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Overwatch team working on two new heroes and six maps

And significant changes to Symmetra.

As much as I love Overwatch, I tire of some of the maps and heroes - and I don't play anywhere near as much as some people. The arrival of one new map (Eichenwalde) and one new hero (Ana) since the game's launch in May - nearly five months ago - isn't a lot.

The good news, according to a new Overwatch Developer Update video, is that there are more maps and heroes on the way.

There are two heroes in development and as many as six maps, although some may never see the light of day. And they're all in varying stages of development.

Here's game director Jeff Kaplan (whose humble 'I'm some guy called Jeff from the development team' introductions make me smile):

"We are actively working on more heroes right now. One hero is very far along. It's coming together really well. We're playtesting it internally across the whole company, and we believe this hero will see the light of day sooner rather than later."

That hero we expect will be Sombra, the secret hacker that's long been teased in coded messages. Our guess is that Sombra, a she, will be unveiled and maybe even released at the annual BlizzCon convention, 4th-5th November.

The other in-development hero is further away.

"We also have another hero prototype that we're extremely happy with right now," said Kaplan. "This one is in very internal developer form ... we're using all placeholder models and effects and animations just to prove-out that the hero is fun, but we feel like we've found another really great Overwatch hero that will see the light of day probably sometime next year."

It's a similar story for the six maps. There are two in development for current game modes, one that's further on than the other; and there are four prototype maps that revolve around a new game mode, but they're much more experimental right now.

"We're also working on a lot of maps," explained Kaplan. "We work on a couple of different kinds of maps. We work on maps for pre-existing modes and we have one of those that's very far along right now, to the point where we've playtested it enough where we're putting art into that map right now. That means that our level of confidence in that particular map is very high. Like I mentioned, that one's for an existing game mode.

"We have another map that's in prototype form that's an existing game mode map that's much further out.

"And then we have a number of maps, I think about four, that are prototype developer-only stages of new game modes that we're experimenting with," he added.

"It's very important for me to mention that I don't think all of them will become actual maps that will end up launching. We make a lot more stuff internally on the Overwatch development team than we actually launch into the game."

The reason most don't make the cut is because they don't work for one or more of the heroes, because, as the Overwatch team has reiterated countless times, this is a game about the heroes. That idea falls down if one of the heroes feels left out on one of the maps.

"I'm hopeful that at least a couple of those maps and game modes will see the light of day eventually. They will take us longer to get to than some of the other stuff, but it's something that the team has a great passion for and wants to see more of," said Kaplan.

The other significant thing Jeff Kaplan talked about in the video was changes to Symmetra, the teleporter-making, turret-placing support character. Her issue is versatility; Symmetra is useful only a fraction of the time, broadly speaking (I like her so I'm biased), and Blizzard isn't OK with that.

"What we are looking to do is maker her more viable in more situations," said Kaplan. "Right now she's perceived as being okay or acceptable if you're playing on defence on a first point, or early in a match. Other than that we really don't see Symmetra as being super-viable in a lot of situations. We know that she can be effective; we've seen her played very effectively, and she has an incredible winrate, but for the most part we want to make her less of a situational pick."

Blizzard's issue, meanwhile, is that there's no easy solution to the problem, no numbers they can simply tweak here or there.

"We're going to look at some other changes, and we're going to explore some other things that might be a little bit more dramatic in terms of design vision for her," said Kaplan. And that will take longer.

"I would anticipate that the earliest we would see changes in Symmetra would be about mid-November," he said, "but it could be much later than that because we don't want to rush it."

What that doesn't mean, however, is Symmetra will suddenly become a healer. Kaplan was adamant about that.

"If that means we have to move her out of the Support category, we would rather do that than completely shift the character's design to something she wasn't intended to be," he said.

Kaplan also talked about some intended changes to Spectating mode as well as some quality of life changes, such as being able to equip more than one voice line and emote, for the lols.

"There's a lot of stuff going on," Jeff from the Overwatch team concluded.

"We know not all of it comes as fast as you would like. I just hope you trust us and are reassured in the fact that the reason it takes so long is we want it to be very high quality. We want it to be right when it comes out, and we hope that you know that if it's not right when it comes out, whether it be a new feature or hero balance, that we're working on this game full time and we will go back and we will make it right, eventually."

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Robert Purchese avatar

Robert Purchese

Associate Editor

Bertie is a synonym for Eurogamer. Writes, podcasts, looks after the Supporter Programme. Talks a lot.

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