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Blizzcon 2023 LIVE: All the latest news on Diablo 4, World of Warcraft, Overwatch 2, and more

All the BIGGEST announcements from Blizzard's first in-person Blizzcon show in years.

Blizzcon 2023 Live Blog
(Image: © @Klobrille on X (Twitter))

Welcome to our shiny Blizzcon 2023 live blog! 

Blizzcon 2023 kicks off in Anaheim, California on Nov. 3, 2023 at 1:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. UK, with a keynote event and then rolling sessions for each major game over the next couple of days. It is the first Blizzcon event held in person in a few years, and also the first since Microsoft and Xbox acquired Blizzard Entertainment, as part of Microsoft's blockbuster $70~ billion dollar acquisition of Activision-Blizzard-King

Despite the Xbox partnership, Blizzard's existing games will, of course, remain multi-platform affairs. It's also widely expected that any future games from Blizzard will also remain multi-platform, hitting PlayStation and Nintendo consoles in addition to Xbox and Windows PCs. Still, there may be some benefits down the line for Xbox Game Pass subscribers, which isn't far removed from what Blizzard has already done with Amazon Prime and other similar services.

That means Blizzcon 2023 is relevant for any Blizzard fans regardless of your gaming platform of choice. Fortunately, Windows Central will be covering the entire multi-day event to provide you with all the latest announcements, reveals, and trailers. Stay tuned to this live blog, too, because we'll also be here with exclusive commentary and information.

UPDATE: The show has now ended! Thanks a ton for joining us, and take a look at all the announcements below, or browse our Blizzcon 2023 section here on the site. 

Also a big shoutout to @Klobrille on X (Twitter) who created our awesome Blizzcon banner graphics. 

Blizzcon 2023: Watch the opening event here

Blizzcon 2023: Latest trailers, announcements, and more


A brief overview of what to expect

In the Day 1 showcase, we expect to see a glimpse of what the future looks like for all of Blizzard's primary properties. Diablo 4's Season of Blood 2 has generally been well received and World of Warcraft is arguably in a better place than it has been in years with the Dragonflight expansion. However, fans will be eager to find out what's next for Overwatch 2, which has lost a fair bit of lustre since the cancellation of its long-awaited PvE campaign mode. There are also dormant franchises like StarCraft and Heroes of the Storm, where many fans will be hoping to see signs of life. There's also a question of Blizzard's survival game, codenamed Odyssey, which many expect to see revealed here for the first time. 

Blizzard has had a tumultuous few years, but the partnership with Xbox symbolically represents a new era for the legendary studios behind some of the industry's most celebrated franchises. Beyond games, Blizzcon is all about celebrating that legacy, with fans in cosplay, contests, esports, and various other events taking place over the next couple of days. 

So, thanks a ton for joining us as we aim to cover everything and anything relating to Blizzard's big event, pulling in every scrap of info from every source we can find, into one handy place! — Jez Corden

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Could we see a Diablo 4 expansion?

Diablo 4 launched in June of this year, and some may say it’s too soon for an expansion announcement, but considering Blizzard threw us into Seasonal content from July I don’t think rolling out content too soon is one of its concerns. This being it’s first live service, Diablo is enormous pressure on the franchise to keep fans engaged in the world of Sanctuary, and I for one am hoping for big things at this year’s event.

Rod Fergusson has already alluded to Diablo 4 receiving annual expansions, and an announcement for a June 2024 content drop could be imminent.

My hope isn’t entirely organic, though, as there have been some leaks ahead of Blizzcon about what the new expansion is, and even hints to a new class have been found through data mining. If you’re not interested in spoilers, or you have NOT finished the Diablo 4 campaign, look away now, because I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to discuss this leak all week, and now by invading the live blog I have my chance! >insert evil laugh here<

Lord of Hatred

Those who have played through the campaign and reached the cliffhanger, will not be surprised to learn that the Diablo 4 expansion is rumored to be called Lord of Hatred. This is the title of Mephisto, father of Lilith. Mephisto featured in Diablo 2: Resurrected, and popped up to antagonize us in Diablo 4 too. The last we have seen of him is him being  escorted away by Neyrelle in the Soulstone, and we do not yet know how her story ends and if she will succumb to his corruption.

An expansion entirely revolving around Mephisto is long overdue, and considering his brother Diablo is the namesake of the franchise, and other brother Baal was the subject of the Lord of Destruction expansion for Diablo 2, it’s undoubtedly time the Lord of Hatred got his time in the spotlight. If you want to know more about Mephisto check out my lore guide here, or this incredibly detailed post from friends over at Pure Diablo.

Datamining has uncovered a new region of the map, Kurast, which harks back to Diablo 2 and is where Mephisto first sowed his seed of corruption in the Zakarum church. It’s a thick jungle area with sewers under its main city; Diablo 2 players will be familiar with farming Travincal for runes. This new area will likely be of similar size to the other regions of the game like Dry Steppes, Hawezar etc.

Raids coming to endgame?

The data mining has uncovered a new endgame activity, The Khazra Raid. Aside from Legion and World Events, the MMO-light aspect of Diablo 4 doesn’t really have much opportunity to flourish, so adding a raid system to the game makes perfect sense and could give us something to actually do with our Clans, a system at the moment that’s completely unused outside giving us a fancy shared tag with our friends. People have speculated this could be a five-leveled challenge with increasingly difficult bosses.

New class, and no it's not the Paladin

Up until this ‘leak’ I did expect a new class reveal at Blizzcon but like the majority of the community I expected that to be a Paladin, as this kind of sword wielding holy mercenary class seems to be a purposeful omission from the game considering we had it in Diablo 2, and the Crusader in Diablo 3.

I still expect some form of cleric style class to be added soon, but the datamine has revealed a different class all together ‘The Spiritborne’ which seems to read like a Druid/Monk hybrid. “The Spiritborn are not merely fighters; they are guardians of balance. They stand on the boundary between the physical world and the spiritual realm, ensuring harmony between the two. Their mission is not just to defeat their enemies but to preserve the natural order of things.” The Spiritborn will use a glaive to channel it's resource, and will be a class built on both agility and strength.

It's not clear whether this is the new class being announced, or may be coming with a later expansion. But I do anticipate some controversy if this is announced before a Paladin. Do you guys not have shields?

Followers and runes may make a return

Diablo 2 had mercenaries, Diablo 3 had followers, Diablo 4 has... a horse. This may be set to change though with the return of mercenaries, rumored to have skill names like Berserker Crone, Bounty Hunter, Cursed Child, Maiden, Mongrel, Scholar and Shield Bearer. As someone who struggles through the higher tier Nightmare dungeons on solo, I could really use a meat shield so if this turns out to be true I'll be elated.

The developers have already told us that Runes will be making a return, the system of creating your own legendary equipment in Diablo 2. They didn't want to throw too many systems at the player from launch, but they are definitely being added. I think the best way of implementing runes and runewords would be to form a Season theme around them, and keep them at season end.   

And with that, I'm off to enjoy the rest of my evening while the team here at Windows Central keep you up to date with everything coming out of Blizzcon 2023. I will be pausing my gathering to see the Diablo announcements for myself though so crossing all fingers that at least some of the above information turns out to be correct! — Jennifer Young 

(Image credit: Blizzard)

The next World of Warcraft expansion?

Historically speaking, Blizzcon is where new expansions for World of Warcraft are announced. The aging MMO still commands a healthy player base as it enters its 19th year, with WoW: Classic and esports events still attracting mass attention on streaming video platforms. 

Throughout an expansion's lifespan, Blizzard bakes in new dungeons, raids, power tiers, equipment, and other features. An expansion cycle usually lasts up to around 2 years max, although major content drops are almost quarterly these days. Indeed, Blizzard has done a great job supporting the latest expansion, World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, post-launch. Next week, Blizzard will release a new major content update for Dragonflight, dubbed Guardians of the Dream, which will take players into the Emerald Dream to defend nature itself against the Primalist cult. At Blizzcon 2023, though, players will want to know what's coming next for the franchise. 

Blizzard dropped Warcraft Rumble for iOS and Android yesterday, and the Clash Royale-like light strategy game has already proven a hit on trending charts. There will be a Warcraft Rumble esports event at Blizzcon too, but core fans want to hear a little more about the MMO instead. There are some rumors about what we might see, and here's a brief overview of that. Potential spoilers ahead. 

Is this 11.0?? from r/wow

One leak seems to suggest that the next expansion will take place on a new land mass on the far side of Azeroth called "Avaloren." In other leaked materials purporting to be an off-screen photo of an upcoming website for the expansion offered some text details on what to expect.

"The distant lands of Avaloren lay beyond the western horizon of Azeroth's storming seas. Isolated for millennia, those that call these enchanted kingdoms home have relied upon the living world beneath them, bound to sacred oaths and divided by old hatreds."

The text also refers to a new place called Khaz Algar, which is consistent with a data-mined achievement for an "Algarian Stormrider" mount. The Wildhammer dwarves are iconic mounted dwarves from World of Warcraft lore, known for gryphon riding, wielding lightning-imbued hammers, and shamanistic powers. The text implies that the next expansion will be heavily dwarven. The dwarves of World of Warcraft have rarely taken center stage for an entire expansion, despite having some of the most intriguing lore. 

If all of this is true (and it may well not be, fakes are getting more and more impressive these days), it'll be interesting to see what hooks Avaloren has to differentiate it from previous expansions. Will it include a new class? Will it have a major permanent new feature like Dragonriding? The sky is the limit, really. 

Blizzcon is starting VERY soon! 

Blizzcon 2023

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Blizzcon is starting in just under 15 minutes as of writing, kicking off two and a half hours of non-stop Blizzardy news. 

If you can catch the show live, it's up on YouTube over here. The title notes "Game Reveals," which could be a hint that we see Blizzard's survival game, codenamed Odyssey. New expansions for Diablo 4 and World of Warcraft are doubtless going to appear too, but what other surprises may Blizzcon have in store? — Jez Corden

Blizzcon 2023

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Blizzcon 2023 has BEGUN! Watch the opening ceremony right here

Blizzcon opened with a montage detailing most of Blizzard's recent cinematics, from World of Warcraft, to Overwatch, to Diablo, and even its mobile properties, capped with the phrase "Game On." Sadly, there was no sign of some of Blizzard's older franchises, like StarCraft. 

Blizzard President and former Xbox CVP Mike Ybarra joined the stage to kick off his first event. Ybarra describes Blizzard as having the "best gaming community in the world." 

Blizzard Entertainment

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Ybarra reiterated that it has been four years since the last in-person Blizzcon event. "Players are at the forefront of everything we do," says Ybarra, as he notes that Blizzcon 2023 is about who the company is today, and what the company is becoming. 

Mike Ybarra shouted out his World of Warcraft guildies in the audience, as well as everyone in the audience, and the "millions" of viewers watching the show at home via YouTube. "We know we don't do everything perfectly, but thanks to your feedback we never stop striving to do everything right," Mike Ybarra continued. "Many of you have heard the news about Blizzard joining the Xbox family," to cheers from the audience. "We have some of the best developers, artists, and storytellers in the world. Someone is here backstage who'd like to say hello." 

Xbox gaming CEO Phil Spencer heads up on stage.

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

"You are the reason we make games," said Phil Spencer, before shouting out StarCraft (finally), and noting how he's been playing Diablo 4 season 2. 

"Now that Blizzard is part of Xbox, we will nurture the essence of what makes Blizzard unique. We're going to empower our new colleagues to continue what they do best, redefining existing genres, and creating new never-before-seen experiences. In Azeroth, in near-future-Earth, in Sanctuary, and beyond. I'm honored to be able to here, to help welcome all of you to Blizzcon 2023." 

"The future of Blizzard is brighter than ever," says Spencer. 

Blizzard Entertainment

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Mike Ybarra returns to the stage, and looks visibly moved as he shouts out the Blizzard team. "You are some of the most talented individuals on the planet, and collectively we are capable of building the most legendary universes in gaming. Our path forward is truly our own, and I know we all stand together. Thank you for everything you do." 

"Now, welcome to Blizzcon." 

Blizzcon 2023

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Blizzcon is kicking off game news with Overwatch 2

Blizzcon 2023

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Taking to the stage, the Overwatch 2 team is offering a glimpse at what fans can expect next year. Overwatch 2 art director Dion Rogers has taken to the stage, "we were working on this game since before Overwatch even had a name," Rogers said, "one of our favorite things to work on is create new heroes ..." 

Say hi to Overwatch 2's new hero, Mauga.

Mauga is a tank hero with dual-wielding gattling guns. Inspired by Samoan culture, Mauga has been rumored for a while since a short story a few years ago. Mauga is part of the chaotic Talon faction, and Mauga is playable right now at Blizzcon 2023, and this weekend at home in preview. 

Now, Blizzard is talking Overwatch 2023 World Cup, the finals of which are today. Esports players have already been hands-on with Mauga, and a deep dive into how he plays will be coming later in the show. $500,000 is up for grabs for the victors in the Overwatch 2023 World Cup, although for the first time, every team in the finals will also get a share of some of the cash. 

Blizzcon 2023

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Blizzard is now discussing Le Seraffim, a K-Pop group that is collaborating with Overwatch 2. There are Le Seraffim skins in-game right now, and the band is also performing a concert to outro Blizzcon on Saturday. 

Blizzard isn't ready to announce what further collaborations are coming, but they are ready to tease some of the new game modes. 

There's a new PvP game mode coming called "Clash," five points positioned in a row, with teams battling back and forth to control the points, or max out their points.

Hanaoka is being overhauled and refreshed, with a reworked system for ranked competitive play coming in 2024. Blizzard wants to release four new heroes throughout 2024. 

Blizzard teased two more new heroes, a DPS character codenamed "Venture," and a support hero codenamed "Space Ranger." Blizzard said all of this is just "scratching the surface" of what they have coming for Overwatch 2 in the future, so it'll be interesting to see how it all pans out. 

Diablo news time! 

Blizzcon 2023

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Diablo lead Rod Fergusson is up on stage now, talking Diablo. "Our community will continue to influence the evolution of Diablo," says Fergusson, as he recaps Diablo 4, Diablo 3, and Diablo 2 Resurrected and their recent successes. Fergusson also has a necromancer tattoo, because he is based. 

Tiffany Wat is now up on stage to talk Diablo 4's future, alongside Chris Wilson. Wilson talks about Diablo 4's boss ladder featuring Uber Duriel, and the massive 40% reduction in EXP needed to get to level 100 in the new season. The loot has also been improved, and Blizzard is currently still reworking itemization to improve the game based on fan feedback. 

Starting next week, Diablo 4 will introduce 5 unique rings based on Season 1's Malignant affixes. There's a new enchanting preview window, similar to Diablo 3 as well. "Abbatoir of Zir" is a new experience designed for level 100 players, designed to be pinnacle content for the most dedicated players. There will also be a new Winter event, called Midwinter Blight. For three weeks, Fractured Peaks will be a "terror land, bringing a whole new meaning to the word 'slay ride,'" quips Wilson. Kill me. 

Wat doesn't want to talk Season 3 just yet, but there are also improvements to leaderboards coming. 

Vessel of Hatred announced, Diablo 4's first expansion

Vessel of Hatred will continue mainline Diablo 4's story. Following Mephisto, we're visiting Diablo 2's Teganze Plains and Torajan Jungle, launching late in 2024. Vessel of Hatred will feature a brand-new class, as of yet unseen in Diablo. The expansion will be detailed in full this summer, possibly at Xbox's next "E3" style event in June. 

It's World of Warcraft time! 

World of Warcraft at Blizzcon

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Blizzard is discussing Warcraft's history, joking about how many original players were teens when they started, but some of them now have teen kids of their own. 

Blizzard talks up Warcraft Rumble, which in-universe are mini robots gambled over in tavern basements alongside Hearthstone card players. Warcraft Rumble launched yesterday, and hey, it's pretty good. 

Blizzard is ready to lay the foundation of World of Warcraft's future, the team says. "Our teams craft the worlds and adventures, but it is you [the players] who bring it to life. From all of us at Blizzard, thank you." 

First up is Hearthstone news. 

Hearthstone is 10 years old now (wow, what?), as Blizzard recaps the game's modes and features added over the years. In the next Hearthstone expansion, "Showdown in the Badlands," Hearthstone will take on a Wild West theme. 

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Blizzard acknowledged how difficult Hearthstone is to get into for new players, owing to all the cards. To help with this, there are new "Catch-Up Packs" that will contain 50 cards, from the past two years of expansions. These Catch-Up Packs will be available for free for lapsed players who have been away from the game for a long time, as well as included in expansion purchases. 

A new mode for Hearthstone is dropping too, called Battlegrounds Duos, which will let players double up and share cards with a shared pool of health. Typically, Battlegrounds is a solo auto-battler game mode, but this new Duos mode lets you team up with a buddy. It'll come early next year on PC, iOS, and Android. 

Warcraft Rumble news is coming up next! 

Blizzcon 2023

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Introducing Warcraft Rumble, Blizzard discussed the internally developed mobile game, which allows players to battle it out with mini-figures in Clash Royale-like strategic battles. Warcraft Rumble's north star is "joyful chaos," with both PvP and PvE campaign game modes. 

Warcraft Rumble has dungeons inspired by World of Warcraft, and also has Raids on the way in the future, which will feature some of the MMO's most iconic battles.

World of Warcraft news is up next.  

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Holly Longdale from the World of Warcraft team arrives on stage in mage cosplay (awesome, so awesome). She says the team wants to double down on the reasons why everyone got into World of Warcraft in the first place. 

Longdale is discussing WoW: Classic Hardcore mode, which gives players perma-death in high-stakes play, inspired by community mods. Blizzard has now revealed World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Classic, with a new cinematic and with "new changes."

Cataclysm launched originally in 2010, and saw the demented dragon Deathwing attempt to ravage the entire world. Cataclysm also revamped the entire base world of the game with new quests, new landscapes — most of the scars of which still exist in the main retail version to this day. 

Cataclysm Classic will launch in 2024. The original WoW: Classic is also getting some new modes, called Season of Discovery. The new season adds new dungeons to WoW: Classic with experimental content, with a 10-player Black Fathom Deeps raid, new class features such as full-tanking warlocks. Season of Discovery launches on November 30th, and should breathe new life into the game. Many players were asking Blizzard to explore how to revitalize the vanilla World of Warcraft Classic experience, and this is the first salvo. 

Now for modern World of Warcraft news! 

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Blizzard notes that Guardians of the Dream is going live next week, with the "last raid" of the expansion. Blizzard is also going to release an epilogue patch for Dragonflight, with a bridge to the next expansion. And here it is. 

World of Warcraft co-creator Chris Metzen has taken to the stage. "I've missed this work," he says, taking up the mantle of executive producer to help shape the future of the game. 

Metzen says the team wants to explore the full mythos of the Titans, "do we know everything we need to know about the Titans?" Metzen continues, "what's in store for the next 20 years of adventure?" 

"The World Soul Saga," is the title of the next story arc for World of Warcraft, led by Chris Metzen. The Saga is designed to play out over multiple expansions over the next years. Metzen says Blizzard is set to debut the next three expansions, rather than just the single next expansion. 

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Here's the 10th expansion, World of Warcraft: The War Within, descending into the heart of Azeroth itself, digging deep underground. The Earthern, and the Nerubians take center stage.

Next, is World of Warcraft: Midnight, with a revamp to the old world of Azeroth. The forces of the void invade Quel'thalas, to destroy the sunwell. The scattered elven tribes take center stage in this expansion, as we attempt to rid the world of the void once and for all... but things "may not go to plan."

World of Warcraft: The Last Titan is the final chapter of the World Soul Saga, with a revamp to Northrend. Players will experience the return of the Titans, and uncover a vast conspiracy, spanning Azeroth's thousands of years of history.

"We want to establish a thundering heartbeat for this franchise," says Metzen. "Now is the time to come home," says Metzen, to lapsed players. 

A trailer for The War Within plays, featuring Anduin Wrynn and Thrall. Anduin is haunted by the corruption he experienced in Shadowlands, and Thrall describes a darkness corrupting Azeroth from within. The camera pans out to reveal Sargeras' sword, which has been ominously festering in Silithus for years. 

  • Hero talents transform classes, such as becoming a Farseer Shaman from Warcraft 3. 
  • The War Within takes place underground, although the locations look incredibly diverse, and there are overworld areas too. 
  • Earthen Dwarves are a new allied race for both factions. 
  • Nerubian and Dwarven kingdoms take center stage. 
  • The story revolves around knaifu Xal'atath, who we met in Battle for Azeroth. 
  • Warbands are a new feature that lets you transform your pool of alts into a shared transmog, bank, and resource pool. 

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Day 1 has ended! 

Blizzcon 2023

(Image credit: Blizzard)

That's a wrap on our day-one coverage. It seems that the earlier leaks about the World of Warcraft expansion were just well-informed fakes based on those data-mining. But it was a strong showing for existing franchises. 

It's a shame we didn't get to see Blizzard's survival game "Odyssey," or hints about the future of StarCraft beyond a mention from Phil Spencer. But, it was still probably the most important Blizzcon in years. 

My key takeaway was Mike Ybarra's hint that Blizzard is now in control of its future, which could be interpreted to suggest that for the first time since Activision acquired the studio, Blizzard will have more freedom to persue and curate its franchises rather than skew to the whims of Activision's broader shareholder culture. 

In any case, as a lifelong fan of Blizzard, I've never been more excited for the future of this legendary and special company. 

Keep it locked to Windows Central as we continue our live Blizzcon coverage over the next day. Thanks for joining us, sharing, and commenting. 🙏🏻 — Jez Corden

Here's everything announced for World of Warcraft at BlizzCon 2023

BlizzCon 2023

(Image credit: @klobrille on X (Twitter))

While Blizzard has had tons to show for each of its game franchises (except StarCraft, RIP) during BlizzCon, the most exciting news has arguably come from World of Warcraft's corner. During the convention's opening keynote, the developer revealed the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm expansion coming to WoW Classic in 2024, as well as the next three DLC releases for World of Warcraft.

These expansions — The War Within, Midnight, and The Last Titan — are the main chapters in a new era of World of Warcraft storytelling that Blizzard is calling the "Worldsoul Saga." The War Within is the first of the DLC to come, and is scheduled to launch in 2024. Notably, preorders for it are now available.

For a complete breakdown of everything shown for WoW and WoW Classic, don't miss our roundup of all World of Warcraft Blizzcon 2023 announcements. — Brendan Lowry

All Overwatch 2 announcements at BlizzCon 2023

Overwatch 2

(Image credit: @klobrille on X (Twitter))

BlizzCon 2023 kicked off with Overwatch 2, and fans of Blizzard's popular PvP hero shooter have plenty to look forward to. The biggest announcement of the day was undoubtedly the reveal of Mauga, the next tank hero coming to the game. Equipped with dual chainguns and abilities that allow him to brawl in close and mid-range effectively, I suspect he'll be one of the best tanks for players that like to play aggressively.

Teaser images for a new damage and support hero coming in Season 10 and 12 respectively were shown as well, and a remake of the Hanamura map from Overwatch 1 called Hanaoka is coming in 2024, too. Hanaoka will be for, and accompany, the arrival of a new PvP mode called Clash with five control points in a row. To win this mode, a team will need to capture all five points.

For more information and details, catch our complete roundup of every Overwatch 2 BlizzCon 2023 announcement. — Brendan Lowry

The cosplays at BlizzCon 2023 are out in full force

An in-person BlizzCon gathering means players are getting to show off their cosplays together. Blizzard Entertainment fans have always been super passionate about cosplaying their favorite characters, and with BlizzCon 2023 being the first official gathering for this group in four years, it seems like everyone is making up for lost time. Take a look at this Hogger cosplay worn by @SelinarSnowcat (on Twitter):

Even some Activision Blizzard staff are getting in on the fun. Chief commercial officer Lulu Meservey pulled out a Diablo 4 cosplay so well that some of her coworkers didn't even recognize her! 

I've always loved cosplay, so this is all really cool to see, and we'll be sure to share more examples of some cool craftsmanship that we see over the course of BlizzCon. — Samuel Tolbert, Contributor

Welcome to DAY TWO! 

We're kicking off day two of our Blizzcon live blog, today with a look at the rolling panels with info for Overwatch 2, World of Warcraft, and Diablo 4. 

The teams at Blizzard are out in force conducting interviews, deep dives, and candid chats on the future of their major franchises. Today we have panels for World of Warcraft, Diablo 4, and other games on the horizon, so let's get into it. 

World of Warcraft courts controversy with $90 "early access pay-to-win" bundle

World of Warcraft: The War Within Logo

(Image credit: Blizzard)

The preorders are live for World of Warcraft: The War Within, and players have noticed that for the first time, you'll be able to buy your way into the game's beta tests. However, they've also noted that for the first time, you'll be able to gain a competitive advantage by paying $90 for early access. Three days, no less. 

The early access period will grant players access to the pre-season content, not including Mythic+ and raids, of course. However, it still arguably gives guilds racing to endgame a competitive advantage, and will create unfair financial pressure on those who can't necessarily afford it. It divides the player base by their financial means for the first time, and that's absolutely out of touch, in my view. 

  • Standard Edition ($50): Access to The War Within, level 70 boost, 500 trader's tender (cosmetic currency). 
  • Heroic Edition ($70): Access to The War Within, level 70 boost, 750 trader's tender (cosmetic currency), Algarian Stormwider mount and access to special race courses, Stormrider's cosmetic attire. 
  • Epic Edition ($90): Access to The War Within, level 70 boost, 1000 trader's tender (cosmetic currency), guaranteed beta access, 30 days of gametime, a storm hatchling battle pet, a Storm Gryphon toy, a hearthstone effect, and 3 days early access to The War Within. 

It seems likely that Blizzard will revert the early access period if enough noise is made about it, major content creators are already speaking up about it. We'll have to wait and see how Blizzard responds in the coming days. 

World of Warcraft gets new hero talent trees inspired by iconic archetypes like Dark Ranger

The War Within World of Warcraft talents

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Perhaps the feature I'm personally most excited about is hero talents. These are talent trees that enhance the flavor of your chosen spec. Unlocked at level 71 in The War Within, players will be able to further customize their playstyle with 10 new talent points beyond the standard talent trees that exist today. 

So far, the only known specs include Keeper of the Grove and Elune's Chosen for caster druids, Dark Ranger for hunters, and Mountain Thane for warriors. Mountain Thane is likely inspired by the Warcraft 3 RTS unit that could turn into a stony avatar form, and Dark Ranger is a long-requested spec for hunters inspired by Sylvanas Windrunner and her shadowy archer units. 

To speculate, some other famous sub-classes will likely make an appearance, such as Shadow Hunter inspired by the shamanistic hunters from Troll culture, and perhaps Tinker for hunters too, which would orient around mechanical pets and guns. Perhaps Death Knights will get a necromancer-style spec that revolves around pet summoning, and maybe Warlocks will see a return of Cataclysm's popular Metamorphosis spell that gave them some mild tanking abilities (something that is reappearing in WoW Classic's season of discovery, no less). 

There's a huge range of potential for this feature, particularly as we look to future expansions too. — Jez Corden

Some additional details on World of Warcraft: The War Within out of Blizzcon 2023

World of Warcraft

(Image credit: Blizzard)

There are tons of posts, interviews, and comments emerging out of Blizzcon 2023, giving us more details on what to expect in World of Warcraft: The War Within. 

  • The War Within will bring cross-realm guilds for the first time. Right now, players need to be on the same server to join a guild. Blizzard broke down faction barriers in Dragonflight, allowing Alliance and Horde players to team up, owing to the in-universe peace treaty. Now, server barriers are breaking down too. 
  • The War Within will have 8 new dungeons total, with 4 for max level players and 4 levelling dungeons as is tradition. At level cap, all will scale to max level and become available for Mythic+ when Season 1 hits. 
  • The new dungeons are called The Rookery, The Stonevault, Priory of the Sacred Flame, City of Threads, Cinderbrew Meadery, Darkflame Cleft, The Dawnbreaker, and Old City. 
  • The first raid is Nerub'ar Palace, with eight bosses. It will follow the Nerubian Empire's Queen Ansurek and Xal'atath. 
  • The War Within's expansion takes place underground, with players descending deeper and deeper towards Azeroth's core. Enormous crystal light sources act as artificial suns, which will keep the depths from feeling too claustrophobic. The layers of the underground stack and intersect, and can be flown through continuously using the new environment streaming systems pioneered for Zaralekk Caverns in Dragonflight. 
  • The War Within focuses on "evergreen" and "refurbishing" existing systems rather than creating temporary, expansion-only features like borrowed power mechanics. 

World of Warcraft: The War Within

(Image credit: Blizzard)
  • The next race is the Earthen, who have been in the game since WoW vanilla. Earthen are the original dwarven race, before the Old God curse of flesh reduced their metallic, stony forms to fleshy squidgy dwarves we know today. 
  • The Earthen were created by the Titans, but since the Titans have been absent for thousands of years, they have now split into three factions. 
  • Oathsworn still follow the Titan 'Edicts,' and live in Earthen cities. 
  • Unbound abandoned the Edicts, and have abandoned the cities for rural places. 
  • Machine Speakers have also abandoned the Edicts, but still maintain Titan constructs deep in the ground. 
  • The factions have limited involvement with each other beyond trade, and part of the story revolves around reuniting the separated clans. Player-made Earthen can join either the Horde or the Alliance, and are encrusted with gems and other rocky features. 
  • The Earthen are just one major faction dominating the subterranean environs of Khaz Algar, which is the underground region where The War Within takes place. 
  • Additionally, descendants of the Arathor human faction from Arathi Highlands were also trapped underground. Founding an off-shoot Light religion based around Holy Fire, these paladins and priests battle the Nerubians of Warcraft 3 fame. 

World of Warcraft: The War Within

(Image credit: Blizzard)
  • A major returning faction is the Nerubians. Central antagonists of Warcraft 3 and Wrath of the Lich King, the Nerubians are scourge-aligned spider-like creatures of various shapes and sizes. The first raid will be against their queen, who has now seemingly aligned with the void and the Old Gods via Xal'atath. 

Every Diablo announcement, all in one place!

(Image credit: @Klobrille on X (Twitter))

We've been rounding up all the details we're getting for Diablo games at BlizzCon 2023, and while it's a fair bit lighter than other franchises right now — good grief, Overwatch and World of Warcraft players have a lot to digest right now — there is still a lot to look forward to.

As more snippets come out via panels and interviews, we'll continue to update everything announced for Diablo at BlizzCon 2023, so adventurers of Sanctuary should keep that tab open and refreshed! — Samuel Tolbert

New World of Warcraft: The War Within zones! 

World of Warcraft: The War Within

(Image credit: Blizzard)

The new World of Warcraft "continent" is underground, and represents connected subterranean kingdoms and tunnels carved out by various races. The arachnoid Nerubians, cave-dwelling Earthen dwarves, and other entities await in the dark, as we delve to discover who is speaking to us from beneath the crust. 

The realms are known as Khaz Algar in the dwarven tongue, and is comprised of four main zones. 

The Isle of Dorn: Pictured above, the Isle of Dorn is the surface entrance to Khaz Algar, and populated with surface-dwelling Earthen and other species. It's an idyllic place where the ancient Earthen live among themselves in different factions, although echoes from the deep are shattering the peace. 

(Image credit: Blizzard)

The Ringing Deeps: Below the Isle of Dorn is an area known as the Ringing Deeps. This area is heavily industrialized by the Earthen, in similar fashion to Ulduar of Northrend and The Storm Peaks. Sunlight shines through the ceiling,  giving it surface-like flora and fauna. Kobolds swarm the Deeps, however, owing to Earthen populations decreasing. 

World of Warcraft

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Hallowfall: A vast underground ocean surrounds Hallowfall, which is mysteriously populated with the descendants of the Arathi human faction from Arathi Highlands. Trapped for decades, the Arathi humans have established themselves in seclusion, worshipping an offshoot of the Holy Light religion. Endowed with Holy Fire, the Arathi battle the Nerubian threat, bolstered with new allies (us!)

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Azj-Kahet: The deepest part of the base expansion (no doubt future patches will add more caverns), is the Nerubian kingdom of Azj-Kahet. Hopefully a cinematic will teach us how to pronounce this properly. Azj-Kahet is a city of spider-like beings called Nerubians, famed from Warcraft 3 and their alignment with the undead Scourge. With the Scourge defeated, its largely unknown how the remaining Nerubians conduct themselves, although given the fact the first raid tier is set here, we're guessing they're still pretty mean. The City of Threads is a dungeon too, in addition to the Nerubian Palace raid. It looks like we may be wiping these critters off the face of Azeroth once and for all. 

Blizzard has promised that the underground environments won't all feel identical, owing to the different types of biomes found in the deeps. It seems so far that the team have been able to create a broad array of variety from what we've seen so far, and we can't wait to see more! — Jez Corden

Morning! Afternoon! Evening Diablo fans! Pull up a pew by the Campfire and lets see what's in store for Diablo 4 for the remainder of Season 2, Season of Blood and beyond. I'm hoping we see more on the upcoming Vessel of Hatred DLC, the trailer didn't give much away and I'd like to know if all of the leaked content I've heard about is going to come to fruition (new class? runes?).

Also new content for Season 2 was a completely unexpected announcement; let's see what's in store for Season of Blood — Jennifer Young

Diving head first into more information on Vessel of Hatred

First up on the agenda, they're replaying the incredible new trailer for next year's Mephisto-themed expansion. It's short and sweet, but the voice acting from Steve Blum is *chefs kiss*.

Vessel of Hatred is penciled in for 'late 2024', and will introduce players to a familiar jungle region from Diablo 2, and the source of Mephisto's original corruption in Sanctuary. If you want to read more about Mephisto you can check our my Diablo lore guide here.

At the end of Diablo 4, Neyrelle, our apprentice Horadrim, made her way across Sanctuary in the possession of Mephisto's Soulstone. The expansion will follow her journey, and the developers have confirmed that players can skip the campaign and go straight to the expansion if they wish (though why would you?) — Jennifer Young


(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

The jungle area of Nahantu and the inner city of Kurast will be quite a departure from the areas we've explored so far in Diablo 4, but will be very familiar to players of Diablo 2: Resurrected. Developers are committed to making sure this area blends seamlessly with the current game but also offers refreshing new scenery for the players.

We've already been able to return to the area of Caldeum in Diablo 4, a nostalgic area from Diablo 3, and familiar landmarks will be returning in the Vessel of Hatred.

Fans will be excited to see the return of Travincal, an area many of us have farmed over and over for runes and an area thick with Mephisto's corruption as this is where he was imprisoned initially by the Horadrim. What could have led Neyrelle back to this place? — Jennifer Young

New class?

The team are teasing a class reveal but they aren't giving away anything yet, though hopes for a Paladin or Cleric class may be dashed as they are emphasising this will be a completely new class to the Diablo universe. All they have confirmed thus far is that it will not be a witch doctor — Jennifer Young

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Showing the roadmap for Season 2 Season of Blood again, and this was the biggest surprise for me at the show. I was not expecting even more content to what's already a really fun season.

Malignant powers are returning in the form of Malignant Rings, to the relief of Necromancers everywhere who want the passive corpse skills. The rings will be farmed by fighting endgame boss Varshan, and there is one ring for each class.

Malignant Rings

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Malignant Rings

(Image credit: Blizzard)

There was a noticable cheer from Necromancer mains in the audience as this has been one of the most requested items from Season 1 Season of the Malignant, and we're getting these as soon as next week — Jennifer Young

Diablo 4

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Additional quality of life changes are coming from December 5th with Patch 1.2.3. Finally we will be able to see the potential rolls when enchanting our gear at the Occultist. Some have criticized Diablo 4 for not having this from launch as it was already present in Diablo 3, so they aren't getting much credit from the community for this. But positive change is positive change and I can't wait to have more control over my rolls. — Jennifer Young


(Image credit: Blizzard)

More endgame activities are coming for players who have hit the level 100 cap, and completed their season journey challenges.

Season of Blood Abattoir of Zir's Journey

This will be a tough challenge that you will only be able to be completed by the best builds, and not all of them will rise to the challenge. This actually lines up pretty well with the current state of the meta as not all builds are capable of taking down Uber Lilith for example. The Abattoir will increase in both difficulty and rewards. 

Diablo 4

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Midwinter Blight is going to be a Seasonal and 'festive' event taking place for 3 weeks in December commencing from December 12th.

The Fractured Peaks will be frozen over with new horrors to discover and defeat, as well as a new side quest and a 'Totem of Midwinter' which sounds incredibly similar to the 'Altar of Rites' from Diablo 3. Perhaps this will give us new powers, or will it be another Hunters Acclaim board and simply drop loot? Either way, we're going to need an ice scraper to fight "demon snowmen". This event is really going to bring some of the goofy humor back to the dark world of Sanctuary while we await the reveal of the Cow Level.

The "Red Cloaked Horror" is mentioned, and I previously thought this was going to be the Butcher in a Santa hat, but alas it looks like a Festive Khazra.

Red Cloaked Horror (Image credit: Blizzard)

The Red Cloaked Horror does not bring gifts, but you will be rewarded with gifts for taking him and his minions down. Festive cosmetics have been revealed and they appear to be earnable in the event and not shop items — Jennifer Young

Diablo 4

(Image credit: Diablo 4)

Leaderboards are coming! A "fixed seed non-linear dungeon" The Gauntlet is a weekly challenge being introduced to Diablo 4 for players who have reached Tier 4 and want to test their skill against other players. The best scores in The Gauntlet will appear on the leaderboards, and loot will drop at the end of the challenge (very similar to Diablo 3 Greater Rifts). 

Diablo 4

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Each week the gauntlet will be anew, and new challenges will await the players as they test their builds against the challenge. There are solo leaderboards for each class, as well as group leaderboards, and you can filter by class and region to see how you stack up against the best.

The best players each week will be recorded in the Hall of Ancients, permanently. All Tier 4 players can compete and level 100 is not required — Jennifer Young

Aspects, those things that take up 70% of our inventories and replace the legendary skills on our gear? They're going to be added to the Codex, this is going to solve a HUGE problem with stash space right now without the need to add new tabs. Rejoice Diablo 4 fans! The audience agree with me, there was a big cheer for this announcement.

The Codex of Power normally just keeps your Aspects acquired from defeating dungeons, but not the more powerful Aspects you extract from gear. There is no date announced for this change, but just knowing the developers are working on this  should be a relief for all the players cursing their inventory management — Jennifer Young

So that's it! I must admit I was really hoping to see more confirmed details around the Vessel of Hatred Expansion, especially given that a lot of information has already been leaked via datamining. That aside though, I feel like we have been served with more than our fair share of new Diablo 4 content and everything coming in the December updates is more than I could ever have hoped for.

New endgame activities? A festive event? After only having 'The Darkening of Tristram' to look forward to each January previously, we are eating good, fellow Nephalem — Jennifer Young

While most of the Overwatch 2 news at BlizzCon 2023 came on Day 1, the Overwatch 2: What's Next? panel held on Day 2 expanded on opening day's big reveals with plenty of additional details and information. This includes the following:

  • A gameplay tease of Venture, the damage hero coming in Season 10 that uses a drill weapon and is capable of burrowing under the ground
  • Concept art for Space Ranger, the Season 12 support hero that comes from a Mars colony and uses thrusters to remain very vertically mobile in combat
  • A first look at the Competitive rework coming in Season 9 that will remove rank update requirements, give you the ability to track your progress after each match, kick off annual rank resets and placement matches, and introduce new emerald weapon rewards
  • A detailed explanation of how the upcoming Clash mode will work
  • New screenshots of Hanaoka, the map shipping alongside Clash next year
  • The announcement of Hero Mastery courses for Mei, D.Va, Echo, Lúcio, and Genji coming in Season 8

For a detailed overview of everything that was shown both on Day 1 and on Day 2, don't miss our roundup of every Overwatch 2 BlizzCon 2023 announcement— Brendan Lowry

And that's a wrap! 

And that's a wrap for Blizzcon 2023. While Blizzard managed to court controversy with its early access plans for World of Warcraft: The War Within, overall it seems the show was relatively well received. Diablo players were hoping for more clarity on the future of Diablo 4, especially in contrast to the multi-year roadmap we got for World of Warcraft and its various upcoming expansions. There was no mention of Heroes of the Storm or StarCraft, sadly, and no mention of Blizzard's survival game codenamed "Odyssey," nor were there any other major surprises. 

Still, it was a special Blizzcon for a number of reasons. With Xbox lead Phil Spencer up on stage to present Blizzcon 2023 alongside new president Mike Ybarra, it marks a turning point for the brand. Microsoft will want to invest in what made Blizzard such a legend in this industry. Xbox has a markedly different shareholder culture than Activision, and while I'm not naïve enough to suggest everything will be smooth sailing, I'm optimistic that Microsoft will want to invest in Blizzard's growth, rather than just asset strip it for profits. Either way, we'll be watching very closely, alongside the rest of the Blizzard fandom, to hold Microsoft to account. 

Blizzcon is a special event for me personally, and it was an honor on behalf of my self and the team to have put together this coverage for you over the weekend, if you couldn't catch the keynote and video panels itself. We'll keep up our coverage of Blizzard games here on Windows Central, especially given that they are now a part of the Microsoft family. So stay tuned, and thanks for joining us. — Jez Corden