Overwatch recently got a big update, with a brand new Greece-inspired map as the centerpiece. It does not disappoint.
Now that I’ve played a fair bit of Overwatch, I’ve come to appreciate that the game isn’t fun simply because of colorful characters and a wide range of abilities, but rather the interplay between maps and said abilities. There’s a fundamental truth at the heart of Blizzard’s team-based FPS: gravity is only a suggestion. Even if you’re not playing as a character who’s prone to leaping and dashing all over the place, a lot of characters cause at least a little knockback with their attacks. It’s hard to hold your ground. As a result, positional awareness is even more key than in more grounded shooters where it’s mostly you who dictates where your feet fall.
As Blizzard’s gotten more comfortable in their Overwatch map-making shoes (they look like little Reinhardt heads; it’s kinda weird), they’ve started creating all sorts of interesting environmental hazards. Case in point: the new Control mode map, Ilios. Here’s some video if it, courtesy of AskJoshy Overwatch:
Looks beautiful, right? Well, sometimes attractive things are MEAN and WON’T GO WITH YOU TO PROM. Ilios is a picturesque, idyllic-ass deathtrap. Trying to control the point in the first segment of the map? Make sure you don’t get Reinhardt tackled out of the vacation villa of your dreams and into the lapping seas below. Or knocked back by an explosion. Or done-in by your own hyper-fleet feet if you’re somebody like Genji or Tracer.
My favorite part, though, is the colossal Sparta death hole in the center of the second map segment’s capture point. It’s almost comical:
The first time I encountered it, I was playing as rocket-blasting jetpack queen Pharah. I’d just pulled off a soaring multi-kill, and I was coming down from the elation of the moment and, you know, the sky. “Huh, where’d all the light go?” I asked as I plummeted to my doom, not yet fully aware of my embarrassing mistake. The hole swallowed me, er, whole.
It’s great, though. It provides an interesting positioning challenge for both attacking and defending teams, and I’ve seen some hilarious plays involving it—for instance, an opportunistic Roadhog lying in wait and repeatedly chain hooking people right into the hole’s gaping maw.
The map is nicely tiered as well. Wanna ski around on rooftops as Pharah? Cool. You can get some nice momentum going on all the topside slopes. There are also low paths and balconies—something for everyone. Despite that, it’s a fairly tight map, both in the way it funnels everybody into encounters and in the sense that it’s got quite a few claustrophobic spaces.
The update also included a series of balance changes, which have naturally sparked concern among players, because that’s just what balance changes do. At the moment a lot of people think snow-powered defender of the environment (and other players) Mei got too much of an offensive boost, turning her into a different type of threat than she’s supposed to be. Others feel like she’s now where she needs to be, and it’s just about figuring out new ways to counter her. Blizzard says they’re watching the impacts of these changes “closely,” so we’ll see.
On the whole, though, it’s a good update. Overwatch is good. I’m glad it finally has a release date. For now, though, the closed beta rages on, and Blizzard’s been doing a nice job of listening to the community and making necessary balance changes. Have you gotten in? What do you think of the latest update?