Blizzcon Overwatch Panel: A Look At Blizzard's New Teambased Shooter

Published: November 8, 2014 5:41 PM /


Overwatch Soldier 76 & D.VA in action

In the Blizzcon Overwatch Panel on Friday, Chris Metzen and Jeff Kaplan  cover a range of topics for Blizzard's new team-based multiplayer shooter known as Overwatch. The game is a team based multiplayer FPS shooter where a player picks a hero with a unique set of abilities. Players battle each other in order to complete objectives. Kaplan joked that players will say that this outside Blizzard's expertise. But he reminded the audience what was said about WoW, ‘what are you doing making an MMO, you’re the RTS company.’ But he stressed that Blizzard is a multiplayer company, “we've been doing PvP for a long time.”

Metzen addressed that “approachability is very important to us.” Blizzard wants to maintain a balance between approachable and weird. While some characters are meant to be a little more straightforward in their design, others are weirder such as Winston, who is a highly intelligent mutant gorilla from the moon. Another concern for approachability are non-twitch options. They said that a non-twitch option was for players who lack the necessary reflexes for your typical twitch shooter.  They gave the example of Torbjörn, a dwarflike engineer who builds turrets and deploys armor upgrades to aid his team. There are characters for twitch players and non-twitch players. The game is a ”less lethal shooter,” Overwatch will have higher uptimes compared to military shooters with shorter TTK (time to kill). With higher uptimes, players will be able to interact with the world more and get more abilities off. In designing the game, they tried out a number of team sizes. In larger matches, Overwatch felt chaotic and players felt unimportant. But with smaller games players felt too important, and a team could not compensate for a player who was under performing. They decided on 6v6 stating that they felt it was the right balance for the game.

In the world of Overwatch, a group of robots, known as the Omnic, waged war against humankind. The nations of the world pooled their resources to establish an international coalition known as Overwatch. The Overwatch organization is an elite fighting force. A beacon of hope for mankind that lasted for thirty years following the Omnic Crisis. They represent the greatness of people. However, in the five years before the present, Overwatch fell apart due to mysterious reasons. ‘The world has darkened, the world still needs heroes.’ As far as the lore went, Metzen was very clear in stating the emphasis on heroism. And he said it was the guiding force for the game’s character. This carries over to the gameplay itself, “A game about heroes, not classes”


There are currently twelve heroes that were shown off at the panel.

  • Bastion, a battle automaton that cherishes nature
  • Honzo, a wandering assassin that was rejected from his order, and seeks redemption
  • Mercy, a battlefield medic who developed a bionic healing system and wears a winged flight suit
  • Pharah, a former security officer with a rocket suit and devastating firing power
  • Reaper, an enigmatic hero with dual hellfire shotguns
  • Reinhardt, one of the original Overwatch members who believes in chivalry and justice.
  • Symmetra, an architech who can bend reality to create hardlight constructs
  • Torbjörn, another member of the original Overwatch who was conscripted as a weapon-smith
  • Tracer, a pilot suffering from “chronal dissociation”  that gives her the power to manipulate time
  • Widowmaker, a ‘nice girl’ that who was transformed into an assassin
  • Winston, a highly intelligent talking ape from the moon
  • Zenyatta, an Omnic monk from a clandestine order of robot monks in Tibet

Each hero will fall into one of four roles

Offense: Pharah, Reaper, Tracer, Hanzo

  • Scout
  • Harass
  • Press the objective
  • High damage

Defense: Widowmaker, Bastion, Torbjörn

  • Guard Locations
  • Create Choke Points
  • Establish a front

Tank: Reinhardt, Winston

  • Protectors
  • High Survivability
  • Disruption
  • Lead the charge

Support: Mercy, Zenyatta, Symmetra

  • Heal
  • Buff
  • Utility

Maps and Game Modes

Maps in Overwatch will feature locations from all over the world. All the maps are objective oriented, there are no death match maps in Overwatch. These maps are not narrative driven like games such as Brink or Titanfall. Story will be driven outside of the game. The panel did not specify exactly how this would be done. However, in these maps these heroes will have some brief dialogue with each other. In each map, there will be cases of “evident history” that will covertly relate the story to the lore.

Temple of Anubis

  • Takes place on the Giza Plateau
  • Features a tech pyramid that may contain ‘creepy AI experiments’
  • Point capture game mode


  • Asian town featuring a suburban downtown and a Japanese castle
  • Hometown of Honzo
  • Point capture game mode

King’s Row

  • Fictional version of England with an Omnic city beneath it
  • Attackers escort an EMP bomb into the Omnic city
  • Payload game mode

All in all, the panel stressed that this was a team oriented game. And it’s not based on the number of kills, it’s about working together.

Learn more about Overwatch gameplay and heroes at

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More Info About This Game
Learn more about Overwatch
Game Page Overwatch
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date
May 24, 2016 (Calendar)
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