Overwatch’s Year of the Dog event brings new Thailand map, big CTF changes and more

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I’ve been a terrible Overwatch player as of late. No, I don’t mean that I suck at the mechanics of playing the game (although every time I hop over from PS4 to play the game on PC, the constant stream of vitriol in the in-game chat no matter what I’m doing would seem to indicate otherwise), but rather I’ve been terrible at getting time to play it. Stupid Warframe and its stupid addictive gameplay.

With the Overwatch League cranking out some incredible matches though, the game itself is as alive as ever despite my lack of playing time. And Blizzard is ensuring the popularity of their competitive shooter stays up high as they are rolling out their big new seasonal event: The Year of the Dog. Just like last year’s celebration of the Chinese lunar new year, this new seasonal event will bring with it some cool new additions to the game, as revealed by game director Jeff Kaplan yesterday in a developer update video.

We’ll be seeing an “absolutely gorgeous” brand new map that will be set in the Southeast Asian tropical paradise of Thailand. The map will reportedly be showing off the two sides of Thailand by having one section focus on the ancient temples and ruins of the country, while the other side shows off the bright and modern side. The most interesting aspect though is that this is the first map designed by the team from the ground up for the Capture the Flag game mode.

CTF was introduced last year during the Year of the Rooster event, but just saw existing maps retrofitted to suit the different style of gameplay. Having a map dedicated to this game mode from inception should help to get rid of some of the imbalances that would sometime creep in. This is not the only thing that will be happening to CTF to address some of its issues though. Kaplan went on to explain that they listened to a lot of feedback from players and have implemented some changes to the game mode rules which should make it a lot better to play.

To prevent draws –  a far too frequent occurrence in Overwatch CTF games due to how easy it is to set up an impenetrable defence, and which actually forced me to stop playing it – a new sudden death mode will be implemented. What this does is that now when both teams are on an equal score at the end of time, their flags will be moved out of the defensive safety of their bases to points much closer to the centre of the map. This puts both teams in each other’s faces as there’s a very small area to traverse between the two flags to score.

CTF will not just be receiving changes to the maps though, but also to the characters. In the past, certain characters were must-picks as they gave your team a massive advantage. Quite often you would see a Winston use his jetpack to leap into an enemy point, pop a force field bubble as he captured the flag, then leap right back out again with most of the enemy team unable to follow as he heads off to score. The same went for D.Va flying in and using her Defence Matrix to just absorb damage while she caps, and boosting right out of there for an easy point. Now though, the moment a character picks up the flag, using certain mobility or invulnerability abilities that gave them an unfair advantage over others will cause the character to drop the flag. If you want to score for your team now, you have to do it the old-fashioned way by running – and hoping your teammates are there to watch your back. To help counterbalance this, picking up the flag will now be instant instead of needing you to stand on it for a few seconds as in the past.

Kaplan also revealed that unlike previous events, Year of the Dog will be running over a lengthy four-week period. Besides for them just being excited to have players try out the new map and reworked CTF, the reason for them extending the time is also to allow as many players as possible to play it. The lunar new year is a big event that often sees millions of people around the world travelling to celebrate it, but as a result, many of the people for whom the lunar new year holds the most significance missed out on last year’s event because they were not available. This time around, they will now have some extra time to get in on the action.

Year of the Dog will also bring with it the obligatory event-specific cosmetics like sprays, player icons, highlight intros and six legendary skins. Kaplan didn’t reveal much about the latter but did indicate that Genji and Mercy would be receiving new looks. You would assume that goes for Mei as well, being the Chinese character around which the lunar new year events are normally structured. The thumbnail pic for the video above also already shows off another skin for Widowmaker.

The event kicks off 8 February, which is today, but thanks to time zone difference you can probably only expect the update to roll out later tonight.

 

Last Updated: February 8, 2018

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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