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Overwatch is Blizzard's new team-based multiplayer shooter

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Blizzard Entertainment announced a new title at BlizzCon today, Overwatch, a team-based multiplayer first-person shooter and the developer's first new property in years, that focuses on an international team of soldiers — humans, humanoids and what appear to be mechs. And cyber-gorillas.

In a pre-rendered video, Blizzard showed Overwatch's characters and action, including stealth snipers, gorillas wearing armor and masked mercenaries engaging in firefights. Overwatch appears to be heavily focused on action and gunplay, with characters teleporting mid-gunfight and others using grappling guns to move quickly through a clean futuristic environment.

Blizzard's Chris Metzen says Overwatch — which is a game, he confirmed — is coming "sooner than you think."

"Our goal with Overwatch is to create an awesome FPS experience that's more accessible to a much wider audience while delivering the action and depth that shooter fans love," said Mike Morhaime, CEO and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment, in a prepared statement. According to a press release from Blizzard, Overwatch takes place in a future where an "international task force" known as Overwatch had brought peace to a world in conflict, but had since broken apart; now, new heroes must arise.

Game director Jeff Kaplan said at BlizzCon that Overwatch is a team-based multiplayer shooter, "a game and genre" that Blizzard has been interested in exploring for a while. In Overwatch, which appears to feature Blizzard's signature chunky, slightly cartoonish style, players will have access to a variety of classes and characters. Some characters wear missile-firing mech suits, while others wield a bow and arrow, dual pistols, sniper rifles, hammers, or staffs.

Characters shown in a gameplay video of Overwatch include Hanzo, a bow-wielding ranger; Winston, the gorilla; Torbjorn, a dwarf engineer; Widowmaker, the sniper; and Bastion, the robot/turret.

Movement in Overwatch looks fast, with quick grappling mechanics, teleporting and flying, as well as ground traversal. The game appears to use a blend of magic and technology, with robots that transform into turrets fighting alongside spell-casting supporting heroes. Overwatch offers six-on-six play on maps inspired by real-world locales such as London and Egypt.

A beta for the game is coming in 2015, and Overwatch is available to play at BlizzCon this weekend. You can check out 38 screenshots above, then watch the cinematic trailer below and the gameplay video below that.