After being teased by Blizzard in a detailed blog post earlier this week, Overwatch is headed to the moon. Horizon Lunar Colony, the new Assault map, is the first in-game location to take players to the Moon (while many players are stuck wondering how we even got there).
Available now on the public test realm, Horizon focuses on telling part of Overwatch’s greater story while adding a new dynamic to the current map rotation, complete with a series of great flanking routes and narrow passageways requiring team coordination to successfully push or hold. There’s even an excellent zero gravity section on the map, although it doesn’t help Horizon Lunar Colony feel as significant of an addition as Overwatch’s two previously released maps: Eichenwalde and Oasis.
In the Overwatch universe, Horizon Lunar Colony was part of humanity’s renewed focus on space exploration. Constructed by Lucheng Interstellar — a Chinese company with offices in another in-game map called Lijiang Tower — the moon base served as home to a group of scientists and genetically enhanced gorillas that were intended to test the effects of prolonged habitation in space. Unfortunately, the experiments came to an end when the gorillas staged a massive uprising, killing all the science staff and claiming the entire base for their own — which forced Winston, one of Overwatch’s key heroes, to flee to Earth where he became a member of the Overwatch team.
Now, Horizon Lunar Colony has been long abandoned following the initial communication loss with the staff running it, and the heroes of Overwatch are returning to battle for control while searching for clues as to where the previous inhabitants may have gone. There are a ton of secrets and lore references hidden throughout the map worth digging for, so be sure to spend a little time on the PTR doing so with your friends.
As an Assault map, Horizon only has a single set of two objectives you’ll be working to defend or capture during Quick and Competitive Play. Like King’s Row and Hollywood from the base game, Horizon’s objectives locations are relatively open areas compared to the rest of the map, which requires your team to push forward as a cohesive unit and combine ultimate abilities to gain control of the point.
What’s more interesting about Horizon, however, is just how many ways you can push into each of the two objectives provided you have the proper team composition.
Take the first objective of the map for example, which sits on a relatively enclosed area with three major openings. The entry point on the left allows defenders to head into the objective from their spawn, while the other two encourage the attacking team to either loop around on the right (through zero gravity) or push directly onto the objective with a series of catwalks circling an open lobby area.
What I loved about this design initially was how it could be approached from dozens of different angles using varying hero combinations. I found teams like Pharah and D.Va to be effective due to the open areas they can use to abuse enemy defenses with. But it was great to see that a direct push across the lobby with Ana and Roadhog was just as viable nonetheless.
Despite having three separate openings for the attacking team to push through, the second objective of Horizon is a little more chaotic and frustrating when you’re fighting against a solid team of defenders. Since the point is completely open with plenty of cover surrounding it, a Bastion or Torbjörn can easily shut down an attacking team’s push provided they can’t lock them down using a hero like Ana.
During my time with Horizon on the PTR, the second objective was always a one-sided battle where the attacking team would plow through before the defending team could setup or the defending team would be able to counter every single push from the attacking team until time ran out. Naturally this will change with time as players figure out new routes and hero combinations to move through, however it feels a little strange right now considering I’ve yet to see an even matchup on the second objective after two dozen games.
The map fits in with the current rotation quite well, with a distinctly different series of angles to attack each objective from using a dozen hero combinations compared to Overwatch’s current map selection. But it will be interesting to see if Blizzard addresses the easily defensible second objective point, provided players don’t find creative ways to push through.
Either way, we’re just happy to have a new map to play on, especially given the zero gravity bit that’s all too fun when playing as Lúcio.