Overwatch fans were treated to a huge number of announcements at this year’s opening ceremony. The game’s director Jeff Kaplan took to the stage and announced three new heroes, a new map, the pricing model and the long awaited news that Overwatch will also be launching on Xbox One and PS4.
The new heroes were said to be the last of those available at launch and together they bring the final roster up to 21 playable characters. These new heroes include D.Va, a pro gamer turned mech pilot , Mei Ling, a geeky climatologist with ice abilities, and Genji, Hanzo’s mysterious cyborg brother. In a Q&A hosted after the Overwatch panel, Blizzard revealed that these heroes will be playable in beta sometime next week. In the meantime, check out this video to see them in action alongside a sneak peek at the new movie studio themed map; Hollywood.
While hero announcements had been expected, Blizzard’s payment model came as a surprise to many fans. Most people assumed Overwatch would be a free to play title with cosmetics, much like its main competitor Team Fortress 2. Instead three versions of the game are currently available for pre-order. A $40 base game, a $60 Origins Edition and a $130 physical collector’s edition. The Origins Edition includes five skins for Overwatch as well as extra goodies for other Battle.net titles. The Collector’s Edition includes all that as well as a statue of Soldier 76, an artbook, and the game’s soundtrack. While the initial purchase will include all the current heroes and maps, a cash store will also exist to offer players more skins and other cosmetics.
Perhaps the biggest announcement this year were the plans to bring the game to consoles. Blizzard revealed the game will launch alongside the PC version but said it won’t have cross-play features. Many fans expressed worry about what this meant for Overwatch in esports. Blizzard assured them that while each platform would be treated separately they would also be treated equally. The $40 standard version of the game is unavailable for console players and those interested in the console version must purchase either the Origins or Collector’s editions instead. As part of the console announcement an exclusive pre-order skin for Widowmaker was shown. The Noire Widowmaker skin is available to all who pre-order, regardless of the platform or edition they buy.
Day two of Blizzcon also had its fair share of announcements, this time focused around the world of Overwatch. The news that got lore fanatics most excited was the announcement of a series of pixar-esque short films similar to the cinematic trailer that announced the game. The developers on stage gave a sneak peak of several shorts including one focused on the origins of the gorilla Winston. Alongside the short films was the announcement of a web comic series and a graphic novel about the original Overwatch strike team. Blizzard also showed off early samples of the webcomics, one featuring armoured knight Reinhardt and another based around crime-duo Roadhog & Junkrat but didn’t divulge any of the plot points.
Overwatch is aiming for a spring release but closed beta is already underway. If you’re lucky enough to have secured a place we’d love to hear what you think.