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BlizzCon 2011: The 4 Most Important Announcements

Another year, another World of Warcraft-Diablo-StarCraft mashup. Here's what you need to know about what went down this weekend.

You probably don't want to hear about Blizzard today, what with Battlefield 3 shipping to stores and launching tonight, so here's the Cliff's Notes version of what went down at BlizzCon 2011 this weekend.

Blizzard announced it was giving Diablo III away for free. Well, "free" in the twofer sense. You can have Diablo III gratis, so long as you sign up for a year's subscription to World of Warcraft, or what Blizzard calls its WoW Annual Pass. To participate, you also have to have registered a full version of World of Warcraft on or before October 18, 2011 (sorry newcomers, or should I say latecomers). You'll also have to complete your one-year term to keep Diablo III free and clear—cancel beforehand, and your privileges will be revoked (yep, Diablo III requires you be online to play, something 66% of 1,037 people said they were "furious" about in our online poll).

Kung Fu Panda 3 will be a World of Warcraft expansion. Not really, but just look at this thing. I fully expect DreamWorks and Activision Blizzard to come to blows. In the meantime, yes, it's an expansion—the game's fourth—with pandas (and yes, we've known about it for months). Breakdown: new level cap of 90, a new monk class, and the game's first "neutral" race, the pandaren, which means they'll be playable as either Horde or Alliance.

Meet Blizzard DOTA. That's "Defense of the Ancients," for the uninitiated. DOTA was a team-based Warcraft III mod that went viral, and now it's also an official StarCraft II mod starring Blizzard's most popular characters, e.g. Thrall, Arthos, the Queen of Blades, Muradin, and so forth. If you're confused, the video below reveals all.

The ridiculously gorgeous StarCraft II: Heart of Swarm teaser trailer. It's just a glimpse of what's coming, probably sometime next spring, but Blizzard claims it's "cinematic...footage rendered entirely within the StarCraft II game engine." Really, for that reason alone, you'll want to have a look at this thing.

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