In the courtyard of the main office of Blizzard is a tall statue of the orc - it is twelve feet, not less. A compass is installed around it, pointing to the company's main values. The central maxim: Gameplay First. "The gameplay is above all".
Head of development of Overwatch Jeffrey Kaplan recalled this when we were talking about a new studio game on PAX East.
"We have a word in Blizzard - I do not even know if it's real -" gaming ". Look, we have four Traceers and two Winston on the team. What is the point from the point of view of history? We do not even try to answer this question - of course, in the universe there is only one Tracer and one Winston, but for the sake of a good game at this moment we close our eyes to it.
Like, say, in Diablo or World of Warcraft, you die, come back to life. How can I explain this? No way. This is a typical "gamemism". Necessary convention. Yes, we strive to develop an impressive backstory for Overwatch, but when you play in a team shooter, the meaning of what's happening can be compromised. "
At PAX East 2015 Blizzard announced two new characters. Jesse McCree, a typical desperate cowboy, is not ideologically as curious as the second heroine, Zarya, she's Alexandra Zaryanova. A broad-shouldered fighting woman. Russian. It's unlike any of the Overwatch heroines Blizzard has shown before.
The question itself arose: was the appearance of the courageous Dawn a reaction to the next wave of Internet noise due to the fact that all the girls in the game are supposedly "too ideal"?
"You can not instantly react to something in the spirit of" Oh, look what they write on Twitter! "- Jeff laughs. "We just can not afford it." The creation of any hero takes months. A variety of types was one of our original tasks: all the characters that we had time to announce, from different countries. Japan, Germany, Sweden, England. He (Kaplan points to Winston) in general from the moon. We strive for comprehensiveness. "
And to the geographical including. We start the game on the new map "Observation post: Gibraltar", and I immediately choose Zarju.
First thought: she does not look like Heavy at all.
Overwatch on the run ran for comparison with Team Fortress 2. In the first trailer flew a hyperactive Tracer - this is the same Scout! Viking ThorbjГёrn diligently strikes his turret - and where did we see it? But the Angela (Mercy) was pasted to Farre's squealing opponents with a healing cannon. Well yes.
However, Overwatch has nothing in common with Team Fortress 2, only a genre, similar unimportant analogies and mode with a cart. Here, faster skirmishes, more vertical maps, and instead of nine classes - a dozen heroes (and much more in perspective): even if some of them do one job, they do it very differently.
I choose Zarju. Her gun resembles a shock rifle from Unreal Tournament: in the main mode, it emits an accurate beam of energy, in the side - powerful bursting shells. I am in the forefront: the defensive barrier of Dawn absorbs the damage directed at it or on one of the allies. While I'm in combat, the "final capacity" counter is filled. I squeeze Q: a powerful impulse pulls opponents from all over the hall into one point. I blast them with alternative fire. Good.
The tracer. Three instant jumps in space - and I crossed almost half of the map. Met Dzenyattu, discharged the clip, but did not have time to finish - his friends came running. One button, and Tracer takes the time back, returning to a safe place. I remember Weaver from DotA. Interesting.
Reinhardt. I'm slow, big and I forgot how to shoot, but my hammer rolls everyone into sausage. I tear forward, knock down the enemy Tracer. She squeals angrily. I imprint it on the wall - for good. Cruelly.
Farrah. I soared into the air - I see all very well. I bombard the ground from the missile and prepare to launch a flurry of mini-missiles, but the enemy Widow shoots me with an accurate shot. Well, at least once everything had to go according to their plan.
Players change heroes on the fly, the flow of the party is constantly changing the course. The enemy team had just marched forward with an assault squad from Zarya, a pair of mobile McCrea's desserto and a huge space gorilla named Winston, and now they creep cautiously to our positions under the guise of Reinhardt's shield. Not everything, of course: many of us see the game for the first time. What kind of teamwork is there.
As I go along, I notice how much in the environment of the character. Heroes make noise and talk - this is by itself. In addition, I regretted that I could not spend more time watching the monitors on the bases of both teams. Jeff argues that the story campaign will not (at least not in the foreseeable future), but this will not prevent the team from breaking away from other ways of developing the universe.
Overwatch, like Hearthstone, all in characteristic little things. It seems that after the game the game chooses the best maneuver, Play of the Match. A trifle - but very motivating to play beautifully.
Now I'm a Reaper. The crumb of all of the twin shotguns, teleporting many meters ahead, become invulnerable to changing positions. Energized the "ulta", pressed the button - The reaper swirled in the dance. One, two, three murders on level ground. Oh.
The match ends. On-duty final screen: the Play of the Match gets a ChloeGrace reward. To me.
I watch the same scene from the side: my Reaper bursts into the crowd, gives out a triple murder and retreats into darkness. I'm happy in my heart, but ... is it too much? Pieces like the final ability of the Reaper - this is what usually throws noisy masses into a tantrum. About such things they make forum lampoons, complain that it is too strong, too cool.
But Kaplan in this matter is determined resolutely: "Our task now is to make things seem too strong. We really want you to play for the same Reaper or Winston and think: "Damn, I think I'm too strong and I need to ponerfit." If so they think about each hero, then everything is in balance with the balance.
Is there a good answer to this or that ability in the game - this is the first question that we ask when balancing. We ourselves do not like to be nerf. Instead of weakening one hero, we will rather strengthen the other to create an effective countermeasure. "
Overwatch is played very nicely, but we do not know how the progression will be arranged, we do not know about the pre-session mechanics. Kaplan answers all the same questions about the business model: "We are considering all options, but we can not say for sure yet." But this is the main thing. It will determine what Overwatch will become.
Hardly we will be dedicated to the final plans later than this fall, when the closed beta should start. Just remember that autumn is a loose concept. It's Blizzard, after all.