After a two-month-long hiatus, Blizzard just released their first-person shooter named after an XCOM defensive technique back into the wild. Good timing.


Though Overwatch was already pretty great during its initial beta, it definitely needed... more. A winter slumber in the Blizzard video game development cave appears to be just what the doctor (who I guess in this metaphor is a bear) ordered. The closed beta is back with a new mode called Control, two maps to accompany it, a mode where you can play against AI, and an entire progression system that yields cosmetic loot.

Here’s how the new mode, Control, works:


“On Control maps, two teams fight over a series of objective areas in a best-of-three format. When a team is in control of the round’s objective area, they will make progress toward capturing it, and whichever team gets to 100% first wins the round. Each round (up to 3 total) will feature a new objective area located in a different part of the map.”

Progression, meanwhile, involves earning experience in matches and ranking up your entire account, rather than individual characters. Each time you level-up, you earn a loot box, which can contain the following types of shiny object:

-Player Icons – Customize your player profile with an icon reflecting your favorite character, ability, Blizzard game, and more.

-Skins – Dress for success with new looks for all 21 heroes, including rare color variations and legendary skins such as Safari Winston or Punk Tracer.

-Emotes – Taunt your enemies and cheer on your allies with a series of new in-game emotes.

-Sprays – Make your mark on the battlefield with graffiti-like sprays based on heroes, maps, logos, and more (default: T).

-Voice Lines – Chat up your fellow players variety of new voice lines available through the communications wheel (default: C).

-Victory Poses – Strike a pose and tailor how your hero appears in your team’s photo finish.

-Highlight Intros – Add a little flair to your Plays of the Game with special animated introductions for each hero.

So nothing spectacularly exciting, but still: things to strive for. If a loot box drops something you already have, you’ll instead get credits, a new in-game currency you can spend on cosmetic items. Right now, all of this stuff is only accessible by way of playing the game, but Blizzard plans to let people spend real money on loot boxes once the game is out of beta.



Overall, it strikes me as a smart approach that won’t throw off the game’s ever-teetering balance. I like, too, that the level system is account-wide, given that Overwatch is meant to be a multi-character game (unlike, say, TF2, where some players specialize almost exclusively in a specific class).

Are you in Overwatch’s closed beta? Have you gotten a chance to try out the new stuff yet? If so, what do you think?


To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter @vahn16.