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gamescom 2011 - Blizzard press conference

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World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
16:19: Hello and welcome to Blizzard's conference live blog from gamescom 2011! The publisher will be talking about new features and updates coming to its three key titles; World of Warcraft, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm and Diablo III.

16:21: First up is Diablo III, and they're jumping into difficulty progression in the game. Normal, Nightmare and Hell were unlocked as you finished each difficulty in previous games - each increased difficulty, lowered loot drops and expanded the levels. There is a similar tactic here, but there'll be one more difficulty level called Inferno.

16:22: This is because Hell wasn't enough in terms of progression. In short, the player's level cannot exceed that of the world and its monsters (if the player is level 60, the game will be 61). There'll also be exclusive loot.

16:24: Monster progression is now being discussed; harder and more interested monsters, faster and stronger, and with higher aggression. They will also have more diverse powers, with a few unique ones for those higher difficulties.

16:25: For item progression, essentially each difficulty will each have its own set of items and armour styles. Shown on screen is each class and various different costumes.

Blizzard live blog - gamescom 2011

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16:26: Announced at gamescom last year, Artisons themselves will also upgrade with progression. Shown on screen are two gear items; orange is hand-crafted items with static statistics, while yellow will be rare gear that's randomly generated.

16:27: Runes are a key part of difficulty; each higher rank powers up what that ruin does for you. Mass gem collecting isn't expected into the late end game, either.

16:29: To compare and contrast; Diablo 2's end game content would have recycled item rewards, a maximum level of 99 (max monster level was 85), repetitive runs for time efficiency and no room or desire to grow.

16:30: In Diablo III, item rewards will be unique per difficulty, there is a level cap at 60, max levels for monsters is 61, and Inferno makes more viable content at the end game. In short, there's room and options for growth.

16:31: Now for StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, the second part of the StarCraft II trilogy. A few basics; Kerrigan will be playable and the game will see her attempt to regain control of The Swarm. She wants revenge against Arcturus Mengsk, and to give players a sense of scale, she'll be much more powerful than Raynor over the course of the game. She'll be playable in pretty much every mission, Blizzard says.

16:34: Her powers will increase in scale and strength throughout the campaign, and will gain new abilities. Kerrigan should feel like a powerful force on the battlefield, which is something Blizzard will be focusing on. There'll also be several focuses that players can switch between.

Blizzard live blog - gamescom 2011

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16:36: Swarm Adapts will feature in the game; players can collect new species and evolve them through three upgrades, creating new sub-species of Zerg, all reflected through new art and unit models. One example shown is the Zergling sub-species.

16:37: Summary on StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm; approximately 20 missions with a similar mix of in-game and pre-rendered cinematics. DOTA will come with or release near to its release, while Battle.net will be upgraded as well. Specifics on multiplayer and Blizzard.net upgrades will be announced at BlizzCon.

16:38: Now it's World of Warcraft's turn. Patch 4.3 will have a Deathwing raid, a high-level raid against "the most epic enemy" seen in the game, and so it'll be biggest battle yet. Players will be flying through the sky to take him down, as well as several other phases. "It'll be super epic", says Blizzard.

16:40: The Dark Moon event will be redone with new activities. One of them is 'Whack-a-mole'.

16:41: They'll be three main features being announced today. Transmogrifing is to address a problem with the game that's been occurring more and more, and that's increased customisation for their character. As they've made raid content more accessible and new gear has opened up, end-game players still end up looking similar as their lower level counterparts.

16:42: The new technology will allow the art of one item to be combined with another that has good stats, to create a good stats item that looks to their style.

16:44: To go along with that is Void Storage. For a fee, it'll hold onto your items for longer periods of times, moving things out of their banks and into storage. In many ways, it'll be a second bank.

16:45: The third is the Raid Finder. Similar to the Dungeon Finder, it'll allow players to be match made with others if you're short of several players ahead of a raid. It'll work with raids with up to 25 players, and will not only make it less of a hassle, but open it up to players who rarely experience it (such as those not in guilds or not available at that time).

Blizzard live blog - gamescom 2011

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16:47: Now for Q&A. First question: When will the Diablo III beta be ready? When it's ready is the jokey response, but looking at mid-September currently. No word on a Diablo III release date either.

16:48: Will any items be excluded from the Auction House in Diablo III? No is the answer, as it's contrary to what Diablo is about in terms of trying to get the best items possible via trading.

16:49: Is there restrictions in World of Warcraft's item and stat combining? Yes; cross classes isn't allowed, while Legendary items will always be unique with their art.

16:50: Will Diablo III be coming to console? Lead designer Josh Mosqueira said we "are very, very serious" about bringing the "Diablo experience" to consoles, and they are hiring a team to help do so. "It will be awesome, stay tuned."

16:51: Will DOTA release for free or as a mod? No word on anything DOTA until BlizzCon.

16:52: Will the Raid Finder be restricted to the server to help sociability within that server? No; the most important thing is that it's a good experience for actually finding raid members quickly. It'll be cross server.

16:54: Are they looking at moving rewards from one game to another, or will universes cross over? No, Blizzard has their hands full. A StarCraft MMO is something they could be passionate about but they're busy with expansions and patches.

16:56: Frank Pearce is asked whether over Blizzard's 20-year history he has failed or regretted anything. He says Blizzard messes up and fails every day, but one recent thing is the Marketplace in StarCraft II, and that users consume content much faster than that Blizzard could create it. They hope for a mechanism for fast user generated content that people could create themselves. Another is underestimating demand for World of Warcraft at launch, and that they had to stop shipping the boxed copies of the games to retailers because they simply didn't have the infrastructure to cope.

16:59: Will there be a Blackthorn sequel? Frank Pearce says convince the design teams when they're done and it's golden. But in all seriousness, certain franchises will be consigned to Blizzard's history.

Blizzard live blog - gamescom 2011

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17:00: With regards to the lack of content being created to cope with demand, what about randomisation? They said it's difficult to regularly get items that players will be satisfied with. That being said, in some five person instances in 4.3 are random bosses; they won't be the same each run, which is an example of how they're trying to do it. But in terms of delivering content, it's very difficult for Blizzard to do.

17:01: For Frank Pearce (one of the three co-counters of Blizzard), on Warcraft III; it created so much in terms of roles, Battle.net and more - it was very creative. Are StarCraft II and Diablo III too conservative for the company's size? Not really, Blizzard says; Diablo III's contentious auction house is an example of that. With that game in particular, the genre hasn't really been exhausted, so there's a lot more to say, and a direct sequel is a way to doing that.

17:04: In World of Warcraft with changeable loot, will it now be tougher to spot whether people have weaker items? Someone on the panel responds with a condescending "ahh" to the applause of the crowd, and joked that the questioner is obviously always on the look out for harder kills when they play.

17:07: Someone asks about the Mists of Pandaria trademark; they can't comment on rumour or speculation. Blizzard are definitely working on an expansion but they can't talk about it yet.

17:07: The new Battle.net looks like it can play every game out there, but will games be sold through it, like Activision's Call of Duty? No plans for this since it wants to focus on its first-party line-up, and maybe when everything is out the way they could perhaps look at a strategy. "Cool idea", but one they just can't do right now.

17:09: Can Transmogrifier items be filtered in the Auction House? Not certain yet. In terms of disabling the item from being equipped, that would only happen if it caused problems. If there are, then it might put that Auction House restriction in place.

17:11: And that's it for the Q&A session, and indeed this live blog. Thanks for reading!

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