Regardless of how Overwatch players might currently feel about changes to heroes like Mercy, Symmetra, and Orisa in Overwatch 2’s ongoing beta, you have to respect one of Blizzard’s reworks: the benches in the game’s New York City-inspired map.
The benches that players pass by in Overwatch 2’s version of Grand Central Terminal are rather simple set dressing, but they’ve been altered since the game’s original beta, based on player feedback. Those benches are now an indicator the hopeful future of the Overwatch fiction, according to the game’s narrative designer.
Earlier this month, Overwatch fan ClearTogether pointed out the problem with the game’s New York benches, as seen in a previous beta version of Overwatch 2, which mimic a style of hostile architecture designed to discourage and restrict homeless people from sleeping on them.
been thinking about this since the beta so I'm just going to say it since no one else has...— ClearTogether ️ (@ClearTogether) June 6, 2022
The anti-homeless architecture of the benches in Midtown makes me super bummed. Benches like this are designed specifically to make homeless miserable. pic.twitter.com/jXyddzRgyR
(While these types of benches are common in New York City subway stations, most of the bench seating at the real-world Grand Central in Manhattan have been removed.)
But as ClearTogether noted in a tweet on Wednesday, those benches have since been updated for Overwatch 2’s current beta. Blizzard clearly took note of the criticism and responded. “This was great feedback,” said Gavin Jurgens-Fyhrie, lead narrative designer and writer for Overwatch, in a response to ClearTogether on Twitter.
Jurgens-Fyhrie added that the narrative team for Overwatch “decided early on in the map story development that Overwatch’s NY offers free, safe housing for people. Some of this is in the map VO, with further details planned for later.”
“‘How we hope the world will be’ is a big part of our story dev,” Jurgens-Fyhrie said.
Blizzard has made adjustments to Overwatch like this before, including prior to the release of the original game, when it adjusted a sexualized pose for the hero Tracer. The developer has also modified in-game content for more grave reasons, including removing the names of real-world Blizzard employees referenced in the game and pulling a character skin inspired by a professional Overwatch League player who was accused of sexual misconduct.
Overwatch 2 will be released in October as an update to the original Overwatch, and will be free to play.