It’s no secret that the big addition in Overwatch 2 Season 3 would be a map. Blizzard made clear that each season would bring with it a big piece of content, alternating between a new hero and a new map. Last season brought Ramattra, so a map was on the menu for Season 3. However, in an interview with Blizzard's dev team, we found out some exciting details buried within this icy tundra.
The new mode, named Antarctica Peninsula, can be found on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, closest to the southernmost part of South America. Here, the Overwatch 2 hero Mei, a climatologist, set out to research the effects of global warming on the ice caps.
As this is a control mode, we’re getting not one but three separate maps. This style of objective capture is a best-of-three round-based mode where the goal is to achieve control of the target area and hold it until your team’s score ticks up to 100%.
We will be traveling to the Ice Breaker ship, which the international league of do-gooders Overwatch used when they tried to rescue Mei and her friends after some trouble in the ice of Antarctica. As well as the ship itself, there’s an underground level set in the Ice Caves. Then there are the Labs, where Mei and her friends met an icy fate. In this area, “will we now get to see who they were and what work they were doing towards the Ecopoint of Antarctica,” lead art designer Dion Rodgers says.
Upgrades people, upgrades
Each map will have individual aspects and details that’ll work to flesh out the stories and fights. “The terrain or geometry layout is pretty different between each of the points,” level designer Trey Spisak says. Each map will encourage different team compositions, and hero picks, so get ready for some nail-biting skirmishes.
The Ice Breaker map is intimate, thanks to the flat landscape and low ceilings “there’s a lot of protection from flying characters on this particular level,” Spisak says. However, you’ll encounter massive cliffs and sheer drops in the Ice Caves. This means a Dive Composition made up of heroes that can quickly scale heights and have great mobility, like D.Va or Genji, is the best pick for this map.
There are also plenty of environmental hazards to be aware of in these dark caves. “There’s this massive drill in the middle with holes scattered around,” Spisak says. This’ll be great if you’re a Lucio who likes to push enemies down pits or a Roadhog who can use Chain Hook to drag your opposition off the solid ground to drop them into a black abyss.
However, this last map centered in the Lab area doesn’t have as many environmental details or challenging designs; instead, it chooses to tell its own story. “The labs are an extension of Mei’s friends,” Rodgers says. “We now get to see who they were and what work they were doing.”
For those who aren’t aware of the tragedy of Mei’s story or what happened at the Ecopoint Research Station in Antarctica, brace yourself because it’s not a happy story.
Mei and her colleagues first traveled to the frozen research station for scientific exploration of the climate and ice deterioration. However, what she discovered was much harsher. Hit by a fierce ice storm, the team was trapped in the lab, running low on supplies, each turned to cryostasis as a last resort. Despite the Overwatch team trying to rescue these scientists, no one could get in or out of the station. It wasn’t until Mei woke up after nine years that she freed herself from an icy grave. Unfortunately, her friends and colleagues weren’t as lucky.
As you venture around each of the three maps, you’ll be able to see the ship that failed to rescue the team of scientists, the caves in which Mei and her friends worked, and the final resting place of her colleagues. “This map is moving the actual canon of Overwatch forward,” Rodgers says.
I’m just happy Blizzard is returning to its once-forgotten established lore. Overwatch has showcased some excellent storytelling previously, and it was a shame to see this go to waste. Whether this was Bastion’s origin story, the civil war between brothers Genji and Hanzo, or even recently Ramattra’s introduction and the revitalization of one of Overwatch’s main antagonists, the freedom fighting group Null Sector. The fact that new maps and heroes are now working to push forward the overarching lore and even individual character stories is exciting to see.
Putting the serious storytelling aside, I can’t wait to just zoom around Antarctica Peninsula and discover all the secrets about Mei, her would-be rescuers, and maybe even some unknown faces for myself.