Overwatch 2 Level Designer explains why map pools are “needed” each new season
The Overwatch 2 developers have explained why seasonal map pools exist and what players can expect from returning maps down the road.
Map pools have returned to Overwatch in OW2 giving players a set number of available locations to queue into when they select Quick Play or Competitive, but not everyone has been a fan.
For players looking for more variety in a season, map pools make it so that some fan-favorite maps are rotated out and replaced with others, but it turns out that the devs have a good reason for this.
During a developer Q&A with OWL host Soe Gschwind, Lead Level Designer Ryan Smith was asked about map pools and why the team believes they’re “wanted or needed” each season.
Overwatch 2 developer reveals why map pools exist
According to the level designer, there are three main points for why the team decided to implement map pools at the launch of Overwatch 2.
When Overwatch 2 released, there were some maps that were removed completely and six that were brand new.
“The total map count was 18. So players had a one in three chance of playing a new map, which is a great way to expose players to new content at a higher rate without having to worry about map fatigue from the OW1 maps,” he explained.
Now, with Season 2 launching alongside the latest Shambali escort map, the ratio of new content is a bit higher and it’s getting to a point where almost half of the maps will be exclusive to the sequel.
The next reason is due to “seasonal identity” and making each feel unique. Smith said that having a seasonal map pool adds an additional layer that can contribute to that identity.
“When you jump in and get to play a map that’s gone for two months, that should be part of the excitement,” he added. “Especially if it has some updates.”
Overwatch 2 devs tease major updates to old maps
The developer went on to touch on updates to existing maps when they return to rotation with the goal being for each map to have at least one change.
“On the smaller side we’ve got time of day or lighting changes,” he said, referencing the rainy Blizzard World.
“And then we’ve got cover updates. We’re going to be moving some existing cover around and adding new cover where we feel it’s needed in the maps that are out of the pool,” he said.
While he noted that some of these updates are for Overwatch 2’s transition to 5v5, others are to keep the layouts feeling fresh.
A much larger update, however, could include some new paths and adjustments to existing areas and used Eichenwalde’s first point as an example. However, don’t expect these large changes to every map.
“We’re trying to be really careful about what we decide to update,” the dev added, stating how a lot of the maps are already very balanced.
It’s going to be interesting to see if map pools remain a part of the game in the months and years ahead, but at least we now have some understanding about why Blizzard decided to make them a thing for the start OW2.