A small event happened two weeks ago and I was lucky enough to be a part of it…and so were all of you. BlizzCon isn’t just for those attending the event in person, it’s also a time where we can connect with fans around the world and show off more of the game than we normally do, and this year we even hosted an event at… .game featuring a playable version of our newly announced hero, Mauga. I would like to review the program; This is partly a summary, a correction of misunderstandings around the announcements we made, and a bit of a sentimental journey. If you don’t like that and just want the details on Mauga’s changes, skip to paragraph 3 (don’t worry, I won’t care).
Let’s start with Clash. We announced our next new game mode, as well as one of the maps, Hanaoka, which will be part of its debut. Watching some of the videos people made from our introduction to the mode, it was clear that I talked too much about 2CP, but I also felt there was some confusion about the length of the match. This has been one of the most difficult parts of the mode to solve. Traditionally, 5CP game modes had edge cases where there was never a clear winner. Some games use a phase, such as Sudden Death, to control the length of the game. We don’t want to have matches that can last that long, so we’ve been experimenting with a scoring system (which we alluded to at BlizzCon), as well as an alternative where the match ends after a set time with the winner. being decided by whoever controls the most points on the map. We’re still iterating here, but our goal is to have a game mode that moves back and forth across the map and also enforces a clear time limit.
Let’s talk about Mauga! This hero is great. We have a lot of love for his art, his over-the-top personality, and his play kit. After the trial, we also heard comments that he felt quite weak. Our stats show him somewhere between average and on the weak side, with even poorer performance at higher skill levels. We’d like Mauga to feel strong at launch, so we’ll be implementing a number of changes to his fit at the start of Season 8. The goal will be to increase his survivability, make his damage against smaller targets a little more reliable, and reduce its damage against large characters, such as tanks. We’re still a few weeks away from launch, so it’s not very useful for me to go over the exact numbers, but these are the changes we’re seeing so far.
- Replaces a portion of your health with armor. We are experimenting with 150 internally.
- Reduces the size of your head’s stroke volume.
- Increases damage reduction in Overrun. Originally it was at 30%, we are testing it at 50%. Also, Hack can no longer interrupt this.
- Increases life steal on Cardiac Overdrive.
- There are quite a few changes to the flight of his weapons. We’re testing different spreads and rates of fire when using both weapons simultaneously, as well as different damage, ammo, and drop numbers. We’ll have more details on them as they solidify.
The Mauga event was the first time we released a hero as a test. We think it was a success for many reasons: we received great feedback from players, good information about the hero, and we have enough time up front to make a number of important changes, as well as a really fun event for the game. We think this could be a great template in the future, not just for heroes, but possibly for some of our other major content!
During BlizzCon, we talked about our clarity of vision for the future of Overwatch. (Did you feel that downshift? Warning. This is a piece that gets a little more philosophical… before getting a little more sentimental.) Overwatch is an intense and competitive multiplayer shooter. We have millions of players in our game every day enjoying it. And we would like to not only give you more of that experience, but also improve it. When I use the term competitive, I don’t just mean playing Ranked, even Quick Play is demanding and sweaty. That intensity and fast pace are inherent to most of our game modes, and we love that! At BlizzCon, we talked about an overhaul of our competitive system in Season 9, and other updates, such as expanded grouping restrictions, in later seasons.
We are also working on updates to improve the experience in other parts of the game. For example, we are looking for ways to reduce the number of people who abandon or sabotage games; Since the start of Season 7, the drop rate in QP has dropped by almost 20% in some game modes. We’re also working on the way we complete matches so that players no longer enter a match with seconds left. Additionally, we continually improve our matchmaking, anti-toxicity, and anti-cheat efforts. We’re also excited to run some experiments aimed at making the game more fun. For example, what would happen if generation times were drastically reduced? Look for those starting in season 8.
At BlizzCon, our big announcements focused on the core of our game. This doesn’t mean we’re not working to bring fun, new modes and events to all of you. For example, we announced Hero Mastery: Gauntlet at the show and also held our K-pop event during BlizzCon. We have a lot more of this in the works, some focused on PvP, some on PvE, some on both, and some that might be a little harder to categorize. We’re excited about these modes and events, but we don’t talk about them much. I don’t want any of you to get the wrong idea: we’re still committed to events like this, but we want them to be a time of “surprise and delight” for our players.
One of the most emotionally satisfying parts of BlizzCon is talking to fans from all over the world. Many of you love Overwatch, as well as other Blizzard games, and we all gathered in Anaheim to celebrate that passion. Talking to all of you and hearing your stories puts so much of what we do into perspective. It’s easy to get lost in the details of game development or the partially anonymous comments we receive online, but hearing a story about how two people met on Overwatch, got married, and are now expecting their first child is something else entirely. A mother who had never played our game flew from Texas to bring her son to the convention. A couple who bonded over Overwatch got engaged at BlizzCon! This program left me and many other members of the Overwatch team recharged, reinvigorated, and ready to dive back into the game and universe we love. It’s a little ironic, but it makes a lot of sense to me that a show where we feel the love of our community is also the same show that reminded me why I make games in the first place. I am very grateful to all of you and can only hope that the energy and passion we put into our game is enough as a thank you.
Thanks for reading and see you in the game!