Overwatch is now officially on a holiday break, with the time spent offline allowing Blizzard to implement some rather big changes for when the beta goes live again early next year. Some of those changes involve progression systems, which right now the game is lacking completely. It doesn’t mean Blizzard haven’t tried though. In fact they tried twice. And both went rather terribly.
Trying to implement traditional progression systems to a game so focused on character swapping and teamwork is hard, as Overwatch’s game director Jeff Kaplan explains in a new video. At first he and his team tried something similar to most other shooters and MOBAs – letting players unlock new and powerful abilities with XP they had acquired using a specific character.
For example, Reaper could unlock a ludicrously powerful ability at high levels, similar to the way progression in a game of Heroes of the Storm works. It, unsurprisingly, broke Overwatch in spectacular ways, and was scrapped immediately.
The second attempt was a little more conservative. Rather than affecting the game, Blizzard tied cosmetic upgrades to character progression. This allowed you to unlock more costumes, hats and more for characters based on the time you played them, which ended up working against the game in Alpha testing.
It was found that this made players less likely to switch characters mid-match, as they continued grinding towards the next piece of clothing. That goes against the inherent team-based nature of the game, and was eventually scrapped for it too.
“We realized the system was encouraging the wrong behaviour In a game that’s about fluid team composition and hero-swapping, a system that overly rewarded you sticking to one character was bad…”
That doesn’t mean Overwatch is never getting progression. Kaplan explains that a lot has been learnt from these two failed systems, and his team is planning on introducing progression when the game resumes beta next year. The system in question will be even lighter than the previous cosmetic one, so that the game itself isn’t really affected. But expect a few kinks in the chain when it first rolls out.
Last Updated: December 17, 2015