After nearly a year since the initial release of Overwatch, new and free content is still releasing at a steady pace. New characters, skins, and other cosmetic items keep players coming back to grind for loot boxes and climb through the ranks in competitive, but arguably the biggest draw of all is the seasonal events Overwatch hosts with hundreds of exclusive items and a special brawl that takes normal game modes and gives them a unique spin.
Just this week, the latest seasonal event Uprising marked the fifth Overwatch event since launch, and the latest brawl along with it has fans clambering for an Overwatch campaign mode.
So which event brawls have made the Overwatch experience even better? And which have missed the mark? Here are the five seasonal Overwatch event brawls released thus far ranked from worst to best.
5. CAPTURE THE ROOSTER
This 6v6 capture the flag brawl accompanied the Year of the Rooster event from Jan 24 to Feb 15.
In celebration of the Lunar New Year, control map Lijiang Tower was redecorated around the year of the Rooster in 2017. The brawl had players attempt to capture an enemy team flag by standing on a point, and bring it back to their side of the map without dying on the way. The brawl has since become a permanent feature, with capture the flag still available for play through Overwatch’s arcade modes.
This brawl exposed a scenario where Overwatch’s extremely varied cast of characters came as a detriment to the gameplay. Since a huge part of capture the flag was actually defending your own flag, this caused players to auto-lock highly defensive characters like Symmetra, Bastion, and Torbjorn in order to fortify their side of the map to prevent the enemy team from even getting a glance of their flag.
Pushing with offensive characters, or sneaking in with a Sombra, Tracer, or Lucio is extremely difficult and frustrating to try and pull off. A majority of the time the brawl boils down to two teams focusing solely on a solid defense and then never really attempting to go after the enemy’s flag. Actually getting the flag requires at least half of the team to push forward and either wipe the enemy team or kill off those in their defensive zones, which is hard to pull off if you have three to four decisive characters on your own team.
When both teams didn’t focus so hard on setting up a fortress of turrets, the mode was actually very fun. Chasing after an enemy who captured your flag or in turn running away as fast as you can back to your base came with a huge adrenaline rush, but unfortunately that didn’t happen as often as it should while playing this brawl.
Perhaps it could have been improved upon if only certain characters were allowed to be chosen, or instead of two flags for the separate teams there was one flag in the center that caused everyone to clash head-to-head to grab it and head back to base.
In all, Capture the Rooster had its moments of fun, but overly defensive strategies caused frequent draws and gameplay that usually consisted of either camping the enemy team or attempting to push with one or two others only to never even get close to the enemy flag. You can still try out the capture the flag mode in the arcade, and tweak the options as you wish in your own custom game to make it entirely your own.
4. MEI’S SNOWBALL OFFENSIVE
To celebrate the holiday season, the Winter Wonderland seasonal event ran from Dec 13 to Jan 3 with tons of festive cosmetic goodies.
The brawl that came along with it was Mei’s Snowball Offensive, with a brand new arena map called Ecopoint: Antarctica, the place where Mei worked as a climatologist before she was cryogenically frozen.
In the brawl, piles of snow were scattered around the map. Players used them to craft snowballs, which could be shot at the enemy team using Mei’s Endothermic Blaster. Only one snowball could be held at a time, and the match consisted of two teams of six.
This brawl, although slow-paced at times due to the one snowball limit, was fun in that patience and precision were highly rewarded. Running around and being reckless with your snowball would leave you vulnerable as you risk standing out in the open as you wait for your gun to reload at a snow pile.
Since every character was Mei, her unique tool-kit with ice-wall and cyro-freeze allowed players to do fake-outs and immediately retaliate with their own offensive attack. And there was nothing more satisfying then shooting a risky shot off into the distance and hearing that satisfying *clink* as you land a snowball right on an enemy.
The brawl was fun up until a glitch was discovered that allowed Mei to hide up in the rafters of the map’s two starting locations, making her impossible to hit but still able to shoot and damage others. This even transferred over to the 3v3 mode on the same Antarctica map, with players insta-locking Mei and breaking the map so it was impossible to hit her. As soon as you realized someone on the enemy team was using this cheating strategy, you might as well quit or come to the conclusion you were either going to lose, or draw in the match.
The glitch was later patched out with penalties for those who abused it, but not until after the end of the seasonal event. At least it’s not a problem anymore for those who still enjoy paying around in 3v3.
3. JUNKENSTEIN’S REVENGE
Spooks and scares were aplenty for Overwatch players from Oct 11 to Nov 1, as the Halloween Terror event released tons of spine-tingling skins along with the game’s first PvE co-operative brawl.
Titled Junkenstein’s Revenge, groups of four players choose between McCree, Solider: 76, Hanzo, and Ana or “The Gunslinger,” “The Soldier,” “The Archer,” and “The Alchemist” to fight waves of monstrous robots called Zomnics created by the horrible Dr. Junkenstein.
With three different difficulty settings at easy, medium, and hard, there were also mini-bosses that showed off the Halloween skins of Roadhog (Junkenstein’s Monster), Reaper (The Reaper), Mercy (The Witch), and Junkrat (Dr. Junkenstein). You won the brawl as soon as the evil Dr. Junkenstein was vanquished along with his crew.
This brawl was extremely well-received, as it provided players with new ways to utilize the weapons and kits of Overwatch characters that had thus far just been used in online multiplayer modes. By fighting AI enemies, players had to work as a team and figure out strategies for when best to use ultimates, how to focus firepower on certain areas of the map, and how to take down the mini-bosses quickly and efficiently before the Zomnics destroyed the gate and all was lost. Unleashing an ultimate on dozens of unknowing robots was extremely fun, and deciding who to Nano Boost as Ana was a key element to success.
The narration and redesign of the Eichenwalde map were top notch, with a creepy voice narrating the battle in a Frankenstein-esque style of story-telling. New voice lines for both the bosses and playable characters were featured, and the difficulty setting offered a challenge for both new and veteran players.
The very first seasonal event for Overwatch celebrated the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil with a Summer Games event and all sorts of sporty cosmetic items running from Aug 2 to 22.
The brawl was Lucioball, AKA the Overwatch version of Rocket League, and three Lucios on either team faced off in the Estádio das Rãs stadium map in Rio de Janeiro to essentially play a game of giant soccer.
Lucio, who himself is from Rio de Janeiro where the Olympics were being held, had his kit tweaked to provide players with a fun new way to use his abilities. His primary fire was replaced with a quick melee that allowed you to hit the ball, Speed mode was the only ability for cross-fade and only affected the Lucio using it, attacking dealt no damage, and his ultimate pulled the ball in towards him from anywhere on the map.
By taking an already existing player and adjusting him slightly to meet the demands of the game-mode, Overwatch’s seasonal event brawls started on a very high note. Players soon learned strategies to score goals, like the classic hide in the enemy net and use your ult to drag the ball in for a sneaky goal, or wall-riding and soaring off the jump-pads to score a clutch game-winner. Also by using the sporty Lucio, who is from the same county that was hosting the games, it was like Overwatch had a special connection to the Olympics that almost felt like a full-on marketing partnership.
Unfortunately a glitch arose with the brawl, making it so players could choose a character besides Lucio. This happened to me several times, where a Symmetra, Winston, Torbjorn, and Tracer all found a way into my match on separate occasions. Oddly enough, if the player wasn’t a jerk and tried killing the enemy team (which was possible) it was actually quite fun to see them attempt to score using only their melee or physics-altering abilities. For example, the Winston I played with jumped around the map, launching the ball into the air while never shooting once. Meanwhile a jerky Symmetra put turrets everywhere, making it impossible to move around.
Even with the glitch, Lucioball was a creative and innovative way to celebrate the Olympic Games. It made Overwatch feel fresh and new, and players are still hoping it will make a return on the arcade so those who may have missed it can give it a try too.
Overwatch’s Uprising brawl is the latest and greatest one yet for a variety of reasons. The event, which is currently underway running from April 11 to May 1, takes players back in time to a historical moment for the Overwatch team as they fight to take control of King’s Row back from the Omnic uprising.
The four-player co-op PvE brawl features two modes: one which allows players to choose any character they wish, and another with the options limited to Tracer, Mercy, Torbjorn, and Reinhardt. Offering the two modes is a brilliant move, as those who are in it for the background story will gravitate towards the characters Blizzard choose for the brawl, while those just in it for the gameplay can try out every character to see how they bode.
If you choose the mode focusing on the actual Overwatch team, you’ll be able to try out their new skins and hear tons of new voice lines and commentary as they make their way through King’s Row. It’s amazing to get the chance to see how Overwatch operated in its heyday, and with this being Tracer’s first mission we get some endearing back-and-forth between the characters as they tease and support each other through the waves of Omnics. And who didn’t freakout when they heard Gabriel Reyes speak for the first time before he was transformed into the dark and brooding Reaper?
A reason players are so invested in Overwatch nearly a year after its initial release is because the lore and charms of its characters can keep them in for the long run. Since Overwatch’s other modes take place after the group had been disbanded, the Uprising mode offers a sneak peak back to the height of Overwatch’s success we have continuously heard about, and is some great fan-service for those who are always clambering for more animated shorts, comics, or any Overwatch story info they can get their hands on.
The difficulty modes are well-balanced, making the mode easy to pick up but very hard to master as you work your way up to legendary. With little details like the Omnics getting confused when Tracer blinks, it’s clear that Blizzard took the time to make this experience as well-rounded and true to the backstory as it could.
There may be one downside however, as now players will never shut up about how awesome an Overwatch campaign would be after Uprising gave them a taste of its potential.