Now, however, more details have been provided by Blizzard during the Overwatch panel. It turns out that Overwatch has been designed with consoles as target platforms from the very beginning; Game Director Jeff Kaplan said:
We’re really excited to bring this game to consoles. We felt with (Diablo III) Reaper of Souls, we learned what enthusiasm there is behind playing Blizzard games on consoles; I mean, Blizzard games started on consoles after all.
So, it’s gonna be really great. We feel like we’re gonna speak to a large audience, and I want to answer a few things about consoles for people. One, when we started to make Overwatch, a lot of people asked “Oh, you decided to port the game to consoles at some point”; that was never the case. When we started to develop Overwatch, it was our goal from day one to have this game playable on consoles. It was kind of a dream of ours.
And in a weird way, designing the game so that it felt great on a console controller almost enforced design elegance on us, you really thought about how many buttons are we going to add, what is the control scheme going to be for this sort of thing. We had a little snafu in the beta that was a little bit controversial, where people were wondering why is there aim assist for controllers, and if you notice we turned it off right away, “Oops – our bad”, it was really funny that nobody went “Wait a second, this thing is probably coming to consoles!”, that’s why it was there.
The other thing about console that we think it’s gonna be really amazing is, we’re gonna do full integration with Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, you guys will be able to play this game in the comfort of your living room. Just as a sort of preemptive question that I know is out there, console players and PC players are not gonna play against one another. They’re their own separate ecosystems, so PC players will only play with PC, PS4 with PS4 and XB1 with XB1. That’s the way consoles is gonna work.
This might be quite controversial for PC only players. However, Kaplan also left the door open to modding, which should help him win back some points with PC gamers:
Blizzard’s studio philosophy, I think if you look back at the history of Blizzard, we support modding wholeheartedly, we’re very big believers in it. World of Warcraft had its customizable UI and we saw some incredible creations coming from that, Dota would not exist if it weren’t for Warcraft 3’s moddable map system which we thought was fantastic and we’ve added that to Starcraft II as well. So, philosophically we are absolutely believers in modding and we would like to figure out how to get more of that happening with Overwatch; right now our focus is on our Spring launch, and I do not think we’ll able to have a lot of moddability to the game by the time we launch. But it is a value for us to keep pursuing it, a big question is how do we make our tools and our code accessible to people and really nice. It’s something that we would like to explore, probably not by launch but we’re going to be supporting this game for a long time and we absolutely believe in modding.
A few more highlights from the panel were the confirmation that the number of heroes (21) is currently a sweet spot for Blizzard, they think it’s a good composition and they don’t want to overwhelm new players.
Unfortunately, Mac players are out of luck at the moment as it was confirmed that the technology behind Overwatch does not support Mac for the moment. Split screen coop isn’t planned at the moment, but the developers on stage said that it would be awesome and a “killer idea”, so it might happen in the future.
Three new heroes were announced: Mei, D.Va and Genji; a new map, Hollywood, was also shown. Blizzard provided some data on the ongoing beta: 82K matches were played so far, with an average length of 7:34 minutes; the most played hero was Pharah and the most frequent winner was Symmetra.
As for the different editions of the game, the basic one is priced at $/€ 39.99, while the Origins Edition costs $/€ 59.99 and gives you five origin character skins and a bunch of in-game goodies for other Blizzard games.
Finally, the Collector’s Edition is priced at $/€ 129.99 and contains a visual sourcebook, the game’s soundtrack and a statue of Strike-Commander 76 which measures 12.8″ in height. Enjoy a new gameplay trailer below.
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