Director’s Take – Flashpoint, Cinematics, & the Dawn of a New Hero
Grab Bag week!
There’s a lot the community is talking about—and we're excited for. This week, I'd love to briefly touch on a bunch of those topics.
We talked about Flashpoint during the livestream, and then some of the points around its design over Twitter, but nothing compares to a picture. It's good practice to draw paper maps before building a new level, especially when it's part of the process for designing a new game mode.
This image was one of the first ones drawn for Flashpoint. The final layout of Suravasa won't be exactly like this—for instance there won't be a river dividing the map in two—but it does a good job of showing how a Flashpoint map is designed. There are two spawn points for each team and five points arranged in an x pattern. We talked about the quasi-symmetrical nature of the map on the Overwatch 2: Invasion Reveal livestream, and when you look at point B, for instance, you can see that the entrances to the arena are all symmetrical, with this symmetry extending outside the point for a short distance.
Another detail about Flashpoint I mentioned on the livestream is that when the match starts the first point will be picked randomly. In actuality, this has been changed so that the first objective will always be the central point of the map.
Game balance this season continues to be in great shape. With Season 5, we saw Junker Queen’s dominant reign over the tank role even out, making way for a more diverse selection of tank heroes, with Winston and D.Va on the rise. Damage heroes notably saw a shift in play rate with the previously popular picks like Tracer and Hanzo being overtaken by Genji and Cassidy. Support is seeing a notable increase in both Brigitte and Lifeweaver team compositions as well.
Earlier this week we pushed a small balance update to fine tune Cassidy, Mei, and Lifeweaver, after they received some significant adjustments to their abilities at the start of the season. What we found was that Cassidy’s Magnetic Grenade was slightly too easy to land, Mei's overall effectiveness dropped as she traded damage for more slowing utility, and Lifeweaver's impact was much greater than before. We’re still looking to improve player control over aiming Thorn Volley.
There are more hero balance changes coming in the mid-season patch, which include shifting power for Torbjorn and Symmetra away from their turrets and into the rest of their kit, improving the control over Sojourn’s Railgun primary fire spread, increasing the front-line capability of Reinhardt and Orisa, slight adjustments to weaken Zenyatta’s Discord Orb ability, and several others.
We've developed quite a few cinematics to be used in the Invasion Story Missions as well as outside of it. As much as we can, we try to tell stories in the missions without taking control away from players. We prefer the gameplay in these missions to be uninterrupted. The stories in these missions are told in two different ways: first, the missions themselves are each centered around a piece of narrative. We record an incredible amount of voice lines for each mission, and depending upon which heroes are selected, players will get different interactions and substories in each mission. Second, each mission is bookended with 2 cinematics, and the heavy lifting of driving the plot forward is handled through these cinematics. In addition to these sequences, we have other pieces coming out in Season 5 to set up the story that we're telling in Overwatch 2: Invasion, as well.
There’s a thread connecting many of the cinematics we've released over the years, including "Are You With Us", the startup piece that shipped with the original game, and "Zero Hour", the short shown at Blizzcon 2019. Years ago in our story, Overwatch was forced to disband. We've been gradually telling the story of how the original heroes of Overwatch have come back together. Next season's Invasion Story Missions connect many of these threads. How will some of the heroes familiar to our players be introduced to Overwatch? What is Cassidy going to do with the crew he recruited in the “New Blood” comic series?
Keep a look out for more pieces coming later this year and beyond. Some of these relate to the story that we're telling in Invasion, and some don't. One in particular is completely out of left field… but totally amazing!
I can't say too much about the new hero—we'll do a full reveal later before Overwatch 2: Invasion launches—but I'm not above teasing a bit. Earlier in June we gave players a quick glimpse of her silhouette, and the internet immediately went to work enhancing the video to give her more definition. Someone even created a concept piece for her! We knew people would do this, and we were surprised with how many of the details they got right about her look. I’d like to recognize this detective work by revealing an image that is an integral part of this hero’s backstory. Enjoy!
That's it for this week. In a future piece, we’ll dive a bit more into the story and how we develop it.
Thanks for reading; see you in game!