Overwatch's game director Jeff Kaplan has taken to the forums and YouTube to spell out a few changes as we approach BlizzCon. Mercy's strength since her rework is getting addressed, as is the difficulty of spectating Overwatch games in an esports setting.
Here's the latest on the Overwatch League.
Kaplan has given a quick state-of-the-game update on the forums, kicking off with the thorny subject of Mercy. Though he does say her new direction is much better, he acknowledges she's too strong - particularly her resurrect ability. "We're experimenting with different toned-down versions," he says. When they decide on one for us to test, it'll be put on the PTR.
Kaplan also touches on the subjects of competitive play and toxicity. On the latter point, the number of actioned players is up and he insists the reporting system works, so please use it if you spot anyone behaving anti-socially. He doesn't give much more detail about what Blizzard are doing to solve community concerns in these departments, but assures us that they're working on it.
In other news, Kaplan has acknowledged that it can be hard “to follow the action and know what’s going on” when spectating a game of Overwatch (see the video above). Hence, Blizzard are putting a few new features in place for the Overwatch World Cup at BlizzCon next month.
First up: team uniforms. All World Cup teams will get a uniform with home and away colours, which will extend to the HUD and even visual effects, such as explosions. The idea is it should be immediate and easy to identify which team, and indeed player, you’re watching.
Secondly, observers and broadcasters will get a top-down interactive map, which lets them see all the action at once: every player, their ult status, whether they're stunned or frozen, and so on.
Observers, by the way, are the in-game camera people who frame the action. They'll get a new third-person smart camera, which knows where the action is and automatically follows it, smoothing out its motion so it’s not as jerky as if a human were moving it. Observers will also be able to select a replay of any moment in the kill feed and replay it with timescaling and camera repositioning, which should show us at home a cool instant replay, framed in a cinematic way.
Finally, some common sense improvements are being made to tournament direction to minimise incidents of human error. For example, if a player disconnects, the game will automatically pause without needing an official to step in and push a button.