The game will be the company’s first new release in 17 years, and will see teams of 6 players battling for control of different maps.  Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) has announced that test versions will be released in 2015, although prices for the new game have not yet been specified.

Overwatch is set in the near-future, and players will have control of small teams of super-soldiers who each possess individual abilities and equipment which allow them to fulfill specific roles.

Overwatch: The New Sci-Fi Game From Blizzard

Overwatch: An important new release

The transition to a game set in the near-future marks a different approach for Blizzard, whose previous biggest hits, World of Warcraft and Diablo, are both set in fantasy worlds.

The developer has said that the main challenge of the new game is to work out ways of combining the super powers of the different characters to unlock other abilities.

The new release is critical for Blizzard, as their most successful release, World of Warcraft, is experiencing a steady decline in the number of players. Around 6.8 million people are currently playing WoW, way down from its peak of 12 million.

An original idea?

In order to capture the attention of the gaming community, Blizzard showcased Overwatch at the annual Blizzcon gaming convention. An initial group of 12 characters were introduced to attendees, and the company has said that more characters, locations and history will be revealed at a later date.

Ben Barrett of the Rock, Paper, Shotgun game news site wrote that the game seemed to show some similarities with the Team Fortress 2 developed by Valve, albeit with Blizzard’s “spin and polish.”

Barrett alleges that Overwatch is “not the most original of ideas” and Blizzard will have to be sure to make the game seem innovative “to stop general cynicism getting in the way of people checking it out.”

The originality of Overwatch is something that the developers themselves have addressed recently. Barrett and other commentators had wondered whether the game had taken on any of the features of a cancelled project called Titan, which the company abandoned after years of development. Blizzard developers have since admitted that Titan lives on in the new game.

A PC version of Overwatch will be developed first, with but Blizzard has said that a console version could be developed in the future.