7 things you need to know from BlizzCon 2018's opening ceremony

If you're a fan of Blizzard Entertainment games, this is your E3. The studio behind everlasting hits like Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and Hearthstone, and more is currently hosting its annual convention in the Anaheim Convention Center, and as always, things kicked off with an opening ceremony full of announcements. We've embedded Blizzard's official BlizzCon 2018 stream VOD above, but if you want to save yourself some time, read on for all the biggest announcements and trailers from the show. We can't wait to try out the new content and games that were revealed this year - particularly Overwatch's Ashe, who needs to get here ASAP. 

Destiny 2 is being given away to PC players free, starting now 

This wasn't announced on stage, but it should've been. To celebrate Destiny 2's one-year anniversary, the Activision part of Activision Blizzard is doing something quite generous: giving away its shared-world shooter for free on PC from now until November 18. Anyone who downloads the game through the Battle.net client will get to keep it forever - the perfect way to dip your toes in and get a taste of life as a Guardian if you haven't played yet. You'll still have to buy the Forsaken expansion if you plan to see the newest content, but inviting fresh players by giving away the base game will only benefit its hardcore and soon-to-be fans.  

Heroes of the Storm's upcoming hero is a brand-new character 

In a first for the game, Heroes of the Storm is introducing a character born entirely of the Nexus setting, having never appeared in a Blizzard game or property before. It's also a big payoff for HotS' focus on unique storylines, and the saga following the villainous Raven Lord. Meet Orphea, daughter of the Raven Lord and a formidable caster of death magic (which somehow gives her the strength to carry a coffin that's bigger than she is on her back). Her kit includes some huge area-of-effect abilities, with toothed maws that look like the tentacles from the cult classic shooter The Darkness. Blizzard also added some huge pieces of fan service with the Janitor Leoric skin - a fan creation that people have requested for months - and a new announcer featuring Kevin from the Heroes dev team, the kindly developer who narrates all the HotS videos.

World of Warcraft Classic coming next summer 

John Hight, executive producer on World of Warcraft, confirmed that WoW Classic is coming in summer 2019. Anyone with an active WoW subscription will have access to Classic when it launches - it won't be a separate fee for those who want to take a trip back in time to 2004. Those with Virtual BlizzCon tickets can try out an exclusive demo available now. Hight also revealed the new charity pet - Whomper, a young yeti with an adorable pout - and more info about the next content drop for World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, entitled Tides of Vengeance. It'll include a new raid set in Zandalar that has unique permutations for Horde and Alliance players, which is a first. A handsome new cinematic named Lost Honor was also debuted, showing the Alliance leader Anduin making a pact with Saurfang, the Horde's prisoner of war, as they vow to somehow take down Sylvanas.    

Ashe is the 29th Overwatch hero 

It's Jeff from the Overwatch team! After a bit of a gaffe where Hearthstone's Ben Thompson couldn't get a working microphone, things kicked over to the beloved game director on Overwatch, Jeff Kaplan. Jeff regaled his captive audience with an amusing anecdote about his nephew hating on Moira (how dare he) before amping up the crowd for a new animated short: Reunion. It features McCree squaring off against the Deadlock gang, led by his frenemy Ashe - a cowgirl with a hunting rifle and Overwatch's 29th hero. 

Ashe has an amazing-looking ability kit, with her semi-automatic, aim-down-sights Viper rifle, a stick of dynamite that can be shot in midair to decimate shields, the sawed-off Coach Gun that knocks back enemies or lets Ashe rocket-jump to new heights, and her ultimate that tags in fellow gang member and mustachioed omnic B.O.B. (no relation to the Outkast song). As with every Overwatch reveal, Ashe is already a hit with fans, voiced by Jennifer Hale (who you may know as Diablo 3's Leah or Mass Effect's female Shepard). The Reunion film also teased what could be a new hero for later down the line: Echo, a hovering robot with a holographic face who McCree awakens from a cybernetic slumber. We'll surely learn more about Echo in the months to come. 

Warcraft 3 Reforged remasters the seminal RTS 

Blizzard's Classic Games division is dedicated to refurbishing timeless titles from the studio's history and modernizing them for a new audience. Warcraft 3 is the next game after the original StarCraft to get the remastered treatment with Warcraft 3 Reforged, which makes massive upgrades to the famed RTS. With redone models and animations on all units, a new UI, 4K visuals, and an improved world editor, Warcraft 3 Reforged is looking gorgeous indeed. Those on the BlizzCon 2018 showfloor have the chance to play classic mission The Culling, an event that started Arthas on the dark path towards becoming the Lich King. You can pre-order the Reforged Spoils of War Edition now at playwarcraft3.com, which will unlock items for Diablo 3, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, both StarCrafts, and World of Warcraft (in the form of a meat wagon mount complete with functioning catapult). 

Hearthstone's next expansion is the troll-tastic Rastakhan's Rumble 

Recovering from the earlier mic issues, Ben Thompson returned to show us Rastakhan's Rumble, the next Hearthstone expansion coming December 4 (with pre-orders now available, of course). Taking place in the iconic Gurubashi Arena in WoW's Stranglethorn Vale, this set revolves around gladiatorial troll battles, illustrated by another delightful trailer. The Legendary cycles in Rastakham's Rumble will feature the nine Loa animal gods from troll culture, and the nine class champions who fight on their behalf. Each class will also get its own Rare minion that's a 0/3 with stealth for one turn and powerful passive abilities. A new keyword for the set is Overkill, which rewards you with powerful effects for killing minions with more damage than needed. An example given was a weapon that can attack again after a successful Overkill. 

Diablo Immortal is on mobile, with a story set between the second and third games 

This is bound to come as a bit of a disappointment to anyone who was expecting Diablo 4 proper - but new Diablo content with the classic isometric gameplay is nothing to sneeze at. Principal game designer Wyatt Cheng introduced Diablo Immortal, a mobile entry in the series made in partnership with NetEase Games. Immortal takes place between the conclusion of Diablo 2's Lord of Destruction expansion, where Tyrael smashed the Worldstone to bits after Baal corrupted it, and the familiar story of Diablo 3 and the Lord of Terror's return. It'll have six playable classes: Monk, Wizard, Barbarian, Necromancer, Demon Hunter, and Crusader (no love for the Witch Doctor, it seems), controlled with virtual joysticks and onscreen ability buttons. Footage was shown of online play with six heroes at once, and the graphics looked pretty impressive for mobile (albeit a bit more zoomed in than we're used to). 

Lucas Sullivan

Lucas Sullivan is the former US Managing Editor of GamesRadar+. Lucas spent seven years working for GR, starting as an Associate Editor in 2012 before climbing the ranks. He left us in 2019 to pursue a career path on the other side of the fence, joining 2K Games as a Global Content Manager. Lucas doesn't get to write about games like Borderlands and Mafia anymore, but he does get to help make and market them.