Typically, the casual Overwatch community loves Lucio Ball and the competitive Overwatch community hates 2CP maps. Everyone should be happy then that Blizzard appears to be experimenting with both.
According to Overwatch’s PTR, all known Lucio Ball maps have now had “Classic” tacked onto the end of their names while, on the PTR and live client, a new “Assault Test” mode has been added to the mode types alongside the standard “Assault.” This suggests that new, modernized Lucioball maps are coming and that Assault, or 2CP as it’s more popularly known, could be receiving more public experimentation.
On the PTR, the “Sydney Harbour Arena” and “Busan Stadium” Lucio Ball maps have been renamed “Sydney Harbour Arena Classic” and “Busan Stadium Classic.” With Overwatch’s Summer Games event likely to make its return sometime toward the end of July or early August, new maps for the seasonal mode were anticipated — but the addition of “classic” suggests that new map design elements could be getting incorporated, possibly befitting a new mode.
Rocket League, the evident inspiration behind Lucio Ball, doesn’t tweak its competitive maps very much. Aside from jump pads and speed ramps, the biggest differentiation among maps is found in the custom ones created by its playerbase. With Overwatch’s latest PTR adjustments seeming to open things up for workshop creativity, it’s possible that Blizzard is getting a little adventurous with Lucio Ball’s maps as they give tools to the game’s community to do the same.
Looks like the "Assault Test" is on the live client too ? pic.twitter.com/aiZ4DLvwYC
— Andy Bohan #Underdogs ?? (@andygmb1) July 19, 2020
Speaking of creativity, Blizzard has grappled with its 2CP maps for as long as the game has existed. At the moment, Horizon Lunar Colony and Paris are both removed from play and relegated to internal testing as developers continue to iterate upon them for a more balanced playing experience.
With the addition of “Assault Test” to the game files, one has to wonder if Blizzard is going to be bringing move some of those internal adjustments into the public realm for testing or if they’re going to be opening up workshop options for 2CP tweaks.
In the past, 2CP has featured physical adjustments (e.g. changes to Horizon’s attacking access lanes on both points) as well as respawn timing changes (e.g. increases to defensive spawn times). While those may have helped, they weren’t substantial enough to fix the community’s concerns with the mode’s balance — particularly on certain maps.
Rocket League obviously benefits from the bizarre experimentation its players can bring to the game with nutty map mods and there’s no reason that Overwatch can’t similarly benefit from offering its players some of the keys to the kingdom.
Warcraft III’s mods spawned DotA and impacted the esports landscape forever. Blizzard should be no stranger to how fan engagement benefits game design. That’s especially evidenced by Jeff Kaplan’s career arc, as he only began working for Blizzard after his map and quest design suggestions in an Everquest forum were recognized by fellow guild members who were employees of the budding gaming company.
These latest additions to Overwatch’s game files are incredibly nebulous, but should hopefully indicate that the game’s developers are continuing to experiment with the title and finally opening it up to more community involvement.