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Hammond rolling onto regular Overwatch servers next week

Wrecking Ball will have spent 26 days rolling around the public test server by the time he’s out, but everyone’s favourite mecha death hamster is ready swing into Overwatch proper next week. On Tuesday July 24th, to be precise.

That’s it, I’ve done the news. Click through to see a cute announcement mini-vid from Blizzard, and me tut at myself for playing a silly amount of deathmatch mode recently rather than the actual game.It’s a matter of time before I see the dancing emote that pushes Wrecking Ball Hammond’s character design from indulgent-but-adorable to overly twee, but for now I’m happy to lap this stuff up. Look at his lil’ legs.

I’m actually sitting on a pile of loot boxes so I can open them all when Hammond appears, and I can maximise my chances of dressing him up as an ostentatious pirate with a mohawk. I’ve got 12 of the things, because I’ve been playing round after round of the free-for-all deathmatch mode every week until I’ve maxed out the bonus boxes you get for winning games in the arcade.

It’s a trap I’ve prided myself on not falling into up till now. I want to say I play the games I do because they’re exciting and fun, not because I’ve been manipulated into collecting digital hats – and yet last night, when I saw I was one victory away from collecting my final bonus crate, I spent another 30 minutes chasing a win. I wasn’t even thinking about the reward, I was thinking about how I didn’t want to miss out on collecting it.

deathmatch used to be a fun diversion I’d boot up when I fancied some Overwatch but didn’t want to commit to a full match. Now I keep getting lured into it rather then the team-based modes the game was built around, despite knowing I’d have more fun if I launched into the quick play queue.

As annoyed as I am that it’s affecting how I choose to spend my time, the promise of cosmetics only forms one prong of the deathmatch trap. It’s the chaos that both puts me off and keeps me coming back. Normal games of Overwatch ask me to think about team compositions and tactics, but playing deathmatch feels like switching on my FPS autopilot.

For every kill I earn in an even duel, I’ll pick up two by rudely interrupting a fight between people who never had a chance to see me coming. That can still feel rewarding, but it’s got nothing on picking apart a defence as one agent in a well-coordinated team. It’s the best players rather than the lucky ones who usually top the scoreboards in a Deatchmatch game, but there’s no denying that luck plays a bigger role. That’s enough to make my thinking brain prefer the normal game, but my lazy one insist on playing this instead.

Hammond will arrive on the regular servers on July 24th, in case you forgot.

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Matt Cox

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Matt is the founding member of RPS's youth contingent. He's played more games of Dota than you've had hot dinners.

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