Blizzard Starts Round 2 Of 'Overwatch' Closed Beta

Blizzard’s team-based shooter Overwatch is still in development, but a small handful of players are involved in the game’s closed beta sessions. With the game set for launch sometime in this spring, the developers started the second wave of closed beta tests today.

New Modes And Maps

The start of “Round 2,” as the developers called it, also included a new patch for the game. Among the included items are two additional game modes. Control pits two teams against each other as they try to take over a certain area on the map. After each win, the map changes, as well as the location of the objective area. The first team to take over two areas wins the match.

For the beta, Control will be played on two new maps. Lijang Tower is a large corporate building in the middle of a Chinese city and is home to Lucheng Interstellar, a space industry company. The other map, called Nepal, is full of “omnic robots” that retreated to a monastery in the isolated area to search for enlightenment. These robots are led by their spiritual leader, Tekharta Mondatta.

Even though Overwatch is deeply rooted in online multiplayer, there are some that prefer to test their skills first against AI opponents. The developer offered a new mode, Play vs. AI, to meet the demands of those players. Instead of two teams of six players (like a normal Overwatch match), the mode will feature six human players against six AI enemies.

Progression

As you continue to participate in matches throughout the game, there needs to be a sense that you’re continuously advancing towards a certain goal. To that end, the developers revealed a new progression system to keep players focused on certain goals.

As you play Quick Match and Play vs. AI matches, you gain experience points, and with enough points, your account gains a level. With each new level, you receive a Loot Box that contains four randomized items, including cosmetic add-ons, such as skins, emotes, victory poses, voice lines and even special introductions for each character. You can also receive credits, the new in-game currency, to unlock the same cosmetic items if you didn’t receive them in a Loot Box.

For now, you can earn Loot Boxes only by reaching a new level on your account, but Blizzard plans to allow purchase of the boxes with real-world money. However, the developers didn’t say when the feature would go into effect.

The important thing to note is that the contents of the Loot Boxes don’t give a certain character a boost in performance during gameplay. The prizes included are only cosmetic and are meant to give each character a unique look to make it stand out from the crowd.

Test, Test, Test

For now, the goal for the developers is to make final tweaks to the game and check on feedback from its beta testers. The duration of the beta sessions was unspecified, but current players will get an advanced notice when the beta nears its end.

Back in November, Blizzard opened the door slightly on its closed beta and invited a few more players to try out the game for a Beta Test Weekend. However, the developers are not sure if another Beta Test Weekend is necessary for this session. If you want to have a chance at participating in the latest Overwatch beta, you can update your Preferences page on your Battle.net account and select Overwatch under the “Beta Tests I’m Interested In” tab.

Follow Rexly Peñaflorida II @Heirdeux. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

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