1. Commit to World of Warcraft for One Year, Get Diablo 3 Free. In an effort to stem the tide of users that would no doubt switch to Star Wars The Old Republic for a few months in December, Blizzard is giving away one of its premier titles for free for anyone who commits to spending $179.88 on WoW next year, plus you get a mount in the next patch. That ultimately seems like a losing proposition (a lot of fans would be willing to pay the $179, plus the $60 for Diablo), but it’s great PR and will keep a lot of players paying for at least another year.
2. Mists of Pandaria It’s Pandas, it’s Pokemon, it’s the kneejerk reaction to everybody who said Cataclysm was “too hard” and forgot that most of the new content was in 1-60 not 80-85. But still, Mists of Panderia looks fantastic, sounds great, and plays pretty good. More on that later.
3. New Neutral Race The Pandarens experience starts off completely unafilliated with either the Horde or Alliance, and as you start questing up to level 10, you’e gradually introduced to the factions until you choose one at the end of the starter area. It’s a cool experiment, though mostly you’ll probably just pick to go with whatever faction all your other characters are.
4. New Monk Class Monks are an interesting new class. Every race but Worgen and Goblins have access to them, and they’re a leather based class. The most interesting feature announced thus far is that they’re entirely button based. There’s no auto attack, so you’ll be hitting buttons for every punch, kick, and special ability. I don’t know how much I like that in theory across end game content, but I had a lot of fun playing through the first five levels.
5. Literally Pokemon The new pet battle isn’t “like” Pokemon, it isn’t “inspired by” Pokemon. It is Pokemon. With wild pets appearing in the tall grass of Elwynn and Gym Leaders and everything. I don’t know how good this could possibly be, or even if it will end up going the way of the dance studio and never going in the game, but I think I like this better than a new profession.
6. Blizzard DotA Isn’t Dead. After it was announced last year, rumors whirled that Blizzard DotA was going to be cancelled. Apparently it just wasn’t particularly interesting, and it’s a free game, so it made a sort of sense for it to be shelved. But then this year it was back, in sort of a humorous form. Take control of a popular Blizzard character and his/her minions and run around killing other players for the sole purpose of advancing on the leaderboard. Coming soonish.
7. Blizzard Lore Bibles Coming Soon. In tandem with the Diablo III release, Blizzard put together a Diablo III Lore book, written in the first person by Diablo loremaster Deckard Cain. It was announced that similar books are being compiled for Warcraft and Starcraft as well.
8. Heart of the Swarm Looks Pretty Cool, Has New Units. Not much new info was dropped about heart of the Swarm, but the new trailer (rendered in-game according to Blizzard) looks fantastic, and there are several new units for Zerg, Protoss, and Terran for South Korean gamer teams to exploit.
9. No Warcraft IV. This announcement was just sort of slipped in and one I confirmed later with a conversation with a Blizzard employee. Apparently, they see WoW as having around ten more years left in its cycle, and have no interest in creating Warcraft IV before the WoW train has completely run out of steam. Ten years? I don’t know about that, but it doesn’t look like Warcraft IV is in the cards any time soon.
10. WoW’s Talent System May Be Gone. Another thing people are whining about, but the classic WoW Talent tree is a thing of the past, giving way to a more flexible, more passive talent system that will gift you all your necessary spells and let you pick some less intense, more passive talents to utilize every 15 levels. I’m not really sure how this doesn’t encourage “cookie cutter builds” that WoW has been trying to get away from for years (in fact it just enforces them through the mechanics) but there we go.