Blizzard, the video game developer and publisher that’s responsible for World of Warcraft, the biggest online multiplayer game of all time, has announced its first new game in years. The game is called Overwatch, and it based on shooting mechanics.
Blizzard announced Overwatch this afternoon at a press conference at BlizzCon. BlizzCon is the conference that World of Warcraft lovers flock to every year for news on what’s coming next for that game and more.
The developer didn’t show off much in the way of actual Overwatch gameplay footage. Instead, it stuck to a pre-rendered video. In that video were stealth snipers and firefights with enemies from what we can gather from reports. Polygon says that Overwatch is heavily focused on “action and gunplay.” Characters were seen teleporting and using grappling guns to move from one place to another. One character could fly.
Overwatch is a team-based shooter. What that means is that, players will pretty much have their own characters decked out with certain skills in mind. The characters shown in the game included a ranger with a bow, a gorilla, a dwarf that is an engineer, a sniper and a robot with a turret.
From what Polygon could gather about the game, characters are both magical and rely on technology.
The game’s final launch date remains unclear, but Blizzard did confirm that a playable beta of Overwatch is planned for sometime in 2015. The developer didn’t share a specific month for that beta or even a season. Video of the game should appear on YouTube over the weekend as BlizzCon attendees get to play the game for themselves.
“With every new Blizzard game, we look at our favorite aspects of a genre and put our own spin on things. 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,” Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime said in the company’s press release.
Polygon is quoting Blizzard’s Chris Metzen as saying that the game is coming “sooner than you think.” With comments like that and a beta in 2015 it’s hard to imagine that we wouldn’t see a final version arrive before the end of 2015. If the company already has a beta in the works, maybe Overwatch could arrive by mid-2015 in final form.. That’s pure speculation, but it’s plausible.
With the Xbox One and PS4 launching last year and fighting each other for supremacy this year, most consumers have probably been paying more attention to console gaming over anything else. Overwatch could make 2015 the year PC gaming takes the spotlight back. Blizzard’s fans are in the millions and are a dedicated bunch. The team shooter genre seems ripe for a large developer like Blizzard to swoop in and revolutionize it.
Overwatch is the first complete game from Blizzard to be based on new intellectual property in ages. Blizzard has mostly stuck to the games it knows, producing World of Warcraft expansion packs is one way the studio spends a lot of its time. Producing new games in for Diablo and Starcraft are how it spends the rest.
Overwatch couldn’t be coming at a more crucial time for Blizzard. The studio isn’t in trouble or anything, but World of Warcraft has been showing its age. In the last few years its seen big declines as players move on to other games. To a certain extend, releasing new game updates like Warlords of Draenor have helped stem player loses. That being said, World of Warcraft is a different kind of game — it makes money on subscriptions each month, not on how many people buy it completely up front.
With its team shooting mechanics and new IP, Overwatch could be the new blood Blizzard needs to get longtime fans excited. At the very least, it’ll breathe some new life into the team-based shooting genre. How potential Overwatch players will pay for the game remains unclear. Blizzard didn’t say if we can expect monthly fees for Overwatch or if it’ll need to be purchased up-front like a typical console or PC game does.