Overwatch is pretty great. As a multiplayer team shooter, it does almost everything right: plenty of variety, fast-paced gameplay, free hero and map updates, and unlike its spiritual ancestor Team Fortress 2, all players get immediate access to every weapon and technique.
But if Overwatch has a dark side, it’s the long tail of monetization that Blizzard has imposed upon it: the cosmetic bonuses found in randomized loot boxes that make up more or less all of its progression system. That goes double for the limited time events, which crop up around holidays like Halloween, or this month’s Lunar New Year. The extra skins and other cosmetics in these events are only available for a few weeks at a time, forcing players to either pay up for expensive loot boxes, grind like maniacs, or simply go without the cool, semi-exclusive in-game items.
If you’re feeling the crunch of these limited events, there’s a fantastic tool created by some of Overwatch’s biggest fans. It can help you keep track of what you have, what you want, and how much grinding (or paying) it will take to get it before the event ends. Head on over to this Github project and bookmark it, then keep that tab open whenever you’re opening a new loot box.
The unofficial item tracker is a labor of love from a handful of players, mostly from the active Overwatch subreddit. It started off as a simple image checklist for players to keep locally, marking what they’d received and had yet to find from the semi-seasonal in-game events. A user going by the handle “Js41637” converted the slick graphic design into a website allowing for interactive checklists, and added the most crucial feature: automatic tracking of how much each item costs in in-game currency, and how much it would cost to finish out the most recent event. That’s information that Blizzard keeps hidden from players, the better to spur them on to less strategic spending on loot boxes.
Over the last year, the item tracker has gradually evolved with more and more creature comforts. Now it covers every single cosmetic item in the game, even non-event stuff, and has dedicated pages for each event and character. The tracker is updated within a day or two of each new event coming out, and it features embedded images, video, and audio clips to make finding and viewing all the fun stuff even easier. You can disable previews if you’re not in the mood, select or deselect all items onscreen for faster management, and back up and import data to make sure you don’t have to worry about redoing all of your tally work. The latest update adds a Google Drive backup feature, and I’m sure more cloud options will be coming in the future. The site’s dynamic formatting even works on mobile, the better to use it if you’re playing on a console.
Best of all, the item tracker project is available as a full source code download, so you can host it locally and even modify it if you have the CSS chops. It’s one of the best user-made gaming tools I’ve ever seen, with enough polish and thoughtful design to literally outdo Blizzard at its own game. Anyone with a serious itch to scratch for Overwatch’s cosmetic system should make use of it.