Overwatch is Blizzards newest IP. The game was originally being developed under the name Titan, as it was revealed in 2007 with job listings for Blizzard asking for developers to work on a top-secret MMO-like project. In 2008, the title of the project was confirmed to be Titan, and in a leak in 2010 there was intel stating the game would come out in late 2013. Even later, Jeff Kaplan, the project’s lead designer, confirmed the rumors by saying that they had their best MMO developers put on the project and that while it would have aspects of their most popular IP, World of Warcraft, the games would be different enough to coexist on the same market. And the game would emphasize playing with people you knew instead of complete strangers.
The project was later dumped in 2013 due to some of the gamemechanics creating an unbalanced experience. The team was largely disbanded, but a group of forty were told to come up with a new concept to work on, and fast. And thus, Overwatch was born. They reused assets from the deserted Titan and kept the concept largely the same, save for changing up the MMO mechanics and keeping it in line with other class-based games like Team Fortress 2, they worked on it for three years before releasing it in May 2016.
Overwatch entered the market as a competitive class-based first person shooter that shook things up with combining some MMO mechanics from games such as World of Warcraft and League of Legends, adding in abilities on a cooldown and an emphasis on creating new characters instead of constantly updating the characters already in the game with new abilities and weapons and such. When the game initially launched, there were 21 characters available to play, each grouped into classes of either a Tank, Offense, Defense, or Support. Since then there have been four characters introduced into the game with more on the way. You can find the whole list of characters here.
Overwatch had a limited number of game modes implemented at launch. Quick Play allowed players to join a game lobby in the fastest way by finding the best connection and putting them in there either from the beginning or mid game. Custom Games allowed players to set up their own matches with the ability to change some of the rules such as health and damage. And the Brawl mode was a weekly event that was essentially a fun mini-game to play, like all players Solder 76, only two heroes to select from, and Holiday events like Junkenstein’s Revenge. While more modes were added, like the 6v6 no limit, and 3v3 arena, the most popular mode added was competitive mode, Blizzard did eventually create a competitive game mode which has you play 10 placement matches and gives you a rank based off of your performance. That rank then determines the level of players you play against and allows you to somewhat fairly play challenging matches allowing you to increase or decrease your rank due to your fluctuating skill level. And of course, you can’t have a competitive game without having it become an–
Quite a large competitive scene has grown around overwatch since it’s release, and though the game was not originally made with e-sports in mind, you can’t expect the one of the most hyped game in the past couple years to not grow into a national phenomenon in the e-sports community. Although, Blizzard is making it hard for official teams to come on board. While they have implemented the competitive mode and the Overwatch contenders league which lets amateur teams dabble in the official comp scene, it’s the Overwatch League (Blizzards own attempt at entering the Esport scene by acquiring MLG) that is drawing many teams away from Overwatch as a competitive game. Blizzard is asking for a lot of money in order for teams to have a piece of the action, with upwards of $20 million for a single regional franchise.
Overwatch is a game for just about anyone. Casual players can enter the world and have a fun time playing quick play, the 6v6 no limit, or the brawl playlist, and they don’t have to go too much in-depth with the game mechanics because they’re easy enough to learn and use at a basic level. Competitive players can also have a great time because while the mechanics are easy, like any MMO, you can master the learning curves of your main characters and play around with the stats to create a team comp that will surely destroy anyone who dares to challenge you.
For a game that as never supposed to be, it really is an astounding success. And for all this game is, it’ll only grow with time, and has been with its player base growing over 30 million in just one year.
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