Skip to main content

What we learnt from Blizzcon's Overwatch Archives panel

Including the Jetpack Cat that never was.

Overwatch fans learnt quite a lot from this year's Blizzcon announcements. We now know the story behind Reinhardt's scarred eye, that we will soon be seeing a new support hero and map and that Jeff Kaplan continues to be the nicest man in games development. But at the Overwatch Archives panel the team shared even more behind the scenes information, including a look at the game in early development and ideas left on the cutting room floor.

During the panel Kaplan showed early development gameplay footage from Overwatch (which you can view below), starting back in September 2013 when the team first rendered objects in the game engine. We then begin to see the characters and environment take form, with Tracer being the first character becoming fully developed, despite the fact she initially had to shoot laser beams out of her eyes because the team couldn't put guns in "her little Mickey Mouse hands".

Watch on YouTube

In the test play video we see ominous looking Reapers standing about doing nothing, which the team revealed is because they sometimes used the sinister giant to scale objects, like a human yard-stick, and forgot to remove him.

As the video goes on, we see the Temple of Anubis map and the UI we now know begin to take form in early 2014. Heroes such as Reaper, Pharah and Widowmaker begin to develop into recognisable heroes, and we also learn that Jeff Kaplan is a horrendous shot with a sniper. As development continues we see early animations of Hanzo, Torbjörn, Reinhardt (running like a child), Mercy, Winston, McCree, Roadhog and Genji, with the video slowly making its way to the official launch of Overwatch.

Speaking of Torbjörn, we also learnt, from Overwatch's lead writer Michael Chu on Twitter, the female featured in Reinhardt's animation short is none other than Brigitte Lindholm, AKA Torbjörn's daughter. Let's hope we will see her as a playable hero in the future.

We also learnt more about the mysterious Jetpack Cat, first revealed by Jeff Kaplan in an interview with GameSpot earlier this year.

Unfortunately the idea was scrapped for being "too ridiculous for Overwatch" but we can at least look at the concept art Kaplan and lead character concept artist Arnold Tsang revealed at the panel.

Jetpack Cat wasn't the only airborne animal hero Blizzard were considering, other concept designs included a gargoyle, a jetpacking alligator and a flying monkey with a flamethrower. There was also talk of a hockey-playing hero which seems to have taken form in a Lúcio skin.

You can check out an early hero design board below.

Hanzo's design is more like the Genji we now know.

The final tidbit we learned involved the inspiration behind Overwatch - the MMO Blizzard was working on, Titan. After it was scrapped, as reported by PCGamer, the developer began work on a new class-based shooter MMO called Crossworlds.

However Kaplan thought the proposed 50-class MMO would be impossible, thus a new idea was born from its ashes - Overwatch. Many of the characters envisioned for Crossworlds became the Overwatch heroes we know and love today.

There are clear similarities between Overwatch's heroes and the concept characters for Crossworlds. Image credit: PCGamer.

It's been a great Blizzcon for Overwatch fans and it's nice to see the process the title went through to become what is is today - but I'm still going to hold out hope that Jetpack Cat will boost his away into the Blizzard universe.

Read this next