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Eight Modes We Want To See In Overwatch

by Joey Thurmond on Feb 12, 2018 at 03:00 PM

Overwatch is at the height of its popularity, becoming Blizzard's fastest-growing franchise ever with more than 35 million players. The developer has also led the charge in promoting the game's burgeoning eSports scene with the Overwatch League, which boasted 10 million viewers during its first week of matches. It's incredible to think how a title mired in creative woes has become one of the videogame industry's largest cultural phenomena. Despite its rampant success and steady stream of quality content, I can't help but think how maps and characters won't be enough to sustain its overwhelming player base a few years down the line. How can Blizzard keep the payload moving? I created a list of ideas that not only include unique multiplayer modes, but also single-player ideas for Blizzard to keep in mind.

Blizzard vice president Jeff Kaplan has stated on multiple occasions that huge diversions from Overwatch's existing structure wouldn't be feasible to undertake, so with that in mind, my ideas are constructed around developing concurrent multiplayer maps, building upon existing kits with characters, and the like. Even then, with Overwatch's meteoric rise, I don't think it's unreasonable to imagine the studio expanding and/or splitting its team toward creating more diverse content to shake up the game.


The Last Stand (4P Co-op Survival)
The Uprising event was brutal on higher difficulties. It was thrilling to hold back the relentless flow of Omnics as you fought with your team to save King's Row. What if it had been truly endless though? When I watched Bastion and Reinhardt's memories of the Eichenwalde battle in their cinematic trailers, the potential for a survival mode struck me. It could take place in an expanded variant of the castle where players need to board up doors and windows, fending off increasingly tough Omnics with a couple new enemy types thrown in. The team would be split up into one Crusader and three regular soldiers (based on Soldier: 76's kit), with the former focused on guarding and the latter dealing damage. In order to keep Omnics from getting in, players would need to split up and protect several areas. However, they'd need to group up on the fly with Omnic reinforcement surges and units dropping through the castle's roof, which would add a layer of unpredictability. Perhaps a credits system could be integrated that permits players to upgrade armor, weapons, and abilities like in Call of Duty: WWII's Nazi Zombies and Killing Floor 2. Maybe the Crusader can temporarily gain the ability to duel-wield hammers or expand his shield's durability, whereas soldiers can upgrade their rifles with grenade launchers or switch to a pistol. The possibilities are ripe for a mode of Omnics that never stop comin'.

The Fall of Overwatch (2P Strategic RTS)
How did the Overwatch Headquarters collapse? It's said that a coup conducted by Reyes led to disastrous infighting with Morrison. Capturing that struggle between the two could be wonderfully realized in an experimental real-time strategy mode. Both leaders fight for control of a narrow battlefield in a tug of war similar to Battlefield One's Frontlines mode. Instead of only fighting 1v1, both players must guide their respective Overwatch and Blackwatch grunts, taking or defending points within this strip of the headquarters with reflexes and tactics. Reyes and Morrison could also earn special power-ups/commands to give them surprising edges in battle depending on their performance. This is very much inspired by Black Ops II's campaign sidequest "FOB Spectre," which contains a fascinating interplay between first-person combat and overhead strategic planning by switching between the two gameplay types. It'd be frenetic and intense for something like Overwatch, leading to a temporary victory overshadowed by loss on both sides with the eponymous organization's fall.

Goliath (4P Boss Battle/Raid)
One of the largest Omnics to exist doesn't have a name. In Overwatch's theatrical trailer, D.Va is briefly seen zooming toward it over a frozen ocean, which immediately explains why South Korea would institute the MEKA unit to combat its severe Omnic threats. Torbjörn's comic issue and the Volskaya map feature massive Omnics as well, which makes Overwatch a fitting candidate for grand boss battles. Imagine suiting up with D.Va and three new MEKA pilots as you fly around a larger-than-life Omnic replete with dozens of attack patterns and fun weaknesses to exploit. The scope calls Platinum Games' pedigree of bosses to mind; working together with your team as you coordinate attacks and maneuver around such a formidable foe would be exhilarating. However, if this seems outside the realm of development feasibility, why not spin this into a raid of sorts? Instead, have the team of pilots infiltrate a colossal Omnic and destroy it from the inside as they make their way toward its heart, battling internal defenses and stationed Omnic foot-soldiers within a strict time limit.

Feel The Racing Beat (6P Obstacle Course/Race)
It's destined at this point. We have Lucio Ball and have seen videos of players pulling off the sickest stunts as Lucio. How is there not a racing mode yet? Blizzard would only need to add enclosed tracks with walls and obstacles on existing maps. Take the Brazilian DJ's abilities and turn them into temporary power-ups in the form of speed boosts and being able to "boop" opponents. Then, add in a couple others like dropped banana peels (left around by Winston, of course), Junkrat traps, and Biotic Boosts (grants temporary invulnerability). Now we have ourselves a fun racing mode akin to Mario Kart's design philosophy. However, a no-frills version should be optional for serious competitors as well. All in all, Blizzard should follow the footsteps of Bungie's practicality behind creating the Sparrow Racing League: re-contextualize existing gameplay and content to make something new and exciting.


My Student (Walking Simulator)
The Shimada Clan and Shambali are shrouded in mystery, as are many other elements from Overwatch lore. It makes sense to not give away too much and be careful with the universe, but instead of reserving lore dumps for cinematic trailers and comics alone, short missions here and there would be welcome to share the narrative load. As if the maps weren't an indicator already, Blizzard is superb at environmental storytelling, so if the team integrated some light interactivity and puzzles, it would be a natural fit for crafting short walking simulators similar to Gone Home or the exploratory sections in the Wolfenstein series. I think it'd be best to start with how Zenyatta convinced Genji to become his student. The setting would entail the Omnic monk ardently searching for the fallen Shimada brother by uncovering clues to his whereabouts in an expanded, lively version of Nepal, which would unveil new details about his internal struggle with his human/cyborg nature, fight with Hanzo, and more. Since Overwatch's voice actors are so revered by the community, seeing their characters shine in-game with affecting dialogue would resonate with players even if experiences like these aren't meant to be particularly replayable.

The Pacifist (Support/Survival)
Mercy has made her moral opposition to violence quite clear, which is why she wishes that Overwatch remained disbanded. Even though a little character dissonance humorously sneaks in when it comes to "Battle Mercy," Blizzard should hone in on the pacifist angle with an engaging mode where she has no offensive capabilities. It'd be compelling to have a mission in Iraq (her present location in the universe) centered on her healing and escorting soldiers and civilians to safety. Being under fire from Omnic forces would add risk to saving as many people as possible, and in lieu of not being able to use her Caduceus Blaster, she could command troops to offer her cover fire and protection. Combat doesn't have to be offensive to instill excitement, after all. Much ingenuity can be found in design focused on subtraction rather than addition, and perhaps a mode like this could be a gateway toward others (whether they be multiplayer or single-player) like this in the future.

My Reality (Puzzle Platformer)
Symmetra is a rather enigmatic character. Whether she's a hero or villain isn't entirely clear with her role at Vishkar Corporation, but what can't be doubted is her prowess in bending hard light to her design. The technology drives her equipment, which is why she can conjure turrets, portals, shields, and damaging waves of light from nothing, but the limits don't stop there. She's an architect! Whether it's one of the "clandestine missions" she's sent on or testing her abilities in Vishkar's facilities, I'd love to see a mission that combines platformer level creation with Portal-esque puzzles. Players would need to come up with their own solutions or specific ones as they cleverly build bridges, blocks, portals, and more to move Symmetra forward. Blizzard could even keep some of her existing abilities to make some puzzles more complex, such as the shield to temporarily ward off environmental damage (like lasers) and her Photon Projector's damage beam to remove obstacles. Either way, this approach would require a significantly retooled kit, but imagine what could come from this. It wouldn't be outlandish to release a basic level creation mode alongside this mission, where players can make their own levels for Symmetra to navigate. If that doesn't offer a unique brand of replay value for Overwatch, I don't know what would.

Operation Grand Mesa (Stealth)
Did you know that Soldier: 76 absconded with his Pulse Rifle from the Grand Mesa Overwatch base? That'd be the perfect excuse for players to finally put his pistol to work. You'd be tasked with using that weapon as a tranquilizer and stealthily moving past or taking down human guards. Relocating bodies and timing your shots à la Metal Gear Solid would be demanded since Soldier: 76 wouldn't kill a soul on this mission. Limited tranquilizing ammo would be great to make things harder, encouraging players to use melee takedowns whenever possible. Soldier: 76 is all about combat efficiency and precision. Instead of clearing everyone out in a flash with his Pulse Rifle like he usually does, he'd have to go about it with a completely different, methodical approach this time around.

For more speculation on where Overwatch could go next, check out Andrew Reiner's solid case for Overwatch getting a sequel.