Overwatch 2 devs reveal the "Swiss cheese" inspiration behind the Esperança map

It feels just like home.

Street with colorful buildings in Esperança Portugal
Activision Blizzard

Esperança means “hope” in Portuguese — or, at least it does for someone in Blizzard’s hero shooter series Overwatch. It’s also the name of a brand-new map coming to Overwatch 2 with its launch on October 4. The Esperança map mindfully balances competitive design elements with an authentic Portuguese experience. Developers announced many changes ahead of the game’s upcoming launch like the new Battle Pass and new Support hero, Kiriko. The fictional Portuguese city is just the latest addition to the game’s growing world. Here’s what Overwatch 2 developers had to say about the map’s ideations and how it helps to further establish the series as a “globe-trotting adventure” and the considerations they tackled during the project.

The lead environment artist even used his own vacation photos as inspiration for Esperança, Portugal.

Activision Blizzard

During a recent press preview for Overwatch 2, Art Director Dion Rogers explained that the team’s lead environment artist is from Portugal, so it lends a robust air of authenticity to the design — especially when they used the artist’s own vacation photos as references for certain parts of the map.

A number of Portuguese dev team members also helped to define “what’s great about the culture” so they could pinpoint “the right things to build architecture-wise.” As is the case with most maps in the game, Rogers says they purposefully explore within the dev team to draw real-life inspiration from the cultures represented.

“We always want Overwatch to feel like this globe-trotting adventure that goes to somewhat unexpected places,” Rogers said. “We’ve found some of our best maps come from when we have a person from the team that’s actually from the location. It feels like we capture the immersion a little bit better than when we don’t have a person from the area.”

The Overwatch team even sent a sound team to Portugal to capture ambient noise. Along the way, they also captured various visual references including architecture, weather patterns, and even food.

“I was surprised when I heard the Portuguese language from one of the rooms,” said Hero Designer Piero Herrera, who is Brazilian. “Even though I’m not from Portugal, it just made me feel that integration with the environment just because of the language.”

Esperança may look like a picturesque vacation spot with its bright blues and whites and various mosaic patterns — but it’s also a battlefield.

Esperança is one of several new maps that helps introduce the “Push” game mode, along with New Queen Street (Toronto) and Colosseo (Rome). Push is a sort of double-sided variation of the classic Escort game mode. In Escort, one attacking team must deliver a payload to the defending team’s base, and in Competitive game modes, attack and defense swap in the second round — whoever accomplishes their goal fastest wins.

In Push, however, both teams fight for control of a robot that literally pushes a payload back and forth across the map’s central passageways. Rogers notes that Esperança has a “neat gradual incline” with plenty of opportunities for “flanking and sniper action.”

The Overwatch team prioritizes balance with its designs. Starting points are similar to Control maps where neither teams have a firm advantage over the other given the distance from the robot. He also emphasizes the need for multiple avenues to return to the robot.

“The map is a little bit more ‘Swiss cheese-like,’” says Rogers. “You have to have a lot of openings for players to return to the robot as quickly as possible.”

In the original tests where there were fewer openings, the team found players died more easily because they needed to run on open ground for 30 seconds to reach the robot. Snipers could have a

“We needed to come up with a way to design the map that there are lots of ways to return to the robot,” says Rogers. “There are shortcuts and flank routes, but it feels fair. There’s a lot of cover and ways for players to mitigate any overly flanking heroes.”

The Overwatch development team purposefully designed Esperança as a cultural marvel and a fair fight. Whether or not it’s a paradise for you depends on if you master the new Push mode.

Overwatch 2 launches on October 4 for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch.

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