Blizzard has announced that the closed beta for its first-ever FPS, Overwatch, will launch later this month on October 27, a few days before this year’s BlizzCon. Blizzard has yet to reveal the exact size or duration of the beta, although it did say it will be small to start.
"I think the Overwatch beta is what I would call a little more of an old school traditional beta. The goal is not to get as many people in as possible. It's not a promotional event,” said game director Jeff Kaplan.
He added that even though it will be a closed beta, Blizzard will be having “a couple of big stress test weekends” in order to test the servers. Anyone who misses out on the closed beta may still get the chance to try Overwatch throughout these weekends.
Blizzard says it plans to use the beta to examine the shooter’s gameplay, heroes and environments. Making sure all the characters are balanced will likely be one of the highest priorities for the company. The beta will have a limited number of modes, heroes and maps, but should give players a good indication of how the finished game will turn out. Kaplan did say, however, that Blizzard could make huge changes to the game if it feels it is necessary. "Anyone who's followed our betas knows we're willing to add big systems [….] We will do drastic changes for a game if we feel like the game is not going the direction we want it to go.”
The beta will also include a spectator mode, built-in voice chat and private lobbies; not surprising, as Blizzard is pushing Overwatch as potentially the next big thing in eSports. "We're building out our eSport plan right now. Right now what we want to communicate to everyone is that it's super important to us. We think the game is going to lend itself well to eSports, both to play, and to watch,” said Kaplan.
The Overwatch beta will initially only be available in the US before expanding to other regions. Expect more information about the game to be released during Blizzcon 2015.