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BlizzCon 2017: See Overwatch Evolve From Playdough To Polished

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Take a peek behind the curtain and see how Overwatch and it’s heroes and maps evolved from the drawing board to what you see today.

During a panel at BlizzCon 2017, game director Jeff Kaplan gave players a very in-depth, intimate peek behind the curtain at what the earliest stages of Overwatch looked like and some of the processes that the team had to go through for us to be able to experience the masterpiece that we play today. Although we know a game has to be made, and sometimes that process can be long and gruelling at times, but still hard to fully appreciate the time, effort and labor of love that goes into making a title like Overwatch.

Not only was it a true look inside of Overwatch, but also a look at an Overwatch that could have been. The video features some super neat concept art as well as ideas for maps and heroes that could have been. It is quite fun to see how many of the characters we know and love from the game changed from when they were initially pitched, and even cooler to see how some of the heroes we know today were inspired by early concepts that were scrapped altogether.

Check out the 13-minute video below, and keep reading for screencaps and information from the developers:

The video begins by showing the very first time anything was rendered in the Overwatch engine and runs all the way up to when the unfinished game was first showed off at BlizzCon 2014, with a total of 12 playable heroes. In the first playtest, the devs explain that they “were unable to put guns into Tracer’s hands so she had to shoot laser beams out of her eyes to simulate shooting”. We then got a look at a very naked Temple of Anubis with Pharah in her earliest stages. From 5:30 we get to see the early versions of some abilities, such as Hanzo’s ult which was referred to as “the caterpillar”, which began as a few awkward looking spheres complete with googly eyes.

One of the most interesting aspects of looking at the early concepts is how much the heroes have changed, along with their abilities. An early version of Mercy’s ult allowed her to heal 3 people at once, which – as the devs note – has come full circle with her recent rework. Likewise, some of the early ideas found their way into the game through new heroes, such as Doomfist’s second ability in the form of an early version of Winston’s jump.

Many of the first heroes that were pitched with the idea of the title were scrapped altogether, but some are still very recognizable, as you can see below:

Next, let’s take a look at some screencaps from the video, highlighting our favorite parts of early gameplay. Tracer’s “mickey mouse hands” and Pharah’s playdough rocket launcher, along with the painfully unfinished maps are fun to see, primarily because it’s hard to imagine a time when Overwatch wasn’t the colorful and vibrant game that we are familiar with.

What is your favorite part of seeing early concepts of your favorite games? Which early Overwatch hero would you like to see make it into the game?