Overwatch Developer Q&A

Overwatch was announced at this year’s BlizzCon and Blizzard’s first foray into the realm of FPS games promises to be an exciting addition to their diverse line up.

For those that don’t know, Overwatch is a team based FPS that currently features a lineup of 12 playable heroes; all of which fall into one of four roles based upon their unique weapons and abilities. Players can choose from fast paced 6v6 action, the ability to defend or capture territory and payload delivery or destruction across world spanning maps to test their mettle.

Overwatch also includes MOBA style elements which means that players, regardless of play style, can maximize their hero’s abilities by building a well balanced team. Blizzard’s decision to blur the line between gaming genres in Overwatch was explained by Co-Founder and CEO Mike Morhaime, “With every new Blizzard game, we look at our favorite aspects of a genre and put our own spin on things. Our goal with Overwatch is to create an awesome FPS experience that’s more accessible to a much wider audience while delivering the action and depth that shooter fans love.”

Here are a few highlights from Blizzard developers Chris Metzen and Jeffrey Kaplan’s Q&A during BlizzCon where they discussed Overwatch:

Is Overwatch going to be free to play or subscription based?

They stated that it was uncertain right now but that Blizzard wants “what’s going to be the highest value experience for our players.”

What was the approach to the story in Overwatch?

Blizzard took a different approach with Overwatch and the way they handled the story. Jeff and Chris discussed that in the past, Blizzard tends to create an expansive universe that’s built on the armature of the gameplay to ensure maximum continuity. With Overwatch, the team decided to go with “gameplay first decisions” and separate gameplay and narrative design. Because it can inhibit gameplay when there are restrictions based on fictional story elements, the Overwatch team felt that it served the game best to allow for maximum freedom and flexibility by disconnecting fiction and gameplay.

Despite the complexity of gameplay, Overwatch is very accessible. Who is it developed for, the hardcore shooter crowd or hearthstone fans?

Jeff and Chris explained that there were no boardroom discussions about the intended game demographic but that instead, the 70 or so people on the development team got together and talked about what they believed in and what they wanted to play everyday. Then, as development progressed, the other Blizzard teams got to have their voice and share their opinions and so that the Overwatch team could get a sense as to whether they were pulling too far in any direction and make any corrections to ensure the game would be widely accessible. They stated that Blizzard wants to try and make their games speak to as many people as possible.

Can we expect to see Overwatch in eSports? Are there Observer mode and ranked play options planned?

While the two did not go into the specifics of the features and plans for Overwatch as an eSport, Jeff did concede that, “this game is ripe to be really amazing in the competitive realm.”

Who are your favorite heroes and why?

Chris – “I like playing Reinhardt. I like playing paladins really when I RPG out. I love the shield mechanic and love feeling like I’m of use and of service to my teammates. I love swatting things with a big rocket hammer. He’s a hoot. He’s hilarious and bigger than life. He’s the kind of guy you want to grab a beer with. I love him.”

Jeff – “I’ve found that as we’re working on this game I always have a favorite hero but it lasts for two weeks. But right now, the hero that I’m into the most right now is Symmetra. She’s a totally different way of playing an FPS from anything that I’ve ever played before. There’s really not a class that works like her in any other FPS. She’s so team focused and a lot of the times Symmetra is like the drummer of a great band, where she’s the one who really ties it all together but doesn’t really get all the credit and the spotlight. There’s so many times with Symmetra where you will literally win the match for the entire group and you’re the only one who realizes that you did it. If you would have asked me that question two weeks ago my answer would have been Hanzo. I mean climbing walls and that bow just feels so good. It’s really fun.”

To check out the rest of Chris and Jeff’s Q&A from BlizzCon, head over to the Tales of Lumin YouTube channel. The excitement that Blizzard’s own developers have for the game, the stunning environments, fluid gameplay, and wonderful character design has me wondering what organs I would need to sell in order to participate in the Overwatch beta. Are you guys excited for Overwatch?