New PTR Brings New Map

Blizzard surprised us with a new deathmatch map: Kanezaka. This map is in Japan and sits directly under Hanamura. In fact, you can even see Hanamura if you look up in some areas.

The map has a mixture of both the old and new, with an old town and a massive, modern cityscape, depending on which half of the map you’re on. There’s a ramen shop, pottery shop, shopping mall, convenience store, and even a cat cafe! It’s likely that there are a lot of places that inspiration for the map came from, but it gives me a lot of Karuizawa vibes if you know the region.

Seeing a new map appear was very much a surprise as no new, from the ground up, content was expected until Overwatch 2 is released. Not counting the special Workshop maps, we haven’t had a new map since Havana was released in May of 2019, and the first deathmatch-specific map since Petra in May of 2018.

In a Developer Update about the map, Game Director Jeff Kaplan said that the map came from one of the newer hires for development on Overwatch 2. Asking him to experiment with the dev tools while they brought him up to speed, he came up with Kanezaka. The team loved it so much that they put resources into making it a reality sooner.

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Jeff also said that there are some easter eggs on the map related to Overwatch 2, even if we won’t know what they are yet.

If you aren’t able to check the map out on the PTR, I took a lot of pictures and put them out on Twitter in a long thread here. The cat cafe is first!

Kaplan said to expect Kanezaka to go live in the first half of January.

Overwatch 2 at BlizzCon

In the same Developer Update about Kanezaka, Jeff said that Overwatch 2 will have more information at BlizzCon in February, but he also made sure to say, “The game has a ways to go,” trying to temper expectations about where the game is at. It sounds like it will still be a long time before it’s out.

Winter Wonderland is here with the new Priority Pass system, and bugs!

The final event of the year came out this week with lots of new skins for… heroes that already had winter skins. While that may be the case, they do look pretty good. I think my favorite might be Conductor Reinhardt who makes train noises when he uses his Charge ability. Then again, it’ll also be the worst because I’m apparently a magnet for red Rein using it no matter where I am and I’ll be hearing it a lot.

For pictures of all the new skins and new emotes, check out our Twitter thread right here.

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Priority Passes Introduced

The Priority Pass system is intended to give people who use one a faster time in queue. It was developed to help roles, typically damage, get a faster queue by rewarding them for first joining some games in the new Flex queue option where they would fill any role needed.

So far in this first week, the system has been a partial success while everyone tries it out. Sure queue times have been very fast for those who choose the flex role, it has also led to even longer queue times for specific roles in some ranks because everyone has a few passes to spare. It’s also led to people who don’t normally play a few roles get stuck on them, leading to subpar games for some.

This should all even out within a few more days or week or so. Every new thing in Overwatch seems to have an oddity spring up when it’s introduced.

Bugs and Bugs!

A few issues have sprung up with the new patch since its release.

  • For a short while on Tuesday, D.Va was entirely removed from play due to a bug where she would sometimes become unkillable while out of her mech.
  • Junkertown has been turned off in Quick Play and Competitive mode due to a bug that caused matches set here to shut down early. As of this writing this is still the case, but you can still play it in custom modes if desired.
  • Genji players, and Echo who copies him, will notice that their player portrait is instead a large, black square. Someone on Twitter reported that this only happened to them when using his Contenders skin, but I cannot confirm this or not. I do know that it happened to me and I was using that skin.

Contenders Gauntlet

Contenders Gauntlet for 2020 is almost done! As of this writing the tournament is drawing to a close in each remaining region as more and more teams are knocked out. Be sure to check out the final games on the website, and earn some Contenders skins!