Overwatch’s next great character isn’t a product of Blizzard’s labs at all but the imagination of a masters student who whipped up a Thai hero named Tara as part of a school project. The result is a 40-page document with concept art and design specs for the hero, her abilities, her outfits, her weapons, and even a Thailand-themed map called Arun Town.
“I created a female character as a support hero,” the student posted on the forums. “Her name is Tara (meaning ‘water’ in Thai). The character’s theme is a fish, a Siamese fighting fish to be specific, and a plaited bamboo fish which is a local product in Thailand.”
In response, Game Director Jeff Kaplan said that the project was “amazing!”
Blizzard continues raking in the big bucks for its grand vision of Overwatch League, adding three new teams to its roster this week: one from Philly and two from Texas. They’ll bring the final total to 12, where it will stay for its “inaugural season.” The new teams are:
Comcast Spectacor (Philadelphia), leader in sports and entertainment and owner of the Philadelphia Flyers
Team Envy (Dallas), veteran esports organization with experience across multiple genres
OpTic Gaming (Houston), established esports organization known for its passionate global fan base
They’ll join venture capitalists from all over the world, including reps and owners of Cloud9, the LA Rams, New England Patriots, New York Mets, Immortals, Misfits Gaming, NRG Esports, Netease, and Kabam, which superficially secures the League’s future on three continents.
Blizzard has further announced that the season is “just a few short months away” — in fact, preseason play will begin on December 6th, with the season beginning January 10th and concluding with playoffs in July of 2018. This year, at least, all pre- and regular-season games will be held at Blizzard’s shiny new e-sports arena in LA.
From the moon to Mad Max, Overwatch is keeping its playerbase on its toes as to the next destination for its endless battles. This week, Blizzard’s team shooter opened up the new Junkertown map for brutal carnage, giving the Aussies another reason to be proud (in addition to Yahoo Serious, dingo jokes, and pictures of abnormally large spiders posted on the internet).
Junkertown released today for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. According to the studio, it is “an escort map located in the harsh and unforgiving Australian Outback. Constructed from the remains of a destroyed omnium, it’s now the home to a band of lawless scavengers known as the Junkers, led by their cutthroat Queen.”
Because this is Blizzard, there is nothing low-key about this map’s release. The studio commissioned a new 10-page comic book to help set the stage, and there are a trio of videos waiting for you after the break with tales, dev talk, and an overview of Junkertown.
The EVE Online
community is aflame this week after alliance leader gigX was permanently banned
for making threats of real-life violence against another player following possibly the biggest betrayal in EVE history
. Some players don’t want to accept that gigX crossed a serious line and deserves his ban, and others have been asking why The Mittani’s similar actions in 2012 resulted in only a temporary ban. CCP’s official stance
is that its policies have become stricter since 2012, but it’s still not entirely clear exactly where the line is drawn.
Another side to the debate is that the internet itself has evolved over EVE‘s 14-year lifespan, and a lot of toxic behaviour that was accepted or commonly overlooked on the early internet is now considered totally unacceptable. Many of us have grown from a bunch of anonymous actors playing roles in fantasy game worlds to real people sharing our lives and an online hobby with each other, and antisocial behaviour is an issue that all online games now need to take seriously. The lawless wild west of EVE‘s early years is gone, and I don’t think it’s ever coming back.
So what’s the deal? Does EVE Online tolerate less toxic behaviour today, has the internet started to outgrow its lawless roots, and what does it mean for the future of sandboxes?
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from The Black Death, Astroneer, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Tree of Life, War Thunder, Elder Scrolls Online, Hearthstone, Worlds Adrift, Arena of Valor, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Neverwinter, Ragnarok Mobile, Rappelz, Master X Master, Splatoon 2, Skyforge, Travian, and Final Fantasy XI, all waiting for you after the break!
Are you mollified by the latest statements that Blizzard is going to fix toxicity in Overwatch for real, we mean it this time, seriously? Perhaps you’d like to try the game out as a result? Then you’re in luck, because the game is holding a free weekend starting on September 22nd through September 25th. Players can jump in and have access to the full roster of heroes and maps, which would also be entirely true of someone who had just bought the game anyway. But it’s nice to have that clarified.
Players who decide to pick up the full game after the free weekend will be able to resume where they left off, too, so you don’t have to worry about any lost advancement. Just follow the instructions on the official site to get ready, and possibly block out a bit of extra time next week. Or not, depending on how excited you are.
“I’m Jeff from the Overwatch team,” the outrageously famous Blizzard game director Jeff Kaplan says in this week’s Overwatch developer video. I get a kick out of it when he does that. In fact, he’s back again to talk about “the rising tide of toxicity” in the game. Because it’s a day that ends in Y, and that’s what Blizzard does on days that ends in Y: talk about toxicity.
Kaplan says the PC reporting feature is now on console, in spite of its imperfections, but he says more is coming, including a pilot program for providing feedback on resolved reports that actually result in disciplinary action. He promises your reports actually matter: Almost half a million accounts have been disciplined, a third of a million “a direct result of players’ using the reporting system.”
Lore! Huh! What is it good for? Understanding why you’re standing in the middle of a pack of angry people with fangs in MMOs, of course. It’s the thin line dividing your actions from being reckless, indiscriminate mayhem and discriminating, careful mayhem. Lore is how you know what the world is like beyond your front door, and it’s the difference between understanding that you face Ragnaros, lord of flame or just knowing that there’s a dude here made out of fire, so you should probably use water spells on him.
All lore, however, is not created equal. There’s lore that creates a detailed, vibrant world full of people with their own hopes and dreams, and there’s lore that creates a game where you know what you’re supposed to be doing but have no idea what people do for fun afterwards aside from waiting to die. So today, we explore the tiers of lore, arranged in a numbered list because that’s the entire premise of the column. It’s not Perfect Vague Assortment of Concepts. That’s not even a column.
We’ve got a fun roundup of Blizzard’s doings, so let’s get started! The studio is selling a new “Shadow” fox pet with adorably huge ears for $10 in World of Warcraft’s
cash shop. So why is this special? Because the studio is donating all profits to charity
to benefit the victims of the current hurricane season.
“For every Shadow pet purchased between September 12, 2017 and December 31, 2017, 100% of the adoption fee will be split equally between American Red Cross Disaster Relief and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Disaster Relief Fund to assist with relief efforts around the world,” the studio said.
Moving on to Overwatch, the devs are busy putting the final touches on the game’s newest map. Junkertown is coming on September 19th to all platforms, but you can get a preview of the map right now.
Whether you’re attending BlizzCon or not, you can be the proud owner of this year’s BlizzCon goody box. Physical attendees get $10 off a box at the convention (which makes it $25 total), while everyone else has the option to shell out $35 to buy one on the side as long as supplies hold out.
So what’s inside? There’s an official BlizzCon backpack with a fuzzy section to customize with the velcro game tags that are also included. There’s a random Overwatch character hanger, a random Overwatch figure, and a random Blizzard collectible pin. There’s probably going to be some trading at the convention between fans looking for their favorites.
News on the virtual ticket and what will be included in this year’s digital goody bag is coming this Wednesday to a Blizzard livestream. The studio teased that there would be “exciting changes” to the ticket this year.
If a mere list isn’t enough to sate your ravenous curiosity, you can watch the full unboxing after the break. Then you can contemplate how we as a civilization have arrived at a point where we gladly stare at other people opening boxes of things as a form of entertainment.
With all of the attention, fandom, e-sports, and development given to Blizzard’s Overwatch, have you ever suspected that the team shooter has a critical weakness in its narrative?
Tyler at Superior Realities unloads with both barrels at what he calls the “failure” of Overwatch’s story: “The thing is, a 10-minute video clip once a year and a 10-page digital comic every six months aren’t a story. They’re marketing […] Nor has there been any forward momentum to the story. We’re still just hovering, frozen in time, at the moment Winston reactivated Overwatch. If this were a movie, we’d still be in the first five minutes.”
Our whirlwind tour through the latest that the MMO blogosphere has to offer continues, with a look at Destiny 2’s PC beta, FFXIV’s nostalgia trip, the perceived value of MMOs, and more!
Everybody knows that if you are truly serious about being a legitimate force in the e-sports industry, you have to own your own arena. It’s just common sense. And soon enough you can marvel at Blizzard’s games in the studio’s own venue in Los Angeles.
On October 7th, the Blizzard Arena Los Angeles will open as “a cutting-edge live-event destination” for e-sports players and fans. The arena is situated in Burbank Studios and features several sound stages, practice areas, and control rooms. Its first showing will be the Overwatch Contenders Season One playoffs from the 7th through the 8th. The arena is also expected to be the center staging ground for Blizzard’s anticipated Overwatch League later this year.
CEO Mike Morhaime explained the decision to open up an e-sports venue: “We’re at a tipping point for e-sports and we look forward to helping usher in a new era of competition-based entertainment. As we open the doors of Blizzard Arena Los Angeles and welcome fans from around the world, we’re honored to bring the best in Blizzard e-sports to the same stage that some of the biggest names in entertainment have called home.”
Everyone loves Mei; she’s funny, cute, smart, soft, and just all-around cool. But she’s different from the focus of previous Overwatch animated shorts because unlike her companions, she’s also a scientist. We’ve seen shorts about soldiers, adventurers, and oddities, but a look behind the scenes of the most recent short stresses that Mei is the first time an actual science-oriented character has gotten the spotlight so far. And that’s important, considering that science is one of the big focuses of the eponymous organization.
The six-minute behind-the-scenes look emphasizes the way that the short plays up Mei’s creativity and inventive approach to problems, something that’s key to her character and her gameplay. (Well, when her gameplay isn’t just about icicle-sniping people across the map.)
Meanwhile, Blizzard has released its latest Overwatch comic, Wasted Land, this round themed for the Junkertown release.