BlizzCon 2017 proved exciting for Overwatch fans, as during the weekend the Overwatch team revealed a new map, new skins, a new animated short, and to cap it all off, a brand new support hero named Moira.
It was about time, and you could tell from the reaction of the audience at the BlizzCon opening ceremony. Moira O'Deorain is the name of this new support character, and a new healer was desperately needed to shake up the game, hence why the reveal got a warm welcome from the Overwatch community in attendance.
Moira is, overall, a pretty interesting hero. She definitely doesn't consider herself evil, but then again she doesn't believe that "petty morality" should stand in the way and block scientific progress and human potential. That brings her at odds with Overwatch and she has turned to more shadowy organisations like Blackwatch and, lately, Talon.
Her kit reflects her will to do good but with what are perhaps best labeled as questionable methods. Moira's main biotic abilities heal allies while her secondary fire leaches enemy health to fuel the primary healing. The abilities are relatively short range, so for longer reach, she can fire biotic orbs that bounce from the walls and either do damage or heal allies, depending the choice made just before firing. The orbs do a surprising amount of damage so in narrow corridors Moira is a super dangerous opponent. She isn't the fastest hero, but if somebody flanks her from behind she can use her Fade ability to get to safety. Fade only teleports you a short distance, but provides the player with stealth and invulnerability.
Moira's ultimate is called Coalescence and it basically combines all her powers into one giant beam, which does a good amount of damage but at the same time heals all allies in the way. During our hands-on session, it proved to be a real force to be reckoned with, as it charges quickly and you could just blast it into a team fight and wreck the opposition by denying enemy kills and finishing off anyone with low health. Again, in narrow spaces, it was a brutally effective ultimate, and very entertaining to play.
Alongside the unveiling of Moira, Blizzard also introduced the next new map, Blizzard World. As the name suggests it pays homage to all Blizzard games and it does so in a theme park setting, and here you can see loads of cool areas drawn from Warcraft, Hearthstone, Diablo, Starcraft, and even The Lost Vikings. The map isn't really a big surprise, however, as the development team has hinted many times that they would like to do something like this, and it was even teased at BlizzCon last year. Blizzard World itself is a hybrid map; attackers have to first take over a point and thereafter escort the payload to the finish line. At first glance, the first point is easy to defend with a clear bottleneck and good high ground behind the point, but after some time you'll notice that there are a lot of ways sneak up on the defenders.
Lastly, Blizzard gave fans another glimpse into the lore of Overwatch in the form of an animated short film called Honor and Glory, which focuses on everybody's favourite German tank hero, Reinhardt, and showed what happened at the great battle Eichenwalde in the war against the Omnics, as well as the fate of Reinhardt's mentor, Balderich. We love these animated shorts and the whole thing is well worth watching even if you're not a huge fan of Overwatch.
Overall the new character and map felt really promising. We got to play both for a good number of rounds and getting a new support offered many new tactical options... even though most of the matches had at least three Moiras on each side. There is of course always room for improvement; there were parts where Fade jumps were awkward to use and it would be nice to get more indicators when she is healing successfully. Sometimes it was difficult to see if her beams were connecting both in offense and defense too, but then again we're sure there will be tweaks and alterations made before she lands on live servers.
The only thing we're a little disappointed about when it comes to the BlizzCon announcements is that we didn't get any new game modes or hints of more story-driven content. We would really like to see more PvE in Overwatch, but for the coming months at least that remains a dream. Moira and the Blizzard World map will arrive sometime in the next few months, and although no exact launch day was announced, it will most likely be in January. On the other hand, if you're on PC you can try Moira today on the PTR, where Blizzard World is expected later this week.