Tomas Hernandez is owner of Blizzplanet.com since 2003. I post news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film.
Blizzplanet is a leading fansite covering news about upcoming Blizzard Entertainment licensed products. I also post previews and reviews. I have interviewed book writers and Blizzard game developers.
I was previously an employee of the OGaming Network (2003), and IncGamers (2008-2010). I was a guest newsposter for GosuGamers (World of Warcraft) a few years ago and for Diablofans.com (formerly Diablo3.com)
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If you are wondering how in the world Reilena Cosplay (aka Rachel Day) knew about Overwatch Widowmaker before it was even announced at BlizzCon 2014, then your guess is good. Besides a cosplayer and costume-maker, she was a Quality Assurance Intern back in 2009 for StarCraft II. Then the FX Artist and Technical Artist for Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo III from 2010 until February 2014; and currently an FX Artist for Overwatch.
Our New York City Hearthstone Fireside co-organizer, Mithalas, came along with us to PAX East 2015 to play Overwatch. Mithalas is pretty good with FPS video games, and after I saw him obliterate an enemy team, I asked him to write up something about his Overwatch hands-on gameplay experience:
From left to right: Mithalas, Lyndsi (Blizzard PR Associate) and Medievaldragon
Mithalas: The annual PAX East convention occurred last weekend, and Blizzard’s main booth in the expo hall featured Overwatch (and only Overwatch). I was lucky enough to get to play it twice – on Friday and Sunday – and had a lot of fun during my brief time with the game.
Overwatch is a very straightforward game in terms of controls. I played as McCree the gunslinger. Pressing SHIFT made him speed up in the direction aimed for a couple of seconds, and he reloaded automatically — good to get out of the way when enemies engage you in combat. Pressing E would throw Flashbang — a small flash grenade at close range that stagger enemies in a small radius.
Peacekeeper made me crack in laughter when McCree went machinegun-style. It’s so awesome. I managed to kill Tracer and even Winston with it.
The Ultimate ability Deadeye is deployed pressing Q. There was a circle icon in the bottom center that replenished over time and that’s when you hit Q to unleash the ability that kills many targets in one shot. I don’t recommend using this in the open. McCree will certainly die to Widowmaker or other long-range enemies.
Jesse McCree is definitely going to be among my main characters to play once Overwatch beta starts. Gives me the Clint Eastwood’s The Good, The Bad and the Ugly-film vibe.
I personally couldn’t accomplish much because I am not used to playing with the AWSD keys. I kept absently pressing the arrow keys as I always do in World of Warcraft and Half-Life 2: Deathmatch to no avail. Felt like a deer in the middle of the road blinded by the flash, then died horribly. Joke’s on me.
Gameplay seemed very fast paced, not like in Half-Life 2: Deathmatch where sometimes there are periods of time you aren’t doing anything (I blame the long convoluted maps with tunnels going everywhere). Here the map is small with different entrances/exits which give you the strategical advantage of going around enemy forces to take them out from behind.
High ground doorways offer another way to hit your enemies when they can’t see you initially. Tracer, McCree and Widowmaker can benefit a lot with these strategic points in the map packing a lot of damage to unsuspecting enemies that get outright flanked and taken out.
When you die in Overwatch, you see a few-seconds replay from the point of view of the enemy who killed you. May be cancelled with ESC.
The map I played in the objective was to destroy the payload transport. Something that isn’t accomplished easily with the enemy hitting you from all sides.
I can’t wait to play Overwatch again. Check out video clips of McCree’s abilities in action here.
I took video of the Blizzard Entertainment panel held at PAX East 2015 where announces flew left and right with two new Overwatch heroes: Zarya and McCree, Overwatch beta slated for Fall 2015, the new Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain Adventure pre-orders start on March 19th.
The developers plan to launch one wing per week for a total of 5 wings focused on Blackwing’s forces and Ragnaros’ forces. The adventure will introduce 31 new cards. There are plans for a launch on iPhone and Android in few weeks from now. These are currently in Alpha. Both iPhone and Android players will have different UI than the Tablet and the PC, but will still play against Tablet and PC players under the same server infrastructure.
In addition, Heroes of the Storm beta testers will soon be able to play as Sylvanas Windrunner, and the Tomb of the Spider Queen battleground is on its way for testing. Watch our Blizzard panel video (transcript coming next week).
PAX East has been very exciting so far with so many updates of Blizzard’s latest games. Overwatch beta is slated to begin on Fall 2015, so make sure to update your beta opt-in located in your Battle.net account page.
These are just a handful of photos I have taken during the morning. I managed to reach the press room and got WiFi. I’ll upload more later.
You will see below the line (no, the Horde) of fans trying to get into the Blizzard panel room. Many many more were not able to even join the line once the PAX staff declared the line was at full capacity. Lot of passion, sweat and blood. Sad some of you weren’t able to make it to the line. Make sure to watch the VOD, and I was also able to record the panel. Hoping to upload it as soon as I am able. Make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates.
Before going into details, let’s take a short trip through memory lane with some facts and dates to refresh your memory or to inform fans new to Blizzard.
StarCraft: Ghost was originally developed by Nihilistic, but later the game passed to the hands of Swingin’ Ape Studios.
Blizzard Entertainment purchased Swingin’ Ape Studios. (May 16, 2005)
StarCraft: Ghost was postponed indefinitely (not officially cancelled)(March 24, 2006)
Metal Arms: Glitch in the System was a Third-person shooter video game developed by Swingin’ Ape Studios back in 2003 and it was published by Sierra. However, as I posted last year, Blizzard Entertainment acquired the trademark from Sierra. (around May 2014)
We have seen Blizzard acquire video games formerly developed by them (i.e. The Lost Vikings, Blackthrone and Rock’n Roll Racing) from Interplay. However, Blizzard published these games for the GameBoy Advance afterwards.
We haven’t seen any Metal Arms games announced by Blizzard Entertainment … yet?
Speculation: Blizzard Entertainment and Metal Arms Trademark Updated
The latest update to the Metal Arms trademark was updated on September 25, 2014 by the Dublin law firm which represents Blizzard Entertainment in Europe. That may not mean much, except there is an intriguing change.
This is how the trademark looked like back in 2003:
IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: Computer game software [ and instruction manuals sold as a unit therewith ].
This is how it looks in the present:
Computer game software, computer game discs, downloadable computer game software, computer game software downloadable from a global computer network, interactive multimedia computer game programs; Downloadable electronic game software for use on portable electronic devices such as mobile and cellular phones, laptops, handheld computers, and tablet PCs.
Interesting bit there taking in mind some chronological facts:
Metal Arms launched in 2003
The first iPhone launched in 2007.
The first Android launched in 2008.
The iPad (generation 1) was launched in April 3, 2010.
This Metal Arms trademark update may definitely stir some discussion in the community — whether this new update means Blizzard might have plans for the IP. These devices didn’t even exist when Swingin’ Ape Studios originally launched Metal Arms: Glitch in the System for the GameCube, PlayStation 2, and the original Xbox.
**Blizzard Entertainment has not made any official announcements concerning Metal Arms.
The Overwatch Team has posted a couple teasers aimed at hyping whatever plans there are to announce at PAX East on Friday, March 6 at 10:30am. Wankyu and I will be there at the panel, so make sure to check back for any updates. We’ll also share our first impressions playing the game, and will gather questions from the community after the panel to approach the developers with your questions.
The latest teaser says: “The scent of gunsmoke mingled with the aroma of gyóza following yesterday’s thwarted ramen shop robbery attempt. And while the mainstream media focused on the anachronistic fashion sense of the stranger who saved the day, I want to know whether he’s the self-appointed sheriff of the corner store, too. We’re told we live in an era of peace, but crime is running rampant, and the authorities don’t seem to care. If folks like him want to protect us, maybe we should just let–“.
Other than that, Blizzard doesn’t give any more hints on what this new hero presumed to be announced at PAX East is about. The only hint is “anachronistic fashion sense” which points toward a vigilante wearing cloths that aren’t unique or conforming with the current era in the Overwatch universe. Could it be a cowboy vigilante?
Something wrong is going on in a post-Overwatch era where peace is supposed to reign. The description “We’re told we live in an era of peace, but crime is running rampant, and the authorities don’t seem to care” points to some mysterious corruption from within plaguing the government(s).
Pre-PAX East 2015 Overwatch Teasers
The previous teaser said: “[EXCLUSIVE] What caused one weightlifting world champ hopeful to give up fame and glory? Find out in our March issue!“.
Seems like Blizzard plans to unveil at least two new heroes in the Overwatch roster.
Wankyu and I will be at PAX East. We wish to gather questions from the community concerning Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone.
Watch the PAX East livestream on March 6th to witness the Blizzard panel (livestream embed is at the bottom of this page). Make sure to submit more questions during and after the panel too. Send your questions through the form below or via email at [email protected]
Note: We will message again via Twitter and Facebook to gather questions after the Blizzard panel when you might have even more questions. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates.
Blizzard Entertainment teased via Twitter one of the maps which apparently might be playable at PAX East 2015. The new map is an abandoned Overwatch Observation Post located in the Iberian Peninsula (for the geography-challenged, that’s the large region that consists mostly of Spain, and Portugal).
The Atlantic Seaboard A.I. Summit March 6-8 (shown in the image below) is a reference to PAX East which will take place on the same date in Boston, Massachusetts.
I really never digged Team Fortress, but I have over 5,000 hours of experience in Half-Life 2: Deathmatch. Not an expert, but let’s say I’m quitely persistent. Usually end up winning top kills.
Taking a look at this battleground Blizzard teased us with, and some of the heroes’ abilities I can visualize potential strategies. It is very important to know the map, and the spots you can excel at.
Considering all the high-places in this map, I see good tactical points that Widowmaker, Pharah and Hanzo can exploit for a ranged snipe/attack at the top of the building. Lot of places where Tracer, Symmetra, Bastion and Tborjorn can place their devices to defend/attack as well. Very exciting.
PAX East 2015: Blizzard Teases New Overwatch Battleground
Blizzplanet writer Wankyu, and myself will be attending this event, and plan to play Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone. Make sure to check us back for photos, and videos.
Blizzard Entertainment plans to make a series of announcements at PAX East 2015 according to the panel schedule posted on the PAX website. Blizzplanet was invited to come to PAX East, and considering the content of this panel, we can’t do anything else but happily oblige. Wankyu and myself will be at PAX East to bring you photos, articles, video interviews and of course, the panel video.
PAX East 2015 Blizzard Preview Panel Schedule
Bold new heroes, exciting new cards, and epic new battlegrounds … Join a trio of Blizzard Entertainment developers for a look at just some of what’s in store for 2015, including upcoming content for Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, and Overwatch.
Panelists: Dustin Browder [Game Director, Heroes of the Storm], Eric Dodds [Game Director, Hearthstone], Jeff Kaplan [Game Director, Overwatch]
King’s Row is a Payload map situated in the heart of England. In this location, the attacking team’s objective is to move vital cargo to a designated delivery point, while the defenders work to halt the attackers’ progress until time runs out.
Blizzard Entertainment is looking to fill a temporary position for a Cinematic Animator. The listing doesn’t specify for which team, but considering the Overwatch story will be told outside the game itself (which is confirmed to lack a single-player component) this temporary position [might] be for Overwatch or for some secret project.
Do you have the skills, and experience to apply for this position? Do you know a family or friend who might be able to apply? Then visit the application page.
Blizzard Entertainment is looking for a talented 3D animator to assist our cinematics team in creating the next generation of animated films. The cinematic animator will be skilled at animating characters at a level that lives up to the ever-increasing Blizzard Entertainment standard of quality. The ideal candidate will have a strong foundation in animation principles, the ability to reinforce the story by creating memorable performances, and have aptitude working in a variety of animation styles.
Blizzard Entertainment offers a fun, creative, and technically challenging environment.
A minimum of 3 years’ character and / or creature CG animation experience in game development, television, or film industry using Maya or equivalent 3D program
Passion for film, animation and video games
Able to effectively collaborate with other artists, producers, and programmers
Self-motivation, good communications skills, and a great team-player attitude
Assist in supporting and evolving the cinematics team with constructive feedback both technically and artistically
Traditional artistic skills: story boarding, gesture drawing, 2D animation, and composition
Technical skills: rigging, scripting, and understanding of pipeline
Physical skills: acting, martial arts, and choreography
Film making skills: cinematography, pre-visualization, editing, and story writing
Understanding of FX, particles, cloth, and hair as they contribute to a character’s performance
Hanzo excels at killing enemies at long range with his bow. Sonic Arrow reveals the location of nearby enemies. Use Dragonstrike to clear enemies from an objective.
Real Name: Hanzo Shimada, Age: 38
Occupation: Mercenary, Assassin
Base of Operations: Hanamura, Japan (formerly)
Affiliation: Shimada Clan
Hanzo nocks and fires an arrow at his target.
Hanzo launches an arrow that contains a sonar tracking device. Any enemy within its detection radius is visibly marked, making them easier for Hanzo and his allies to hunt down.
Hanzo shoots a fragmenting arrow that ricochets off walls and objects and can strike multiple targets at once.
Hanzo summons a Spirit Dragon which travels through the air in a line. It passes through walls in its way, devouring any enemies it encounters.
Mastering his skills as a bowman and an assassin, Hanzo Shimada strives to prove himself as a warrior without peer.
The Shimada family was established centuries ago, a clan of assassins whose power grew over the years, enabling them to build a vast criminal empire that profited from lucrative trade in arms and illegal substances. As the eldest son of the family's head, Hanzo was bound by duty to succeed his father and rule the Shimada empire. From a young age, he was trained for that responsibility, displaying a natural aptitude for leadership and possessing an innate understanding of strategy and tactics. He also excelled in more practical areas: he was a prodigy in martial arts, swordplay, and bowmanship.
Upon the death of his father, the clan elders instructed Hanzo to straighten out his wayward younger brother so that he, too, might help rule the Shimada empire. When his brother refused, Hanzo was forced to kill him. This act broke Hanzo's heart and drove him to reject his father's legacy, ultimately leading him to abandon the clan and all that he had worked so hard to attain.
Now, Hanzo travels the world, perfecting his skills as a warrior, attempting to restore his honor and put the ghosts of his past to rest.
These animations can be purchased with in-game currency -- earned through Loot Boxes when you level up, or randomly looted from the Loot Box as a reward.