Today, Blizzard add a brand new deathmatch map to Overwatch. It's a pleasant surprise considering I thought they'd be neck-deep in Overwatch 2 development by now. Turns out the surprise is even nicer however, because the new map comes with a cat café (!) as well as a challenge to unlock a new Hanzo skin, and it launches later today.
Kanezaka is a pretty new deathmatch map set near the fictional Japanese town of Hanamura. In the developer update above, you can spy some images of the Shimada castle (which you fight in on Overwatch's Hanamura assault map) just peeking out over its walls.
From today until January 25th, the game is inviting players to take part in the Kanezaka challenge too. Blizzard haven't revealed exactly what it consists of, but if it's anything like previous challenges, it'll likely ask players to win nine matches to be rewarded with a new hero skin.
Judging from the video in the tweet below, that new skin is one for Hanzo, who's rocking some sporty sunglasses.
The dragon awakens.
Play Overwatch Kanezaka Challenge on Jan 12! pic.twitter.com/C545E093CH
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) January 11, 2021
Overwatch's updates usually go out between 6pm and 7pm GMT (10am and 11am PT), so Kanezaka should be available to play in just a few hours.
That's about all the newness for Overwatch we'll see today, however the devs did release a strange and very long piece of lore yesterday to go along with the new map's launch. It's a letter from a new character named Asa Yamagami, to her husband Toshiro, talking about life in the small village of Kanezaka. At first glance, it just seems to be a bit of exposition, revealing how Kanezaka fits in with the game's story.
However, there's a strange bit where she talks in detail about the Shimadas (Hanzo and Genji's clan) and being a swordsmen for them, as well as discussing a rival clan called the Hashimoto. Here's an excerpt:
"As you know, my mother and hers before her were honored to tend the fox shrine far from the clamor of town. But when it was clear my soul longed for the sword and I excelled at kenjutsu, the Shimada chose me over all others as their swordmaster. They knew that Kanezaka was not just the seat of their power, it was their home . . . and ours, too."
It's a weird detail to include that this person is some sort of fighter, and other info in the letter just seems too detailed for a simple map reveal. I recommend reading it if you're interested in this sorta stuff. Perhaps it's a tiny little bit of build-up to a plot point for Overwatch 2, or even a tease for a potential new character.
At any rate, we should find out more about the upcoming sequel soon, because the developers said they'll have more to share next month at BlizzCon Online.