Overwatch’s principal designer says Junkertown was originally a crazy “killing field”


Update, August 22: Overwatch’s principal designer has given some insight into the way in which Junkertown, the new Overwatch map, was developed.

Scott Mercer, principal designer on Overwatch, has spoken about the way in which he and his team developed the game’s new escort map, Junkertown.

Here’s what’s in the latest Overwatch PTR patch.

On stream with streamer Brandon “Seagull” Larned, Mercer says that the team knew they wanted to make a new escort map so that there would be four variants on each game mode. The development process started by simply blocking out the map, with all the focus on gameplay – imagine any of Overwatch’s maps made entirely out of grey boxes.

The idea behind this was to figure out the way in which the map was going to work in-game. Flanks and chokepoints were set up, and Mercer says that while the level’s design has always been quite open-plan, there was initially much less verticality, and some of the rooftops and rope bridges that you can see in the level are later additions.

Figuring out the way in which high ground and open space worked together proved to be a problem, however, and later stages devolved into crazy “killing fields.” It wasn’t until later in development that more cover options came in to try and fix that problem.

After most of the level’s physical layout had been decided it was then that its visual appearance became important to consider. Mercer says that, at that point, artists work with level designers to figure out the story of a level, and give them “a springboard for their own creativity.” This means filling out areas based on what the different rooms in the maps could be, adding props and other assets, and developing scenery.

He also says that due to the fact that the map is an Escort map, it should be easy to understand, but that like any Overwatch map, it has its own unique characteristics. Maps need to feel different, both in terms of things like how you play the route, and how they feel as a space.

Update August 21, 2017:Junkertown is indeed Overwatch’s new map.

Blizzard production director Chacko Sonny confirmed it’ll be an Escort map – the last objective type without a new map since the game launched – and will be playable on the show floor if you’re lucky enough to be out at Gamescom.

Junkertown will very likely be added to the Overwatch PTR in the week after Gamescom, since that’s what’s happened every other time a new map has been revealed.

A short video starring local personae non grata,Junkrat and Roadhog, sets up the scenario around the map. Channelling every straight-man/silly-man double act, they’ve been kicked out of their former home for reasons Junkrat can’t remember, and are concocting a harebrained scheme to get back ininvolving explosives and cash.

The payload that you’ll escort through the town is heavily stocked with both, and its terminus is right outside “the boss’s place,” whoever that is. Junkrat also mentions “the Queen” – perhaps these are the heads of local junker gangs? Check our original story below for more of Junkertown’s lore.

You can watch the new video above – it’s quite funny if you enjoy Junkrat’s unhinged Australian Joker imitation – or get a preview of Junkertown below, with narration courtesy of the mysterious Queen.

We’re expecting more from Blizzard on Wednesday, including an all-new animated short focusing on Zarya’s backstory (if the last tease is anything to go by).

Original story August 21, 2017:Overwatch and Talon will soon be scrapping it out in a new map named Junkertown, according to voice lines datamined from the PTR. We expect it to be revealed at Gamescom in a couple of hours.

The telling line is “Welcome to Junkertown” as spoken by Athena, the Overwatch AI who announces the map at the start of each game. You can have a listen for yourself on the dataminer’s Tumblr page.

We know Blizzard are gearing up for announcements at Gamescom, which will include a new Overwatch animated shorton Wednesday and a new map today. With voice lines for Junkertown already on the PTR, it’s practically certain that we’ll see it in today’s stream. You can watch that live at 17:00 BST via the embed below:

In Overwatch lore, the Australian Outback was irradiated after anti-robot terrorists destroyed an Omnium (an automated factory) there. The only humans who still live in the Outback are the Junkers – a Mad Max-esque gang of cutthroat survivors who make their living by scavenging. Junkertown is their haven, and former members include Junkrat and his enforcer Roadhog.