Blizzcon was full of exciting events, and every game, including Overwatch, received new things for fans to be excited about!
Overwatch had lots of news at Blizzcon, from a new animated series to the release of the final three heroes for a total of 21.
The three new heroes curve out the current roster, balancing some heroes that were heralded as overpowered. Officially announced at Blizzcon was Mei, a new Defense-class hero with ice abilities, D.VA, a new Tank-class hero with a piloted mech, and Genji, a new Offense-class hero with Ninja abilities. Mei deals well with many problems that Offensive heroes presented by freezing them in their tracks while D.VA deals with poorly positioned teams with her ability to self-destruct her piloted mechsuit. Genji is another highly-mobile Offensive hero, but many of his abilities focus on vertical movement instead of teleportation. The three round out the currently planned 21 hero roster for release, but more may be added after the game releases in Spring 2016 through expansion packs or DLC.
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In addition to the heroes, a new map was announced: Hollywood. It is a payload style map set in and around the Hollywood studios, featuring three areas, Goldshire Studio, based on a World of Warcraft zone, Pioneer, styled like a Cowboy Saloon, and a Sci-Fi themed zone. The map includes many easter eggs that reference other Blizzard games, such as Hearthstone and Warcraft Alliance logos.
The development team also gave a huge information dump of concrete facts about the game’s development cycle. It is currently in a Closed Beta phase planned to end by 2016, which will then turn into an Open Beta until launch. The game is currently scheduled to release on or prior to June 21, 2016. The game is available to preorder as a $39.99 USD base or as a $59.99 USD Origins Edition. Preordering either nets a bonus of a special Widowmaker skin, and the Origins Edition also includes another 5 additional skins and in-game cross-promo goodies for all other Blizzard games. The Overwatch Collector’s Edition is available to preorder from select retailers at $129.99 USD and includes all the Origins Edition content as well as the Visual Sourcebook, the Overwatch Soundtrack, and a Soldier 76 Statue. All editions are available for the PC, Xbox One, or Playstation 4.
Technical details about the game’s current status were revealed as well. There is currently no PC version for Overwatch because the game’s engine is newer than that of other Blizzard games. The engine includes the new Blizzard voice communication system. New game modes besides Control Points and Payload are being tested internally, but none have been finalized as of yet. Additionally, it is planned to support controllers on the PC version of Overwatch, but plan to keep console and PC matchmaking separate. Currently, a rewards system is not implemented despite having gone through several variations. The idea is to have a progression system that does not limit players to certain heroes so that they can effectively switch between them to better help their team.
The Overwatch lore panel revealed the backstories of several characters that fans had already linked, including Genji and Hanzo’s relationship and Winston and Tracer’s long lasting friendship. The game’s development team revealed that they are also working on graphic novel based on the lore of Overwatch, specifically telling the story of the first Overwatch strike team that saved the world. Finally, the animation team plans to produce more high quality cinematics such as the cinematic trailer in the future.
Many things were announced, but best of all, Blizzard plans to be actively involved with Overwatch’s growth for a long time after release. This guarantees new content in much the same way that Hearthstone currently receives it: periodic but of high quality. Blizzard’s reputation of making top notch products gives hope that Overwatch will also be another smash hit that everyone will still remember and play ten or more years after its release.