Update May 17, 2017: Overwatch's anniversary event will run from May 23 to June 12.
We've finally got confirmation folks. In a special anniversary video made by Blizzard, Overwatch's Year One anniversary event will start next week on May 23, and run until June 12. While the video doesn't give us any extra information on the nature of the event, it does recap the Overwatch team's favourite moments from the past year.
For all the details in the patch itself, check our rundown on Overwatch 1.11.
There will be a free Overwatch weekend running from May 23-26, with new players being able to transfer over all their progress to the full game, should they choose to purchase it.
May 23 will also see the release of a Game of the Year edition of Overwatch, which will feature ten loot boxes and the skins from the Origins edition. These are:
- Strike Commander Morrison for Soldier 76
- Blackwatch Reyes for Reaper
- Overgrown Bastion
- Slipstream Tracer
- Security Chief Pharah
Purchasing the Game of the Year will also net you all of the Overwatch exclusives for other Blizzard games like:
- Tracer in Heroes of the Storm
- The Baby Winston pet for World of Warcraft
- Mercy's Wings in Diablo 3
- The Overwatch card back in Hearthstone
- In-game portraits of Tracer, Reaper, Pharah, Winston, Bastion and Soldier 76 for Starcraft 2
Update May 16, 2017: it looks like Overwatch's Anniversary event won't start tonight.
Blizzard say they will announce a date for Overwatch’s next event beforehand, “as we have with our previous events.” With only two exceptions (Summer Games and Halloween), every previous event has been at least teased a whole week ahead of time. This suggests the widely-assumed Anniversary event won’t start tonight.
That’s according to the Overwatch twitter feed yesterday.
Overwatch updates always happen on Tuesdays, and Overwatch’s official one-year anniversary is May 24. So if we’re correct to infer that Blizzard will announce the event a week ahead of time, we’re guessing it'll be announced tonight and will kick off next Tuesday, May 23.
That said, it looks like the datamined end date for the event - June 5 (see earlier coverage, below) - is still accurate. That’s odd, as it suggests the Anniversary event will run for only two weeks when previous ones have run for three.
Though two out of a total of six events to date haven't had a week's notice, those were the first two events. Every event since has established a pattern, as this thread on Reddit points out. Still, perhaps Blizzard will break with that tradition and surprise us with an early start, or perhaps they'll update the loot boxes to extend their sales run.
Update May 11, 2017: Xbox store datamining indicates the anniversary event will end June 5 - that means it should start on Tuesday.
As reported earlier, the Xbox store has been datamined and revealed an Overwatch Game of the Year Edition coming May 23. The same datamine found a listing for anniversary loot boxes, pointing to the new event starting next week.
According to the listing for the loot boxes, they're on sale until June 5. Every event up until now has lasted three weeks, and with the latest PTR coming down yesterday as well, patch day (and thus event day) points to Tuesday, May 16.
Also in the listing is confirmation of various details we could have guessed - there will be more than 100 new items, including skins, sprays, highlight intros, emotes, victory poses, player icons and voice lines. No pricing details were given.
Blizzard also recognised the demand for and ackowledged the existence of an anniversary event this morning:
@KingofWaranon No timing details yet.— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) May 10, 2017
For the actual anniversary itself, on May 24, it's likely we'll see another PTR go up with the long-awaited Doomfist (or another new Overwatch hero), as well as various celebratory bits. Splitting these out gives the team a little more time to polish, as well as two weeks worth of press rather than all of it at once.
Update May 8, 2017: Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan has hinted that Symmetra's long-awaited Legendary skin will arrive in the upcoming anniversary event.
In a response to a thread on the Overwatch forums titled "Is Symmetra getting a Legendary skin soon?", Kaplan simply answered that "Symmetra fans will be pleased very soon." Oh Jeff, you're such a tease.
Update May 5, 2017: new datamined assets hint at a brand new game mode.
Yesterday, dataminers uncovered a bunch of cosmetics and voice lines due to be added to Overwatch soon. Some of those lines have now been uploaded, and they hint at a new game mode based on destroying an objective.
Reddit user DeadGirlDreaming pulled the lines from the PTR, and explains that they were most likely added with the Uprising patch, and couldn’t be listened to before yesterday due to the encryption. You can have a listen to some selected lines at their Reddit post.
The new lines discuss destroying or damaging an objective, which isn't possible in any of Overwatch's current game modes. Hanzo, for instance, says “destroy the objective”, while Sombra can say “the objective’s almost destroyed. Is anyone else concerned about that?”
Genji, Zarya and Reaper all have new lines based on escorting or moving an objective. This suggests the new, destructible objective will be mobile, unless they're simply to be added to the game's current escort and hybrid game modes.
Some characters also say “the objective is dead” which would be redundant if destroying the objective ended the round (McCree even asks “what’s next?”). Perhaps the attacking team will need to do something else to win, or perhaps there are several objectives to destroy.
DeadGirlDreaming says there are way more lines on the PTR, but that they didn’t fancy uploading them all. Their guess is that most or all heroes have lines for destroying the objective; escorting the objective; calling out their location (here’s McCree on that); and responding both positively and negatively to the objective being damaged (which would obviously depend on whether they’re attacking or defending it).
This explains why all characters are about to get at least five new lines, as revealed in the initial datamine. For more on that, check out yesterday’s coverage below.
Original story May 4, 2017: An Overwatch anniversary event is, at this point, almost assured. Between half-believable 4chan leaks and general common sense, plus the timing of the Heroes of the Storm event, the patch hitting PTR and when Jupiter was last ascendant in Taurus, it seems the next batch of skins, emotes, victory poses and selfies will arrive around or on May 24. The question is, what’s in it? Well, datamining can help with that.
In a video released today by Overwatch Youtuber Hammeh aka Failcraft, he explains that using the same techniques that have lead to clues in the past, every character in the game is getting at least five new cosmetic items in an upcoming event. The event’s title is obfuscated in the datamined files, named simply EVENT_6, but given the timing of the patch and how long it usually takes to get to live servers, May 24 looks extremely likely.
As for the items themselves, what Blizzard haven’t managed to find a way to hide (yet) is how many each character is getting. Remember that items include skins, emotes, victory poses, voice lines, sprays and highlight intros. What this doesn’t indicate is which of these each character is getting, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
The list of heroes and their number of items in ‘EVENT_6’:
- 8 items - Reaper
- 7 items - Tracer, Orisa, Sombra
- 6 items - Hanzo, Pharah, Bastion, Symmetra, Genji, Zarya, Soldier: 76, Lucio, D.Va, Mei
- 5 items - Ana, Torbjorn, Reinhardt, Mercy, Roadhog, McCree, Junkrat, Winston, Widowmaker, Zenyatta
Now, obviously, the more items you have, the more likely you are to be getting skins. This is because there is a base number of items that all heroes get - voice lines and sprays. However, in past events, minimums have been much lower at two voice lines and a spray, usually. Pure speculation now, but what it could indicate is that the significance of the anniversary event means everyone’s getting a skin, along with a couple of sprays and voice lines.
Either way, with Reaper, Tracer, Orisa and Sombra on top of the standings, they’re almost guaranteed to be getting skins, giving Tracer the largest wardrobe in the known universe. Everyone in the six category may not be, but we know Hanzo skins are in development thanks to various blue posts in the past couple of months. Equally, Mei, D.Va and Genji have all been rather skin-rich recently, so them missing out seems likely if my skins-for-all prediction is off.
What’s also noted in the datamining, as pointed out on Reddit, is at least one new map, possibly more. This is also in line with what we’ve heard from Blizzard in recent months regarding new maps on the way.
Doubtless, more announcements, leaks and datamining will give us more information very soon. None of this indicates a new hero on the way, but note that a new hero - Doomfist, okay, it’s going to be Doomfist - would not be in this PTR patch but the next one, since he would need to go through more rigorous testing than a series of cosmetics.
Here’s Hammeh’s full video if you want all the details: