BlizzCon 2015 LIVE: Overwatch: What’s New

Overwatch

01:40: Something about different versions of heroes, including genderbending? They don’t want to genderbend their heroes at the moment.

When will the 3 new heroes be available on beta? Next week! Maybe

Splitscreen co-op on consoles? No plans to support, killer idea though!

Can you change the UI at all? FoV slider was implemented, you an hit alt+Z to get rid of the UI altogether. There’s desire for changing the reticle, but it’s low priority.

Balancing characters – are you going to be making a league for console and/or PC versions? Blizzard look at all three platforms and treat them as equals, so if there will be a league it will be for all three systems, but no official plans yet.

01:34: Design Process for new heroes? Both design and art pitch ideas to each other to see if they worked or not

Any heroes that you wanted but didn’t work out well Blizzard always works on an iterative process, in the past year Bastion has had 5 different ultimate abilities!

Mod-friendliness? Studio philosophy has usually been mod friendly: addons in WoW, DotA spawning from Warcraft III being primary examples. No plans for Overwatch for now, but definitely something they’d like to do if they can make their engine available for public use.

Diversification for more than 21 heroes, how to avoid homogenisation? This feels like a repeat answer here – they’re happy with the 21 heroes! But for the 9 they’ve added over the past year they have a palette of ideas that they hope can work and constantly iterate on to see if it does work, but the plan is only 21 heroes.

01:28: Question time!

Mac version of the game? Blizzard have supported Macs in the past, but for Overwatch it’s too challenging to get it working on that platform

Different modes within the game? Non-switching of characters, etc? Testing different modes all the time, such as capture the flag, but it’s challenging with the hero pool they have. Tracer using blink with the flag, for example.

Controller for PC? It already works, but none specific for Overwatch were planned.

Mei’s ability placement is confusing Bring feedback on how it feels once you play her – but you can rebind your keys to make it easier for you, but per hero binds are coming!

Pricing plan post 21 heroes? At the moment, only 21 heroes is the plan regardless – not sure if they want to add more heroes.

01:26: D.Va and Genji are designed as counters to Widowmaker, but Blizzard would always love to hear feedback on not just the new heroes, but new battlegrounds and existing heroes and systems in the game!

01:19: The original design of Genji was in fact for him to be both Genji and Hanzo in one, a cyborg that has a sword and a bow, but eventually they split that along with the two brothers story. His abilities include his heroic Dragonblade, which is a massive damage boost to himself, he can throw shuriken knives from his arms, either three at a time or once. Swift Strike is his second ability that allows him to charge forward and quickly strike with his secondary weapon – including targets in the air! Finally, Deflect allows him to redirect ranged attacks at a target, as he shoots a rocket back at Pharah in the video preview. He’s a mobile character with double jumps and wall climbing abilities too.

01:16: Genji, the robot ninja is the final hero to be previewed. He is Hanzo’s younger brother, and was a troublemaker. When Hanzo rises to be the leader of the Shimada clan, the clan elders tell Hanzo that he has to do something about his brother, and when he confronts his brother, he deals a fatal strike to Genji. Left for dead, he then gets picked up by Overwatch and gets fixed up into the cyborg we see him as today.

01:14: It seems that the boosters that are similar to Reinhardt’s charge includes flight and movement around too!

01:10: An interesting concept for her is that the mech can die, but she will jump out and have to wait for the mech to rebuild while she shoots with a light gun (the rebuilding of the mech is her second ultimate while she’s out of the mech). While inside the mech however, she has fusion guns, boosters similar to Reinhardt’s charge, a Defense Matrix that works like a shield against projectiles – good counter to Pharah’s or Reaper’s ult! Self Destruct is her ultimate, where she jumps out of the mech and sets it to explode for massive damage.

01:05: D.Va is an ex pro-gamer that pilots a pink robot to defend her home. Because cutesy people have to also be badasses that we all want to be, right? A mech hero is something that the development team really wanted to do, and began by having the mech work with her, but then decided that she would be piloting it herself. Eventually she got bigger and better guns, before someone decided that she ought to fly. After a couple more iterations we got what we see as her now.

01:02: While she is squishy, she does have the ability to ice block herself, making her a collidable object – so she could be used to jump in the way of fire and ice block the damage off! She can also cast a Blizzard as her ultimate to freeze and deal a fair chunk of damage to anyone caught within it.

00:56: Mei is a new hero that is a scientist for Overwatch that was doing research in Antarctica. The eco-watch point got separated from Overwatch and she used the resources she had to huddle up and wait for help to come. The concept behind her is an ice warrior that focuses on freezing her enemies and create walls and control the enemy team. She’s an interesting concept of having a non-warrior that’s hasn’t been battle-hardened – she’s a scientist, and her mechanics reflect that. She doesn’t do much damage and isn’t tanky at all, but her strength will be in her control, and ability to create new pathways with her ice wall.

00:52: Hollywood is the newest map to be introduced, where you go to Goldshire Studios at a chokepoint and go to a backlot with plenty of sets that looks like somewhere McCree will be at home. There is also a sound studio with an aliens and spaceship theme (is this even futuristic at this stage or just fantasy?). It’s a good light-hearted map in comparison to some like the Gibraltar map, for sure.

00:49: With release to consoles, this game will reach a much larger crowd. It was the goal from initial concept, as opposed to Diablo which was thought about at a later date. There was a slip-up that hinted at the console release with the option of it in the beta with aim assist. Console players and PC players will be separate, even PS4 will only play against PS4 players.

00:47: Beta Overview so far, there have been 82,000 matches in total as of last Tuesday. Additional stats include average match length being 7m34s. Really nice, quick games in there! The most played hero is our rocket launcher wielding Egyptian Pharah, while Symmetra has the highest winrate, thanks to her shields more than her teleporter.

00:45: The game that’s on many people’s lips right now is Overwatch, as the past week on Twitch seems to have proven with its opening of the beta. No invite for me yet, but I’m still interested in finding out What’s New on the main stage tonight. We’ll be discussing the newest heroes, maps and gameplay features over this next hour to round out the live updates for today. On the panel stage is the panel I’m least enthusiastic about as it’s competitive multiplayer for StarCraft II, but I imagine I’ll be discussing it later on! This will be the last panel I’m covering tonight, let’s hope it’s a good one!

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BlizzCon: Live Updates and Initial Thoughts!

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BlizzCon is looming closer, with more and more leaks and announcements steadily making their way into the internet. While they all look pretty cool, it’s a rare moment for me to want to avoid these potential leaks and wait these final few days to hear them from Blizzard’s own mouth, instead of somebody trolling Reddit or MMO-Champion. There have been an increasing amount of fake news and people spouting that they’re some Chinese Scrolls of Lore legitimate leaker, that I’ve been disillusioned by many of the spoilers over the past year.

Nevertheless, I have access to the Virtual Ticket this year instead of going to BlizzCon itself, and I’ll be watching particular panels throughout the event and will be attempting to do live updates of those panels I watch. This will be the first time I ever do anything like this, and the events go late into the night local time for me, so it’ll likely be terrible and an excellent learning experience for next time!

You can expect live updates (hopefully) for the following panels. All times are in GMT:

Friday

  • 19:00-19:45: Opening Ceremony
  • 20:30-22:00: World of Warcraft: Legion – World and Content Overview
  • 22:15-23:15: Heroes of the Storm – Hero Deep Dive
  • 23:30-00:30: Blood and Treasure – New Content and Features for Reaper of Souls
  • 00:45-01:45: Overwatch: What’s New

Saturday

  • 19:30-20:30: Heroes of the Storm – State of the Game
  • 21:00-22:00: World of Warcraft: Legion – Game Systems
  • 22:30-23:30: World of Warcraft Q&A
  • 00:00-01:00: Heroes of the Storm: Battlegrounds

No Hearthstone or Starcraft details from me unfortunately, but that’s largely because I haven’t invested much time into those games and feel that my initial thoughts wouldn’t venture far from simple “Ooh that’s pretty cool” when in fact it ends up being something not worth talking about or disgustingly OP. Also, as you may notice because of both main stage and panel stage events being on at the same time I’ll only be able to cover half the panels – the rest will have to be watched and discussed later on. Be sure to check out my BlizzCon post from two weeks ago to remind yourselves of what to expect at these panels.

Overwatch in Heroes of the Storm

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With Overwatch beta starting earlier this week, it seems that the Heroes community exploded once again with adding these characters from Overwatch into Heroes. I mean, with characters there having 4-5 abilities already it seems simple enough to port these over to Heroes. I get Blizzard‘s stance on wanting to sit on these heroes until Overwatch becomes a success and releases, as we know even Starcraft: Ghost ended up being scrapped even after playable demo’s of it were available, but I really don’t see the project being scrapped altogether.

I can, however, see some heroes that might be getting complete overhauls. I haven’t been watching too many streams and can’t see any outlying overpowered or clunky heroes that would need to get this treatment (like what Illidan received in Alpha – video link to what he was like before), but if the beta rolls out further and Blizzard feels that certain heroes just don’t play well, we could see new kits that would end up being outdated in HotS if they were already ported over. Not only that, but Heroes in HotS generally have 6 skills if you include two heroics and trait, when in Overwatch it seems the standard abilities is only 4.

Overwatch Widowmaker

That being said, many people are still suggesting not just new heroes entirely, but they’re also suggesting skins for existing heroes, to make Gazlowe look like Torbjörn, Nova look like Widowmaker and Stitches look like Roadhog. The problem in these circumstances is similar to those mentioned above: Torbjörn doesn’t use laser beams or bombs (in either a gravity or stunning sense), Widowmaker doesn’t make decoys of herself or run around invisible most of the game and the similarities between Stitches and Roadhog stops at the hook.

HotS will have overlap of abilities at certain points, it’s always going to be more about the kit in general rather than looking at a single ability and saying “Hurr Chen’s Flying Kick and Illidan’s Dive both do the same thing, so they should be a skin of the other”. Heck, we could even say Roadhog’s Chain Hook pulls an enemy toward him for 0.5sec, leaves them where they land (assuming passable terrain) and slows them for 35% to differentiate two different hook mechanics.

Overwatch Reaper

Another interesting crossover I’ve seen noticed is Reaper and Valla. After all, Death Blossom looks very similar to Strafe after all, and with an epic skin Vault could be reskinned to look like Shadow Step or Wraith Form from Reaper. Hellfire Shotguns could both be shot to make Multishot a viable reskin. Hungering Arrow could have some kind of shadowy/wraithlike shot, and Rain of Vengeance… Is where it kind of falls short. Plus, we merged both Shadow Step and Wraith Form into one ability where both of them as separate abilities enhances his “black shadow” fantasy. So while it would be cool to have existing heroes reskinned, and some of them even make great arguments for that to happen, I just feel that it would be better served to just have them as standalone heroes.

For Reaper as a standalone hero, we could see something like:

  • Trait: Shotgun Specialist – While Reaper can shoot at long range, it is at mid-close range where he gains max damage.
  • Q: Double Shot – Activate to shoot both guns at once on a short cooldown
  • W: Wraith Form – Become invincible for a short amount of time, but can’t use abilities (similar to Tass’s E, but you can see where he is)
  • E: Shadow Step – Mark a target on the ground and teleport to there 1.5 seconds later
  • R1: Death Blossom – Similar to Valla’s Strafe, maybe shorter radius/shorter duration but more damage or shorter CD?
  • R2: Marked for Death – While not an official ability of his, his bio states that he was systematically eliminating Overwatch agents. Therefore his second heroic could be something to reveal the closest enemy hero for 15 seconds.
  • R2: Cell Degradation – If another utility ability isn’t great for an assassin like Reaper, a second heroic could be a hyper-Envenom where again in his bio it states: “The few bodies recovered of those he kills are pale, empty husks drained of life, their cells showing signs of intense degradation.”

Then his talents would revolve heavily around being an AA hero with Giant Killer, Executioner, Focused Attack etc, with some pickups such as health regen on Wraith Form, movement speed bonus after using Shadow Step, and things like that.

So yeah, while I think it would be awesome to see Overwatch characters in Heroes of the Storm eventually, I don’t want to see them be relegated to skins of other heroes (unless it was a fun thing like Betrayer Malf, Shan’do Illidan and AzGul’dan), but I do think it’s best to let Overwatch be fully released before implementing them into the hero brawler. We simply don’t know what the final versions of these heroes are going to be, and as said previously it would end up having to change them in HotS, and we’re left with two PvP games that Blizzard are trying to balance.