Overwatch 2: What to Know
I've been playing Overwatch since it was released in 2016 (can you guess my mains?), but like many other players, I've played less and less frequently in recent years. Newer titles like Valorant drew from Blizzard's player base, and the base that stayed was often met with frustrating updates, nerfs, changes, and gameplay stagnation. Blizzard's solution to revitalizing the game was to create a new one altogether, and in 2019 they announced the sequel to its popular eSports title.
Overwatch 2 was controversial when it was first announced-- its development and initial pricing model (it was going to be a $60 game), among other things, led to it being throttled on socials. The famous face of Overwatch, Jeff Kaplan, left Blizzard in 2021 in the midst of changes within the development of the game and overall company, and many were left unsure of what would happen to Overwatch.
2022 has given us a lot of information on the new semi-sequel to the hero-shooter. Overwatch 2 Director, Aaron Keller, and other Blizzard employees took to Reddit in an AMA with fans to answer some questions.
Here are the major points that folks should know about the new release.
While there's already been a PC beta and there will be a secondary PC/Console beta, the game releases in Early Access on October 4, 2022. Here is an official content roadmap to keep handy.
Don't consider Overwatch 2 a "true" sequel or separate game-- it's basically a massive, ongoing update that will absorb the original game and have a much more robust content/update pipeline over the next few years. Overwatch will not exist as a separate game, and anyone who wants to play OW1 after OW2 releases will be asked to update the title. While some of Blizzard's early language seemed to suggest that OW would be cross-play compatible with the sequel, it appears OW2 is really just brightening up and overhauling the gameplay of the original game. Unfortunately, there will not be a Legacy Overwatch for players to revisit. It's important to note that Overwatch 2 will be free-to-play. Players who owned OW1 prior will have all of their currency, loot boxes, and cosmetics imported (TBD where and how you can spend that currency in the new game), and they'll also get a few other founder's goodies such as exclusive skins.
Older maps are being reworked, and six new maps will be introduced this fall. Assault maps like Hanamura and Temple of Anubis may still be playable in Arcade gameplay modes, but they're being transitioned out of core gameplay modes due to player feedback. Speaking of Hanamura, some fans were crossing their fingers, hoping it'd be turned into a payload map due to imagery used in some of the promotional material for OW2. This is not the case, and it feels safe to say that none of the assault maps for OW1 will be converted to new map types in OW2.
OW2 is moving from 6v6 to 5v5 team setups. This will have a huge impact on team comp, though it sounds like the long list of hero reworks are being made to help support this shift to smaller teams. A decent amount of heroes are getting some kind of rework or touchup, just with varying levels of severity. Some of the reworks, like Moira and Brigette's, are unspecified at the moment but promised. Other overhauls, like Orisa and Doomfist, will fundamentally change how these characters are played (IMO). Gameplay itself is being modified extensively-- On top of the usual multiplayer game modes, OW2 is introducing single-player and cooperative story-driven, mission-based content. A new game mode called Push will be live at launch, and the anticipated PvE mode will be introduced (at some point) in 2023.
The team is unveiling three new heroes right off the bat: Sojourn, Junker Queen, and an unnamed Support Hero. Based on their roadmaps and comments, it looks like there will be at least 2 more support heroes and 1 more tank character unveiled over the course of the next few years. For context, it's been about 2 years since Overwatch added their last hero to the roster, Echo (DPS).
OW2 is attempting to be more social. Not only have they updated their ping system to be more helpful (added more cues, more details in callouts, can ping specific locations, etc.), Blizzard is looking into in-game tournaments and a Guild system.
For the cosmetic clout-ers, OW2 is introducing 'Mythic' skins that are customizable, weapon charms, and 30+ new skins at launch. Lootboxes are being ditched and replaced with a Battlepass and seasonal game model. There will be an in-game store from which players can buy cosmetics using real-world currency. (Remember when I said it was TBD how you'd be able to spend your OW1 currency? I don't think you'll be able to spend it at this store, and if you are, it'll be limited to select stock. This is my guess based on what I've read and my expectations of Blizzard.)
Whew! I may have missed a few small notes, but these are the biggest things players should be aware of as OW2 is on the horizon. Are you going to be playing Overwatch 2 when it launches this fall? What are your thoughts on Blizzard's changes to the game? Let me know in the comments! If you are an OW player, go ahead and drop your main as well!