It seems that Blizzard Entertainment is diversifying itself by getting into the first-person shooter market – after all, they can’t just keep relying on making sequels to Starcraft, Diablo, and World of Warcraft forever. Yesterday. at BlizzCon they announced the planned release of Overwatch, which will be a team-based multiplayer FPS as well as Blizzard’s first new property in years. It will focus on an international team of soldiers, including – and not limited to – humans, humanoids, mechs, and cyber-gorillas. We’re pretty psyched about the thought of playing mechs and cyber-gorillas.
Blizzard showed Overwatch’s characters in action in a pre-rendered video, which included masked mercenaries, stealth snipers and armored gorillas engaging in epic firefights. It is set in a futuristic environment with the focus anchored on action, users seizing and utilizing different guns and characters teleporting mid-gunfight to other areas in the game.
Blizzard’s Chris Metzen announced that we would be seeing the release of Overwatch “sooner than you think.” Also, in a prepared statement, Mike Morhaime – CEO and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment – announced that:
Our goal with Overwatch is to create an awesome FPS experience that’s more accessible to a much wider audience while delivering the action and depth that shooter fans love.” A press release from Blizzard Entertainment described Overwatch as taking place in a future where an “international task force” – known simply as Overwatch – had brought peace to a world of conflict, that has since went into disarray, causing the need for new heroes to arise and put things back in their place.
At Blizzcon, game director Jeff Kaplan announced that, Overwatch is a team-based multiplayer shooter, “a game and genre” that Blizzard has been interested in exploring for a while, “where players will have access to a variety of classes and characters [with] some characters wearing missile-firing mech suits, while others will wield bow and arrows, dual pistols, sniper rifles, hammers, or staffs.”
Characters shown in a gameplay video of Overwatch – which you can watch below – include Hanzo, a bow-wielding ranger; Winston, the gorilla; Torbjorn, a dwarf engineer; Widowmaker, the sniper; and Bastion, the robot/turret.
Some of the screenshots appear underwhelming at first glance, looking quite dated in the graphics department, and one does wonder if they are trying to tap into the Nintendo market as the game has been described as being kid focused. Is Blizzard going to use a Nintendo-esque marketing strategy that will focus on younger gamers? It’s early days however, and the latest screenshots look much better. Sometimes seeing a screenshot out of context can leave the impression that the game looks a little unpolished.
Looking at the cinematic trailer and the gameplay video should ease any fears created by those out of context screenshots. The game plays well and looks good, although in Blizzard’s renowned, chunky, cartoonish style. Movement in Overwatch looks sleek and fast, a mixture of magic, technology, teleportation and flying as well as standard ground traversal along with a vast array of guns to cause a fair amount of damage to opponents. Overwatch offers six-on-six play maps inspired by real-world locations like London and Egypt and it looks like there are going to be a nice array of colorful characters to pick from.
Overwatch looks like it’s going to be a fun game. Blizzard Entertainment is finally branching out and relying less on tie-in sequels and building on their pre-existing juggernauts such as World of Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo. It will be interesting to see what kind of gamers Overwatch will attract and what kind of marketing strategy Blizzard will go ahead with.
A beta for the game is coming in 2015, and Overwatch is available to play at BlizzCon this weekend.