Just two days ago, Blizzard kicked off their Halloween event for their highly popular competitive shooter, Overwatch. The event added some new (gorgeous) skins for certain characters, gave some parts of the game a limited makeover and changed up loot boxes again, much like its previous Olympic themed event. The update also added a brand new Brawl – a limited game mode that will run for the next two weeks before disappearing for good.
The PvE Brawl is probably my favourite part of Overwatch to date. It transforms the game into a wave-based co-operative mode, letting you and three friends pair up and take on some exploding robots and other characters repurposed as small bosses. It’s incredibly engrossing, letting you use the small pool of heroes open to you in new ways. McCree, for example, is great at clearing out waves with his Ultimate, while Ana is vital to healing and damage boosting at all times.
There’s a lot of additional work that Blizzard has put into the mode too. Aside from the stunning visual makeover, the mode features newly recorded voice lines, some light story elements and a restricted way to play. That sort of work isn’t small either, and it’s a testament to how well Blizzard is supporting their shooter post-launch. So it’s a shame as much as it is a mystery that Blizzard doesn’t make the mode permanent – which seems to be a trend of theirs across their other multiplayer offerings.
Hearthstone, for example, features weekly brawls too, which turn traditional rules on their heads. Often the changes are subtle, altering certain win conditions, limiting deck choices or picking out set cards for players to deal with. Arguably the biggest change is the semi-frequent co-operative mode, where two players work together to take down a single AI opponent. It’s so contradictory to the way Hearthstone usually plays that it breathes life into the game again, and it’s personally the brawl I look forward to most often.
But again, it’s a mode that Blizzard are intent on only offering for a limited time, despite the amount of work that has likely gone into altering the game to make it possible. It’s also something not exclusive to them either. Valve regularly hosts special timed events for Dota 2 and Team Fortress, as do Riot Games with League of Legends. In most cases it’s slight cosmetic changes, but fundamentally overhauled modes sometimes make the cut too. These are similarly also only open for a limited time, and the reasoning behind that isn’t too hard to decipher.
Having limited events obviously attracts new players, but also gives reason for players who might have stopped to return. I hadn’t played Overwatch myself for over a month, but this new event has me itching to jump back in as soon as I can. The PvE mode especially begs me to dedicate as much time to it as I can, boosting player numbers, tempting me with microtransactions and generally keeping Overwatch’s servers alive. It’s smart.
But I still desperately wish Blizzard would make it a permanent feature. Even if in structure only. Having a mode that carves out some of the competitive nature and allows me and a couple of friends to just take on waves of enemies shakes Overwatch up in a big way. And I’m going to be distraught when is disappears in November.
Last Updated: October 13, 2016