Is Blizzard's new online game too little too late?

Art director Bill Petras explains the thinking behind the look and feel of Blizzard Entertainment's first franchise in 17 years.

Is Blizzard's new online game too little too late?

Overwatch's characters exhibit a refined version of Blizzard's trademark exaggerated art style

Attendees at BlizzCon 2014 were first to hear that Blizzard Entertainment is to release its first new title in almost two decades. Overwatch is a multiplayer online battle arena game that introduces 12 new characters and a whole world for them, and gamers, to explore.

Blizzard, the team behind the World of Warcraft franchise, unveiled an action-packed theatrical trailer in which its stylised, cartoonish characters showcase their skills during a standoff in a museum.

Is Blizzard's new online game too little too late?

Overwatch is set on a near-future Earth and battles take place in real-world locations such as London and the pyramids of Egypt

"We wanted to establish something new, but still keep to Blizzard's heritage of exaggerated style," art director Bill Petras says.

"Ultimately, the Overwatch art style is focused on readability of gameplay. We strove to create a handcrafted look for the materials, combined with exaggerated silhouettes for the heroes."

Is Blizzard's new online game too little too late?

Blizzard artists have been tasked with creating something new that also keeps to the company's heritage

The trailer tells us there was an elite international task force – soldiers, scientists, adventurers, oddities – that "restored liberty to all nations".

Is Blizzard's new online game too little too late?

Lena Oxton, known to her Overwatch colleagues as Tracer, is able to teleport and pull off a passable Cockney accent

But their watch is over, it's said, even if the ensuing shootout proves otherwise. The game will be available for PCs – though there's no release date yet – with a beta version coming in 2015.

"We're excited to finally be able to share this new universe and these awesome heroes with everyone," Bill says. "It's been great to hear the community's feedback so far, and we're looking forward to sharing even more of our work when the Overwatch beta begins in 2015."

This article originally appeared in ImagineFX magazine issue 117.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Beren Neale is commissioning editor at Creative Bloq.