Cue the fireworks: ‘Overwatch’ Lunar New Year event has arrived

Charge up your ultimate abilities, set off your fireworks, and head down to Lijiang Tower, because the Overwatch Lunar New Year event has arrived. Year of the Dog kicked off February 8.

In a developer diary video, game director Jeff Kaplan revealed that the capture-the-flag mode featured in last year’s Lunar New Year event will be making a return, along with a new map designed for the mode. Called “Ayutthaya,” it’s set in Thailand and is split between an ancient temple half and a bright and modern half, as shown in the trailer above.

In this year’s capture-the-flag mode, there will no longer be ties to end matches. Instead, there will be a sudden-death mode where both teams’ flags are moved closer to the center. Picking up the flag will now be instant as well, though using an ability to increase resistance or mobility will cause you to drop the flag. There will even be a four-week competitive capture-the-flag season, and the top 500 players will receive a special spray and player icon.

More than 50 new items and six legendary character skins are being added for the “Year of the Dog,” event, including new threads for Mercy, Zarya, Genji, and Widowmaker. There will also be a new highlight intro for an unnamed character. D.Va is seen at the very end of the developer diary video, so it’s a good chance she’s the one.

Last year’s lunar event starred Mei and ran from January 24 through February 13. It added new skins for characters like Winston and D.Va, as well as additional sprays, icons, poses, emotes, and animations. We assume some or all of these will be brought back this year.

The last Overwatch seasonal event was the second “Winter Wonderland,” which began on December 12. It also featured Mei in a special snowball fight mode, as well as “Mei’s Yeti Hunt.” The latter mode saw a team of all-Mei players hunting down a superpowered Winston, who attempted to activate his ultimate Primal Rage mode.

The Overwatch League kicked off in January, bringing teams from all around the world together in a high-stakes competition. The New York Excelsior and London Spitfire are currently at the top of the standings with identical 7-1 records, while the Los Angeles Valiant and Seoul Dynasty are all tied just behind them at 6-3.  Thus far, the Chinese Shanghai Dragons team is in last place, having not won a match yet this season.

Overwatch is out now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

Updated on February 8: Added details and trailer for Year of the Dog event.