2017 Year in Review - January through June
Lots happened this year in Overwatch, and we’ve got a recap of some of the highlights! Here are some of the events that took place during the first half of 2017.
January opened with the release of the Oasis map, where we saw our first, and so far only, jump pad. Initial excitement has tamed into a general feeling of, “Yeah, it’s pretty neat,” and occasional requests to replace elevators on other maps with jump pads.
Season 2 of APEX began, and the Year of the Rooster patch was released, celebrating the Chinese New Year. Year of the Rooster introduced Capture the Flag (Rooster) to Overwatch, gave us an improved communications wheel that allowed for multiple sprays, emotes, and voice lines, the improved killfeed, Roadhog’s Hook 2.0, Ana’s Biotic Grenade was nerfed, Lucio was given the ability to wallride backwards, Sombra’s hack became faster, and D.Va’s mech’s armor and health values were reversed.
The community was excited at the prospect of the long-fabled Doomfist finally arriving after a PTR patch revealed a change in the Numbani trailer’s wireframe model where Doomfist’s guantlet was missing. Weeks later, an interview with child inventor Efi Oladele appeared, hinting at what was to come. Over the next few days, more and more information about some kind of robot she was building, and Jeff Kaplan posted saying, “24 is not who you think it is.”
In an end of the month patch, the Game Browser was released, Bastion received some mega buffs (self-healing, less damage received while in Sentry and Tank modes) that would dominate the competitive meta for a few weeks, Mercy became invincible while using her Resurrection ultimate, increasing her use dramatically, Roadhog’s hook was modified yet again, this time increasing the cooldown and hooked targets stop further away, and Eichenwalde’s main gates no longer appear once the battering ram is through, instead leaving a pile of rubble to make things easier on attackers.
Season 4 of competitive mode started the month off, soon followed by Jeff Kaplan announcing Orisa in a Developer Update. It was hoped that this new tank could share Reinhardt’s role as a pillar tank, but this would not come true for several months. A patch rolled out to nerf Bastion’s damage resistance, ending its two week reign of terror. Helping us feel better about Bastion, the “Binary” comic was released with Torbjorn trying to find out what exactly up with this Bastion unit that doesn’t kill.
Around the same time, rumors were spreading that franchises interested in the Overwatch League may be paying millions of dollars for their spots. If true, it meant trouble for a number of smaller organizations trying to make their way into the league.
Halfway through the month, a patch released where both Orisa’s and Ana’s damage were nerfed, Sombra’s allies could now see healthpacks she’s hacked, Winston’s Barrier now began its cooldown when cast instead of when it ended, and Zarya’s shielded targets could now be knocked back. Closing out the month, the it was announced that the Overawtch World Cup would be returning.
We learned about the omnic uprising in London in the Uprising comic, a piece that introduced us to the Uprising in-game event that came out a week later where we got to play Tracer’s first Overwatch mission in a popular PvE event on Kings Row.
The Uprising patch also changed Lucio’s auras, making the radius dramatically smaller, but also increased his healing, a new route was added through the music shop for attackers to reach Eichenwalde point A, and new mechanics to reduce the number of draws on capture maps were implemented, making it so the second team team only needed to capture more than the first team. This led to many awkward situations where the second team only needed to capture 1% of the objective to win the match. This horrific period lasted about two weeks until it was changed so that teams needed to capture at least 33% of the point to break ties.
April also saw the Heroes of the Storm Nexus Challenge 2.0 that allowed players to attain the Officer D.Va skin for playing Heroes with friends, as well as the previous year’s Oni Genji skin.
In Korea, Lunatic-Hai defeated RunAway 4-3 to wrap up APEX Season 2. Soon after the event, it was reported that DoA and MonteCristo were leaving the Korean scene to cast for the Overwatch League, allowing Achilios and proxywolf to take over when Season 3 would begin at the end of the month.
A relatively quieter month, the final Monthly Melee was held, with YIKES! defeating Selfless Gaming 3-0. Fears about a fading tournament scene for Overwatch were strong up until when Blizzard announced Overwatch Contenders, a new tournament that would take place in both the North America and European regions which brought some new hope.
The Overwatch Anniversary event began, giving us three new arena map, new elimination mode rule settings, and dance emotes, along with some hero changes: Earthshatter’s height was reduced, Soldier: 76’s bullet damage was reduced by 1, and Orisa’s damage and Protective Barrier cooldowns were reduced. Wrapping up the month, the Horizon Lunar Colony map was teased with a look at some private messages between scientists from the days prior to contact being lost with the base.
June was a much busier month. Competitive season 5 kicked things off, followed immediately by Horizon Lunar Colony dropping onto the PTR. Here we got a glimpse of Blizzard having some fun with light gravity in areas outside the base, but also got to see tons of fun lore and history into Winston’s past.
Dafran was banned for streaming adult content and playing other games while throwing games in Overwatch. Blizzard came down on him, penalizing him for, “failure to act in a respectful, sportsmanlike manner at all times,” losing access to Overwatch for a week, suspension from season 5, and he was disqualified from Contenders Seasons 0 and 1.
The Open Division was announced, which allowed players who didn’t make it through the Contenders Open Qualifiers a chance to compete, and soon after, the World Cup groups and cities were revealed
Jeff Kaplan recorded another Developer Update, letting us know Highlight capturing was on the way, and ending the month, we received the patch that added Horizon Lunar Colony, McCree was buffed by making Dead-Eye lock on faster, Reaper was buffed by removing his soul orbs and giving him health from damage dealt, and Roadhog’s damage was decreased, but his rate of fire and clip size was increased to make up for it.
What a year!
It was quite a big year for Overwatch! So much that we broke this up into two parts. Check out part 2 of the Overwatch Year in Review right here!