With the new Anniversary Event, the Blizzard Press Center has rolled out a new gallery showcasing the new skins and sprays. While most were cinematically styled on existing maps, one stuck out from the rest. The Submarine Wrecking Ball was shown in an underwater setting. With so much effort going into the creation of Overwatch 2, the developers are likely not creating new assets just for a background. As such, this is likely a teaser for a new map.
Shown in the screenshot is the familiar rubber ducky tire from Junkrat’s Beach Rat skin as well as a massive statue head. This head looks much like Pharah, in particular her Raindancer and Thunderbird skins. This could place the map in Central or South America amongst indigenous ruins. In the background of the shot there appears to be portholes on the left side. This should either be a shipwreck or sunken submarine, providing a unique opportunity to explore. On the right side appears to be a building or entrance to an underwater base. So this underwater section could be just a small section of the map, like the outer space section on Horizon Lunar Colony. Either way, this has never been done before and should be exciting to play in.
Overwatch Aquatic Division
As far as location goes, there are not a lot of hints. Besides the statue head, there are very few clues to where this takes place. One idea worth noting is that early in development, a map was pitched that was set in the Galapagos. The art for this looks to be an underwater base in the Pacific Ocean. This could very well be a location for one of Overwatch’s Ecopoints. These Ecopoints were set up by the Overwatch team in critical locations around the world to monitor climate changes and anomalies. Antarctica is the most famous of these, and where Mei was stationed. Knowing that there are many more, one at the bottom of the sea would be a good location to check on aquatic ecology and changes. Plus after awaking from cryogenic sleep, Mei set out to restart the Ecopoints around the globe. This could be a map for Overwatch 2 and crucial plot point in the lore.
Additionally, there is speculation that there are several different divisions dedicated to different locations. Mei’s Ecopoint: Antarctica skin has a green Overwatch logo on it. This could feasibly be an ecological division of the team, signifying Ecopoint workers. Likewise, Winston’s Undersea skin has a blue Overwatch logo on it. On Ecopoint: Antarctica, there is also a snowglobe or holovid with that same blue logo on it. This could be a present given between divisions, especially from Winston to Mei. If this is the case, then this underwater base and/or map could be a station for this Aquatic Division.
Not Then, But Perhaps Now?
Back in 2017, Jeff Kaplan noted that an underwater map was not likely to happen. Given the amount of animation changes needed to make characters swim, it would have taken away from the team’s ability to make new skins, maps, and emotes. So even now it does not seem possible given the amount of resources needed for Overwatch 2. But if this is indeed a playable section of a map, it must be an integral piece of OW2 to be included. If not, it could certainly be an area visible through windows but not accessible on the map. Blizzard created several areas like that which have been found and utilized through the workshop. No matter what, it appears that the next map added will include some underwater aspect.
Featured image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.
You can also follow Matthew @setanta_ow or message him on Discord (setanta#2155).