“In a time of global crisis, an international task force of heroes banded together to restore peace to a war-torn world: Overwatch.”
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) October 14, 2015
Overwatch will only be available to a “small number of testers” and will, for now, only apply to the Americas regions. It’s planned that Europe comes online next, with Asia to follow at a later date. The Overwatch beta will be Windows-only, and players will need to have the Battle.net desktop app installed to play.
New game, new genre
“Overwatch features a wide array of unique heroes, ranging from a time-jumping adventurer, to an armored, rocket-hammer-wielding warrior, to a transcendent robot monk. Every hero plays differently, and mastering their abilities is the key to unlocking their potential.”
The game pits players as heroes or villains in a futuristic world featuring a colorful cast of characters similar to many battle arena games and six-on-six competitive objective-based gameplay titles such as Team Fortress 2. There are 18 heroes to choose from and two team-based objectives: “Payload” and “Point Capture” – as explained on the website.
In Payload, the attacking team’s objective is to move the payload to a delivery point, while the defenders must halt the attackers’ progress until time runs out. Point Capture is where two teams battle over control of the map, one team on offense, the other on defense. The attackers’ goal is to capture critical objectives, while the defenders must maintain control over them until time runs out.
The game is considered to have big eSports potential – especially in a growing trend of similar team-based shooters like Battleborn, Paladins, LawBreakers, and Gigantic.
Closed beta and beta test weekends
Blizzard says there are two primary goals to be accomplished with the public beta test: getting tons of top-notch feedback on the gameplay including balance, feel, and fun, making sure that the game becomes the best team-based shooter there is, and to hammer the heck out of their tech, including stress-testing the server infrastructure and making sure the game runs well on the widest variety of systems possible.
The company is planning to divide beta participants into two groups – a smaller group of Closed Beta testers and a wider group of Beta Test Weekends participants, where each will be given a different mission and objectives.
The goal for the Closed Beta process will be acquiring gameplay feedback, with participants discussing and dissecting every hero, map, ability, and other aspect of the game on the upcoming beta forums.
Beta Test Weekends will aim at overwhelming the company’s hardware to “stress-test” the servers to see if they can withstand a flood of simultaneous players that play as many heroes as possible. Multiple Beta Test Weekends will be assembled in various parts of the world with the first Beta Test Weekend currently slated for after BlizzCon.
The growing competitive eSports pool
Blizzard’s introduction of Overwatch is one of the many new games in the competitive eSports scene – along with the recent Gears of War and Heroes of the Storm – and with the eSports industry’s growth, it can be expected that many more will follow.