Past the hippo and the two front teeth, let’s talk Overwatch heroes and patches.

16:31, 25 Dec 2020

Winter has arrived and the holiday season is quickly approaching. As we all prepare for our annual yule log roasting loop of Jeff Kaplan to grace our monitors, we’ve also devised a brief Overwatch wish list for Santa Jeff and Blizzard Entertainment. With a lull in Overwatch updates and developments, what could possibly be waiting for us under the tree by the end of the year? It all starts with the question on the lips of every Overwatch fan currently; what’s new with Overwatch 2

 

Overwatch 2 News

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The world could always use more heroes, but the world could also use some Overwatch 2 news. With the Overwatch League delayed in its 2021 start, many have already begun speculating on if Blizzard would soon be speaking more freely to the community about its announced sequel. This also coincides with BlizzConline coming this February. Now a 2021 release doesn’t seem in the cards, but let’s set some early expectations on what we hope to see either announced or talked about at the convention. 

What we wouldn’t give to see a closed beta test the new story modes and Push, the new game coming with Overwatch 2. Alongside that, any news or updates on the new heroes that are on their way would set the community ablaze. We all live for the patient mentality of “it’s done when it’s done” but the proverbial iron is starting to cool and the community is becoming restless. If there is anything Santa Jeff can bring us this year, it’s news and updates about Overwatch 2

 

Patches Go, Systems No

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From no hero limit to role lock to hero pools, Overwatch needs to find itself. Yes, that is a weirdly meta request but the game that was released in May 2016 looks almost foreign to the game you play today. That doesn’t mean we break out the vanilla ice cream and the time machine, but Overwatch needs focus, it needs an overarching vision to help it return to its roots as the game that captured all of our hearts and minds. We hear you loud and clear Blizzard, you want the game to be chaotic and give the player base the toolbox to fix their instance of the game.

However, instead of shifting the point of view with the constant system changes, a more aggressive approach to balancing the heroes will end in the same result but with a more healthy ecosystem. There is something charming when games create subtle systems that produce wildly different player experiences every time you load in. What isn’t appealing is attempting to manufacture that with a weekly dice roll. New heroes will shift the discourse, new patches can change the tier lists, what we don’t need—at least not for a while—is something that will, once again, physically change the game itself.

 

Progression

Pretty self-explanatory here, but purposefully vague. Overwatch has a problem of being slightly too shallow of an experience. Now, this is projected to be solved with the story mission coming in Overwatch 2 but that doesn’t solve the problem currently afflicting the game. With its seasonal game modes being the only real successful other optional modes next to the Workshop—which is growing quickly but still needs time to grow—Overwatch needs a polished new experience to help incentivise people to not only come back for the sequel but to stay. 

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The introduction of the progression based system in the Symmetra’s Restoration event is a great example, but should only be used as the launchpad for furthering the idea. It brings people back into the game through the additional lore and skins, but what if we had another redundant system passed that. Something that would help players distinguish themselves from their peers. 

This could also be applied to the business model as well. With the new trend moving more towards free-to-play and battle pass models, Overwatch could fit that mould incredibly well. This change could also be backlogged for Overwatch 2 as well as most things on the list. However, one item, in particular, is not, one that would be a relief heading into the start of the new year. 

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Who Needs A Map?

Most Christmas lists included everything your heart desires, well, we’ve gone above and beyond and actually included things we don’t want. Less is more when it comes to additional maps in Overwatch because, let’s face it, we all let out a collective sigh when the matchmaker decides to put us on the dystopian nightmare scapes that are Paris or Havanna. Taking those resources you’d be allotting to additional design and refining the map pool we already have for our increasing pool of game modes should take precedence over any additional battlegrounds. Please, Blizzard—no coal this Christmas. 

At the very least, granting the players the ability to pick specific map vetoes would already be a welcome change. This would not only make the ladder experience much more enjoyable, again drawing a map you personally can’t stand can make you feel some type of way. Now if we’re full-on pipe dreaming than a lobby-based vote system would be perfect for a game like Overwatch. Imagine for a moment loading into a lobby and getting five different combinations of game modes and maps that all twelve players vote on with the added option to mulligan and get new choices. This gives the power directly to the players and grants them their perfect experience. 

Now, this last one is the type of gift you didn’t know you needed until you saw it. 

 

It’s Time For Takeoff

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Before we break into an Overwatch variation of “‘Twas the night before Christmas” and we sign off for the evening we’ve got one small and rather fluffy request: it is time for Jetpack Cat. 

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Listen, we understand it’s taken a few years to get the mechanics right for it, but there is one way to save 2020 for the Overwatch world: Brigitte’s big fluffy white cat has to make more than a cameo in teaser videos and artwork. Sure, the developers are quoted as saying that a cat operating a jetpack would take things too far, but Wrecking Ball exists and is beloved—what’s stopping Jetpack Cat from being a loveable addition to a map as an Easter egg or even the mascot of a new game mode coming in Overwatch 2?

Think of Capture the Flag, but Jetpack Cat makes strafing runs that damage the enemy when some arbitrary condition is made? Imagine a seasonal survival mode where Jetpack Cat and its legion of mechanized warriors siege the gates of Hanamura similar to Junkenstein's Revenge? Would we all love and immediately main Jetpack Cat if it was a playable hero?

You can bet your bottom dollar we would, but minimising the expectations for a moment, there are plenty of other ways to introduce the character or even tease at it without making it playable. Jetpack Cat would be the perfect capstone for Overwatch, would help to reignite the passion for the game as we head into the sequel, and frankly is a weirdly fitting note to end 2020 off on. 
 

Images via Blizzard Entertainment

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