Despite Its Glamour, Overwatch's Latest Map Feels Familiar

Yesterday, Blizzard dropped Overwatch's latest map, a literal carnival of Blizzard references. "Blizzard World" is a theme park about Hearthstone, Starcraft, Heroes of the Storm and Warcraft. Playing it feels a lot like being invited to loud, garish party that you leave feeling just OK.

Putting aside cute Easter eggs, such as a spawn point designed like a Hearthstone tavern, Blizzard World is a cookie-cutter hybrid map: Part control point, part payload. Players pass through a defined choke point before claiming a point. Then, they take a payload through a winding pathway and into the goal. Alongside the path are a few small rooms and, above it, some platformed pathways. It's a lot like King's Row, a map with a somewhat straightforward strategy.

Unlike Overwatch's newer maps, such as Junkertown, Eichenwalde or Horizon Lunar Colony, Blizzard World feels plainer, despite its glitz and glamour. Its design doesn't appear to vary from already-existing Overwatch maps in ways that immediately feel fresh. We've seen hybrid maps just like this before with tight choke points, long platforms and weaving side rooms. After a few games, Blizzard World didn't feel too different.

Today, we gave it a spin:

Blizzard World serves its purpose - to showcase Blizzard's numerous accomplishments and hype players for the publisher's other games. Perhaps because of that, it seems to lack Overwatch's signature flair for interesting design. Blizzard World is enjoyable to tour, but it didn't give me that great of a ride.


Comments

    TL;DR - Disagree.

    I'm not one to easily succumb to hype, or fan service, but I got excited playing the new map. I haven't had much time for OW lately, but I stayed up till 2 last night running through it, looking at easter eggs, learning it's pathways. I will concede that it feels like your standard hybrid in terms of execution, and that by this point there's only so many ways to execute a hybrid map. There's a kind of homogenisation of playstyle in esports games, which, while disappointing, is not unexpected. Because high level players and pros want the game to stay stable and predictable in order to gain mastery over the known commodity, there's a 'sanding down the edges' approach game developers often take to patches in these games (see 'Mercy'). I was bummed out recently when Rainbow Six Siege removed the maps 'Yacht' and 'Favelas' from standard rotation because they didn't fit the balance model. I had always found both maps refreshingly different from a strategic standpoint, and whether or not there was an attacking/defending advantage had little impact on me as a casual player. So, while I still hold out hope for a reverse-hybrid OW map (or something even cooler), I can't say I'm surprised by the samey-ness of Blizzard World, and the easter eggs were enough to keep me entertained. :)

    Last edited 25/01/18 11:41 am

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