In this month’s Overwatch developer update, Blizzard’s Jeff Kaplan reviewed the many updates and tweaks that have come after the game’s release. Kaplan also spoke about development plans for the release of future content. Inspired by player feedback, many of Overwatch‘s heroes and features were restructured after their initial release. Changes to the game’s competitive skill ratings over its first three seasons of play were among the first of these major updates.
This year also saw the release of new heroes Ana and Sombra. Kaplan noted that the team is hesitant to change Sombra’s abilities. Blizzard wants to give players time to properly overcome the new hero’s “mastery curve” before they consider any balance updates. Overwatch‘s first post-launch map, Eichenwalde, led the movement for new gameplay features. The game’s first co-operative brawl, Junkenstein’s Revenge, was set in an Eichenwalde inspired arena. Along with the addition of Sombra, Overwatch‘s arcade playlist also brought brand new game modes and even another map, Ecopoint Antarctica.
Discussing the future of Overwatch, Kaplan referred to the development of a new map. Named Oasis, this map has already entered the game’s Public Test Region and is set to release “very early in 2017”. More maps are also in development, along with a number of experimental game modes. One such idea is a spectator map for those watching competitive matches. Blizzard plans to use the Arcade playlist to test new modes and maps for release in Quickplay and Competitive. Given a tremendous amount of feedback, Kaplan assured fans that the more seasonal events, like December’s “Winter Wonderland”, are on the way. Of course, additional heroes are also in the works. Kaplan did not mention any definite details about potential character designs or abilities.
Players can expect a steady supply of tweaks to gameplay in the next year. A customized communication wheel will allow players to set up to four emotes, sprays, and voice lines to their characters. This feature will make unlocks seem more personal and worthwhile for players who work hard to earn them. An incentive to draw players into team chat and away from party chat is also in development.
While Overwatch currently allows players to create matches with special rules, players can only join custom games through invitations. Blizzard plans to release a server browser that will display matchmaking for public custom games.
With a prominent impact in the eSports community and many game awards, Overwatch is still gaining new players long after its May 2016 release. This success ensures that fans can expect the next Overwatch developer update early in 2017.