Overwatch beta update brings new map, weekly brawls and more

You know what sucks more than not being invited in to any of the closed Overwatch beta tests? Constantly hearing about all the nifty changes and content the beta updates bring with them, content we won't be able to access until the open beta in May.

Since misery loves company, allow me to give you an overview of the most recent update which brought with it a new map, weekly brawls, match highlights and numerous fixes and balance improvements:

• The brand new playable arena is Route 66, an escort map that takes you through an old and decaying town that has long since fallen in to disuse. While travelers and traders no longer cross the US on the historic Route 66 that doesn't mean it has gone silent, quite the contrary as the outlaws of the Deadlock Gang now call that place home.

Weekly Brawl is a new experimental game mode modeled after its Hearthstone counterpart. The goal is to provide a fun, alternative way of playing Overwatch each week through a set of unique, and likely somewhat crazy, new rules. For example: In one Brawl you will be able to only play as support heroes, in another only as Soldier: 76, and so forth. 

As you can quite clearly see, the rules are rather simple and borrow heavily from the Custom Game system, but if the Weekly Brawl proves to be a popular feature you can expect to see more wild rulesets to appear in there, not just "play as X character".

Highlights are a nifty new addition that will help you immortalize that one amazing play you've done in an otherwise mediocre game. Since there are a variety of players and playstyles, there is also a variety of highlight types:

- High Score highlights will track large multikills and quick killstreaks. Naturally, the larger your streak and the more productive you are, the more high score you will gain.

- Lifesaver highlights will feature situations where one player manages to save another, either through healing or simply by being in the right place, just at the right time.

- Sharpshooter highlights will showcase difficult, skillful and downright ridiculously lucky kills. Everything from movement speed, distance, position of the hit, and even the position of the victim will count towards increasing your Sharpshooter score.

- Shutdown highlights are intended to promote the party-poopers, players that manage to kill the opposition right as they are about to do something particularly amazing themselves.

Highlights are currently unfinished and as such there is no way for you to locally save your glorious achievements, but by the time Overwatch launches the system will be much more robust, and you will be able to show the world just how lucky skilled you are.

Achievements have been added. By collecting a rather hefty amount of points you will be able to unlock new character portraits, player frames and even legendary skins!

• You will now receive bonus EXP for playing multple matches in succession, but more importantly, if you join a match in progress you will no longer be eligible to receive a loss for that match, while the wins can be earned or thrown away as usual.

• The tutorial has been improved and polished up in order to help out new players.

• Numerous balance and bug fixes have been implemented.

If you're looking for the complete patch notes, not just the short version, head over to the Overwatch forums where Blizzard has listed them all out.

The open beta will begin on May 5th and last until May 9th, so if you feel like giving Overwatch a try without spending money beforehand, that's your chance.

Finally, just in case you've managed to miss it, Blizzard has released an 8 minute long animated short about the one and only simian scientist, Wilson. If you're looking for some Overwatch lore, this would be the place to start.