New World Of Warcraft expansion is Shadowlands, Hearthstone getting autobattler

The opening ceremony for BlizzCon is now over and apart from a bunch of new games it’s also brought an apology from Blizzard.

Even before the controversy over Hong Kong pro-democracy protests, BlizzCon 2019 was an important event to get right for Blizzard, considering how badly the last one went.

So it’s no surprise they came out all guns blazing, with announcements for Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4. But that wasn’t everything, with World Of Warcraft also getting a new expansion called Shadowlands.

Shadowlands will be the eighth expansion for the venerable MMO and launches sometime next year. Shadowlands is the afterlife of the Warcraft universe and will feature five separate Covenants who are in charge of different planes – some heavenly and some hellish.

Card game Hearthstone is also getting an expansion, called Descent Of Dragons, which will be out later this year. Plus, there’s set to be a new eight-player autobattler mode, as popularised by Dota Auto Chess, called Hearthstone Battlegrounds.

Hearthstone was the game at the centre of controversies over Blizzard’s treatment of a player who publicly supported pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. He was originally banned for a year and had his prize money taken away, but Blizzard eventually relented and reduced the ban to six months.

Blizzard CEO J. Allen Brack took to the stage at BlizzCon and said that, ‘Blizzard had the opportunity to bring the world together in a tough Hearthstone esports moment a month ago and we did not. We moved too quickly in our decision-making and to make matters worse we were too slow to talk to all of you.

‘We will do better going forward, but our actions are going to matter more than any of these words. As you walk around this weekend I hope it’s clear how committed we are to everyone’s right to express themselves, in all kinds of ways, in all kinds of places. I’ve actually seen and heard many of you expressing yourselves this morning.’

That last is a reference to protests outside BlizzCon itself, where protesters were handing out pro-Hong Kong T-shirts and Winnie the Pooh cosplay had suddenly become very popular.

(Winnie the Pooh is frequently banned or censored in China, after people suggested leader Xi Jinping looked like him.)

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