'Overwatch' Developer Update: New maps, heroes and customization options coming in 2017


Overwatch shot its way into our hearts as one of the best FPS games of 2016 with its addictive character-based action and endearing characters, and the cast might get even more lovable in 2017 if those Terry Crews rumors pan out! But for more concrete information about the future of Overwatch, Blizzard posted a new Developer Update video to the game's official YouTube channel.

Much of the information in the video is vague and non-committal, but there's still some interesting information to be found. Here are the major new features coming to Overwatch next year.

Overwatch Developer Update: New heroes

More new heroes are coming to Overwatch! Game director Jeff Kaplan addressed the addition of new playable characters in the vaguest terms, promising that fresh ideas are being played with internally at Blizzard but there's nothing to report right now.

Kaplan did give some interesting insight into the process, mentioning that the development team is working on things that likely won't make their way into the game. He cites the cyborg ninja Genji as an example, as Genji was brought together from the remains of multiple characters who were cut before release.

Hopefully, the leadup to the next hero is less exhausting than it was last time.

Overwatch Developer Update: New maps

The new Oasis map has been in the Public Test Realm for weeks, but Kaplan confirmed it's on track for an early 2017 official release.

Other than that, there isn't much more to say about the state of the game's map rotation than there was about the state of its cast of heroes. Kaplan says the team is working on multiple maps (they feel pretty good about one of them) and even some more experimental game modes, but there's nothing concrete to report just yet.

Overwatch Developer Update: Customize the communication wheel

One of the smaller persistent problems Overwatch has had since launch is that the communication wheel (where players can activate emotes and voice lines) has had zero customization options. It's certainly not game-breaking for anyone, but a little flexibility is always welcome.

Kaplan confirmed in the developer update that more options are coming, and actually gave us firm details! Players will be able to set up to four voice lines and four emotes to the new communication wheel. They'll also be able to customize a spray wheel for the unlockable in-game graffiti. Up until now, players could only bring one of each of those things into battle with them.

Like everything else addressed in this video, this feature will come in 2017.

Overwatch Developer Update: Other minor changes

Kaplan addresses a few smaller things coming to the game in the video. First, he mentioned the need for more "surprising" seasonal events. Hopefully, we get some great Arbor Day skins out of it.

The developers won't make any grand balance changes to Sombra until the player base as a whole seems to have gotten a better handle on how to play as the toe shoes-clad hacker. Kaplan says the "mastery curve" for Sombra is a little high, so huge changes can't be made yet.

On the eSports side of things, Kaplan acknowledges the action can be a little tough to follow for spectators. One of the improvements he suggested was on its way is a map that will hopefully clearly outline what's going on in a match.

Finally, Kaplan hinted at a forthcoming server browser for custom games. This will help you find servers running matches with unique rules and restrictions as chosen by the server host, rather than forcing you to group up with your friends to do it.

You can watch the entire developer update video below.

More Overwatch news, updates, tips and tricks 

For more on Overwatch, read Blizzard's response to the outcry over Mei's winter skin, read up on the latest rumors of a Terry Crews-voiced Overwatch character, check out all the updates in patch 2.01, read the fandom's reactions to that Zenyatta Nutcracker skin, uncover the hidden details in the Winter Wonderland event and check out all the other unlockable goodies you can earn for Overwatch's other characters.