Overwatch has come a long way over the course of the last year, becoming a runaway hit for Blizzard Entertainment with now over 30 million registered gamers playing the team-based competative FPS. Before running through what the one-year anniversary means, lets take a look back at the roots of the game and how it got to where it is today.
Overwatch: A Brief Step Back in Time
Overwatch was originally announced back at Blizzcon 2015 which fell between the 6th and 7th November. It was a combined effort of the cancelled Project Titan that had been rumoured to be the next MMO that Blizzard Entertainment (Blizzard) were going to work on, and new work as this was a completely new direction for Blizzard to go in.
There was a bank of PCs available at Blizzcon for people to try out Overwatch, with long queues as people queued and re-queued to be able to try out the new game and available heroes.
People outside of Blizzcon were keen to have a go as well and this prompted the first open beta weekend which fell between Friday, November 20 at 18:00 CET to Monday, November 23 at 18:00 CET. They wasted no time getting people in to stress test servers and to let the public try out the game for free.
Time moved on and gamers who pre-purchased Overwatch were able to access the beta early from the 3rd May 2016, before the game launched into open beta between the 5th and 9th May 2016. There were 21 heroes available throughout this period to choose from. This geek bought her copy on the 20th April so had plenty of time messing around on the beta servers before open beta. Not only did pre-purchasing gain early beta access for you, but Blizzard also provided a code for you to give to a friend meaning more people playing and more stress testing.
Fast forward slightly to the 12th May 2016 – the beta closed ahead of final touches prior to the game going live on the 23rd May 2016.There were 21 heroes available throughout the original Beta of Overwatch
By June 2nd 2016, Blizzard announced that they already had 7 million players across all platforms. They stated that these 7 million players logged over 119 million hours, swapped heroes 326 million times and delivered 11 million payloads in little over a week since the game was first released. To say that the game had been a runaway hit was a slight understatement and must have been a relief to Blizzard as it was a gamble developing a game so different to their other releases.
Overwatch: The Game Today
The current hero lineup has expanded slightly since the game first released with an addition three heroes being added to the roster. There are now 24 heroes to choose from with seven DPS heroes; six defense heroes; six tank heroes and five support heroes. The main quick play mode now only allows one of each hero with the choice to multi-stack available as an arcade mode.
Additionally the game features aesthetics such as multiple skins; emotes; sprays and other fun things for each character for the player to customise. These come from lootboxes which are available after each level you gain or to purchase from the shop. Standard lootboxes are available all year around however every few months, there are event lootboxes available with limited time skins and sprays – the current event is to celebrate the Overwatch 1 year anniversary!The current lineup of heroes in Overwatch and number of additional items per character
Collection of skins, sprays and emotes creates a whole new mini game for people to partake in and earns Blizzard extra revenue through micro-transactions, when people don’t wish to put in the extra time to level to get the free boxes. The current event runs from May 23rd to June 12th 2017 and offers time exclusive skins and sprays which may not be available again in the future.
The Competitive Scene
As well as the quickplay option, Blizzard do have a competitive play mode for those who wish to play a little harder and rank up in the leaderboards.The ranks in the competitive mode of Overwatch along with the season rating you need to hit them.
Each season starts with players having to play ten placement matches, this will then determine their season rating (SR) and what rank they start at. The rest of the season is then generally spent trying to improve upon that rank or trying not to decay from the top rank. Blizzard added this feature so that people would still need to play once they reached a high rank instead of just stopping for the season.
Ranking up in the competitive mode not only gives you bragging rights but also earns you more aesthetic loot!
Season 5 has recently begun and many are striving to place well and then see where the season takes them. An added incentive for playing competitive are special weapon skins that are golden so they stand out as having been earned by playing competitive. Each weapon costs 3000 competitive points, with top players having multiple characters with golden weapons.
An example of gold coated weapons in Overwatch. Earned by accumulating competitive points, bling!
There are also some restrictions on who you can play with when playing in competitive mode. Players must be of a similar SR rating in order to try to maintain a fair balance of player skill. Players at Diamond skill or below must be within 1000 SR of each other, whereas Master and Grandmaster must be within 500 SR.
At the end of each season, players are rewarded competitive points as to what their highest rank was by the end of the season – they don’t have to maintain the high rank, but the reward will reflect their best score, and award the relevant amount of points.An example of the competitive points gained from the end of a competitive season in Overwatch.