What would you do if you could control gravity? Would you float everywhere? Hurl boulders at people? Yell all the time about a mysterious melody that haunts your every semi-lucid moment? Overwatch’s newest hero, the unhinged, accidentally evil astrophysicist Sigma, can do all of that and more. He’s fun to play, but he definitely takes some getting used to.
When I first started playing Sigma on Overwatch’s PC public test server earlier today, I felt uncomfortable. Despite the fact that his notably naked toesie-wosies hover about a foot off the ground at all times, he moves at a glacial pace, like most tanks. His primary attack—two “Hypersphere” projectiles that look like they were stolen from a Destiny merchandise stand—also travels a bit more slowly and arcs in a more exaggerated fashion than you might initially expect, and it has a fairly limited range.
Taken together, these things make him feel a little awkward, perhaps even vulnerable. This makes sense: He’s a barely-coherent old man whose powers come from his mind, not his brittle body. Even in those early uncomfortable moments, though, Sigma begins to reveal just how tricksy he can be. His orbs, for example, ricochet off walls, and even if they don’t nail a target square between the eyes, their impact results in an area-of-effect distortion that pulls enemies ever so slightly toward them. This can be used to disrupt aim.
It’s the rest of Sigma’s kit that turns him into a potential force to be reckoned with, though I’m still unsure how well he’ll mesh with other tanks right now. Most importantly, he has a portable shield, which likely means players will use him as a main tank like Reinhardt, Winston, and Orisa. Like his other abilities, his shield takes some getting used to. It’s similar to the floating shield Symmetra had several thousand major and minor revisions ago, except that Sigma can stop his wherever he wants and recall it with a quick button press. It’s versatile, but it has some drawbacks. You’ve got to recall it and not re-deploy it in order for it to start recharging, and it has a cooldown after it’s been busted. This means you can’t be quite as reactive as when you’re playing, say, Reinhardt, and you’ve got to have good positional awareness, because Sigma is a sitting duck without a glowing blue wall to hide behind.
Despite an almost complete lack of mobility abilities, Sigma can, to a limited extent, mitigate threats from enemies who get all up in his face. Two of his most interesting abilities, Kinetic Grasp and Accretion, serve multiple purposes. The former allows him to freeze projectiles in midair and convert them into additional shields for his HP bar, while the latter lets him smash bull-rushing fools with a big ol’ rock, resulting in a brief stun.
Both can be used to buy you some time when enemies are crashing into your personal space, but they’re also versatile tools in their own rights. Currently, Kinetic Grasp can eat powerful ults like Zarya’s Graviton Surge and Hanzo’s Dragonstrike, à la D.Va’s Defense Matrix. Sigma’s ability does, however, have a longer cooldown and more limited range than D.Va’s devourer of all things big and flashy, so hopefully he won’t slurp up the game’s balance, too. Accretion, meanwhile, actually has better range than Sigma’s regular attack, though you’ve got to be smart about how you arc it.
Then there’s his ult, which seems, at this early phase, pretty darn monstrous. Sigma rises into the air, temporarily gaining an enormous boost in mobility. While in this state, he can select a large, circular area of space on the ground. Enemies in this area will be lifted up into the air and slammed down, knocking off 50 percent of their full health total. Not only is this devastating from a damage perspective, but it can be used to move entire teams out from behind shields or lift them off points they’d bunkered down on. It can also combo extremely nicely with abilities ranging from Roadhog’s hook to McCree’s “Deadeye” ult. It feels like an absolute tide-turner, although I haven’t gotten to test it as much as I’d like in conjunction with other heroes since, surprise, everyone on the PTR is playing Sigma right now.
Sigma’s only been playable for part of today, meaning he’s still buried under a heap of questions so dense that not even his airborne feetsies can breathe. How will he synergize with other heroes and compositions, especially with the game-changing 2-2-2 role lock just around the corner? Are his abilities tuned well, or will they need some nerfing and buffing before he hits live servers? Why does he not wear shoes? I mean, on the one hand, if I could float, I guess I wouldn’t need them, but on the other hand I wouldn’t be floating through a series of bullet-riddled battlefields that have already claimed countless feet as casualties.
For now, though, Sigma is certainly a complex and unique tank, even if some of his abilities hearken back to ideas that Overwatch has already experimented with before. I’m excited to see what players do with him once he’s in the fray for real.
Today, Blizzard introduced Sigma in an animated story trailer. “Gravity is a harness,” Sigma says in the trailer. “I have harnessed the harness.” But that wasn’t enough for him, so he decided to try and double-harness the power of a black hole. That, however, appears to have driven him mad, or at least stuffed his brain so full that it’s like an overflowing bowl of mashed potatoes.
Like many a great mad scientist before him, Sigma is evil. Specifically, the trailer ends with him standing alongside Widowmaker, Sombra, Moira (who’d be the obvious ship if we weren’t all 99 percent sure she’s gay), and other members of Overwatch’s Talon organization. But, Blizzard adds, there’s a twist: Sigma is apparently “unaware” that he’s “being used as a living weapon.”
We’ll almost certainly find out more about how he plays later this week.
Out of all the characters recreated in plastic for Hasbro’s first wave of Overwatch action figures, the hands-down, hammers-up best is the super-sized Reinhardt with his gorgeous mech suit and dinner plate-sized shield. The only way it could be better would be if we could see the old man’s pretty face. Oh hi there, San Diego Comic-Con Reinhardt Bundswehr version.
Hasbro hit the jackpot when they secured the license for Overwatch action figures. Not only does the toymaker have the rights to make figures based on the entire roster of Blizzard’s hero shooter, they also have a well of variant figures based on the game’s bountiful array of cosmetic skins. That means masked Anna and unmasked Reaper from the first wave, which I reviewed earlier this year, aren’t the end-all, be-all. This new version of Reinhardt is posing plastic proof.
Available exclusively at the Hasbro booth during San Diego Comic-Con, the Bundswehr version of Reinhardt strips the mask off of Overwatch’s best tank, letting the poor old man breathe easy for a bit. The eight-inch tall figure comes packaged in a large box, frozen against a cardboard backdrop of combat chaos.Reinhardt’s hammer, which is gold instead of the silver and gray of the original figure, sports a translucent yellow impact effect. It’s a lovely box, the sort that collectors might want to keep sealed for shelf display.
For me, however, a toy is not a toy until I’ve played with it, so I tore open the packaging and grabbed some glamor shots of Herr Wilhelm. Old and scarred with a neatly-trimmed beard and slicked-back hair, the unmasked version of Reinhardt is who I aspire to be when I am slightly older. Just gotta figure out the whole hair thing.
And yes, the package also includes my favorite toy accessory of the year, the microwave-safe platter shield, complete with painted wolf emblem.
This German military service version of Reinhardt is available at Hasbro’s booth at SDCC for $60. I imagine it’s also on eBay, selling for around *checks price* $100. More importantly, he’s a harbinger of things to come in Hasbro’s Overwatch Ultimates figure line. We’re going to be up to our pauldrons in variants, you guys.
New expansion season has rolled around yet again for Hearthstone. With the “Saviors of Uldum” set, coming August 6, Blizzard’s digital card game is bringing game-changing area-of-effect spells, minions that resummon after dying, and powerful Quest cards that offer a new Hero Power once certain requirements are met.
The “Saviors of Uldum” set calls back to Hearthstone’s “League of Explorers,” which launched in 2015 and included a wide range of fan-favorite cards like Reno Jackson, Elise Starseeker, and Sir Finley Mrrgglton. As of now, those characters don’t have new cards of their own, but they’re being used to frame the expansion’s story, which sees the League of Explorers facing off against the League of E.V.I.L., the same group of villains that starred in Hearthstone’s most recent “Rise of Shadows” expansion.
The cards themselves are looking pretty powerful from a mechanics standpoint, with Blizzard introducing three key features that will define a good chunk of the new set:
Reborn is a new mechanic that behaves similar to Hearthstone’s classic Deathrattle mechanic, but instead of triggering a specific effect upon death, Reborn minions will resurrect with 1 remaining Health after they’re destroyed the first time. So far, Blizzard has introduced a 4-Mana Warrior minion with 3 Health and 2 Attack called Restless Mummy, which has Rush and Reborn. When summoned, the card can attack a minion, resurrect, and attack again, allowing for 6 board damage in a single turn—a solid tempo swing. Compared with a minion like Militia Commander, a 4-Mana Rush minion that’s super-popular even though it can only deal 5 damage to a single minion on the turn it’s played, Restless Mummy looks to have a lot of potential.
Plagues are powerful AoE spells that can be used by Priest, Shaman, Warrior, Warlock, and Rogue. Similar to cards like Hellfire, Psychic Scream, and Twisting Nether, these spells affect every minion on the board, so they’ll typically work best when one player has a distinct advantage. The Priest card “Plague of Death” is a 9-mana AoE spell that may be one of the most powerful ones ever printed, as it silences and kills all minions on the board.
Quest cards, which provide powerful effects when the player meets certain criteria in a game, were introduced with 2017’s “Journey to Un’goro” set and will return in “Saviors of Uldum.” Unlike those quests, however, the new ones offer new Hero Powers upon quest completion. So far, the Druid Quest that has been revealed doesn’t seem to have a massive effect with the cards that are currently in the game, as it doubles up the effects of Druid “Choose One” cards, which players don’t currently tend to run regularly.
In the lead-up to Hearthstone’s upcoming “Saviors of Uldum”expansion, Blizzard Entertainment released a patch yesterday that ran a couple housekeeping alterations to make way for the new content. The update removed some older cards from the game’s Standard mode, added some new cards to the game’s Classic set, and in a move that’s stirred up tons of controversy, changed the art of eight old cards.
At first glance, all of the card art changes seem to make the cards either less sexy or less violent. The card Eviscerate, which has always been one of the most popular spells in the game, was changed so that there’s no longer any blood in the art. The card Succubus, which used to depict a whip-wielding demon of lust, is now called the Felstalker, and it looks like a run-of-the-mill four-legged demon with massive jaws.
For the past 24 hours, Reddit has been flooded with posts mocking these art changes. One replaced the word “blood” in every card that uses it with the word “ketchup,” for instance. Up until now, there had been no official statement from Blizzard regarding the reasons for the updates, and so speculations as to why this happened were common. One guess was that Blizzard was trying to tone down its game for folks who might get offended by the sight of scantily clothed women. Another common hypothesis was that the company was catering to China’s censorship laws and changing its card art for that reason.
I reached out to the company for comment, and a spokesperson provided me with the following response:
The recent changes were applied to make those cards more visually cohesive and consistent with the art style of Hearthstone today. When Hearthstone first launched, we brought in a lot of artwork from the physical World of Warcraft trading card game. In the years since, Hearthstone has developed a look, feel, and personality of its own that distinguishes it from that of Warcraft—though we still love being a part of that universe. We’ll always be looking for ways to deliver on the game’s unique style, charm, and personality.
It’s not an uncommon reason for corporate rebranding, and this sort of art tweak in a digital card game aimed primarily at teens and youngsters isn’t terribly surprising. There are hundreds of creative variables involved in creating the look, feel, and tone of a product like Hearthstone, and as the game has now been around for five (!) years, it’s all but expected for these kinds of creative changes to occur at one point or another.
I’m definitely not saying that people shouldn’t criticize some of these art changes on the grounds that some of them feel a bit uninspired. But do I get why a multi-billion dollar corporation would want to scrap the art of a five year-old card that looks like something you’d see airbrushed on the side of glam-rock revival band’s tour bus? Absolutely.
From time to time, Blizzard gives away free Hearthstone cards. Sometimes, they are good. But sometimes, as with the recently released free Legendary card SN1P-SN4P (pronounced “snip-snap”), they are great. Seriously, if you see this thing pop up while you’re playing a game of Hearthstone, you should be scared.
Hearthstone Card Of The Month
Every month, we take a close look at a card that’s been getting a lot of buzz—good or bad—in the world of competitive Hearthstone.
The card is a 3-mana Mech with 2 Attack and 3 Health, and it comes with a Deathrattle effect that summons two 1/1 Mechs when it dies. If you do the math and add the stats of the Deathrattle minions to the base stats of SN1P-SN4P, you’ve got 4 Attack and 5 Health, which is already extremely powerful for a 3-Mana minion. Remember: In Hearthstone, 3 Mana is worth around 3 Attack and 4 Health on a minion or vice versa. Anything less, and its effect would have to be really good to justify its cost. Anything more, and it’d need to come with some sort of drawback to justify its power level. Those two Mechs that are spawned when SN1P-SN4P dies aren’t a joke, either: Mechs have tons of synergy with other Mech cards, and even though they don’t seem like they pose a huge threat, they can get buffed by other cards if they’re not dealt with immediately. Very annoying.
Not only does SN1P-SN4P have high stats and survivability for its Mana cost, but it also comes with the Magnetic and Echo attributes, which bring its power level to even greater heights. Magnetic means it can attach to other Mech minions, allowing it to buff other creatures and deal damage to the opponent on the same turn it’s played. Echo means you can replay the card as many times as you want in a single turn. Since it costs 3 Mana and the Mana pool maxes out at 10, most players will only be able to play it 3 times in a turn, but if one were able to decrease its cost, it’d mean trouble.
When the card was first announced with the “Rise of the Mechs” special event, players began to obsess over the combo potential of this card. Using a Priest card called Reckless Experimenter, Priests could discount SN1P-SN4P’s cost to 0 mana and, using the card’s Magnetic attribute, infinitely attach it to another Mech minion already on the board, allowing the Priest to stack infinite damage on the board and kill the opponent in a single turn. As a result, Blizzard actually nerfed Reckless Experimenter so that it couldn’t reduce a card’s Mana cost below 1.
That doesn’t mean this infinite damage combo can’t be used in other scenarios. In Hearthstone’s Wild mode, where players can use every card that’s ever been allowed in competitive play, Warlock players can combo SN1P-SN4P with a card called Mechwarper, which reduces the cost of all Mechs by 1, and another card called Summoning Portal, which reduces the cost of all minions by 2, to pull off the combo in a more roundabout way. Some streamers have put together compilations of all the existing infinite damage SN1P-SN4P combos, but many of them are so hard to pull off that they’re not actually viable in competitive play.
The thing is, even without the ability to use SN1P-SN4P infinitely in a single turn, it’s still ultra-powerful on its own. According to the Hearthstone stat-keeping site HSReplay.net, it’s currently played in about 26.7 percent of decks, making it the second-most-popular card in the game after another extremely powerful Mech called Zilliax. Decks that use SN1P-SN4P average a 55.6 percent win rate, a full 5.6 percent more than the baseline 50 percent average win rate that one should typically expect from any given deck. It’s a high-power, high-versatility, high-synergy card, and it’s free until July 1.
If you tuned into the Overwatch League’s Friday games, you probably saw dozens of esports fans decked out in rainbow garb or flashing LGBTQ-themed signs as soon as the camera turned their way. It was Pride Day for the Overwatch League—a day that Overwatch publisher Blizzard put on for fans to “come together for diversity and inclusion,” they said in their announcement.
But Korean fans who tuned in saw something a little different: a business-as-usual Overwatch League broadcast with no pomp or circumstance.
According to two Overwatch League insiders with knowledge of the broadcast, leading up to last year’s Pride event, American and Korean Overwatch League broadcast professionals discussed how the celebration would come off to audiences in Asia. For “cultural reasons,” said a source, Blizzard’s Korean team and regional broadcast partners made the decision to minimally broadcast expressions of Pride Day at Blizzard Arena last year. It’s possible these reasons are related to South Korea’s conservatism on LGBTQ rights. According to a 2017 Gallup poll, nearly 60 percent of the country is against same-sex marriage, which is not legal there. (In the U.S., only about 33 percent of people disapprove.)
This year’s Korean and American broadcasts were different as well, with the American one celebrating Pride and the Korean one strangely, well, not. Fans’ signs weren’t prominent, and according to two people who know Korean, there was little or no mention of Pride Day on the Korean broadcast. Korea’s Pride Day broadcast did not appear significantly different from normal, but the hype and expressive Pride Day celebrations in Blizzard Arena do seem to be played down, something two sources say was, at least last year, intentional. Blizzard did not respond to Kotaku’s request for comment.
“We didn’t shoot the arena any differently than we would on any other day…We didn’t go out of our way to avoid signs, fans, atmosphere,” the second insider explained of the American broadcast. “Our Korean partners were aware of the event that [was hosted] in the arena and were allowed to make whatever decision they felt was appropriate for their broadcast based on that info.” The insider added that “We gave the regional leads and their broadcast partners the autonomy to present their portion of the program as they felt best.” The broadcast out of California is the master broadcast, and most of what is added to or deviates from it is done in local markets. For example, each team has different casters, graphics, and desk segments.
Last year was the League’s first Pride event. “We’re excited to get into the spirit of diversity and inclusion throughout the day,” read Blizzard’s event description. In the Blizzard Arena, fans expressing support for queer individuals carried signs reading “Gays into the iris,” “Bi Pride,” “Play of the Gay” and “Hi gay, I’m Dad.” In the foreground, casters like Chris Puckett wore rainbow wristbands. This year, the Pride Day broadcast was even more direct in its celebration. On the livestream, Puckett says, “Today is Pride Day and we are celebrating the mutual support between the Overwatch League and the LGBTQ community here at the Blizzard Arena…The Overwatch League prides itself on welcoming fans from all walks of life regardless of background or lifestyle. Today, we want take a moment to acknowledge some of the biggest fans in the LGBTQ community.”
On Blizzard’s merchandise site, the company sold Pride pins to benefit the Trevor Fund, a suicide prevention organization for young, queer people.
Overwatch League also celebrated one dedicated queer fan in a video. Of Blizzard, he says, “It’s great they’re upfront. Ther’s a lot of queer space in this game. I think it’s great that the Overwatch League, as a new organization, is being part of the vanguard celebrating Pride so openly. Traditional sports are not as forward with their Pride events as the Overwatch League. I think that makes Overwatch League stand out.”
Although it makes sense for Blizzard to cater to what they believe their audience’s tastes are, one insider says that if Blizzard wants to be a force for change, they might have to make bolder decisions. Overwatch’s most prominent character, Tracer, canonically dates a woman. Yet in 2019, as game companies finally begin to better represent the people who play their games, it can be hard to tell whether these moves are fueled by market analyses or genuine enthusiasm for fans’ multivaried backgrounds.
Said the insider, “I think the message of Pride is, ‘Hey, you are not alone. Nothing is wrong with you. You are welcome here.’ It is for all those people who are told otherwise. People who doubt their own feelings and thoughts. To say it to only America or EU doesn’t help that kid in Korea or China. A leader stands up. Either Blizzard is leader on this subject or it is cheap marketing.”
World Of Warcraft Classic is kinda wild when you think about it. It’s a time capsule from 2004 that you can live inside, a swirling portal to a place many people thought they’d never get to visit again. There’s no denying, however, that times have changed since “Vanilla” WoW’s rosily-remembered heyday. One recent development that’s been causing some friction: streamers.
Currently, WoW Classic is still in closed beta, meaning access is limited. A handful of popular streamers like Sodapoppin, Asmongold, Dafran, and Esfand are among those who can play, and they’re already the most visible presences in the beta. Some prospective players have gone so far as to swear off so-called “streamer servers” entirely. This largely stems from concerns that once WoW Classic is properly live, streamers’ fans will constantly mob them, obliterate everyone else in PVP through sheer numbers, overwhelm in-game economies, and generally make toxic nuisances of themselves.
“Almost the entire population revolves around them,” said one player on the WoW Classic subreddit, voicing concerns that are, so far, largely hypothetical given the current scope of the beta. “When they are on, 2k more people are on, when they aren’t it’s dead.”
While World of Warcraft has always put most things of consequence—dungeons, raids, PVP arenas, etc—in their own sequestered-off “instances” so as to create structure and keep jerks from raining on people’s parades, modern WoW is much more heavily instanced than Vanilla WoW was. Many fans regard WoW Classic as a chance to return to the days when non-instanced “world” PVP was all the rage, and massive spontaneous clashes between Horde and Alliance were the norm. Not only that, there will be world bosses and, eventually, limited-time world events for players to contend with in Classic.
As a result, some are worried that streamers will throw endless armies of fans at PVP, bosses, progression, economies, and more, monopolizing WoW Classic in a way that’s simply not possible in WoW as it is now. The Wild West feeling of early WoW, they fear, will be trampled by streamers immediately grabbing the spotlight and refusing to let go.
At this point, it’s hard to say if things will unfold this way once WoW Classic is available to everyone. However, there have been some instances of streamers and their audiences causing a ruckus in the beta, as when Dafran disrupted an otherwise orderly tournament by attacking the opposing faction, kicking off a massive, ugly brawl.
In another instance, Asmongold and a horde of Alliance followers kited a black dragon world boss all the way to the Alliance capital city of Stormwind. Havoc, as you might expect, ensued. True, Asmongold and his friends pulled off a heck of a feat, but it also drove home the idea that streamers can wield their influence in ways that bring entire servers to their knees.
Streamers, meanwhile, are dealing with issues of their own. As battle royale games like PUBG and Fortnite have shown us, where streamers go, stream snipers follow, to try and kill them or just infuriate them with troll-y antics. During a stream yesterday, Sodapoppin proposed a controversial plan to discourage stream-sniping shenanigans in WoW Classic: a Horde and Alliance “blacklist.” He prefaced his idea by saying that he wishes people would just treat him like an anonymous player, but that’s not happening. And while he thinks it’s fine to kill streamers, he said that if somebody is obviously stream sniping—for example, moving exactly where he’s moving while stealthed—then they’ll get added to his list.
“I’ll take that person, and I’ll say, ‘OK, blacklist this person,’” he said. “My friends on the Alliance or other streamers don’t play with this person. They are never allowed in anything that the actual good guilds on the Alliance are doing. They are blacklisted. And it’s vice-versa as well. So you won’t get any good raids. You’ll never get any good gear. And eventually, if you want to keep stream sniping, you’ll be doing it while I have double your gear.”
“Down with Soda, and down with anyone else who believes they should be able to dictate who is able to enjoy the game,” wrote the player who started the thread. “You get the perks of being a streamer, and one of the few things we get out of your perks is the ability to hunt you. As a result I suggest we create a super guild, ‘The Blacklist’ with the explicit purpose of pushing content as efficiently as possible, with the goal of hunting those who wish to abuse their streamer privilege to dictate what others may do. Any and all shall be welcome, and those who we blacklist shall be hunted relentlessly.”
Others, however, view this as an opportunity. They like their Vanilla WoW experience spicy, and in streamers, they see high potential for PVP, chaos, and drama.
“Sooo many extra events, sooo much more PVP and Drama,” wrote one player on the official WoW Classic forums who pledged to “terrorize the Streamers and their goons.”
The player drew a distinction between WoW Classic and the current expansion Battle For Azeroth, in which PVP-centric stats and abilities function completely differently than they did in WoW’s early days. “”The streamers will not be invincible,” they wrote. “A group of 20-30 highly skilled and coordinated PVPers that are decked out in PVP/PVE gear can easily wipe out a streamer and their 80+back peddling headless chicken goons.”
Even some players who don’t write like super villains think the inevitable streamer influx doesn’t have to be a bad thing. One, who said they personally will “cut their losses and re-roll” if they ever end up on a server with a popular streamer, is still choosing to view things through an optimistic lens.
“My best memories of WoW were in 2006 when there was a huge influx of new players,” they wrote in a post on the WoW Classic forums. “It was fun watching new players experience everything for the first time. It reminded me of my first time leveling to 60. A few months later, we were all noobs in a new raid. If these streamers are hyping this game and bringing in new players, maybe we can see this as a positive and something that will enhance our experience.”
Blizzard has canceled a StarCraft first-person shooter that had been in development for the past two years, according to three people familiar with goings-on at the studio. The main reason, Blizzard told staff, was to put more resources into the Diablo and Overwatch franchises.
The project, which was code-named Ares, was described to me as “like Battlefield in the StarCraft universe” by one of those people, all of whom spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to talk about the project. The team had built prototypes in which the player, as a Terran marine, could gun down Zerg aliens, and there were plans to experiment with playable Zerg as well. Although one person who saw builds of the game last year told me that it seemed like development progress was slow, a second said it came as “a massive shock” when Blizzard canceled it a couple of weeks ago. A third person said it was “looking quite good.”
When asked for comment, Blizzard sent over a lengthy (and non-specific) statement, which you can read in full at the bottom of this post. “We always make decisions about these things, regardless of the ultimate outcome or how things might be interpreted, based on our values, what we believe makes sense for Blizzard, and what we hope our players will enjoy the most,” the company said.
Nobody was laid off as a result of the cancelation, and according to two staff, Blizzard told the team that Ares was getting axed (alongside a second unannounced mobile project) so that the company could move many of them to the upcoming Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2, both of which are expected to be Blizzard’s marquee announcements at this year’s BlizzCon. (Of course, as we saw last year, when it comes to BlizzCon announcements, anything can change.)
Ares first entered development in 2017 as an experiment to see what the team could do with StarCraft on the Overwatch engine. An engine is a suite of tools and reusable code that developers use to make games, and Blizzard has been hoping to move as many games as possible on the same technology in order to make their infamously slow game productions more efficient. (That plan revolves around the new shared engine that’s being adopted by multiple Blizzard projects.) Heading up Ares was the veteran Blizzard director Dustin Browder, who formerly led Heroes of the Storm and StarCraft II, and it was planned to be the next game in the StarCraft universe.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Blizzard has canceled a StarCraft shooter. The infamous StarCraft: Ghost, a third-person shooter-stealth game that would star the Terran Ghost Nova, went through several developer changes and public delays after its 2002 announcement before it was finally axed in 2006.
Here’s Blizzard’s full statement:
We don’t generally comment on unannounced projects but we will say the following:
We always have people working on different ideas behind the scenes – including on multiple projects right now – but the reason we tend not to discuss them publicly is because anything can happen over the course of development. As has been the case at Blizzard numerous times in the past, there is always the possibility that we’ll make the decision to not move forward on a given project. Announcing something before we feel it’s ready stands the risk of creating a lot of frustration and disappointment, both for our players and us, not to mention distraction and added pressure for our development teams.
We pour our hearts and souls into this work, and as players ourselves, we know how exciting it can be to see and know with certainty that a new project is coming. Knowing that changes or disappointments can happen doesn’t make it any less painful when we have to shelve a project or when an announcement doesn’t go as planned. We always make decisions about these things, regardless of the ultimate outcome or how things might be interpreted, based on our values, what we believe makes sense for Blizzard, and what we hope our players will enjoy the most. The work that goes into these projects – whether they ship or not – is extraordinarily valuable. It often leads to great things and helps foster a culture of experimentation here.
With all that said, we’re very much looking forward to revealing other things we’re working on when the time is right.