Overwatch's roster is about to grow by one with the addition of new support character Moira. Blizzard first unveiled her during the BlizzCon Opening Ceremony on Friday morning, but it didn't take long for attendees to run over to playable Overwatch stations and get their hands on her. Shacknews wasn't about to waste this opportunity, so we also went hands-on with Overwatch's newest villain.
And what better place to try Moira out than at the happiest place in video games? Blizzard World was fully playable on the show floor and there's one way to describe this latest Overwatch map: fan service and lots of it. It also bears a close resemblance to a certain other major theme park that's across the street from BlizzCon's Anaheim Convention Center location.
Every inch of the new map is an homage to the publisher's current library of games. The bulk of the map is comprised of a castle straight out of World of Warcraft. The offense's spawn point is placed inside the Hearthstone Tavern. The defense's spawn point is inside an arcade dedicated to Heroes of the Storm.
What's funny is that hardcore Disneyphiles will see the similarities between Blizzard World and Disneyland, in terms of layout. The locations of major landmarks, like the castle, the space-themed roller coaster (StarCraft II, in this case), the Pylon Terrace eatery, and a few other ride locations are all mostly the same across both parks. Everyone else will get a kick out of the cheeky references scattered throughout the stage, such as a sign for the "Grommash Hell-Scream" roller coaster.
As a payload map, the capture point is located past the gates of Stormwind. Most of my time with the map was spent fighting around the Hearthstone Tavern spawn point, where the path splits two ways and converges again around the back. Most of the fighting in the early minutes was spent around the chokepoint along the castle gates, however there's a secondary path around the Lost (and Found) Vikings section. While my team was on defense, one opposing player took this path that none of us knew about at the time and was able to pull off a backdoor capture.
The actual payload escort portion of the session is where most of the sightseeing was done. It was where I was able to marvel at the StarCraft section, as most of the fighting was done along the circular path around the Pylon Terrace. Given that most everyone in this session was trying Moira out, there wasn't much chance to try out the elevated platforms or the flanking routes. The Diablo area is where the payload race culminates. It's filled with high ground platforms and death pits, all of which feel appropriate for Leoric's domain.
Moving onto Moira herself, her role as a healer leaves her with some interesting layouts. Her Biotic Grasp primary fire has her heal her allies, but players won't be able to spam this ability. It lasts only as long as she has biotic energy. She can refill her biotic energy meter by using the Biotic Grasp alt-fire, which is the main way she causes damage and harms her foes. Yes, it took some adjustment to realize that alt-fire is for damaging foes, but once that adjustment was made, Moira felt a lot smoother for me.
Her Biotic Orb ability makes her feel closer to Zenyatta, in that she tosses out a slow-moving orb that can either heal allies or cause gradual damage, depending on which button she tosses it out with. Biotic Orb is a handy damage-dealing attack in smaller spaces, while also providing support for teammates escorting a payload or trying to capture a point. It does move very slow, so players will want to account for this.
Moira's Fade ability is a cool wraith-like maneuver that allows her to phase into intangibility and avoid damage for a few seconds. It also teleports her across short distances, similar to Tracer. Fade also offers up a speed boost, so it'll be Moira's main source of transportation after respawning.
The Coalescence ability is a strong Ultimate ability, one that's able to discriminate between friend and foe. Moira shoots out a massive beam that can heal allies and cause heavy damage on enemies. What's handy about it is that it can bypass certain barriers, so hiding doesn't do the enemy much good. I was able to score multiple kill streaks with this attack and it has the potential to be wildly overpowered on the right player.
In the right hands, Moira is going to be devastating as both a healer and as offensive support. Let's see how the Overwatch community adjusts to her addition, as Moira and Blizzard World are set to hit Overwatch soon. Look for both to hit the Public Test Realm in the coming weeks.