Blizzard Worldwide Invitational: Day One

Illustration for article titled Blizzard Worldwide Invitational: Day One

By Lesley Smith

So the first day of Blizzard's Worldwide Invitational is over: Diablo III is official and fans stream out into the streets of Paris to rejoice. Of course the Opening Ceremony wasn't the end of the event; merely the beginning.

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The ceremony itself took place on the main stage which was jam-packed with over 3,500 people and many more standing. Attended by press from all around the world as well as several special guests such as the VPs of Global Finance and Human Resources (yep, we were all humbled too). Hosted by pop star China and stand up comedian and film star Anthony Kavangh, the event saw Blizzard co-founder Mike Morhaime take to the stage and congratulate the gamers of Europe as well as reminding all those present that this is the first time an invitational has been held outside of Korea. He took us on a trip back in time to last year's event in Seoul – a movie which includes a classic sound bite in the making from a teenaged Korean fan: "It's fun because Blizzard made it." Morhaime also commented on the Activision-Blizzard merger, provoking laughter when he said they'd ‘leveled up'.

The ceremony concluded in a musical fashion, in keeping with last year's Korean pop idols. A troupe of Fire Dancers who performed to composer Russell Brower's latest composition from the soundtrack of Diablo III. With the conclusion of the ceremony, the attendees scattered with the journos heading to a press event with leader designer Jay Wilson and VP/co-founder Frank Pearce.

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Because of the top-secret-but-everyone-knows-about-it announcement about Diablo III, the panels weren't announced until after the ceremony had concluded and suddenly the convention floor was flooded with plans detailing the numerous talks, several of which focus on, yes you guessed it, Diablo. There were also some dev panels focusing on the present and future classes of World of Warcraft and several StarCraft panels.

Interspersed between was the chance to watch ace European guild Nihilum raiding in Sunwell Plateau trying to down Kil'Jaeden or watching a huge selection of pro-gamers battling it out for top spot. Esports is a big part of any invitational so they are running nearly none stop over the two day event and each team of professional gamers was paraded on the main stage as part of the Opening Ceremony.

Split across two floors, there are also numerous booths such as the Blizzard Museum and the famous Darkmoon Faire, complete with life-sized scantily-clad Night Elf, a mail box, meeting stone and a turtle mount. The event sponsors – who include Intel and amBX – also had their own booths but it was the Starcraft II and Wrath of the Lich King areas which seemed to attract attention, with an even longer line than the one for the food vendors, although not quite as long as the one at the main entrance. Unfortunately the Wrath computers were suffering technical hitches meaning they kept freezing, very handy if you're trying to explore Howling Fjord but what's an event without a technical hitch or three? Check back tomorrow for hands on preview of both games.

Other fun activities were available such as an Armourer and the chance to get made up as a World of Warcraft character and have a photo taken against a suitably Azerothian background. But for many the biggest photo opportunity was the life-sized Frozen Throne, complete with Arthas's creepy crown. Very in keeping, despite the lack of Wrath-related announcements.

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Check back tomorrow when we'll be bringing you more coverage from the WWI, including coverage of the epic closing ceremony and WoW and StarCraft Q and A.

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DISCUSSION

@gamadaya: Forward:(I'm speaking about Diablo II here, because it was the much more enduring of the two). Diablo wasn't exactly revolutionary for it's time, no matter how you slice it. That's not the reason it's a classic. It was a game that was one of the best of it's genre, similar to how, say FFVII wasn't the first rpg, but it's recognized as one of the best ever.

Diablo's graphics are sprite-based with an isometric perspective (I think someone mentioned this already). This gave the developers of the time the ability to craft a lush, rich enviroment with the limited power of the systems available. Thus, we get a game that appeared to be way ahead of its time, and still looks good, even today.

The core of the game is hack-and-slash dungeon crawling. The reason Diablo does this well is because it's so fast. You're forced to think on your feet and play quickly or be overwhelmed, and that makes it half action game, half dungeon-crawler.

The enviroments are gorgeous and immersive, and the enemies are well done and interesting to battle (except Duriel. I hate that fucking maggot). The subject matter may be cliche (hell invades earth) but the story is rich with character, even if thin on plot, and this carries it very far.

Collectors and people that enjoy rewards adore the game, because every game the items you win from defeated foes are randomized, with a few notable exceptions required to finish quests. This makes every playthrough interesting and keeps the game fresh, even when taking your fifth class to Level 99. Having those multiple classes just spices up the gameplay further and adds replay value, especially when they're given awesome skills (like the Druid's ability to transform into a Werewolf).

Fighting monstrous bosses (except Duriel >:() and winning awesome treasure gives the game an extremely rewarding feeling, which is why a lot of players come back, myself included. I think it's addictive qualities are different than WoW, whose main goal is to level up your character, whereas the addiction (at least for me) in Diablo springs from the feeling that you're playing a brand new game every time. It takes it a very, very long time to get old, even when the stuff you're doing is repetitive.

At its worst, the game is cathartic, allowing you to zone out and slice your way through the lower levels with a smile on your face, at its best, its fast paced action and massive spells against the minions of destruction.

And don't even get me started on online play and PvP. :)

Give it a shot. Blizzard doesn't often disappoint, and D2 is merely proof that they're one of the best developers in the business.