Activision-Blizzard is a very big company, with a rich variety of IPs under its belt. There’s StarCraft, Warcraft, Destiny, and... Overwatch. We like Overwatch quite a lot, actually, which is why we all write for Heroes Never Die. While some people think that Destiny would be the best recipient of a Battle Royale title, or perhaps World of Warcraft, we’re a little wiser. Okay, Paladins: Battlegrounds came first, but I don’t think anyone can complain if Blizzard goes ahead and snatches some ideas right back from Hi-Rez. Cass, Ryan, and Austen all sat down to think about what a battle royale Overwatch game might look like, and if Blizzard want to give us a ring-a-ding and bring us on as consultants, we won’t complain.
Cass: So, I’ve put about four hundred hours into PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. I can’t get into Fortnite at all, possibly because I am twenty seven years old and I can feel my bones just crumbling into dust every time I load that game up. I think I can call myself a bit of an expert in Battle Royale games, though, right? Overwatch seems like it’d be a great fit. If you’ve ever played a 12 man Deathmatch custom game, that’s hilarious. A Battle Royale game in Overwatch would just be that, scaled up. What do you guys think?
Austen: I love this idea, and not just because I spent most of my waking hours over the last year playing PUBG. I think it could give players the chance to see and do some completely new things in Overwatch. Imagine if everyone started the game as some generic character, and were able to pick up specific hero powers as they went allowing them to mix and match the abilities of the main Overwatch cast at random. I don’t wanna think about the logistics of that at all, but doesn’t it sound fun?
Cass: It sounds like a ton of fun, but there’s also a certain je ne sais quoi to eighty angry Reinhardts all swinging at each other. What do you think, Ryan?
Ryan: I feel like I need to establish my battle royal cred like the rest of you. I have also spent a few hundred hours on PUBG, that is, until Austen decided to pass me up completely and make me look like a schmuck. All that out of the way, Overwatch Battle Royale seems ... weird, but in a way I’m super into.
First, I totally love Austen’s ideas of dropping in as RANDOM KID FROM MUSEUM CINEMATIC and picking up Tracer guns and the Roadhog hook. That kind of make your own madness situation is part of why these games are so cool. You never know what weird combo of weapons you might run into. Overwatch BR would take that up a notch.
But more than anything, I think I just want to see a random hero mode. You and your friends queue up and all of a sudden 100 Torbjorns are dropping onto an island to kill each other. Every match would be so different. Sure, Mercy only has her pistol, but think of how her glide would change the initial drop? I’m not sure how players would get loot and find an advantage in this mode, but the idea makes me very excited.
Like Austen, the logistics seem to be the issue here. The big idea is cooler than cool, but figuring out how it would actually work is some kind of horrible nightmare.
Cass: I mean, to be fair, there’s nothing that says they need to put the heroes into a new game with the exact same kit. Look at Heroes of the Storm. Blizzard is really, really good at taking these classic heroes with established kits and just shaking things up to work in a new genre. Tracer and Zarya are really similar, but Hanzo is going to be essentially two different characters across the two games. D.Va has a Bunny Hop ultimate where she basically just stomps around, dishing out damage and CC, and her pilot mode has a dash and and ultimate of its own.
Straight porting the characters would either be incredibly cheesy (and insanely fun for about twenty minutes, at which point you’d want to scream), or a non-stop Benny Hill style series of escapades. There’s a lot to be said for the latter, but imagine a PUBG style competitive experience with Overwatch’s art style and a whole new take on your favorite hero. Would that be a huge sink of development time? Yes. Would I play it? Absolutely. Would Drake play it? That’s the real question, I think.
Ryan: I don’t speak for Drake (although I’d like to, if Drake want’s to get in touch with me and my people), but I believe the answer you’re looking for is yes. I’m not sure I would ever want to see a character selection in a Battle Royale game, nor would I want it to be random for all players. But if it was like “y’all are Zenyatta this game, have fun,” that would be totally rad and I would be super into it.
But I think we’re coming to agree on something pretty clearly. This is a great idea, to use the Overwatch property for a Battle Royale game. The questions all start to pour in once you get into the real nitty gritty there. I’m not a game developer and I’m not sure I want to be making those decisions. But, if (and when) Blizz has something for me on this front, I will personally call up Drake to invite him to play with me.
Austen: I love that idea Cass, everyone drops into a game as a random hero, who’s been specially redesigned for battle royale and tries to be the last one standing. You could even unlock different heroes depending on the mode. Sure, Mercy isn’t enough alone to make her available in solos, but image how good she becomes in a squad?
As for the random pick ups, why not include ability charges or ammo? For a hero like Tracer, maybe a pick up could give her tons of dash charges to use on a cooldown, while a character like Soldier 76 would only get a few Helix rockets from the same pickup. This would give people the same sense of constrained economy that makes each battle royale match interesting, while still fitting things into the Overwatch Universe.
Cass: Will this battle royale game we’re dreaming up ever happen? No, probably not. But can you imagine if it did? People have complained that the Overwatch story is a little stagnant and a little bloodless. For a setting that’s building towards a global conflict, they’re not quite there yet. So we can dream about an Overwatch Royale and maybe, just maybe, Activision-Blizzard’s eye will fall upon this franchise.