Over the decades, Blizzard has managed to stay relevant and popular by building games with solid core gameplay and fascinating lore. People really get invested in their games. It would be easy to go about making them straight-faced and soberly. Thank the Queen of Blades they never have! Blizzard’s sense of humor, their ability to laugh at themselves and have fun in their worlds, is so appealing that it’s just as important to their success as anything. We’ve pulled together four of the best moments of Blizzard humor below. Just be sure to club Wirt to death before we go.
The Infamous Cow Level
You’re going to need that greedy bastard’s pegleg for our first bit of Blizzard humor. If you’ve beat the game once, and you combine it with a Tome of Town Portal, it’ll open a portal to a strange and terrifying world…but then, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Back in the dark depths of the early internet, circa 1996, ridiculous rumors would abound and become accepted fact without any evidence. (Well, perhaps things aren’t so different after all.) One that gained some traction was a story that the first Diablo contained a secret “Cow Level”. Blizzard denied there was a Cow Level over and over again, but the idea stuck. They even put a cheat code in Starcraft which read: “There is no cow level,” seemingly putting the story to bed.
But if you open that portal with Wirt’s Leg in Diablo II, there absolutely is a Cow Level. It has to be seen to be truly appreciated, but for those who can’t watch right now, it’s filled with bipedal, poleaxe-swinging cows saying “moo” in a deadpan human voice. It instantly became a beloved part of the normally grim and gory Diablo lore. So it was to some disappointment that when Diablo III came out, it had no Cow Level. It had a Pony Level. But don’t worry, they added a Cow Level this year.
Embracing Fan Humor
The Cow Level debacle showed that Blizzard wasn’t shy about adopting fan humor and cheekiness and adapting it into the canon of their games, but it definitely wasn’t the last time they did it. One of the first viral videos on the internet was the “Leeroy Jenkins wipe”, a clip showcasing an ill-fated raid on the Rookery in World of Warcraft. One player, avatar christened Leeroy Jenkins, is AFK (away from keyboard) whilst his teammates plan a complex and highly dubious strategy to succeed. He suddenly comes back, screams his own name, and charges haphazardly into the raid, bringing the entire group to their demise. It was a hit, and Leeroy successively became a WoW trading card, miniature, and NPC.
Oh, and he’s a Hearthstone card too. Leeroy’s player, Ben Schultz, even does the voice. And while we’re talking about Hearthstone cards and raid wipes, we have to mention the Raid Leader card, which speaks in the commanding and annoying platitudes of a infamously horrible raid leader from the early days of WoW.
Hearthstone Card Flavor Text
And while we’re talking about Hearthstone, we’ve got to dig into the gem that is Hearthstone’s flavor texts. Popularized by the golden standard of CCGs, Magic: The Gathering, flavor text normally tells you a little about where the card fits into the story of the game and gives you a sense of what your play would do in the fantasy word. In Hearthstone, flavor text used to the personal amusement of some demented designers. A host of in-jokes, puns, and pieces of absurd humor fill the pages of your collection, if you’ll only look. In fact, there’s such a variety of humor that it’s crazy to try and pick favorites!
But I will anyway. There’s Humility, with the flavor text “This card makes everything really damp. Oh wait. That’s ‘Humidity’.” There’s the flavor text box for Vanish, which contains nothing at all. And as I’ve mentioned before, I absolutely love the text for Arcane Nullifier X-21: “There was some hard talk between gnome magi and engineers about inventing this mech.” Ingenious. Seriously, half the reason I collect in Hearthstone is to get new flavor text.
Warcraft and StarCraft “Pissed Messages”
When you play an RTS, you click on every character a dizzying number of times, and hey, sometimes you click on the same thing a bunch out of boredom or mistake. But did you ever think about how those characters must feel to be touched and provoked so many times? In Blizzard’s RTS games, they let you know how they feel. It goes back to the very first Warcraft, but it’s just gotten more and more complicated since. In Warcraft III and StarCraft II, just about every unit has a number of phrases they’ll chat you up with, commonly known as the “pissed messages”.
It’s nice to get these little insights into the minds of your army. Orcish Peons will sometimes insist that they’re just not that kind of orc. The mighty Protoss Motherships will kindly instruct about its white zones. And the simple-minded sheep and boars will simply explode from stress. Perhaps the greatest thing to come out of these “pissed messages”, though, is the long-running “Darkness Calls” gag that is heard over several units and factions in Warcraft III. It’s brilliant, and worth tracking down every piece of it.
What are some of your favorite funny moments in Blizzard games? Let us know in the comments!
All images credit of: Blizzard Entertainment