I Am Prepared But Blizzard Will Not Rest

Blizzard HQ

Ten years ago I was bitten hard by a Blizzard bug. The launch of World of Warcraft was the only time in my life where I dedicated most of my game time to a single game. It was glorious and I was content. After a couple of years, I rediscovered the truth that I am happiest when I’m juggling multiple games across different genres. I vowed never to go back to a limited gaming lifestyle.

Something unexpected started happening in 2014, I saw a majority of my gaming time going back to Blizzard. It hit me that I could have been completely content playing only Blizzard games last year. Navigating the near future looks even more dangerous if I want to keep up a varied gaming regimen. It’s time to acknowledge the problem before I make some decisions that I may not come back from anytime soon.

Wanna play cards? Never

It all started innocently enough with a game genre that had never threatened me before. I had to try Hearthstone. I mean, why not? It was free, I adore Warcraft references, and who knows, maybe I’d end up enjoying a card game.

Hearthstone Board

This. This is fun? This is fun!

It was easy to keep it casual until the tablet version came out. Then, all of a sudden I had a problem. I found myself playing multiple matches a day. I was playing Hearthstone while I was doing other activities like watching TV or listening to podcasts. This was abnormal behavior for me. Hearthstone was special. I didn’t notice at the time but Hearthstone was the only game I really played for about 8 weeks straight.

Hearthstone caught me off guard, I didn’t realize I was addicted until well after its claws were into me. It took me a while to shake free enough to get back to other games and still balance Hearthstone matches here and there. I wasn’t going to dedicate myself to one game. I wasn’t going to make that mistake again.

Reaper of Seasons

I don’t know how it happened but the game I was the most into before and after my Hearthstone addiction was also a Blizzard game. It’s ok though, Diablo was a known quantity to me so it would never be a real threat to taking over my life. After all, the original release of Diablo III didn’t suck me in even though I enjoyed the game. I could handle this devil.

When Diablo III: Reaper of Souls first came out in the spring of ’14, I joined in on the Horrible Night marathon and three of us were able to run through the entire story mode. It was awesome. Diablo III had come a long way and finally it seemed to be fulfilling on its original promise. The core game was lot more fun than it was around its original launch. I was heavily into it for a 4-6 week period, but no other games were really coming out at the time so I didn’t think much of it. As my personal schedule changed, I ended up taking a break from console/PC gaming which opened the door for the Summer of Hearthstone. Looking back now, I realize I didn’t actually stop playing Diablo III so much as I was forced to move on.

Reaper of Souls

I knew you looked too confident.

The real problem came that Fall. It turns out that Diablo III just kept right on improving while I was hanging with my Hearthstone cards. When I came back, I discovered that the Seasons mode had been added to the game which gave me enough of a reason to start a new character. It tricked us all and made Diablo III feel fresh again. I got sucked into another run through the story mode plus all of the adventure mode I could handle with multiple characters. I was lost in loot. I just wanted to play one more dungeon in Diablo III to see what new hat or weapon I would get. Repeat. Forever. I was hooked until Destiny showed up and saved me by tricking me with its shinier gun loot. That was probably the one heroic thing Destiny did all year.

Gotta Go Back in Time

At this point I figured I was safe. Big games were coming out and I started paying attention to my backlog from the rest of the year. Normalcy had been restored, and I was well on my way to working through my game of the year contenders. I even had enough time for a casual detour into the World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor beta. I decided that even though I definitely wanted to buy the game, I could wait until 2015 to get into it. I was actually proud of myself for not giving in.

Ner'zhul

What have I done? Again.

I wasn’t playing, but I couldn’t keep WoW completely out of my mind. I started planning my return. I thought I would just start a new character class and play through a different version of old content like I always do when I come back to WoW. My mind wandered some more and I started thinking about what Blizzard had added/changed with the expansion. I started to get much more excited about playing and remembered that I had a character boost to use that would let me get right to the new stuff. Instead of playing old content with a class that I didn’t know, I decided to immediately use my character boost on the class I loved. I couldn’t hold off any longer. It was the best decision I had made in WoW since I started the game over 10 years ago. Out of nowhere, Warlords of Draenor became a much more important game to me in 2014 than I had anticipated.

Nothing to Worry About

The appeal of Diablo and WoW is not really news. The addition of Hearthstone, though, started to make things interesting. Blizzard’s games were starting to check off a few more boxes when it comes to why I choose to play a game in any given moment:

Diablo III has me covered for:

  • all the loot
  • action
  • short and long gaming sessions
  • co-op multiplayer
  • role-playing
  • seasonal characters

World of Warcraft has me covered for:

  • massively multiplayer games
  • role-playing
  • adventure and exploration
  • good lookin’ loot
  • short and long gaming sessions
  • co-op multiplayer with large groups

Hearthstone has me covered for:

  • mobile gaming
  • short gaming sessions
  • competitive multiplayer
  • it’s a card/puzzle game

Hearthstone is very different from other Blizzard games, yet it hooked me just like its updates to its classic games. What will the next games from Blizzard do to me?

I Don’t Know if I Want You to Succeed or Fail

I’ve already been tempted by the Heroes of the Storm beta. On the surface, I should be safe as I’ve never gotten into MOBAs. I have successfully fended off Dota 2 on multiple occasions. However, those same hooks that drew me into Hearthstone seem to be readily apparent in HotS:

  1. HotS is positioned as the accessible entry-level MOBA with its focus on team success over individuals dominating the game.
  2. It features charming, well-known characters from the Blizzard universe.
  3. It’s going to be free to play.

Add those up, and there’s no reason for me to not at least try the game. Talk about deja vu.

Overwatch

Nice to meet you.

After HotS officially releases and my eventual addiction grows, my mind will also start picking at Blizzard’s other upcoming game – Overwatch. We don’t know too much about this game, so it’s hard to judge it based off of anything more than pedigree. What we do know is that it’s a team-based shooter. A shooter? From Blizzard? That really got me thinking:

(Potentially) Heroes of the Storm has me covered for:

  • competitive multiplayer
  • short play sessions
  • co-op multiplayer
  • action
  • strategy
  • other surprises

(Potentially) Overwatch has me covered for:

  • first person shooting
  • action
  • co-op and competitive multiplayer
  • unique setting and characters
  • other surprises

Adding in HotS and Overwatch, it really looks like Blizzard will have about every genre of game covered that I care about. I’m really screwed if Blizzard ever decides to revisit Rock ‘n Roll Racing or its 2D platformers. Hell, if I get super bored and need a sci-fi hit, I could finally give Starcraft II a fair chance. I should give up now.

Rock n Roll Racing

Where are you, Olaf?

I’m not saying that all of these games are the best in their genre or that they will have the same draw for everyone. I just know that if my mind didn’t naturally seek out other games, I could theoretically be as happy playing games just from Blizzard’s library. That revelation is both awesome and terrifying to me.

I never want to be that guy that only plays one kind of anything, but I could totally relate to him. I think I’m in the clear, but I also know that I’m the closest I’ve been to the danger zone in a decade. If I suddenly fall off the face of the internet, you know where to find me. This is your warning should I ever need a Blizzard intervention.