After its announcement back in 2019 at BlizzCon, Overwatch 2 experienced long periods of relative silence, leading the community to wonder what's going on with the upcoming shooter. Thankfully, a recent developer livestream update finally gave fans loads of new information about the game from game modes, gameplay changes, new maps, and more. In fact, one reveal also featured a pretty subtle nod to the game's former director.
Last month in a surprising announcement, Overwatch 2 director Jeff Kaplan revealed he was leaving Blizzard after nearly 20 years and a significant impact on iconic games like the previously mentioned Overwatch titles and World of Warcraft. Papa Jeff as he was known to fans, was a major part of the community, regularly providing updates through videos, interacting in the game's forums, and generally being the public face of the game. With such a major impact on the game since it launched, the studio is immortalizing his legacy inside of the New York map.
During the livestream, the team revealed a preview trailer of the New York map featuring slow pans across many of the landmarks there. At one point, the camera pans through a subway car, passing by a coffee cup with the name "Jeph" clearly written on the side of it. At another point, a pizza shop is shown with the name "Jephs Corner Pizza" written on the sign.
While this may seem innocuous, the term Jeph is actually a reference to a Tweet posted by former lead feature designer Jeremy Craig back in 2018. After a Starbucks opened on the Blizzard campus in Irvine, Craig posted a picture of Jeff Kaplan holding a coffee cup with his name incorrectly spelled by the employee as Jeph.
The other reason why this hilarious spelling mistake is used throughout the New York map is likely as another tribute to Kaplan. Originally, Kaplan obtained his Master's Degree from New York University, so the state has a lot of meaning for the former Overwatch 2 director. Fans have also started to theorized that these may not be the only tributes to the popular face of the franchise.
In addition to New York, the developer livestream also revealed a new map set in Rome featuring massive sightlines and vistas. Blizzard also touched on numerous gameplay changes recently, taking the team size down to 5v5 instead of the previously announced 6v6. The change was made to make it easier for players and viewers to understand what's going on while changing the role of the tank to help make them more aggressive. Alongside this gameplay change, Blizzard showed off the new game mode called Push, which involves escorting an NPC robot as it pushes a barrier as far as possible.
Overwatch 2 is shaping up to be an interesting project, as the game’s status as a hybrid sequel is interesting. While owners of the original Overwatch will be getting access to all the new maps and modes that are coming with the sequel, there are still some major changes that will be exclusive to the follow-up. While more will surely come, Blizzard has already revealed some of the biggest changes that will be made.
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