Overwatch is doing well. Really well. Blizzard Entertainment's first crack at a shooter has taken the world by storm, and over 10 million players have been fighting for control over the various maps since the release of the game just under a month ago. A significant chunk of the player base has played the game enough to want some info on new stuff, and game director Jeff Kaplan has given players a small peek behind the curtain!
In a reply to a player on the official Overwatch forums, Kaplan talks rather openly about what's coming to the game sooner, as well as later. Kaplan says that, while they have long-term plans for the new franchise, they're focusing more on delivering content patches to the game throughout the year, leading up to early 2017. The team is currently working hard to release the competitive mode to the game, which is supposed to come out at some point at the end of this month.
We did a big push on this feature in beta and got some really amazing feedback. We were hoping that from the beta version of Competitive Play, we would need to do some polish and iteration and then release the feature but we felt like the feedback we got was basically asking for a different direction.
Kaplan expects the competitive mode to be an iterative process for at least the first few seasons and says that they're thinking about opening a Public Test Realm so the public can help test out new features before they are deployed to the live servers.
The team is also working on adding completely new heroes to the game. Some of these heroes are in the later stages of development, some are prototypes that may never get added to the game at all. While Blizzard released 3 heroes at a time during the game's closed beta, they plan to release new heroes one at a time in the future. Releasing 3 heroes at a time caused the player base to demand that all 3 heroes had to be removed due to their perceived overpowered performance. Releasing one hero at a time should help players figure out the meta better and adapt to it as opposed to having to adapt to multiple heroes simultaneously.
We do a lot of prototyping... I don't think we're at a point where I can really talk openly about the release schedule for the new heroes because I don't want to set expectations and then have something come up and suddenly we're backing out on a "promise" we never really made... if that makes sense.
Overwatch's pool of maps will also be getting an extension over the course of this year. Currently, one map is scheduled for release at some point this year after the prototype was approved, with others still in various stages of completion.
So that map is in the hands of our art group at this time. They are busy making it look awesome and while they do that, we keep going back and playtesting it to make sure nothing changed between the early level design blockout and the final "artified" version of the map.
Blizzard is also working on adding more network and social features to the game. The spectator mode will be getting some improved functionality based on the feedback provided by the community. While this feature, as well as tweaks related to the Play of the Game feature, isn't high on the priority list, the team is more than willing to improve these features as well.
The game's Brawl mode, which lets players play the game with unique modifiers that throw conventional rules out the window in favor of new rulesets that change the gameplay, will also be expanded upon at some point. Kaplan is also looking into expanding the custom games feature to allow people to play games with custom rulesets with either their friends or randoms online. A server browser is also being taken into consideration, but you shouldn't expect something like that anytime soon.
This is a ton of work so would not be on the immediate horizon. But in our dream world, you could play Custom Games with 11 other people (friends or strangers) with fun rules in play and gain EXP while doing it... so yeah.
The game's progression system, which gives you a random loot box filled with cosmetics every time you level up, will also continue to get tweaks and Blizzard is planning to keep developing more cosmetics, as well as more options for equipping them.
In addition to all of this, Kaplan and his team are fully committed to supplying the already vast player base with more content in addition to the expected bug fixes. While none of this is a promise set in stone, it does show that the team behind Overwatch is actively listening to their fans and acting accordingly.
What are your hopes for Overwatch's future? What are you looking forward to the most? Let us know in the comment section below!