Overwatch is in a content lull. Outside of esports, fans of the game have little to look forward to outside of regularly scheduled, seasonal events — events that have become a bit stale since their introduction.
While it’s true that we get a about new hero or new map every two months or so, and there are occasional special hero challenges (D.Va Nano Cola, Ana Bastet, and Baptiste Reunion), and Overwatch League special releases like the All-Stars skins and MVP skin, players are starting to get tired of the seasonal game modes which haven’t changed much since their initial inception, repeating the same scripted events or rules year after year. Even this year’s Archives event, “Storm Rising,” where players got new Overwatch lore, felt too similar to last year’s “Retribution,” using the same enemies.
But things may be changing soon.
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At the end of an interview with Unit Lost – Great British Gaming’s Stylosa, Overwatch Game Director Jeff Kaplan had this to say:
“It’s going to be a very different summer. I know what our players like to do is to look back at the calendar and saying this is what always happens and this is when I expect things; there’s going to be some mix-up this summer when things land… those dates are going to be different.”
Over a month has gone by since that statement, but today we finally received an update on what he meant.
In the July Developer Update, Kaplan said that the Summer Games are coming sooner than they have in the past, but did not provide a specific date. He added that for each week of the Summer Games, there will be smaller events similar to the hero challenges where players may earn skins, rather than only the traditional model where all new items are available for purchase at the start of the event.
Spreading out content in this manner is a departure from what Blizzard has done in the past, but is similar to how other live games work. If the company is indeed changing its approach, it might benefit from borrowing from these titles to keep things fresh in Overwatch.
Steal Fortnite’s Approach to Cosmetics
Fortnite, the largest game in the battle royale genre, is known for its constant content updates with new modes, new guns, and more. A model like this doesn’t exactly fit Overwatch because each hero only has one weapon and has limited customization, but there are some things Blizzard could draw from it.
For instance, perhaps to coincide with the competitive seasons, Overwatch seasons could also come with skins for some heroes if enough games of Overwatch are played. A Horizon Lunar Colony season could come with space-themed skins for some heroes, or Hollywood could provide cinematic props.
Or, Borrow From Heroes of the Storm
There is no need to look further than another Blizzard game, Heroes of the Storm for inspiration. Heroes already has seasonal events similar to Overwatch, but it also periodically has themed skins for different characters.
When Warcraft character Whitemane was introduced, an unrelated, fictional Viper organization was created to give backstory to new, “evil” skins being added to the Heroes versions of Ana and Genji, as well as Starcraft hero Stukov.
In Overwatch, smaller, themed events, could be based on actual Overwatch lore to expand the story, or they could be entirely fantastical, where two or three heroes get new customizables that aren’t connected to the narrative at all.
Many of these items in Heroes are tied to event-long quests such as, “Play 10 games with a friend,” or, “Win 25 games,” in order to earn more items and keep players engaged. A few weekly quests to keep players coming back is simple and a small carrot that works for plenty of games. Why not Overwatch?
In any case, with changes to the Summer Games coming, hopefully all upcoming events will get some much-needed refreshing.