Overwatch has had a pretty big year, by most measures. It’s won several awards, millions of fans and hundreds of hours of players’ time since it launched this past May, among other achievements and honors.
But Jeff Kaplan, the game’s director, took to YouTube to offer more than just a pat on the back in his latest developer update. Instead, as he explains over the course of 12 minutes, he’s looking ahead to what 2017 will bring to Overwatch.
Not everything Kaplan discusses is so revelatory on its own, but even the vague hints of what’s to come should appease fans. Oasis, a map that’s now in beta on the Windows PC version’s public test realm, will launch in full early next year. Kaplan’s team is also working on adding customization to the spray and communication wheels, so that players can select multiples at a time. It’s planning another update for early next year that should “strongly encourage players who are partied up to join team chat,” instead of party chat. That’s one of hardcore fans’ bigger requests, according to Kaplan.
Another huge request, and one that Blizzard Entertainment has acknowledged not long since Overwatch’s release, is a server browser for custom games.
“Right now we have a lot of great functionality in the custom game feature, but not everybody knows that you’re running a custom game,” Kaplan said. To streamline that process and make it more accessible, Blizzard has plans to release a matchmaking system that will let players scroll through the custom games they can join, along with what rulesets are in play, how many people are in the match and other important details.
This is commonly found in other popular multiplayer shooters, like Battlefield 1 and Team Fortress 2. When big games don’t include a server browser on release, fans tend to make their dissatisfaction known. It’s considered a key feature in this day and age, and Blizzard has promised fans as recently as BlizzCon 2016 in November that it was working on bringing a server browser to Overwatch.
More interesting are the promises Kaplan could not make, however. He teased that the development team has more heroes, maps and modes in progress right now, but whether they’ll see the light of day is no guarantee.
“We tend to work on more content than we release because we prototype stuff and sometimes it fails or we don’t like it or we wanna go back to the drawing board,” he said. That includes playable characters, of which there are “multiple” new ones in the works.
At least one of those new heroes has made it to the art phase, however, which should bode well for its chance of making it into Overwatch. There’s no timeline in place for when we’ll be introduced to Overwatch’s next playable character, although we can only hope the wait will be less drawn out and stressful than the one for Sombra, the most recent addition to the cast.
As 2016 comes to a close, Blizzard is helping fans wind down with the game’s Winter Wonderland event, as well as a new installment of the Overwatch comics that features the heroes relaxing, not fighting. But that short story only got the community more excited, as it confirmed the game’s first LGBT hero.