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BlizzCon 2021: Everything we saw at BlizzConline this year

BlizzCon 2021
(Image credit: Blizzard)
BlizzCon 2021 Dates

BlizzCon 2021 (or BlizzCononline) will be taking place from February 19 to February 20. TechRadar will be reporting all all the biggest news, announcements and reveals, so keep this page bookmarked for the the latest BlizzCon news.

BlizzCon 2021 is over, having pulled off its first all-virtual event due to Covid-19 restrictions after having to cancel the event entirely last year. Whether this year's BlizzCon happen at all remained uncertain for a period of time. 

The publisher cancelled BlizzCon 2020 last May, citing health and safety concerns as the main reasons. But, instead of cancelling Blizzard 2021 event, the company opted to host the event online instead, promising fans an "all-digital celebration and exhibition of Blizzard games and universes".

While it certainly didn't have the same punch as past events, all in all, Blizzard did a pretty good job of it? We got some major announcements like World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Classic and Diablo 2: Resurrected, as well as some updates on games further our, like new maps and details for Overwatch 2 and a new class for Diablo 4. If you want to know more about what we saw at this year's BlizzCon, read on.

What is BlizzCon?

BlizzCon 2021

(Image credit: BlizzCon)

BlizzCon is the annual gaming convention held by publisher Blizzard to celebrate and promote its franchises, which includes the likes of Diablo, Overwatch, Hearthstone, World of Warcraft and Starcraft. 

While BlizzCon is largely a community event that allows fans to come together to celebrate their favorite Blizzard games, the publisher also uses the week to reveal a host of news and announcements on its current and upcoming titles. 

That's exactly what we saw at the last official BlizzCon in 2019: Blizzard officially announced World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4. This year, we're hoping for big updates on some of these previously confirmed games and maybe even reveals of a few more titles rumored to be in the works at Blizzard. Scroll down for the latest on Blizzards releases this year.

Is BlizzCon 2021 canceled?

Overwatch

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Nope! While BlizzCon 2020 was canceled due to Covid-19, Blizzard went ahead this year with BlizzConline. Rather than an in-person event, the convention took place entirely online. 

BlizzCon 2021 schedule and how to watch

You were able to watch the entirety of BlizzCon 2021 for free online, with Blizzard offering six channels of content covering its biggest games. Coverage ran from February 19 at 2pm PT / 10pm GMT / 5pm ET (or February 20 at 8am AEST) via the BlizzCon website, Twitch, or YouTube. If you missed the action live, you can catch up on everything you missed through the BlizzConline video archives.

BlizzCon 2021 Day 1: February 19 at 2pm PT / 10pm GMT / 5pm ET (or Feb 20 at 8am AEST)
The first day of BlizzCon kicked off with an opening segment that included a "first look at some of the latest game content the development teams have been working on". Following this opening segment, for the next three-plus hours, fans tuned in to the six themed channels on offer at their leisure.

BlizzCon 2021 Day 2: February 20 at 12pm PT / 8pm GMT / 3pm ET (or Feb 21 at 6am AEST)
The second day of BlizzCon 2021 is free for fans to peruse the themed channels of content. Blizzard described this second day it will "be shining a spotlight on the global Blizzard community".

BlizzCon 2021: what to expect

Given that Blizzard already announced a handful of titles it has in development, we had a good idea of what we would see showcased at this year's event and more or less got what we expected. Here's what we saw.

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands

(Image credit: Blizzard)

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands released in November 2020, after being announced at BlizzCon 2019. Considering the latest expansion for WoW has only been out in the wild for a few months, we weren't expecting any major news, but we did get word of the first new content update for the expansion, Chains of Domination.

The content update will feature a new area to explore, Korthia; a new raid called the Sanctum of Domination; a new dungeon, Tazavesh, the Veiled Market; PvP Season Two, new mounts, and more.

We also saw the highly-anticipated - and expected - announcement that World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Classic is on the way this year. We didn't get a release date, but we did get some pretty interesting details about the first expansion to the Classic servers.

In addition to rolling out the new content for WoW Classic, we learned more about the way character transfers and progressions will be handled. The servers as they exist now will be converted to "progression" servers, which will transition to the Burning Crusade era when the expansion is released. 

Somewhere around that time, each character on your account will be given the choice to remain in the Vanilla Classic era on a dedicated Vanilla server that will never change, to continue on the progression server, or split the difference, pay some money to Blizzard, and have a copy of your character appear on both progression and Vanilla servers.

There is also a very strong suggestion that these progression servers will see later expansions added at a later date as well.

We won't know when it will launch yet, but Blizzard is committing to a 2021 release with a beta test starting soon, but World of Warcraft streamer "StaySafe" claims multiple sources confirmed the launch of some form of World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade servers as soon as May 4 (via Wccftech). Obviously, until we hear the official announcement, such "leaks" and rumors need to be taken with a grain of salt. 

Still, a May 4 release date does make some sense. With BlizzCon 2021 running from February 19-20, an announcement at BlizzCon could be followed with a closed beta period or a couple of months, which would put an official launch around the beginning of May. 

Overwatch 2

Overwatch 2

(Image credit: Blizzard)

We've not heard a lot about Overwatch 2 since it was officially announced at BlizzCon two years ago, but we had hoped Blizzard would give us a hefty update at BlizzCon 2021.

Overwatch 2 is the sequel to Blizzard’s team-based shooter and is set to include new PvP modes, new maps, cosmetic items and characters. In addition, the sequel will bring the addition of story and hero missions which will allow for “highly-repayable” cooperative play with up to five friends – a first for the Overwatch series and likely to bring a feeling of freshness to proceedings. 

In an end-of-year developer update posted in December 2020, Overwatch 2 director, Jeff Kaplan, confirmed that after much silence there will be an update on Overwatch 2 during BlizzCon 2021. Kaplan also tried to manage expectations about the game in the update, saying that while the team is focused on developing Overwatch 2, it still has "a ways to go”.

The two big updates were mostly about two of the game's maps, which include a futuristic ancient Rome (as paradoxical as that sounds), and a New York City map based on a 1920s art deco style.

While we got some details about the sequel's gameplay, we didn't get a firm release date, not surprising given that Activision recently announced in an earnings call that Overwatch 2's release date has now slipped beyond 2021.

Diablo 4

Diablo 4

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Unlike Overwatch 2, we know a fair bit about Diablo 4 as Blizzard has been posting quarterly updates on the game's development.

At the moment, we know that the next core Diablo game is an isometric action role-playing game (RPG), which sees the return of Lilith, the daughter of Mephisto. We also know that the game will feature an open-world map and a non-linear campaign with five customizable classes to choose from, three of which were already announced. 

Blizzard has previously announced three classes: the barbarian, the sorceress, and the druid. Now, we know a fourth class, a throwback to the original Diablo, has been revealed: the bow-wielding thief.

Diablo 4 is being designed in a brand-new engine for PS4, Xbox One and PC, but given Sony and Microsoft have now launched the PS5 and Xbox Series X, it seems likely that the game will also be available on these consoles, too.

Unfortunately, however, it doesn't look likely that we'll get a firm release date for Diablo 4 either as it, alongside Overwatch 2, has seen it's release date slip beyond 2021.

Diablo Immortal

Diablo Immortal

(Image credit: Blizzard)

There was some controversy that the hugely popular demon-slaying franchise would be coming to smartphones after Diablo Immortal's reveal in 2018, with hardcore fans not entirely behind the idea. 

As it turns out, Diablo Immortal will be a mobile MMO. Our David Lumb attended a Q&A with lead designer Wyatt Chang and combat designer Julian Love that broke down some of the gameplay details about this new entry into the series.

We aren’t entirely sure where we stood before, but after a select number of publications were given access to an early alpha version of the game in early 2021, our hopes have certainly grown. According to IGN, Diablo Immortal is  “great – a proper new entry in the series, and not – as some feared - a watered-down mobile lookalike.”

Unlike Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4, it's possible that the Diablo Immortal release date could be in 2021 given the game is already in testing - although an official release window remains unconfirmed - so we were hoping that Blizzard woul.d confirm the release date at BlizzCon 2021. Unfortunately, all we got was that the game was continuing in alpha testing in the weeks and months ahead, so it remains to be seen.

Diablo 2: Resurrected

Diablo 2 Resurrected

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Rumors of the ‘Diablo 2 Resurrected’ remake had been making the rounds ahead of BlizzCon 2021 and they were confirmed Friday evening.

Rumors of a Diablo 2 remake have been circulating for years – many hoped that it would coincide with the games 20th anniversary in 2020, but that came and went with Blizzard focusing on Diablo 4 and the Diablo: Immortal mobile game instead. Recent reports suggested that a shake up at Blizzard was what was at the heart of the prolonged development.

According to a Bloomberg report, Blizzard's 'Team 1', which worked on Warcraft 3: Reforged, was originally tasked with reviving Diablo 2 but Activision got cold feet following Warcraft 3: Reforged's poor reception and disbanded the team. The report went on to indicate that Activision then brought in its former subsidiary Vicarious Visions, merging it with the development operations of Blizzard, and (as we reported last year) apparently tasking it with taking on the Diablo 2 mantle. 

From what we saw, it essentially looks like they have taken Diablo 2 and remastered it using Diablo 3's 3D engine. You can see the trailer for yourself below.

BlizzCon 2021 virtual tickets: where to get a virtual BlizzCon ticket and how much they cost

WoW: Shadowlands

(Image credit: Blizzard)

While BlizzCon tickets typically cost a pretty penny, this year the entire virtual event is free. Fans can watch all of BlizzCon 2021 for free, without the need to purchase a virtual ticket.

BlizzCon 2021 rewards

BlizzCon 2021

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Blizzard hasn't announced any rewards for tuning into BlizzCon 2021, however, to celebrate the publisher's 30th anniversary, Blizzard is offering commemorative in-game goodies for sale as part of three Celebration Collections. You can find out more about these collections here