The second phase of the Overwatch beta kicks off today and after being down for around two months, Blizzard is bringing their team shooter back into the public arena with a suite of changes.
One of the biggest is the inclusion of a brand new progression and reward system, which fans of games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, PAYDAY 2 and many, many others will find all too familiar.
In an interview with director Jeff Kaplan, the lid was lifted on what Team 4 — the internal descriptor for the team assigned to work on Overwatch — calls loot boxes. "Every time you level up we give you a reward," Kaplan explained.
"Loot boxes are really cool because they have four items in them, and those four items can vary in quality and rarity. So just like WoW, Diablo or Hearthstone, we have Legendary items that come out of them, we’ve got Epic items, rare items and common items that come out of these loot boxes."
Kaplan, who is also a vice president at Blizzard, added that all items were cosmetic and would have no impact on balance or gameplay. "There’s no competitive advantage, you don’t need to be a super high level player in order to really be viable in competitive Overwatch play or anything like that. All of the items are cosmetic."
The introduction of loot boxes naturally led me to think of the CSGO and Dota 2 in-game economies, so I asked whether users would be able to spend real money. Kaplan said that wasn't an option for the beta, but it was an option being actively considered.
"You cannot do that right now, when the beta comes back up loot boxes are only rewarded based off of game and player level," he replied. "But we’ve had this system in for about two months internally, and it’s something that a lot of us really want is the ability to purchase additional loot boxes. So we’re definitely exploring if that’s a system we can pursue, and there’s a lot of interest around it. It’s definitely something we’d like to do."