Blizzard has given Overwatch fans a chance to become game designers, and they’ve wasted little time taking up the opportunity. On April 24, the video game developer announced the introduction of Workshop, a in-game tool that lets players tweak game code to customize their own game modes.
Geoff Goodman, the Lead Hero Designer for Overwatch, described it as a “a custom layer of interface and a custom scripting system on top of the one that we use to make the game,” during its announcement video. The tool will be available on console and PC versions of the game in a few weeks and is now being beta tested on Blizzard’s Public Test Region (PTR) servers only available on PC.
Early users have already began crafting unique mini games that have never been available on Overwatch before. Aspiring game-developer Mr. Blake, who goes by /u/Telefrag_Ent on Reddit created Volleybomb where a two team of players have to keep an explosive ball from touching their side of the court.
He tells Inverse that the project took roughly eight to ten hours and that the Workshop menus could stand to be made simpler for less coding-savvy users. But he’s ecstatic about the potential it holds for Overwatch in the future.
“I love the idea of making mods. I grew up making Quake mods with my brother, maps for Doom and Duke Nukem 3D,” said Mr. Blake. “Anything that lowers the bar for entry into making [and] modding games is a win to me, and the community as a whole. With Workshop being less than a week old, we’re not even scratching the surface of what we’ll be playing in Overwatch in the coming months.”
The Overwatch subreddit has already seen early signs of incredibly creative ways to use Workshop. Star Wars and Legend of Zelda fans have figured out ways to make homages to their favorite titles. Meanwhile, retro gaming fans have recreated classic mini games inside the first-person shooter.
Here are five early examples of how Overwatch could become a hub for unique, user-generated content. Punch in the five-character codes listed next to ever example to try these custom games yourself.
1. Star Wars-Like Dogfighting Game (W2ZMG)
Workshop does let users import any original art or 3D models, so users have to make do with the maps and characters that are already in the game. A player named Excors repurposed an Overwatch stage, typically reserved for king-of-the-hill games, to be the setting for a spaceship dogfight akin to the space battles seen in Star Wars video games.
All of the players start as D.Va — a character that pilots a suit of flying mechanical armor — and flies around trying to take their opponents in a free-for-all setting. The last one standing wins.
2. Navi From The Legend of Zelda Comes to Overwatch (6WXRW)
Aside from new game modes, the Workshop is rife with opportunity for content creators to tell stories using the game as a medium. Redditors /u/andygmb and /u/Lymbow created an Overwatch and Legend of Zelda crossover by recreating Navi — a fairy that’s a reoccurring protagonist in the Nintendo games.
Instead of creating a game mode, the duo create a small video scene where Navi warns Tracer — Overwatch’s most iconic character — about danger lurking ahead. She quickly learns that not heeding the fairy’s warning was a bad decision.
YouTubers could use Workshop to create comedy bits, series, and short films. Content creators use games like Garry’s Mod, VRChat, and Minecraft as an alternative to animating their own characters. Workshop will now let gamers do the same on Overwatch.
3. Pong (FHQZ4)
Fans of the retro game Pong couldn’t help but make an ode to one of the earliest video games ever in one of the world’s most popular video games today. Redditor /u/AJ_Black posted a video of how they reimagined the tennis game in the Oasis stage in the game.
All of the players start off as the hero Brigitte, who has a small shield at her disposal. Instead of using her barrier to stop incoming bullets, gamers use it to bounce a ball back to the opposing Brigitte at the other end of the court.
4. Hamsterball Racing (D9RND)
Overwatch is typically played as a race against the clock to see which six-player team can take control of an area fastest. But Redditor /u/qwook made this much more literal and created their own hamster ball speed course.
One of Overwatch’s newest heroes, Wrecking Ball, is an adorable hamster that drives a destructive robotic hamster ball. Players can latch on to building and rocks in the environment to swing Wrecking Ball around at high velocities to either knock opponents back or catch them off guard.
In this Workshop mini-game, Wrecking Ball players can put their swinging prowess to the test by trying to traverse the entirety of the El Dorado as fast as possible.
5. Slot Machine (179QN)
Finally, Redditor /u/Cowboy_Jimmy made a slot machine game by using a few simple lighting effects. As a first try the game functions fine, but its creator explained that this early version of Workshop limited how detailed he wanted to make it.
“I wanted to put this in a bigger game, but right now the Workshop has a lot of limitations and bugs so the whole thing is pretty pointless,” they said. “It’s just for fun.”
This is only the beginning of what could be a powerful creative tool for Overwatch fans. Blizzard also introduces various mini-games they made themselves throughout the year. The company could use Workshop to host a contest, where the winner or winners can have their game featured in the “Arcade” menu of the game.
Overwatch already has a deep-rooted fandom because of the Overwatch League esports organization. Workshop could be a way for casual gamers to pick up the game.