What’s better than one person controlling a giant, unstoppable killing machine across a science fiction battlefield? Two people, say Blizzard, adding a huge, two-person robot to their interpretation of Overwatch’s Volskaya map. Volskaya Foundry, such it is called, has you capturing control points to summon the Triglav Protector, then jumping inside with one of your team-mates.
As part of the next major update, Volskaya Foundry will be bringing three lanes, three control points and one giant mech - along with a pre-game quest event and its own brawl - to Blizzard’s MOBA. The major sell of the map is its unique mechanic, which operates like if Cho’Gall was a map objective instead of a great bait to all inexperienced duos everywhere.
“The first person who enters the mech is the pilot and he gets to control a lot of the positioning and movement,” explains map designer John DeShazer. “The second person who enters it is the gunner, they get access to three very fun and interesting damage dealing abilities.”
Unlocking it is as simple as holding control points across the map, which are active one at a time. These operate a little like Sky Temple - your team must keep control of them to continue progress towards the Protector, with someone always standing on the point. If two heroes from opposite teams are on the point it won't contribute to triggering the Protector for either, forcing team fights around these objectives.
“The pilot role is kind of the tank role for the team. They have a lot of CC style abilities and also [control] the movement. One of their abilities is a rocket fist that will shoot out and root an enemy player or it will disable a structure. That can be used to combo and create synergies with team-mates or the gunner.
“[The pilot] also has the shield emitter ability on E, that will apply armour to the mech and also every ally that's within range gets a shield. Really encourages people to fight around the robot, synergise with it, to be more effective.” Other abilities include a charge, that does huge damage to structures.
The pilot’s partner in crime is more about dishing out damage, and providing some power to excuse having two heroes missing off the map. “The gunner is a team fighter slot. A lot of times vehicles are used to do a lot of the siege damage to buildings and structures. The gunner has a lot of positional damage if targeting heroes. You really get to be a threat to enemy heroes in the gunner slot, so it should be something you want to fight around and never feel like a 4v5 as it can with other vehicles.”
Taking the mech down won’t take an exceptional amount more punishment than the Dragon Knight or Garden Terror - a little more health on the last balancing pass, according to DeShazer - but it’s a lot more threatening to snowballing a game, combined with being harder to get. There’s also no stealing the mech, and the only way to stop people getting inside is to stun them, damage doesn’t interrupt the channel. If only one player is driving, they can switch seats at will, but this isn’t instant and has a cooldown, so it’s far from optimal.
Balancing, as a great designer once said, rarely survives first contact with the players. DeShazer thinks the mech is in a good place right now, but is excited to see just how much we break it. So get to it and push some cores. Lost Vikings, anyone?
Also on Volskaya are a series of conveyor belts. These do exactly what you’d expect, speeding or slowing you and other heroes depending on which way you’re travelling. There’s a set of them around each of the control points. “Depending on the layout it really has a drastic impact on the fights at that location so we built a lot of them around each of the capture locations.”
You can see one of them above, which is situated at the north of the map, and this is the top right hand corner of that control point. “This configuration is really about exiting the area. So once you've entered that control point this is a quick escape route, but it also kinda plays the opposite where it shuts off that side of the control point if you're trying to enter it. Fighting against the conveyor belt will make you go very slow unless you're mounted, where you can kind of fight against it successfully - but if you're hit by any sort of slow or CC, you won't be able to make any progress at all.”
They also tie into a returning feature on Volskaya - turret camps. Back from Hanamura, these reward a turret and place it on the ground. Great for defending a control point, especially if placed on one of the circular conveyor belts in the southern part of the map, letting it whip around the point and take people out.
Volskaya will be the home of two other gameplay tidbits: a new pre-game quest and a new brawl. The pre-game quest is Pachimari-themed loot box opening named Pachimari Mania, with members of your team rushing to open boxes and find the golden Pachimari. You get a speed boost every time you open one, making route planning important. Much like the Golden Rooster event from earlier this year, it won’t change your life but does come with some rewards:
- Find two golden pachimari as a team: Pachimari emoji pack
- Find five: Pachimari banner
- Find eight: Pachimari spray
- Find ten: Pachimari portrait
Meanwhile in the brawl, Bash ‘Em Smash ‘Em Robots, two of Volskaya’s mech are placed on the map at the start, one for each team. They’ll fight it out until they’re both dead, then respawn, until somebody wins. It’s on a special battleground, shaped like a giant S, and is meant to teach players how the mech works.
Expect more reveals during the ongoing HGC broadcast, embedded below. There will also be a showmatch between Gale Force Esports and Team Freedom on September 21 at 10:00 PDT / 18:00 BST / 19:00 CEST.