Among the heaps of new content coming with Overwatch 2 are massive changes to maps. The game’s entire engine has been redone, and obviously, that means things are going to look a bit better. But the developers and artists at Blizzard have taken an extra step and created a system called Environment States that will sometimes impose different weather conditions on maps.
This feature was previously shown during one of Blizzard’s Overwatch 2 streams but has been further detailed in a news post on the game’s website.
The post, written by two members of the Overwatch team, software engineer Marco and lighting artist Fabien, details just how Environment States works and how it will affect the game. According to Fabien, Environment States was designed to assist with supporting “the story that the map is telling.”
“With this new system,” says Fabien, “we have managed to split all the major components of lighting, sound, and effects into self-contained assets that can be combined like building blocks to create what we call Environment Scenarios.”
Environment Scenarios aren’t some massively complex thing from the outside. From a player’s perspective, they’re simply the weather and time of day on a map. An example given in the post shows the map Necropolis with its nighttime scenario. However, with the new Environment States system, the Overwatch team can simply take the Environment Scenario of another map, in this case, sunny Temple of Anubis, and apply it to Necropolis to give the map a brand new look.
However, this new system lets the Overwatch team do more than just change the time of day on a given map. Using it, they can also add weather changes to maps in a dynamic fashion. In Overwatch 2, players can expect maps set in the desert to be clouded by sandstorms, or snowy maps to be blanketed in sudden blizzards.
While we still don’t know when Overwatch 2 will release, you can still check out everything else we know about the game.