Recent stats have suggested that a third of PC gamers are currently playing a battle royale, and Jeff “from the Overwatch team” Kaplan is no exception. Papa Jeff has played “hundreds of hours” of PUBG, but don’t expect Blizzard’s FPS to jump on the bandwagon any time soon.
Pick a winner in the true battle royale: Fortnite vs. PUBG.
Jeff tells Kotaku UK that “A lot of times when I hear some of our fans pitch it, they’re like ‘Oh, just put a card in the Arcade one day that’s a battle royale mode,’ and I’m like ‘Fuck, that would be awesome.’ But there’s a lot of design and tech work to get us to that place and not just feel like a me-too game.”
A principle problem is the balance of Overwatch’s heroes. They’re built to fill roles on a team, not to seek individual glory. “Part of what makes the core loop work in a battle royale game is the search, the looting, and the fairness that everybody’s sort of equal,” Kaplan says. “Overwatch wasn’t designed to be a 1v1. Every hero’s not balanced against every other hero.”
Of course, that same problem didn’t stop them from eventually adding a deathmatch mode, but there are other problems for a theoretical Overwatch Battle Royale, like the game’s relatively tiny maps. “Our primary engagement distance is usually around 15 to 40 meters. The Hanamura dojo point B is 45 meters across. I don’t think people realize how tiny it is. Part of what makes Fortnite and PUBG so awesome is that you can have these really long engagement distances.”
Between the systems work and number of players involved, the scope of introducing the mode to Overwatch “starts to get into new game territory,” according to Kaplan. I dunno, Overwatch 2: Battle Royale Boogaloo sounds alright to me.