With Lunar New Year, Blizzard has, for the first time, added an existing, widely used and standard game mode to Overwatch.
Capture the Flag seems like a no-brainer for the title, but according to Director Jeff Kaplan, getting the mode to work with Overwatch’s eclectic line-up of heroes was anything but easy.
In the video above, Kaplan explains how the team had been toying with the concept even before Overwatch’s release.
Overwatch works best when there’s a single objective
Whether you’re attacking of defending, this is true. In Overwatch you only ever have one goal, one directive. Attack or Defend. In Capture the Flag you have two; capture the enemy team’s flag while protecting your own.
All of a sudden, you have twice as many objectives. The leap from one to two is obviously not extreme, but it’s a fundamental shift in the way the game is played. Couple that with the potential for some heroes to be almost unstoppable in the mode and you can see the challenge Blizzard had.
A competent tracer player could, for example, Blink to the enemy flag and use Recall to get back home and score. Kaplan said the team considered banning all movement abilities, but found that when they did the game felt boring.
Eventually, Kaplan and his team decided to “embraces more of what Overwatch is about, which is your awesome hero with your awesome abilities.” The team will be watching closely to how the mode is received and may add it to the Arcade if feedback is positive.
It seems that Blizzard is keen to try new things and implement new modes, as players have seen across the seasonal events. So far the Overwatch formula has been tweaked to suit Lucio Ball, Junkenstein’s Revenge, Mei’s Snowball Challenge and now Capture the Rooster.
Only the most recent is an out-and-out regularly seen competitive, FPS mode. I do agree with Kaplan that Overwatch works best with a single objective, if Capture the Rooster proves popular, it may spur Blizzard on to add other standard modes, even temporarily.
The likes of Hardpoint, Kill Confirmed and even variations of Search & Destroy could work within Overwatch’s framework. We’ve already seen Elimination in the Arcade and while its popularity waned, it was the most played mode for some time after its introduction.
It’s clear that Overwatch isn’t going anywhere soon. The core gameplay is simply too good and with over 20 million players globally, empty servers is unlikely to become a problem. Blizzard’s continued support has also been uncharacteristic for both a shooter and a console title.
Keeping fans and players happy and engaged is imperative to maintaining momentum and seasonal events are an incredibly effective and successful way to do this. They’re also the perfect time to test game modes, ideas and tweaks without disrupting regular play.
There’s no telling what Blizzard has in store for Overwatch players, but the future certainly looks bright. Now that we’ve gotten Capture the Flag perhaps we’ll see some more traditional game modes in the future.
Let us know what modes you’d like to see in the comments.