Onward to year two.
Just imagine, it’s been a whole year since Blizzard launched Overwatch and spawned a whole community that absolutely fell in love with its colorful cast of characters, along with a small subset of people that wouldn’t stop looking them up on PornHub. It’s been a wild ride.
For its first year anniversary, Overwatch is celebrating by giving us tons of new skins and other cosmetic items to unlock (of course), along with two new Arcade modes: 3v3 Lockdown Elimination, and 1v1 Limited Duel.
Personally, I’ve never been a fan of Overwatch’s normal Elimination matches. The 3v3 battles, along with the smaller arena they take place in, are intense, but Ecopoint: Antarctica is, in my opinion, one of the weaker maps in the game. 3v3 matches also always felt too short and, just like the competitive aspect of the game, there’s a ‘meta’ where players will tend to pick tanks or characters that could self-heal, making the mode feel stale overall.
Lockdown Elimination solves both of those issues for me. The three new arena maps (Castillo, Black Forest, and Necropolis) burst with color and are aesthetically pleasing to the eye, filled with countless nooks and crannies for you to hide in and flank your foes. And in the case of Necropolis, a terrifying death trap that you can push your enemies into. Okay well, it’s really just a bottomless pit that insta-kills you if you fall in, but it’s still terrifying all the same.
The Lockdown mechanic itself prevents players from sticking with safe picks. In a three-round matchup, whichever heroes you used during a winning round will be locked out for the rest of the match. This blocks players from falling into any sort of meta, and it also means that even if your team wins the first couple of rounds, you’ll likely be at a severe disadvantage during the final round as your pool of heroes is limited, while the opposing team still has the whole roster to choose from. If you’re the last member on your team, you can’t just stall and run down the clock either; after a certain period of time, the game will force both sides to try to capture a small point on the map as a means to bring an end to the match. It’s a refreshing change to the stale Elimination mode, and I hope it’s here to stay.
Similarly for Limited Duel, this 1v1 mode gives you and your opponent the same three heroes to choose from. You can use them in any order you’d like, but there’s an added layer of strategy involved when you try to consider which hero your opponent might be using first. It becomes sort of a rock-paper-scissors type of deal, especially when your three selected heroes are capable of acting as counters to each other. Do you pick a character that you’re good with, or do you want to take a chance on a character that you’re maybe not so familiar with, but could potentially serve as a hard counter to your enemy’s pick?
All in all, Overwatch’s anniversary event isn’t really anything to write home about. The new maps are nice, and the Lockdown Elimination mode is definitely the highlight this time around. A special shoutout has to be given to the brand new cosmetic items in the anniversary Loot Boxes as well. While some of the skins aren’t all that impressive – I’m not quite sold on Mei’s Beekeeper outfit – Blizzard really outdid themselves with the ones that are pretty cool-looking. Pharah’s racial origins are (kind of) clarified with the new Bedouin skin, and Lucio’s Jazzy DJ skin is one of the best skins we’ve seen in the game yet, period.
Speaking of skins, shoutout to Blizzard for giving my girl D.Va yet another awesome and just downright gorgeous-looking skin to add to the collection.
Us D.Va mains sure are on a roll here. First, we had that cute Palanquin skin from the Year of the Rooster event, then the adorable Officer skin from Heroes of the Storm, and now this? Sweet.
Aside from skins, Blizzard’s also knocked it out of the park with all the new dance emotes. You’ve got Bastion doing a robot dance, Reaper ‘dancing’ by tapping his foot grouchily, and Tracer doing the Charleston. Overwatch’s anniversary event may not have a PVE brawl as explosive as the one we just saw from the Uprising event, but all of the new cosmetic items are really great at conveying a sense of celebration and achievement at the game having been such a smashing success in its first year.
Watching our favorite characters get up to all sorts of silly shenanigans is pretty much the best part of the anniversary event, and it’s a good way to get fans excited for whatever’s coming up next in the game’s second year. Now, just give us a new animated short where the whole cast engages in an epic dance-off tournament, and I’ll be a happy camper.