The slow burn of online hype for Overwatch continues. This time, however, instead of an animated short like Recall or Alive, we get a solo piece as an online comic, shedding some light on the antics of the outlaw Jesse McCree. Read the comic over at http://comic.playoverwatch.com/en-us, and also check out Blizzard’s press release on the matter.

 

Closed Beta Ending April 25th

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We knew our time was coming to a close, we just hoped it wouldn’t be so soon. Blizzard has announced the end of the Closed Beta period for Overwatch and it is in almost exactly one week: 10:00am PDT on April 25th. Remember that nothing from the beta will carry over after that date. From all indications, it won’t carry into the open beta in the first week of May, and nothing from that beta will carry over in the live release on May 24th. So get your last screenshots in with your favorite legendary skins before it’s time to earn them all over again! Also included is Director Jeff Kaplan’s statements on the end of the beta and the pathway to the game’s launch. The short version? Glad you asked: More bugfixes and stability tweaks instead of sweeping changes between now and launch, so don’t hold your breath for the

 

Competitive Play Details Blog

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Blizzard’s Team 4 has hit us with a blog and a video to tell us the current state of Competitive (or “Ranked”) Play, which was introduced in last night’s patch. Here’s the Crow’s Notes version: There are four tiers, each with five divisions. Winning games gets you into higher tiers and divisions. At higher tiers, losing games will push you back into lower divisions. Blizzard is looking at month-long seasons, with ranks resetting every season. If this sounds a LOT like how seasons and ranks work in Hearthstone, you’re absolutely right, complete with the highest tier of play, called Heroic, that switches to a unique numeric ranking rather than the tier/division ranking. It’s exactly like Legend in Hearthstone, no? None of that is a bad thing, mind you. The competitive system in Hearthstone keeps things fresh and compels people to log in every month. And while we don’t know exactly

The second in a series of Overwatch animated shorts has got a release date of April 3rd, and this time it’ll be hosted on Playstation.com. This time, we’re focusing on Widowmaker on a job in King’s Row. We’ve got a couple more hints about what might be involved here, based on some previous information, including the animated shorts teaser reel we saw at BlizzCon last year. We can probably expect Tracer to show up, and for us to get an answer to the question “do Tracer and Widowmaker have some kind of history?” That specific question, raised by their interaction during the original Overwatch cinematic, was also raised in a Q&A at BlizzCon this year, and either the Metzen or Overwatch story boss Michael Chu hinted that an answer would be forthcoming. No guarantees, of course, except for this: Widowmaker is in King’s Row. Read the full post below.

 

Beta Build 27939 Patch Notes

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Coming in slightly after the patch started hitting beta servers, we’ve got some notes on what’s going on in this new build. Genji’s health is up, but his shuriken damage is down. Quick Melee doesn’t hit for as much, but we can use it more frequently. Bastion’s Ultimate mode is shorter. Hanzo’s Scatter Arrow doesn’t get to cheat anymore. ;P And Mei is being brought down a bit from the devastating ice goddess heights she started to hit after the last patch. Seriously guys, she went overboard. Overall, these are all pretty standard “beta is beta” changes, principally in the fine-tuning space of things, and having the added bonus of developer insights into why these changes are being made is a huge benefit. Read the full patch notes below.

 

Beta Build 27704 Patch Notes

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CM Zoevia has dropped patch notes on us, revealing a more complete list of changes and what new skins have been added into the game. There are also some notable balance changes brought into play as well. New Control Map, Ilios. Imagine what a nice Mediterranean island tourist trap looks like and you’ve basically got a good idea. Zarya and Roadhog bots are now available. Mercy has a new VO in English. You can apparently get in a hand of Hearthstone in the Temple of Anubis attack spawn room. (See header) Read the full patch notes below.

 

Incoming Beta Patch & Career Profile Wipe

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CM Lylirra gave us a bit of advance notice about some impending activity on the Closed Beta, including a wipe on the career profile (which won’t impact anything else, thankfully) and an incoming beta patch. As of press, we know that the patch has got several skins for a bunch of heroes, a new map, and we’ve been informed that patch notes are incoming. So it’s going to be a busy night. Read the full post below.

All right, let’s set the record straight here. To get everything from the beta FAQ in one place, check this out: Closed Beta for Overwatch will run from now until some TBD time before May 3rd. And closed beta testers will get advance notice when the closed beta is going to come down. Early Access Beta Period will be May 3rd-4th, allowing everyone who has pre-purchased or pre-ordered the game before April 29th to log in and play. They’ll also get a code allowing a friend to get in as well. Closed Beta testers will NOT be included (unless they have pre-purchased/pre-ordered the game as well.) Open Beta picks up on May 5th and runs through May 9th. There will be no restrictions on who can get into the beta during this period: everyone can jump on and play, regardless of pre-order status or previous beta participation. At all points

UPDATE LITERALLY TWO MINUTES LATER: OFFICIAL CONFIRMATION Biggest part of this aside from the dates: pre-ordering gets you early access for you AND A FRIEND. Full post below. Go. Now. GO. UPDATE: 9AM 3/7/2016: Playstation’s Twitter feed just posted this. Still awaiting confirmation from Blizzard. The world needs heroes. Overwatch launches May 24 on PS4, with early access starting May 3: https://t.co/XOCHhnpRUR pic.twitter.com/2UYdVCIBCH — PlayStation (@PlayStation) March 7, 2016 ORIGINAL POST: A big banner ad over on IGN.com may have spilled the release date for Overwatch. Overwatch out on May 24, open beta early access on May 3 pic.twitter.com/Ixw1q20UJv — Wario64 (@Wario64) March 7, 2016 That date is May 24th, but the real kicker is this: apparently, pre-orders will get early access to an open beta that starts on May 3rd, effectively three weeks of additional play before the game’s broad release. Clicking on the ad went nowhere, which was odd,

 

State of the Beta: Pre-Beta Briefing

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So today is Monday, the 9th of Fall (really the 26th of October) and tomorrow is when the Overwatch beta will begin in earnest. Maybe you’ve played the game at a demo station at a convention like BlizzCon or PAX or gamescom over the course of the last eleven months, or maybe you’ve just been watching the gameplay videos released by the dev team to showcase particular characters. You might also be here because of the beta stream event a few days ago, when a couple of prominent Twitch streamers joined the devs for a couple solid hours of gameplay to build steam for tomorrow’s beta. The bottom line is that there are some features about Overwatch that appear to be completely fresh in the version we’re going to see played here shortly, and we wanted to run some of them down for you so you know what’s going on.