Overwatch Retribution is the exciting new PvE event for Blizzard's ever-popular FPS, Overwatch, in anticipation of this new mode interviewing assistant director Aaron Keller and Principal Software Engineer Adrian Finol, during which we discussed the influences of Left 4 Dead, the design features of the new Rialto Map, why it was so many support heroes added to the game, and why they've decided to discard Hanzo's Scatter Arrow ability
Want to know what Jeff Kaplan has to say? Watch our second Overwatch Retribution Q & A.
PCGN: What did you learn from the uprising and which ones? Did you make any progress on Retribution?
Adrian Finol: We wanted to look for ways to repeat the game and we felt that d u, when you played ten times the uprising that you were done with, saw everything it has to offer. For Retribution, we took that to heart and we wanted you to be able to play as long as you want. I hope you play it until the end of the event. We think we have made good progress there.
We've changed how the stories evolve and how they are delivered to you. There are no more points to stop and wait for the story to unfold. Everything is told through dialogue as you walk through the streets of Venice. We also wanted to add more key moments that our special units bring with them. The specials are a really good opportunity for players to quit and deal with the situation. Rebellion was a sound: they go from the hack point to the hack point. We wanted to change how that is displayed.
Aaron Keller: We've done a lot of things to the units to make them respond to the Heroes, too, the Genji Reflect is a great example many of the heroes – not just in story mode, but in the rest of the Overwatch rosters – have a lot of special code that the AI uses to react to all of their abilities – at the end of the day We just want players to feel powerful. It's exciting because I usually play support and tanks in Overwatch, but this event is mostly DPS heroes, so I played a lot of McCree in it. I feel like I'm getting better at these heroes, so I can go home now and play McCree in an outspoken deathmatch. I did not win, but I'll place the top four because of all the practice I'm getting.
Was Left 4 Dead an Influence on the Special Forces of Retribution?
Adrian Finol: Left 4 Dead is of course a great inspiration. It's a four player PvE game and we've learned a lot from this game. The assassin plays very sneaky, she is slippery. It makes you think about how she squints on the walls and tries to pin someone down. So it really forces players to work together to solve this problem. Think about it like puzzle pieces. When an assassin spawns, you need to figure out how to solve it. Similar to Heavy: When the heavy attack breaks out, you're like, "Oh boy, we thought we were safe and now we have to deal with this massive wall". So they all serve the purpose of puzzle pieces in this massive encounter.
Aaron Keller: It's really cool because the players are always trying to figure out how to handle one of the specials, but when you hit two at the same time, you get a different kind of crazy dynamic.
Adrian Finol: It also helps our designers to make encounters. The more specials we have, the more pieces we have to play and the more combinations we can make.
I think it's also something Broug of toxicity, where people [were upset] and feeling like, "Oh, I have to to play support". We had no options for them [within the support role] and I think that was something we had to work on. I think the support role is much better now because we did it.
The defensive role has few heroes. Does it need some extra attention?
Aaron Keller: It gets a bit difficult because some of our defenders play very well. You look at a character like Junkrat, who is under the defensive, but he plays on both sides just as often. So it gets very difficult when we talk about the role of the defensive and if it has enough heroes or not. It's not so black and white, and you have to put these two offensive and defensive heroes together.
Would you remove role labels from heroes?
Adrian Finol: [laughs] That would be amazing! 19659007] Aaron Keller: There is always a possibility for something like that. We will always want some kind of categorization of heroes, even if it's just easier to find them in the lineup. But there is a possibility that something like this could happen.
What does the future look like for Brigitte?
Aaron Keller: I did not look at the statistics for her in a short time, so I can not say exactly if we think she's overwhelmed or under-hunted at this point. I think we got a lot of positive feedback from Brigitte, from very low players to GM and even Overwatch League players. Everyone sees a lot of potential in the character and I think we have a lot of reactions where they feel like they are a very well-designed character.
It's interesting, because we've seen from the Overwatch League teams that some of them say they really want to play them and get into the lineup, and some of them say they will not lead them at all, what a kind of perfect place to have heroes. At the top level of the game, depending on the style of play of each group, they are viable, and then at the lowest level of the game, they are also viable. I think we are really happy with what she is now, but we have to keep an eye on her and see if we need to change anything.
Adrian Finol: We have to be careful that we are too reactionary. We like to watch how things calm down. As we have shown in the past, we are ready to change heroes to improve the game, but we are not always right and we will go back and change things. So we wait and look at her.