Blizzard Entertainment‘s game director for hit shooter title Overwatch, Jeff Kaplan, took to YouTube on Thursday for an update on the game’s development for its competitive scene. In the update, Kaplan detailed a number of changes that would go live at the upcoming World Cup early next month.
Kaplan immediately addresses what many experts have been criticizing about the game’s design:
“The top thing that we hear on the development team is that sometimes watching Overwatch esports can be very challenging to follow the action and know what’s going on. So, for the past few months, the Overwatch team has been extremely dedicated to working on a number of features to improve the viewing experience for all of us.”
The first and biggest feature to know about is the addition of “team uniforms”—actual palette overlays that replace the current red vs. blue skins with the actual colors of each team. Each team will have a darker home design and lighter away design, just like traditional sports. According to Kaplan, this palette concept will also be expanded into gameplay mechanics like bullet trails or explosions along with the displayed user interface.
“We want to make it super obvious that you know what team you’re watching and which player you’re watching at all times,” adds Kaplan. “[These features] will really help with that player and team identification, plus the teams are going to look awesome.”
Other incoming features include new observer and broadcaster tools like a top-down map that displays all players and in-game statuses. Broadcasters will have the option of showing this map during broadcasts, or whether to just use it as an off-screen tool to track the game state. Blizzard is also adding a “third person smart camera” that will smooth out third person camera shots by panning automatically to where the action is taking place.
Directly addressing some of the game’s biggest esports flaws is a promising sign that Blizzard is indeed listening to its critics.
Overwatch broadcasters will also be able to generate cinematic instant replay clips, built out of the already present “kill cam” replays that players see when they die.
Finally, Blizzard will be unveiling a tournament interface aimed at event organizers that will automate tournament execution if set up correctly. Part of this feature will include automatically pausing a game upon any disconnect, allowing the player to reconnect before resuming the game without allowing the other team to take advantage.
This sudden announcement from Blizzard is an extremely welcome one with the game’s premier league barreling towards us. And while other issues like visas are still threatening to ruin Overwatch League’s first season, directly addressing some of the game’s biggest esports flaws is a promising sign that Blizzard is indeed listening to its critics. A TEO poll revealed that only 40% of their readers think the OWL will be a success—but this new update could be a game changer.