asynchronous play.

How does The Forge work?

You’ll be able to enter The Forge by trading in unopened card packs (further details to be announced later). These packs can be earned free in Play mode (or won in previous Forge games that you might have played), or you can purchase them from the in-game store. Once you are in, you will build a special Forge deck, choosing one card at a time from a series of card options until you have a full deck of 30. You’ll then duel with that deck against other Forge participants until you win or lose a specific number of matches. At the end, you keep all the expert cards that were in your deck—and depending on how well you performed you could win additional card packs.

How do I disenchant and craft cards?

Expert cards can be “disenchanted”—giving the player a resource called arcane dust but destroying the card in the process. Once a player collects enough dust, they can use it to create any card in the game, including Golden cards, permanently adding that card to the player’s collection. The amount of dust received and/or the cost of the card created depends on the card’s rarity (common, rare, epic, or legendary).

Only expert cards—that is, cards that come in card packs or are earned through playing in The Forge—can be disenchanted. Basic cards (i.e., cards with no rarity indicator) cannot be disenchanted.

 

THE TECHNICAL STUFF

How do I pay for cards?

On Windows and Macintosh PCs, players will be able to purchase card packs within the game using their Battle.net Balance or any other Battle.net-supported payment method attached to their account.

On the iPad, players will be able to make purchases using the payment methods they’ve associated with their AppleID in the App Store. The exact process will differ slightly for each region. We’ll provide further details as we get closer to launch.

What are the system requirements for Hearthstone?

We’ll announce specific system requirements closer to launch.

Will I be able to add friends in Hearthstone and chat with people?

Yes! The folks in your Battle.net friends list (both BattleTag and Real ID friends) are available for games or conversation. Players will not be able to chat with anyone who is not on their friends list. However, players will be able to choose from a variety of emotes for basic communication during games.

How can I communicate with opponents during a game who are not on my friends list?

We have an emote system that lets you communicate in a safe way with random folks you are playing with online. You can thank or congratulate or threaten your opponent with the voice of the hero you are playing.

Are you supporting Android tablets?

Hearthstone will launch on Windows, Macintosh, and, later on, iPad. We’re looking into the possibility of supporting additional platforms in the future, but we don’t have any further info to share at this time.

Will Hearthstone run on my iPhone?

Hearthstone is for Windows and Macintosh PCs and iPad only.

Do you need a Battle.net account to play Hearthstone?

We’re still working out the details for iPad, but you will need a Battle.net account to play Hearthstone on PC. If you don’t already have a Battle.net account, you can create one at http://www.battle.net.

Do you need a World of Warcraft account to play Hearthstone?

Nay, ye do not!

Will there be parental controls for Hearthstone?

Yes. Parents will be able to use Battle.net’s Parental Controls system to restrict their child’s ability to purchase additional card packs within Hearthstone.

 

THE BETA TEST

How will I get cards in the beta test? Do I need to purchase them with real money?

We do plan to test the in-game store during the beta test, and players will be able to purchase card packs using their Battle.net Balance or other Battle.net-supported payment methods. Players will also be able to obtain cards through Practice mode, Play mode, and The Forge.
The card pack price in the beta test does not necessarily reflect what the final prices will be at launch.

Will the cards I earn or purchase in the beta test carry over into the live game? What happens if I purchased beta card packs for real money?

Prior to launch your card collection will be reset, and any cards you acquired through a purchased card pack or earned during the beta test will be removed. However, any purchases you made during the beta test will be credited back to you in the form of new, unopened card packs at launch, equal to the value you spent during the beta test. Please note that these will not contain the same cards as those received from card packs in the beta test. Also, as a thank you for testing out the in-game store during Hearthstone’s beta phase, everyone who purchased a card pack in the beta test will get a special gift.

Will my progress in the beta test—unlocking heroes, earning cards, my ranking—carry over to the final game?

No way! In the interest of fairness, everything will be reset after the beta test ends so that players can be on equal footing when the game launches.

How do I apply for the beta test?

Just visit www.playhearthstone.com to opt-in with your Battle.net account!

I don’t live in the US; can I still participate in the beta test?

We hope to launch a beta test in other game regions after the initial beta-test launch in North America, but we don’t have any specifics to announce at this time. Stay tuned for updates.

© 2013 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. Hearthstone is a trademark, and Warcraft, Battle.net and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S., and/or other countries. Windows is a trademark of the Microsoft group of companies. Mac and IPad are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc. All other trademarks referenced herein are the properties of their respective owners.

 

Press Kit Artwork

Press Kit Minion & Class Cards Art

Press Kit Heroes (Full)

Blizzplanet – PAX East Coverage

Blizzard Entertainment invited Blizzplanet and other gaming sites to the PAX East Game Announcement Event. Here are some of our interviews and press media kit coverage.

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Blizzplanet Gaming: The Bearded Gamer Returns

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Diablo 3 News, Featured Stories, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

Chris “The Bearded Gamer” Arnone and the M Productions cameraman have returned from well-deserved vacations. The Blizzplanet Gaming videocast’s Blizzard Weekly News has now a new format. The new show will report World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, and Diablo III weekly news. Of course, anything concerning Blizzard All-Stars, Next-Gen MMO Titan and whatever Project Blackstone turns out to be.

Launch the video by clicking this image.

In this show Chris talk about the following topics:

WoW news

New Pet to purchase – the Cinder Kitten
Mounts are 50% off (ended already)
Patch 5.1 releases

Sc2 news

Battl.ent World Championships
MLG Fall Championship
Heart of the Swarm gets a release date

Diablo news

Patch 1.0.6 and patch 1.0.7
PvP Blog Delayed
Diablo statue now on sale at Sideshow Collectibles

Other

Project Blackstone URL purchase by Blizzard

Keyboard Confessional (we need to find a new name):
What are your thoughts on making StarCraft 2 multiplayer Free to Play?

bearded-gamer-warcraft

Blizzplanet: The Week of Warcraft Web Show Episode # 1

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Featured Stories, World of Warcraft News

Our pilot episode of our weekly Warcraft show goes over the latest news in the Warcraft universe and licensed products. This particular show is a bit rough around the edges with several little mistakes but we’ll continue improving the quality as we go.

In this show Chris Arnone (The Bearded Gamer) talks about the new UI feature to report players, our speculation that Mists of Pandaria release date, JINX World of Warcraft Spring 2012 collection, Mega Bloks Barrens Chase Preview. — go to YouTube and subscribe to BlizzplanetGaming Channel.

Errata: There was a mistake in the show where Chris says “Staghorn” instead of “Shaghorn”. He doesn’t write the script, so it’s not his mistake. Apologies.

Web Show Notes

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Blizzplanet’s StarCraft Summary Web Show Episode 1: MLG, NASL, TwitchTV partner with CBS Interactive

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Featured Stories, StarCraft 2 News

Chris Arnone (The Bearded Gamer) talks in our first StarCraft Summary Web Show about the StarCraft units recently trimmed from the game, and speculation on when StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm beta might launch, RISK: StarCraft, North American Star League starts this week, and more.

Our Web show producer, Eldorian said: “A brand new show that Blizzplanet is producing in partnership with The Bearded Gamer. We plan on going over the past weeks news of StarCraft and the eSports world.

This is our pilot episode and some things are still a bit rough around the edges. We love feedback and are working to keep improving each week.”

Show notes:

barrens-chase-exclusive

Blizzplanet Preview: MEGA BLOKS World of Warcraft Barrens Chase Set

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Products News, Featured Stories, World of Warcraft News

Mega Brands has been ramping up the information spree about the MEGA BLOKS World of Warcraft sets over the past few months.

A few months ago (February), during my visit to the Toy Fair 2012 in New York City, a Mega Brands representative gave me a tour in their booth to take a look at the MEGA BLOKS World of Warcraft Sets. The following link contains our video.

On March 30th, Blizzard Entertainment officially announced the MEGA BLOKS World of Warcraft Season 1 would ship this upcoming Summer 2012, and provided a preview of some of the launch sets to be available this Summer.

Today, Mega Brands sent Blizzplanet a sneak peek preview of the MEGA BLOKS World of Warcraft set:
91025 – Barrens Chase (128 piece set)

Buildable “two-fer” mount set featuring the exclusive X-53 touring rocket and Darnassian Nightsaber. Includes flags and faction figures to build and customize.

 

I wonder how long will it be before the Machinima enthusiasts start uploading animated videos of MEGA BLOKS World of Warcraft sets in YouTube with epic stories.

Note: This is only a prototype image, and the final product might be different. For updates follow MEGA BLOKS on Facebook and Twitter.

Machinima Reference

evga-geforce-gtx-680

New Video Card Before Diablo III?

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Diablo 3 News, Featured Stories, StarCraft 2 News, Technology, World of Warcraft News

Some fans might have in mind a thought lurking back and forth these past weeks: To get a new video card, or not.

At this point, it’s a personal choice. Blizzard Entertainment supports a wide-range of low, mid and high-end graphic cards.

According to the Minimum System Requirements, you should have a graphic card ranging:

Mac Computers

  • NVIDIA® GeForce® 8600M GT
  • ATI Radeon™ HD 2600

PC Computers

  • NVIDIA® GeForce® 7800 GT
  • ATI Radeon™ X1950 Pro

This article is partially a “reality-check” call to Diablo III fans.

For Mac users: The GeForce 8600M was released on May 2007 for MacBook Pro. The ATI Radeon™ Mobility HD 2600 was released on May 14, 2007.

For PC users: the GeForce 7800 GT was released on August 11, 2005. The ATI Radeon™ X1950 Pro was released on October 17, 2006.

If your video card is in this range, you are pretty much covered. Congratulations!

If this reality-check smacked you on the face, and your computer is not able to run Diablo III, then I’ll show below some current alternatives available.

For PC users, I always recommend EVGA video cards. They have a 24/7 Technical Support, 3-year Warranty, a great forum community for questions — and of course, these video cards support DirectX 11, and PhysX ready.

One solid question fans who haven’t ever bought a video card might have is whether “X” new video card is compatible with their current motherboard’s PCI slot, or if their power supply can handle it.

The latest NVIDIA and AMD RADEON cards require a minimum of PCI-E 2.0 16x and a 400 Watt power supply +12 Volt / 24 Amps. Some models may have different requirements. High-End cards (expensive ones) might require motherboards with PCI-E 3.0.

When the retail/online stores don’t have this type of info, it’s a good idea to visit the manufacturer’s website to look at the specification page (usually available as a PDF download).

Latest EVGA NVIDIA GeForce Cards

DirectX 11 supported graphic cards (released: 2011-2012)

Model Core Clock Memory Memory Bit Effective Memory Shader Clock Price
EVGA GeForce GT 520 810 MHz 1024 MB 64-bit 1400 MHz 1620 MHz $54.74
EVGA GeForce GT 440 810 MHz 1024 MB 128-bit 1600 MHz 1620 MHz $79.99
EVGA GeForce GTX 550 Ti 951 MHz 2048 MB 192-bit 4356 MHz 1903 MHz $169.99
EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Superclocked 850 MHz 1024 MB 256-bit 4104 MHz 1700 MHz $189.98
EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti Superclocked 900 MHz 1024 MB 256-bit 4212 MHz 1800 MHz $249.99
EVGA GeForce GTX 570 Superclocked 797 MHz 1280 MB 320-bit 3900 MHz 1594 MHz $314.99
eVGA GeForce GTX 580 SuperClocked 772 MHz 1536 MB 384-bit 4008 MHz 1544 MHz $429.99
EVGA GeForce GTX 680 1006 MHz 2048 MB 256-bit 6008 MHz - $689.99
EVGA GeForce GTX680 SuperClocked 1058 MHz 2048 MB 256-bit 6208 MHz - $659.98

Latest AMD RADEON Graphic Cards

DirectX 11 supported graphic cards (released: 2011-2012)

Model Core Clock RAM Memory Bit Memory Clock Price
XFX Radeon HD 6450 625 MHz 2GB 64-bit 800 MHz $57.99
XFX ATI Radeon HD6670 800 MHz 1GB 128-bit 1600 MHz $71.60
XFX Double D HD 7770 1000 MHz 1GB DDR5 128-bit 4.5 GHz $169.99
ASUS HD 7850 870 MHz 2GB 256-bit 4840 MHz $260.82
Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 1.0 GHz 2 GB 256-bit 4.8 GHz $359.99
XFX HD 7970 Black Edition 1000 MHz 1024 MB 384-bit 5.7 GHz $539.99

Do you have a tip or suggestion for other fans searching for a new graphic card? Let us know in the comments. Your feedback is always welcome.

Verdant Belt

Valley of the Four Winds Exploration Video – World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Featured Stories, World of Warcraft News, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

The Valley of the Four Winds is currently available for testing in the World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria beta. The zone looks a bit like Nagrand without those huge canyons.

The video starts with the last quest of The Jade Forest talking to Fei the Jade Serpent.

She flies you to the Valley of the Four Winds where you meet Chen Stormstout and his niece Li Li.

Chen asks to stay at the Pang’s Stead. It’s the first time he comes to Pandaria and he doesn’t even know where he’s going. He just wants to explore the land.

Those who level up alt characters or newcomers can gear up items ilevel 372 through a vendor located at Pang’s Stead. Talk to Claretta (Assorted Weapons and Armor). The items are purchased with gold rather than Valor/Justice points.

Throughout the questing experience in this zone, Chen will be moving from place to place with you, meeting other pandaren and helping each in their current situations.

Sometimes Chen will go on his own, and leave you to take care of Li Li who also wants you to tour her throughout some areas of the zone, and you get to help those people too.

It’s more dynamic in Mists of Pandaria to do quests, when the NPCs come along with you.

This zone seems fit for leatherworkers, fishers, tailors (The Silkmasters)

The first video explores half the map including the following locations:

  • Thunderfoot Acres
  • Thunderfoot Ranch
  • Grassy Cline
  • Sunsoaked Meadow
  • New Cifera
  • Gilded Fan
  • Halfhill
  • The Gilding Stream
  • Mudmug’s Place
  • The Twisted Warren (Virmen lair at Sunsoaked Meadow)
  • The Silkmasters
  • Plain of Thieves
  • The Grand Granary
  • Sunsong Ranch
  • Verdant Belt
  • Fruited Fields

Note: Video available in 1080HD (2GB), and 720HD. The second video will be up tomorrow — takes me 5 hours to upload via wireless.

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Activision Blizzard 2011 Q4 Conference Call – Mike Morhaime – Full Transcript

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Activision Blizzard, Diablo 3 News, Featured Stories, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

This is a full transcript of the speech by Blizzard Entertainment CEO Mike Morhaime during the Activision Blizzard 2011 Q4 Financial Results Conference Call. Let’s start with a few quotes by Activision Blizzard Bob Kotick.

Bob Kotick: 2011 is another record year for Activision Blizzard. In 2011, we generated nearly $1 billion in operating cash flow. And over the last 3 years, we’ve generated over $3.5 billion in operating cash flow, and we’ve returned more than $3 billion in value to our shareholders through dividends and stock repurchases.

In the U.S. and Europe, we remain the largest and most profitable third-party interactive entertainment company and the largest and most profitable third-party interactive entertainment digital publisher. We again delivered better-than-expected financial results and achieved multiple financial and operational records, as we have for the last few years. We achieved record operating margins and record EPS, which grew more than 17% over the prior year, and as I mentioned, we generated nearly $1 billion in operating cash flow, which allows us to continue to invest thoughtfully in our future growth and return capital to our shareholders.

With that in mind, we’re increasing our dividend 9% to $0.18 per share, and our Board of Directors has authorized a new $1 billion stock repurchase program. Our strong performance is a testament to the hard work and incredible talent of all of the Activision Blizzard employees around the world. Their commitment to excellence, teamwork and inspired creativity continues to drive our superior performance.

Today, we’re going to highlight a few important achievements from 2011 and provide some greater detail about our plans for 2012 and beyond, including our strong lineup, our expansion into new markets and new business models, and our development initiatives for new platforms.

2011 was a very competitive year. There were many great products released, and gamers had more entertainment choices on more platforms than ever before. Despite these choices and new competitors, Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft remains far and away the world’s largest online subscription-based massively multiplayer game, ending the year with 10.2 million subscribers. World of Warcraft has a very loyal group of players and later in the call, Mike Morhaime will share some of this year’s plans for the franchise.

We expect growth from Blizzard. In addition to World of Warcraft, which provides a strong foundation, Blizzard plans to launch at least 2 titles this year, including Diablo III with its real money auction house. Business pipeline has never been stronger, including World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, the Blizzard DOTA, and the next-generation MMO.

Morhaime: I want to quickly recap our activity from 2011. We launched both StarCraft II and World of Warcraft: Cataclysm in China and introduced the localized version of World of Warcraft with the fast-growing brazilian market. We also announced the expansion sets for StarCraft II, World of Warcraft, and kicked off the beta test for Diablo III. We’re preparing to launch multiple titles in 2012. And with next BlizzCon scheduled for 2013, our development teams are focused on bringing these games to players as quickly as possible.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

Moving on to financials. In large part due to the record-breaking Cataclysm launch in 2010, our results in both Q4 2011 and the year are down versus prior year. Despite not releasing a new game, we still posted approximately $500 million in operating income for 2011 while investing in our strongest pipeline of games ever.

Subscriber numbers for World of Warcraft ended 2011 at approximately 10.2 million, with no significant change relative to the prior quarter. We released a major update in November, which included new dungeons and raids, as well as new features that made our exciting raid content more accessible to a broader audience.

This content update has been well received by the community, and we believe it has contributed to retaining our players in the wake of competitive launches. Another initiative that has been very successful is the World of Warcraft Annual Pass.

This program was announced at BlizzCon this past year. Under its terms, players who commit to being a World of Warcraft subscriber for one year will get a free copy of Diablo III, unique digital items in World of Warcraft, and other benefits. To date, we have signed up more than one million players in the West for the World of Warcraft Annual Pass.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

Some of you may have seen recent news about the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria. Last week, we began inviting global press to visit our office to get a hands-on look at the game.

The press visit will take place next month, and our players will be able to read the latest news on the game on March 19.

We’re looking forward to showcasing the game to our community and collecting more feedback as we prepare for the upcoming beta for Mists of Pandaria.

Diablo III

I mentioned earlier that we began beta testing for Diablo III last year. After receiving feedback from the community and our internal teams, we’ve implemented changes to the game, which we believe will greatly improve the game experience and ensure that the final release will live up to our high expectations.

We have also been testing the auction house functionality. This testing will help ensure a smooth rollout of this feature with the retail launch so our players can safely and securely trade items with each other. Given the popularity of the Action/RPG genre and the keen interest in Diablo III, we expect this launch to be a big opportunity for Blizzard. We can also confirm that we are targeting a Q2 launch for Diablo III. We expect to announce more details about the release schedule in the coming weeks.

StarCraft II

2011 was definitely a banner year for eSports. One of the most popular leagues in the world, Major League Gaming, posted their more successful year ever. MLG has served more than 3.5 million unique viewers over the course of the year, with much of that viewership driven by StarCraft II.

We believe that the excitement for eSports drives longevity and demand for our games. And with the recent announcement of our Battle.net World Championship season, we’re looking forward to taking an even more visible leadership role in this space.

As part of the Battle.net World Championship initiative, Blizzard will work with eSports partners to create grassroots open tournaments at the national level to boost engagement in countries around the world. The reaction from our community on this initiative has been very positive, and we are looking forward to another exciting year for eSports.

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm

In the midst of all the eSports buzz, the StarCraft development team has been making great progress on the new expansion, Heart of the Swarm. The feedback we collected on the campaign and multiplayer content from this past BlizzCon has been invaluable. We will share more news about Heart of the Swarm in the coming months.

Blizzard DOTA

Finally, we continue development work on Blizzard DOTA, a new free-to-play online game which we showcased at the last BlizzCon. Blizzard DOTA is being created using the StarCraft II engine and is based on an online gaming style that’s become quite popular in recent years.

We believe Blizzard DOTA has unique design elements that will distinguish it from competitors. More importantly, our game will feature well-known heroes and characters from all Blizzard franchises in the game, giving it instant recognition and appeal among Blizzard gamers. As with Heart of the Swarm, we’re looking forward to sharing more news about Blizzard DOTA at a later date.

Conclusion

We expect 2012 to be a big year for Blizzard, with easily our strongest pipeline of games ever. With multiple titles expected to launch in 2012, we’re committed to bringing our players what they want most, new gaming experiences in all their favorite Blizzard universes. And I speak for everyone at Blizzard when I say that we all can’t wait to join them on Battle.net in the battlefields of Blizzard DOTA, Diablo III, Heart of the Swarm and Mists of Pandaria.

Gallery

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Heal Lady Sylvanas Contest – Wyvern / Gryphon Hatchling Prize

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzPlanet Site News, Featured Stories, World of Warcraft News

Several weeks ago, horror film actress Michele Morrow had surgery a few hours after her visit to Blizzard Entertainment HQ. She told me a few days later about a cute phenomena. Several WoW fans emailed her screenshots of their characters healing Lady Sylvanas in Undercity with bandages.

Note: Michele Morrow (dubbed the Scream Queen of horror films) is known to be interested in the role of Lady Sylvanas in the upcoming Warcraft film, directed by Sam Raimi.

Contest

1. Launch World of Warcraft. Grab some First Aid bandages and heal Lady Sylvanas in Undercity (Horde only). Note: Alliance can just target Echo of Sylvanas and cast a band aid on her. For as long as you are targeting her, and the band aid graphic is playing on the screenshot that counts for this contest.
2. Take a screenshot
3. Submit the screenshot at the following forum thread (use the attachment feature or flickr).

Deadline

February 28, 2012 at 11:59pm EST

Prize

The winner will be able to pick one of these options: