Blizzard will be starting their closed beta for online shooter Overwatch starting on October 27, with open beta weekend stress tests to follow in November.
It’s time to start researching Overwatch characters, because Blizzard has just announced the pending launch of their free-to-play shooter’s closed beta. Starting October 27, Blizzard will begin to send out invitations through Battle.net, slowly allowing more and more players full-time access to the game. Luckily Blizzard isn’t stopping at just a closed beta; they’ve also revealed plans for open beta weekends where all players will be able to download and help stress test Overwatch‘s servers.
The beta news comes on the eve of Blizzard’s “Beta Preview” event in which two popular Twitch streamers, Ellohime and Haylinic, will have early access to Overwatch‘s beta and will show off what aspiring beta players will get to play for a solid 90 minutes. Hopefully their preview event will show off how many of Overwatch‘s characters will be available in the beta, as well as its various maps and game modes.
Overwatch currently has 18 announced and detailed characters that have been shown in some playable form, Payload and Point Capture game modes, and three maps for each game mode. It would be great to see all of that content in the beta, but if Blizzard chose to shrink things down at first then it would be understandable.
To help provide some perspective on their goals for the betas, Blizzard released the following statement in their blog post covering the beta announcement:
“We’re aiming to accomplish two primary goals with our public beta test: First, get tons of top-notch feedback on the gameplay—including balance, feel, and fun—to help us make Overwatch the best team-based shooter on the planet. Second, we want to hammer the heck out of our tech, including stress-testing our server infrastructure and making sure the game runs great on the widest variety of systems possible.”
For those who have gone through a beta before, there’s nothing too surprising to discover in this quote. The closed beta will focus on gameplay and balance, while the weekend beta events will focus on infrastructure. As the infrastructure proves itself, Blizzard can open up the closed beta even wider and shift the focus entirely towards gameplay. By then, well, the closed beta will likely have become an open beta.
They added a touch of fine print towards the end of the blog to ensure that everyone would be on the same page:
“A few more things: The Overwatch beta will be Windows-only, and you’ll need to have the Battle.net desktop app installed to play. If you’re selected to participate in either the Closed Beta or one of our Beta Test Weekends, you’ll receive an email with instructions when you’re ready to be deployed.”
It’s an exciting time for those who have been patiently awaiting the launch of Overwatch‘s beta. The online multiplayer shooter shows all the potential of previous large-scale releases in the genre like Team Fortress 2. Overwatch could join the ranks of the free-to-play elite next to League of Legends, Dota 2, Smite, Hearthstone and so on, just so long as it delivers the standards of quality that players expect from the Blizzard brand. Then again, setting high expectations for a free-to-play game has historically had mixed results.
Will Overwatch deliver on the hype? Will the beta meet everyone’s expectations? Or does Blizzard’s shooter still have much to prove?
Overwatch‘s closed beta will begin inviting a small subset of players in waves starting October 27, while the first open weekend beta event will start after BlizzCon on November 6-7.