Blizzard's latest addition to Heroes of the Storm — the anything-goes MOBA that amalgamates all of the company's games — is Lucio. the EDM artist and support hero in #Overwatch. Not only does he appear to be a strong, solid addition to Heroes of the Storm, he also appears to be an almost perfect translation of the character from one franchise to another.
But his appearance (and the whole of Heroes) makes one wonder: What does it look like when Blizzard decides to crossover its titles into something other than Heroes? Turns out, we have quite a few examples, as the company has been doing so from the very beginning.
The Crossovers Started A Long Time Ago
Blizzard is a company with a bigger history than the Big Three — that is, Diablo, StarCraft, and Warcraft — that really put it on the map. While there are a few more titles in the early-Blizzard roster, The Lost Vikings, Rock n' Roll Racing, and Blackthorne are the more prominent ones.
Now, because The Lost Vikings is the earliest of these, it's the game that gets to make the crossovers. If you've never played Heroes of the Storm, the Lost Vikings may be unfamiliar to you. So to preface, there are three of them: Olaf, Baleog, and Erik.
Two of these make an appearance in Rock n' Roll Racing — Olaf as a full-on hidden character, and Baleog apparently serving as the face of Viking Cola on several billboards throughout the game. Don't feel too bad for Erik, though, because all three of the Vikings get to appear in a hidden level of Blackthorne.
'Overwatch' Has References Left And Right
As I said, #Blizzard has a long history of crossing over aspects from one of its titles to another, and that really doesn't seem to be slowing down. Overwatch continues that trend with several crossover Easter Eggs (and several that are just the regular ol' kind of Easter Eggs). While there are more than I'm about to list, the following Easter Eggs cover each of the Big Three and have been in the game since beta.
The first one is the most obvious to find, but still one of my favorites: The #Diablo pinatas in Dorado. What makes them great isn't because they're hidden — quite the opposite, in fact. These pinatas are out in the open, waiting to be shot before exploding into glorious confetti. Even better, they are so hilariously not the normal Diablo aesthetic that they emphasize just what makes Blizzard's willingness to crossover their games so great.
The next two both take place in the Temple of Anubis map and are a bit more subtle. The first is only accessible if you're on defense, as it's hanging in the starting area in the room off to your right. It's the sort of thing you could look at and just assume to be an archaeological touch added to the Egyptian site. But StarCraft players may recognize it as a Hydralisk skull, a trophy of some brave, possibly dead collector.
And finally, we reach the World of Warcraft references. The first one is all around you in the Temple of Anubis, but something you'll never see if you're not looking. Hidden on several of the bricks is a Horde symbol, casually taking its place among the hierogylphics. Not showing favoritism, Blizzard similarly added several references to the Alliance in Hollywood — not only is Goldshire Pictures a reference to a well-known Alliance town, but its symbol is exactly that of the Alliance's.
WoW Has Far Too Many To List
All right, with a game spanning more than a decade in life (and not exactly slowing down thanks to its stellar #Legion expansion), it's not exactly surprising that the game would have its own collection of references. But it gets its own section because there are so many references to other franchises throughout. Frankly, there's no way I can cover them all, but here are some of the best:
- Kerrigan rules the Goblins. If you look inside any of the mechano suits that Goblins make, you'll be able to see the face of the Queen of Blades.
- Several other StarCraft references exist in game. My personal favorite comes on the Isle of Thunder in which an NPC carrying boxes to a quest hub reaches his destination and says, "Carrier has arrived!" — the same thing Protoss Carriers say when they are made.
- Three NPCs can be found in the Badlands zone and Uldama dungeon. Wanna know their names? Yup, Erik, Baleog, and Olaf.
- Stone Cairne Lake in Elwynn Forest. This is a reference to the Cairne Stones needed in Diablo II to make a town portal.
- It wouldn't be complete without Overwatch references. In addition to the quest "Justice Rains From Above" that was added with the latest expansion, the most recent patch also added "Ogrewatch" to the Brawler's Guild. Featuring characters like Hudson, Stuffshrew, and Dupree. In addition to the third's "Highnoon" ability, the others have abilities that mirror Winston and Junkrat's in-game abilities.
As I said, these are only a small sampling of what #WorldOfWarcraft has to offer. Their appeal may vary depending on what franchises you're familiar with, but it's hard to deny that there's a little something for fans of nearly every Blizzard title.
And Of Course, Before WoW, The Big Three Had Their Own Share Of References
Did I mention Blizzard has been doing this whole crossover thing for a while now? Because they have. And again, this is by no means exhaustive, but it's still fun to take a look at cross-game references from earlier titles in the Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo franchises.
Warcraft III features a Bandit Lord named Blackthorn — which has a 99% chance of being an obvious reference to the protagonist of the classic Blizzard title Blackthorne and a 1% chance of being the craziest naming coincidence ever. Sadly, this Blackthorn doesn't fare so well, as he's first possessed by the Banshee Queen Sylvanas and then likely killed in a battle fought in her name.
Up for a drink? The Hyperion cantina in StarCraft II features a delicious-sounding beverage called Moonwell Tequila. Why is that notable? Because the Night Elves of Warcraft heavily utilize Moonwells during Warcraft III (and beyond). If that weren't clear enough, the bottle has a picture of a Moonwell from Warcraft III on it.
Not sure how Diablo's world of Sanctuary could get any worse? Well, maybe the helm of the Lich King — which is hidden in the third act of Diablo III — will do the trick. Sadly (?), the helm is not something that you can actually equip. (Also, Blizzard apparently likes hiding the Lich King's armor in places, as he also makes an appearance in StarCraft II.)
Whew! It's hard to think that this list doesn't begin to scratch the surface on Blizzard's cross-franchise references — let alone all of the pop culture references! If nothing else, I hope it's been an entertaining look at Blizzard's history of crossovers. Here's to them continuing the trend!
Which Blizzard crossover is your favorite? Is there one not on this list that should be?