Overwatch’s new Arcade mode, which Blizzard announced at BlizzCon 2016 today, will give players all-new ways to play the hero-based shooter … and a new way to earn loot boxes outside of the normal experience-based progression.
Arcade mode is replacing the Weekly Brawl mode that switches up Overwatch’s normal game rules — but it’s also absorbing Weekly Brawl. The mode is actually a suite of other gameplay types, including Mystery Duel, Elimination, Mystery Heroes, No Limits and the full playlist of the game’s existing Brawls.
Players will be able to play any of the modes in Arcade and earn rewards, up to three loot boxes per week. To earn a loot box, players will simply have to win three matches across any of Overwatch’s Arcade modes.
During a panel at BlizzCon 2016 today, game director Jeff Kaplan detailed Overwatch’s new Arcade mode game types, starting with Mystery Duel, a one-on-one battle. In Mystery Duel, the game will randomly pick a hero each round. Both players must play as that hero against each other in a best-of-nine-rounds challenge. Kaplan said Mystery Duel serves as something of an equalizer, where players can test their skills evenly against each other.
Because Mystery Duel is a one-on-one match, it will be played on a smaller map. The new Ecopoint map set in Antarctica — home to Mei’s research facility — will serve as the setting for Mystery Duel. It will also be steeped in Overwatch lore, Blizzard said.
Elimination is a 3v3 mode in which two teams of three fight in a best-of-five-rounds contest. The catch is that once players choose their team composition, they’re locked into that choice until the next round.
Overwatch’s existing Brawls, like Super Shimada Bros., High Noon and MOBAwatch, will be available as part of a playlist in Arcade mode. Blizzard has new Brawl types in the works, Kaplan said, including one in which teams are composed of only Lucios and Reinhardts. Another, named This Is Ilios, sends players to the well section of Ilios, and the only selectable characters are Lucio and Roadhog.
Arcade mode’s No Limits type is where anything goes. If you want to play as a team full of Torbjorns and Meis, No Limits is the place. The mode is being added to Arcade because Blizzard is making a major change to Quickplay mode: The developer is instituting the same single-hero limit it introduced to Competitive Mode, because, Kaplan said, it’s necessary for Quickplay “to stay healthy.”