BlizzCon 2019 Overwatch 2 Panel Transcript


Jeff: Now another huge part of Overwatch 2 is all the upgrades coming to the engine; and I’ve seen some confusion, I see some people keep calling it: a new engine. It is a greatly upgraded version of the engine; but it is not a new engine. I think that’s important to point out.

There’s a panel tomorrow, where John Lafluer, who’s our tech director, Arnold Tsang, who’s our assistant art director, and Bill Petras, who’s our art director; they’re going to tell you all in-depth about the upgraded hero visuals and the massive upgrades coming to the Overwatch 2 engine. But, for now, we wanted to share with you guys some of the idea of why do we want to do upgrades to the hero visuals.

Obviously, there’s some part of it where it’s a brand-new game. We want it to have a new look, we want it to feel fresh and awesome, and just really, really overwhelm you with how beautiful the game could be. But we also wanted to show some passage of time as well, like we’re doing a lot of storytelling in this game, and we want to show the journey of the heroes. A good analogy that I like to use when talking about how and why we decided to upgrade the hero visuals is Batman.

So, you know Batman has existed, really over the decades. There’s been early comic book Batman from the original comic. There’s was the 60’s live action TV show Batman. There was the 80’s, yeah… Adam West, that’s awesome! There’s the 80’s Tim Burton movie, Batman. There was the Christopher Nolan Batman. But all of those versions of Batman were instantly recognizable every time you saw him. You never mistook him for another superhero. They were all iconic, but they were all different from one another; and that’s been sort of our guiding vision for updating the hero look. So like we can take a look at Genji, right now. There’s classic Genji and Overwatch 2 Genji; and Overwatch 2 Genji, obviously, there’s a lot of visual upgrades that happened to him; but from a story perspective, you see that he’s kind of at a different point in his journey, as well, as you saw in Zero Hour.

So here’s a sneak peek. I don’t think anybody’s seen Torbjörn’s or Bastion’s new looks yet.

Aaron: Miraculously.

Jeff: The internet was lazy this week, and left these for Friday. I don’t know why, that’s so boring. But these are kind of cool like you want to talk about Torbjörn and Bastion a little bit?

Aaron: Yeah, so I love it. This kind of look they have it kind of pairs Torbjörn and Bastion up with each other. Bastion is now in the story living with Torbjörn. So some of the upgrades that he’s getting are from Torbjörn himself; and if you look, he’s actually wearing one of Torbjörn’s favorite hats. He needs to keep the sun out of his eyes, or the rain off his head, or something like that.

Jeff: Yea. Totally needs that, as a robot. Cool, so this is actually rendered in the Overwatch 2 engine, these are the actual character models; and obviously, they all have the new looks here; but other things that are going on here is we have a completely new way of doing eyes in the game; we have a new way of rendering hair, skin; all of these things are focuses of our art team and our graphics engine team right now to just make the characters look amazing and beautiful. When you play Overwatch 2, you’ll see we spend a lot of time bringing the characters even closer to the camera, because we’re really proud at how they’re looking right now.

Aaron: Yeah so much of Overwatch is just about the heroes– like we love the heroes in the world of Overwatch. I hope that all of you guys love the heroes in the world of Overwatch; and (yes!) we just want to be able to get up closer to them, we want you guys to be able to see them in more detail and so we’re pointing all this time and energy into it; and with this new game, with Overwatch 2, we have a big story that we want to tell, too. So the engine needs all these upgrades. The map that you guys can play on the showfloor, Rio De Janeiro, it’s twice the size of any map that we have ever made for the game; and the guts of the engine have just had to get upgraded in order for us to be able to deliver all of this story to you guys.

Jeff: So the Hero Visuals and the map stuff that Aaron’s talking about is not the only new changes to the game. We’ve also completely upgraded the HUD. So you’re seeing that here. The goal with the HUD is to get it out of your way, so you’re not thinking about it. It’s more of something that you feel, and intuitively it gives you the information you need. Now I know you are all going to be very opinionated about the HUD. The good news is we are still early in development, and every single hero in both the Rio demo and the Toronto demo has a new HUD.

So you can give us feedback on all of them, and we have time to make tweaks and adjustments. This was done by an artist named Jason Kirby who works on our team, who did the new HUD. One of the things I love the most is the new Mercy UI.

Aaron: Yeah, I love it. You can see the Pharah portrait down there. You can see who she’s healing with the health around it. You can also see there’s new hit markers around the reticle. We have new edge of screen effects. We take this part of the game really, really, serious.

Overwatch PvP is all about split-second decisions, really fast reads; and the HUD gives you a lot of information. So like Jeff said, we are looking at this really carefully, if you guys have feedback on it, we’d love to hear it. We have time to make it better, and we’re going to do everything we can to do that.

Jeff: It’s not just the HUD. Every screen, every screen of interface is updated in Overwatch 2. So your menus, how you browse the hero gallery… It’s a completely brand-new game, with a completely new interface; and that’s, I think, very important. I think a lot of us have decided there’s certain things like player icons could use some help when finding the one you want. We’re upgrading all of those elements. There’s even things — some of you will notice this when you play Toronto, there’s even a new announcer; and I’ll be curious if you recognize who the voice is of that new announcer.

Aaron: So mysterious!

Jeff: Yeah, that’s a big, big, hint right there. So cool, Aaron, when we say Overwatch is all about one thing, what is always the answer?

Aaron: Heroes!

Jeff: Heroes! So Overwatch 2 will obviously come with brand new heroes. Now what’s important to us with the Overwatch 2 heroes is not only do they fit gameplay roles that are very important to the game right now, things that we feel that the game needs; but also that the heroes’ story is centered in the story of Overwatch 2. So Sojourn is coming to Overwatch 2. She’s our first Canadian hero. I should say second Canadian hero.

Aaron: That’s true.

Jeff: Because our first is Arnold Tsang, our assistant art director and we love him dearly. But Sojourn will be the 2nd one coming. Sojourn is right at the center of the story of Overwatch 2. So we hope you liked her in Storm Rising. You’re going to get to spend a lot more time with her when it comes to Overwatch 2; and she is by far not the only character coming to Overwatch 2. There are a few heroes that will all come at once. I don’t know how many of you remember; but there was way back in the beta, we added, Mei and Genji all at the same time; and it was probably the most beautiful chaos I’ve ever seen in a video game. Well, maybe the Ahn’Qiraj Gate opening. That was some good video game chaos.

Overwatch 2 is going to really add some mix-ups to the meta. We think characters that you’re going to love, characters that you’ve been waiting for. So something we’re very, very excited for: New heroes coming to Overwatch 2.

Now I want to touch on this again, I mentioned opening ceremonies; and between opening ceremonies and the panel, I’ve been spending time reading people’s reactions, and there seems like there’s so much confusion about what does redefining a sequel mean. So I’m going to try to put it in a different way this time. Imagine we’re coming up with a brand-new game that we’re dying to make, and it’s called Overwatch 2; and we start to think of the feature list that we want. We want brand-new heroes, we want all new PvP maps, like a whole roster equivalent to what we did in the first game of PvP maps. We want to have Story Missions, Hero Missions, we’re going to add progression, we’re adding talents, we’re upgrading the engine, we’re adding new looks to all of the characters — we’re like: “That sounds like an amazing sequel to us.”

Does it sound like one to you? Ok, now you all know what the video game industry does; and you are the most powerful people in the video game industry. It is not us. It is you. You have more of a say than anybody else; and how many times has—- imagine your favorite game… lets say it’s a game that has, I don’t know space marines in it, that has PvP and PvE, and has a story, and you want to play Space Marine number 3 because you’ve been playing Space Marine number 2; and the day that comes out, you lose all your stuff and then your buddy, because his grandma didn’t buy it for him for Christmas is playing Space Marine 2 and you’re playing Space Marine 3.

Aaron: And you don’t get to play together!

Jeff: You don’t get to play together! And all the stuff that I’ve earned in Space Marine 2, doesn’t come with me. We think that sucks, we don’t think that should be rewarded by you, the most important people in the game industry. So we wanted to make it so that every one of the new PvP maps that’s coming to Overwatch 2, every one of the new heroes that’s coming to Overwatch 2, and new heroes beyond that, will go to the players, our dedicated fans who have been with us for all these years from the original game. We think that’s important. We also feel like it’s important for all that hard work that you’ve done, the Baptiste Vampire skin you all just earned last week. Do you want it to go away? No! We want it to come with us. So that’s what we mean by redefining a sequel.

I know there’s a lot of confusion, I actually think it’s really simple. The game is a big game, it is a true sequel in all of its features and everything it does. We just don’t want to be jerks about all of our loyal players who might be wondering if they should get the game or not. That’s the idea.

Aaron: That’s great.

Jeff: So, I know there’s some unanswered questions. So I wanted to touch on this real quick. We never said, where are you going to play this game? No one ever asked! Its coming to obviously on the PC platform, the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. So every single platform we support today will be supported for Overwatch 2.

Audience member: “But I have a phone!”

(Aaron laughs)

Jeff: I totally didn’t hear what you said at all. Also I know the other big question is like: “Well, when do we get it? What’s the date on this thing?”

I don’t know. I have no idea. Like just let us make it great. That’s what we care about more than anything. We don’t have the date in mind. We are going to work so hard. Like today is the most important day in Overwatch 2’s development, because I feel like to this point, it has been just our small team; and today is when we bring [you] — the big team — into it; and what do you want out of the game. You are going to all go… you are all going to play the demo, you are going to post feedback, you are going to talk to us here today. We want to hear from you what needs to change. What features are we missing. What’s going to be cool. What isn’t cool. So I don’t have a date.

Aaron: No, and we love this game so much and we just want you guys to love it too. The same way that we do.

Jeff: So we are probably going to go dark after BlizzCon. I know you guys are going to have a million questions, and people are going to want to hear OK, like reveal another hero, or… have you ever wondered what Moira’s new look might be? Yea. It is amazing, by the way. But … BUT… God, we are just jerks.

We are.

Jeff: We are jerks, right now.

Aaron: I feel so good.

Jeff: There are still some cool stuff coming. But we are going to be quiet. We have a lot of work to do. The team is focused on Overwatch 2. That doesn’t mean we are leaving the Live servers behind. There are still some cool updates coming. We want to add new stuff– NO, I want to get this out there, right away: We are not adding a new Archive Event to Archives, this year; because we are focused on Overwatch 2.

We feel like that is the better Storytelling Experience. We are still going to run the Archives Event. There will be new skins, so there is going to be new cosmetic content, there are also other awesome features coming to the Live game that we think you should be excited about. Coming very soon, you are going to get to select what you do when you are waiting for Role Queue to kick in. So if you want to go to the Training Room, we are going to let you do that. If you would like to play in the new Deathmatch mode that we are adding just for waiting, you can play that. If you would like to go to Custom Game, and/or Workshop and play whatever the hell you want, you can do that very soon.

So there are lots of cool updates coming to the Original game, but please bear with us while we focus on Overwatch 2. We want to make it amazing for all of you. Thank you all so much. We know how many cool things there are at BlizzCon for you to check out. The fact that so many people came here today to spend time with me and Aaron… it means the world to us.

Aaron: A-A-run.

Jeff: A-A-run. (laughs) — and please go play the demo. Go have fun and see our Art panel tomorrow. Thank you.

Aaron: Thank you, BlizzCon!

Jeff: Thank you.

1. Push & New Maps2. Story Missions3. Hero Missions4. Progression System
5. Hero Visuals
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BlizzCon 2019 Panel Transcripts

Tomas Hernandez is owner of since 2003. I post news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film.

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BlizzCon 2019 Panel Transcripts

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