Overwatch has done an exceptional job of providing regular content for its players, increasing the regularity of its seasonal events and interacting with its community through patches and augmented-reality games. The last seasonal event, Winter Wonderland, brought a festive Christmas theme, a new game mode, reskinned maps and over 100 new cosmetic items to the game. Year of the Rooster follows this same trend with a new Capture the Flag mode and plenty of new cosmetic items to unlock via Overwatch’s loot boxes.
Capture the Rooster
Where Year of the Rooster fails, though, is within the similarities to the previous seasonal updates. The Halloween Terror event introduced the first cooperative game mode, where four players were tasked with fending off waves of encroaching enemies. The mode limited players to four specific heroes (Ana, McCree, Solider: 76 and Hanzo) and came replete with a classic horror film narrator. Winter Wonderland forced everyone to pick up Mei’s ice blaster and engage in the most violent snowball fight ever conceived.
Year of the Rooster, though, simply pulls the same tried and true CTF game type that can be found in every other modern shooter. The execution isn’t necessarily bad, and Overwatch’s unique roster of characters adds some variety, but it’s a bit of a letdown when the last few seasonal brawls have been so imaginative and new by comparison.
Beyond this Capture the Rooster brawl, though, Year of the Rooster also alters the Lijiang Tower map to celebrate the new year. Paper lanterns are strewn across the squares, and themed decorations are hung everywhere while fireworks that can be set off litter the streets. It’s this fun attention to detail that makes these events something to look forward to; though, it is a shame that these reskinned maps only appear when playing in the Capture the Rooster playlist.
New Year, New Look
Year of the Rooster serves up some interesting new cosmetic options for a few of the heroes while also dishing out dozens of new icons, sprays, voice lines, emotes and victory poses. But the skins are, as always, the real prize of any of these events, and Rooster is a bit of a letdown relative to the coveted designs from Halloween and Christmas. Zenyatta, Roadhog, Winston and Reinhardt get a series of costumes based on corresponding characters from the classic novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en. D.Va gets a culturally appropriate new look, and Mei gets, not one, but two legendary skins. A few other heroes, like Bastion, Junkrat and Symmetra, also get Rooster themed skins.
Not Much to Crow About
After two back-to-back seasonal knockouts, it isn’t surprising that the formula is getting a little tired. Coming out of the holiday season, Overwatch offers another seasonal event, offering little to change up the pace other than an overly familiar new game mode and some new cosmetic items that aren’t quite as inspired as those from previous events.
Ultimately, Year of the Rooster leaves much to be desired while simultaneously raising the bar for the next event.