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Jeff Kaplan would love to make an Overwatch battle royale mode

By 2020, the world will be full of people hunting each other and occasionally hiding in bushes as battle royales spill out into the streets. They're already on our phones. So of course everyone wants a slice of the pie that's currently dominated by PUBG and Fortnite. Including Blizzard. Overwatch has already experimented with several different modes, from PvE horde romps to small duels, but a battle royale mode would be a considerably greater challenge. 

“A lot of times when I hear some of our fans pitch it, they’re like ‘Oh, just put a card in the Arcade one day that’s a battle royale mode,’ and I’m like ‘Fuck, that would be awesome,’” Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan told Kotaku. “But there’s a lot of design and tech work to get us to that place and not just feel like a me-too game.”

The main issues Kaplan and his team have identified are the heroes and map sizes. Overwatch’s characters are designed to work in a team, with several heroes designed specifically to support their pals. It means that some characters wouldn’t be viable in a traditional last man standing scrap, while others would have a significant advantage. 

Maps are a problem because, unlike Fortnite or PUBG’s battlefields, they’re small and they’re not open. “Our primary engagement distance is usually around 15 to 40 meters,” Kaplan explained. “The Hanamura dojo point B is 45 meters across. I don’t think people realize how tiny it is. Part of what makes Fortnite and PUBG so awesome is that you can have these really long engagement distances.”

It’s still something Kaplan sounds eager to explore, but the changes required to make it work mean that you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for it to appear. “Building those systems and getting that many players—I think battle royale for Overwatch starts to get into new game territory.”

Fraser Brown

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long. He thinks labradoodles are the best dogs but doesn't get to write about them much.