A few weeks ago, Blizzard promised to release more details regarding their upcoming team-based shooter Overwatch at PAX East. True to their word, this morning’s press conference took the convention by storm. Not only did the developer announce an upcoming Heroes of the Storm competition and drop the release date for the next Hearthstone expansion, but the studio also unveiled a pair of trailers revealing two new Overwatch characters, as well as a rough date for the game’s impending beta.
Learning a little bit more about Overwatch is exciting for a number of reasons. For one, it’s Blizzard’s first new IP in 17 years. For another, despite an amazing trailer and some hands-on previews, gamers still don’t know that much about the title. So far, Blizzard has confirmed that Overwatch pits two teams of six players against one another, with each player controlling a unique hero. Each character plays one of four roles: offense, defense, support, or tank. Maps will be based on real-world locations, including England and Ancient Egypt, and the game will be multiplayer-only.
So far, however, Overwatch’s biggest attraction is its Pixar-esque cast. Characters include Tracer, a speedy Brit with a pixie cut and twin energy pixels; Symmetra, a teleporter armed with deadly turrets; and Winston, an intellectual gorilla in a high-tech battle suit. As of today, they’re joined by the “futuristic gunslinger” McCree and the former weight-lifting champion Zarya, who’s also the game’s first female tank.
Both Zarya and McCree arrived with brand new gameplay trailers showing off their unique features, including McCree’s multi-kill “Deadeye” ability and Zarya’s “Graviton Surge” skill, which sucks enemies into a small black hole. Zarya’s a particularly exciting addition to the game, as her solid, muscular look is a direct response to players who hoped that Blizzard would create characters representing a wide range of genders, races, body-types, and so on. To those fans, Blizzard said, “We’re listening, and we’re trying hard.”
The new characters, as well as a new Mediterranean-style map called “Watchpoint: Gibraltar,” will be playable on the PAX East floor all weekend; be on the lookout for hands-on impressions from fans soon. In addition, Blizzard announced that the game’s beta will start this fall. Interested players who have a Battle.net account (or are willing to sign up for one) can register now at Overwatch’s official website; undoubtedly, more details regarding the beta, as well as even more characters, will be revealed closer to the beta’s start date.