Halloween has come to Overwatch in Blizzard’s latest title, introducing a limited time event for November with new spooky skins, voice lines, highlight intros, victory poses and an all new game mode called ‘Junkenstein’s Revenge’.
Blizzard have been mixing things up with Overwatch‘s ‘Brawl’ mode since the game’s release in May; each week brings a new Brawl that tweaks and restricts the game’s rules. There’s a wide variety of brawls in the mix, from Mystery Heroes — where players spawn as a random hero after each death to Girl Power which, well, is pretty self-explanatory.
But this newest brawl which runs until November 1st, is something else entirely. It’s a co-op experience that sees four specific heroes face off against Dr. Junkenstein’s ultimate creation, and other associates along with waves of zombie robots. While the concept itself is nothing new, its inclusion in Overwatch after Blizzard’s previous hints of story content has been quite welcome. It plays like a short wave-based survival campaign similar to Left 4 Dead or Gears of War‘s Horde Mode, only on a smaller scale with a cheesy Halloween theme. And it’s a huge hit.
Since Overwatch‘s reveal in 2014, players have repeatedly asked Blizzard if the game would feature any sort of campaign or story-mode, be it single player or co-op — to which Blizzard’s response has always been ‘maybe’. But now it appears Blizzard may finally be testing the waters for something just like that.
I myself, have sunk a few hours into mowing down countless zombie robots with friends and facing off against Junkenstein’s creations — and I gotta say that I was pleasantly surprised at just how well Blizzard have pulled it off. With a unique spin on an existing map, brilliant dynamic narration and cutscenes, the execution of Junkenstein’s Revenge is just so great that the community are already petitioning to make the mode a permanent thing.
While the events that take place are certainly not canon, the interactions and new dialogue between the four heroes is very enjoyable, it even drops many new little tidbits on the character’s backgrounds, relationships and enhances the flavour of Overwatch‘s already rich universe — something players can’t seem to get enough of.
One of our biggest criticisms of Overwatch has been the separation between storytelling in the gameplay itself and other external forms media, such as animated shorts and comics. It’s clear Blizzard have developed a universe with a story that they’re eager to tell in many different forms, but much of it is left to be told outside of the game itself. This may be the beginning of Blizzard starting to bridge that gap and deliver a different kind of experience with the heroes we’ve all grown to love.
It also encourages more unique forms of strategy; the players are forced to take up the role of a hero they might not be all that familiar with. As an example, facing different types of new enemies forced me to approach the game in a new way. My team mates and I found new ways to work together to survive the more chaotic moments and it felt especially rewarding when that kind of experimentation paid off.
It’s my hope that the overwhelmingly positive response to Junkenstein’s Revenge will see Blizzard continue to develop further co-op experiences with different characters to tell more unique stories. Imagining delving into the early days of Overwatch; with heroes such as Ana Amari, Jack Morrison and Gabriel Reyes, carrying out high-stake missions together back before Overwatch was shut down. Or attempting dangerous heists and robberies across different parts of the world as Junkrat and Roadhog, experiencing first-hand the notorious crime-spree that earned them their infamy. Completing these short campaigns could unlock unique skins for their respective heroes as well as other rewards while simultaneously expanding the lore and variety of gameplay that Overwatch has to offer.
There are just so many possibilities to explore and ways to tell stories in Overwatch. Let’s hope that Junkenstein’s Revenge is a taste of more to come.