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Jeff Kaplan details improved Overwatch esports spectating that debuts at BlizzCon

Overwatch’s spectator client is getting a few necessary improvements just in time for the World Cup

Jeff Kaplan and the Overwatch development team have released their latest developer update video and this time it was all about esports.

The video focuses mostly on the improvements that Blizzard is preparing to roll out for the game’s spectator client, in hopes of improving the viewing experience for competitive matches.

The most substantial change, from the viewing perspective, will be the addition of the “Team Uniform System,” which Blizzard will be debuting during the World Cup at BlizzCon 2017. The system will incorporate specially designed versions of each of the heroes specific to each team’s color palette to help differentiate teams from one another during games. Each team in both the World Cup and later this year in Overwatch League will have their own unique uniforms for both home and away.

But the uniforms aren’t the only place that team color palettes will come into play. According to Kaplan, large parts of the UI will change depending on which player you are watching and which team. More importantly, the heroes’ abilities themselves will have different visual designs for each team to help you figure out if the Tracer bullets you see flying across the screen are from one team or the other.

Completely redesigning the way that spectators watch Overwatch matches and the colors involved is an ambitious plan for Blizzard, especially just a few months out from the Overwatch League’s debut. But these changes — things that the community has been asking for since the game launched — should be huge improvements for Overwatch fans.

Among the changes that Kaplan talked about in the Developer Update was a tool designed to help casters and in-game spectators better follow the action of a game as it’s happening. The tool will provide the production team with an overlay of the normal map that displays player locations, and additional information that should help them be more aware of the state of the game at any given moment.

This new tool, along with a new replay system that allows spectators to jump directly to a full replay of any kill that happens, and a newer smarter dynamic spectator camera, should help make things easier for the production team and lead to better games for everyone watching at home.

The final updates Kaplan had for the community in this video had to do with the game’s competitive integrity. Newly introduced systems will allow for easier competitive lobby creation, and the ability for the game to pause itself should any player get disconnected in the middle of a match. Kaplan also mentioned a game state feature that was added that allows the game to be rolled back just a few seconds should a bug be encountered. That way a game doesn’t have to be replayed in its entirety.

It isn’t often that we get Developer Updates specifically targeted at esports, but with the 2017 World Cup finale just a week away, and Overwatch League looming shortly after, it seems that Blizzard is finally making strides at improving the experience of watching Overwatch. This update included a whole host of features fans have been asking about for almost a year and it should make cheering on your favorite teams in competitive games an even more rewarding experience.