Overwatch's new map, Eichenwalde, is now live on the game's public test server. It's set in a village next to a big ol' German castle. The map, however, is smaller than it looks. I've played a handful of matches on Eichenwalde now, and I've found it to be a briskly paced payload map that favours defenders maybe a little too much. For every main path, there's a side path, and a side path to counter that side path. It is to flanking what that game where you try to forever put your hands on top of somebody else's is to, you know, hands.
The map unfolds as an alternating series of narrow corridors (with branching paths into dishevelled houses and taverns) and wide open spaces that happen to be payload points. It also has a surprising number of insta-death ravine ledges on main and side paths, so be careful. Look before you strafe. By and large, though, the map is a funnel, and it moves quickly. Matches — even tightly contested back-and-forths — don't tend to last long.
Even the map's wide open spaces are relatively enclosed and dotted with flanking paths and sniper perches, making for some highly defensible points — especially the first and last. I've had a few matches where the ebb and flow felt just right, where one team would hold the first point for a bit, only for the attackers to gain momentum and push past the second point, to a crazy showdown at the last one. Afterward, "GG's" flowed freely, like so much celebratory Winston peanut butter.
But more often than not while on attack, I've lost. The final point is the only one inside the castle, and it's among Overwatch's most constrained pushing locations, even more so than the final point on King's Row, by my estimation. There are two tiny entrances, both easily stopped up by defenders.
Once teams make it inside, it's like a battle of two opposing sardine factions trapped in the same tin. Also the sardines are magic. Ult after ult after ult flies, and many hit their mark because of how little manoeuvring space everybody has. But while defenders spawn right back into the action, attackers have a bit of a trek ahead of them.
This makes sense, because, you know, it's a castle. Defence is kind of the whole point of the structure. And don't get me wrong: All-out ult wars — where you're getting blasted by ghost dragons and exploding robots and black holes and other ghost dragons, but you're hanging on by a thread because your team's Lucio and/or Mercy are darling angels — are thrilling. But I worry that, right now, the balance isn't quite right.
Despite that, I'm still really enjoying playing on Eichenwalde. It's so packed with treacherous cracks and clever crevices that it's a tactician's dream. I'm interested to see how people will make use of it once they have had more time to dissect it. Right now, I'm just enjoying skulking around as Roadhog and hooking everybody from behind their own lines.