Overwatch: Blizzard's Patchwork Phoenix
Say what you will about Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, the fact of the game’s success has remained constant for years. With a current population still hovering around 10 million, it’s hard to believe there will ever be a time where Blizzard will need to make anything else. However, we’ve been living in a post-Warcraft market for a number of years. No one understands that more readily than Blizzard themselves.
If you only talk MMORPGs, then without a doubt WoW is still king and probably has tons of life left in it. With so much time invested, friends made, and achievements had, it’s kind of unthinkable that players would ever leave just for something new. This is where Overwatch comes in, through the dust of WoW’s spiritual successor, Titan.
There are many reasons we’ll be getting a title like Overwatch over Titan, but for the moment let’s just look at the current gaming market.
Without making another entry into the MMO market, Blizzard has had the advantage of seeing its competitors rise and fall. But one constant in the last four years has proven to outpace and even overtake their flagship MMO: League of Legends.
It is no doubt then that Overwatch would incorporate some of the characteristics of the competition.
Looking at Overwatch’s game play clearly shows a heavy draw from Teamfortress 2 and other FPS character class games. Overwatch goes a step further, though, and sprinkles in MOBA elements to enhance an already promising recipe. Let’s not forget that Blizzard has already made a name for themselves in the MOBA market by way of Heroes of the Storm. It would stand to reason that they are doing what so far has proven to work best for them. Taking something that works and pushing it to be better.
Overwatch is a very much a class-based FPS romp, with 12 classes ready for beta this year, and the promise of more to come. It is then cleverly weaved into MOBA territory with six-v-six teams, limited class/character abilities, and of course ultimate abilities. While we can be sure there will be death-match style game modes, the one shown in trailers seems to imply more objective-based campaigns.
Blizzard has slowly been attacking the market successfully with major hits like Starcraft II, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm. Considering they already have an MMO in WoW, they are set to be major player in most of the larger PC gaming genres. This diversification of their portfolio makes Overwatch all the more interesting. As stated by Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan to Polygon.com:
"Inspiration comes from the weirdest places," Kaplan said. "Bizarrely one of the games that inspires us most is Hearthstone right now.
"It's a design aesthetic, how they think about game design; simplicity with a long tale of depth."
A game like Overwatch is not simply another feather in blizzard’s very nice hat, but rather a culmination of lessons learned both from outside the company and within.
While Overwatch might not be the next WoW as its progenitor Titan was set to be, it is looking to establish Blizzard firmly in the FPS market. An Overwatch beta is expected sometime this year.