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Overwatch Teases Newest Hero with 11 Year Old Efi Oladele

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Overwatch’s fan community has taken on a life of its own – particularly when it comes to sussing out the next new hero to be released. After the agonizingly long tease and meta gaming that lead up to Sombra’s release, Blizzard has been playing its hero cards a bit closer to its chest. They just laid down their first card with a mock interview with an 11 year old tech-wiz from Numbani: Efi Oladele.

Overwatch Efi OladeleThe interview showcases Blizzard’s fun way of playing with Overwatch’s lore. Efi Oladele has won the Adawe Foundation’s Genius Grant for her work in robotics and artificial intelligence. She’s received a large sum of money and teases out her plans on what to do with it.

The biggest speculation is that Efi constructs either a D-Va style mech-tank, or an A.I. like Bastion. Whether or not Efi herself will be playable remains to be seen – but she would be awfully young compared to the adult cast of Overwatch.

Polygon provides a deep dive into the Overwatch community and the biggest fan theory – that Efi constructs a quadruped spider tank that’s seen in many of the game’s early art work. Jeff Kaplan told Polygon that Efi will play a part in the upcoming hero’s story, but the actual playable hero has not yet been announced.

To date Overwatch’s post-launch heroes have been slow to arrive but generally well-received (and free). A total of two heroes have been released since Overwatch’s launch in May 2016: Ana, a Support sniper in July 2016 and Sombra, an Offense hacker in November 2016.

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Overwatch Teases New Seasonal Event Year of the Rooster

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After the big Winter Wonderland seasonal event, nobody expected Overwatch to launch into a new seasonal event so soon. The official Overwatch twitter account teased the upcoming event, which looks to be based on the Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year (or Spring Festival in China) typically begins in late January or early February – the first new moon of the year. Each year is dedicated to a different animal within the Chinese Zodiac 12-year cycle. As seen in the Overwatch teaser video, 2017 is the Year of the Rooster.

The ten-second teaser video doesn’t share much information other than a date: January 24 when the even kicks off. A new Mei skin is shown in the video. Mei, the scientist armed with freezing abilities, is the game’s resident Chinese hero. The Overwatch Korean twitter account shared a slightly different teaser that featured a new D.Va skin.

Previous seasonal events have added new loot boxes with themed skins, sprays, poses, etc. Several maps are often decorated to celebrate the new event. New Arcade Modes were added in the last two events as well. In 2016 Overwatch hosted three seasonal events over about six months: Summer Games (based on the Olympics), Halloween Terror, and Winter Wonderland.

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Overwatch Winter Premiere Live Finals at PAX South

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The PAX arena is a section of each PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) dedicated to competitive gaming. This year at PAX South 2017, PAX Arena will host the Overwatch Winter Premiere Live Finals. The Finals will run during the first two days of PAX South (January 27-28).

The Overwatch Winter Premiere is an open North American tournament that’s been running since December. It’s hosted by Next Generation Esports (NGE).

“The Winter Premiere was designed to highlight the best talent of Overwatch in North America,” said Andy Vander Woude, co-founder and CEO at NGE. “It’s only fitting to bring these all-star teams to the PAX Arena stage, where their efforts and talent can be celebrated by an even wider audience.”

Currently there are six teams remaining in their third week of round robin play. The six teams are CompLexity Gaming, Immortals, Kungarna, Luminosity, Renegades, and Team Liquid.

From there, a Final Four will journey to compete in the Live Finals in the PAX Arena. The teams are competing for a cut of the $100,000 prize pool. First prize awards $40,000 to the winning team.

“PAX Arena draws some of the most exciting esports events in our industry,” said Justin Dellario, senior manager at Twitch. “A keystone Overwatch event like the Winter Premiere Live Finals really demonstrates why PAX Arena will be a can’t-miss destination at PAX South.”

Over 500 teams in North America competed in an open qualifier event in December. The live PAX Arena finals will represent the last stage of the event.

“We’re very excited to be hosting the Winter Premiere finals at PAX Arena,” said Lance Fensterman, global senior VP at ReedPOP. “Having this live event at PAX South will give gamers the ultimate live Overwatch experience, both in-person and watching at home.”

If you’re not attending PAX South, you can watch the event via the Next Generation Esports channel, or the PAX Arena channel. If you want to catch up on previous matches, NGE has all the archives on their YouTube channel.

20th anniversary

Celebrate Diablo’s 20th Anniversary in Each Blizzard Game

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December 31 marks the 20th anniversary of the original Diablo. Blizzard Entertainment is hosting a minor celebration across all their games with special events, games, and loot.

“Blizzard Entertainment is thrilled to commemorate twenty years of Diablo,” states the news post. “We’re ready to celebrate our passion for the world of Sanctuary and the brave heroes who inhabit it! Here’s to twenty years of loot!”

Each of Blizzard’s ongoing series is celebrating:

  • Diablo III – The Darkening of Tristram tribute event. The Cathedral levels of Diablo 1 have been recreated in Diablo III, including some “familiar items.”
  • Heroes of the Storm – The weekly brawl will feature a Diablo theme. As with other brawls, playing three games nets you a unique portrait.
  • Hearthstone – A Diablo-themed Tavern Brawl, and a new Diablo card back.
  • Overwatch – Loot new sprays of the Diablo III classes, and a new Diablo player icon.
  • Starcraft II – A new Diablo-themed portrait.
  • World of Warcraft – “Strange things are afoot in the world of Azeroth as denizens of Sanctuary cross over into an unfamiliar world.”

No details on when the Diablo event ends.

As far as multi-game events go, this one is pretty weak. New retro content in Diablo III is nice, but the rest are lame. To be fair, Blizzard is also in the midst of their big Overwatch Winter Event, and other holiday events for various games.

Diablo is widely considered the grandfather of the entire Action-RPG genre. It wasn’t the first to define the genre, but it was the first to popularize its loot-driven, fast-paced gameplay. Decades of games have built upon that solid gameplay loop, from Borderlands to Destiny.

Blizzard’s own Diablo II remains one of their most beloved titles. The very long-awaited Diablo III had a rough launch. It was criticized for some jarring changes. After years of feedback, patches, and updates it has been embraced by fans, and become a worthy successor.