Overwatch 2 is a first-person shooter developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment. As a sequel to the 2016 hero shooter Overwatch, the game intends a shared environment for player-versus-player (PvP) modes while introducing persistent cooperative modes. A major change in PvP modes was to reduce team sizes from six to five, which required several characters to be reworked. Overwatch 2 is free-to-play on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S in early access as of October 4, 2022 and features full cross-platform play.

Overwatch 2
Overwatch 2 text logo.svg
Developer(s)Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher(s)Blizzard Entertainment
Director(s)Aaron Keller
Platform(s)
ReleaseOctober 4, 2022[a]
Genre(s)First-person shooter
Mode(s)Multiplayer

GameplayEdit

Overwatch 2 is a hero shooter, where players are split into two teams and select a "hero" from a roster of 35 characters. Characters are organized into a "damage" class, responsible for offensive efforts; a "support" class, responsible for healing and buffing; and a "tank" class, responsible for the team's protection. Each character has a unique set of skills, made up of active, passive, and an ultimate ability. Overwatch 2, like its predecessor, primarily centers on player versus player (PvP) combat across several different modes and maps, and includes both casual and ranked competitive matches.

A major departure from the first game was the choice to remove a tank slot per team thus reducing teams to five players. According to game director Aaron Keller, developers hoped that losing a tank would speed up gameplay as they believed that the original six players scheme rendered gameplay slow. It is also intended to ease the amount of things players and spectators need to watch out for. New maps were designed to include more cover options to compensate for reduced tank-based protection.[1] Additionally, Damage heroes now have an increased movement speed and Support heroes slowly regenerate, while Tank heroes were redesigned so they could take on a more offensive role. Heroes were visually refurbished as to reflect the few years of in-game time that has passed since the events of the first game.[2] Overwatch 2 will furthermore include a ping system to direct the attention of teammates to specific points on the map.[3]

The game also introduces a new PvP mode named "Push", similar to tug of war, teams vie for control of a robot that pushes a team's payload to the opponent's side of the map. Next to being incorporated into Quick and Competitive play, Push will become part of the standard map rotation of the Overwatch League.[4] Some existing gameplay modes may be dropped in Overwatch 2; former game director Jeff Kaplan has stated that two control point maps, Paris and Horizon Lunar Colony, will likely not be available in Overwatch 2 as these have been deemed unbalanced in response community feedback.[5]

The game will feature player versus environment (PvE) game modes. Similar to the special seasonal events, they will consist of four-player cooperative missions against non-playable characters and will be available on a permanent as opposed to a seasonal basis. In this mode, players can garner experience points for their hero and unlock new passive abilities called "talents", allowing them to influence how the hero plays. At least two PvE modes will be added; a story-based mission mode, where players are limited to their hero selection in replaying missions based on Overwatch lore, and Hero missions which allow all heroes to be used in fending off waves of enemies at various locations. Blizzard anticipates that Overwatch 2 will offer over 100 different PvE missions, utilizing new maps as well as existing multiplayer maps expanded out to include new areas, and adding in dynamic effects, such as day and night times as well as varying weather conditions. Enemy types will be expanded out from the Null Sector robots that were introduced in the original seasonal PvE events, adding in new types with unique behaviors.[6][2]

Overwatch 2 will be released as a free-to-play game, rather than a premium priced game. It will also discontinue loot boxes in favor of a battle pass system to be offered on a seasonal basis which will correspond with the introduction of new maps and heroes. The game will also include an in-game store where players can purchase cosmetics directly.[7][8] Blizzard stated that new heroes will be introduced as rewards on the free tier of the battle pass, and players who fail to make the associated tier will have other routes to obtain the hero for free in later seasons.[9]

A Battle.net account will be required to play Overwatch 2, regardless of platform. Overwatch 2 will feature cross-progression, with in-game cosmetic items and progress being shared across PC and console versions.[10] Unlocked cosmetic items, in-game currency, and player statistics from any Overwatch profile linked to such an account will be merged, and will be available on all platforms upon release. Competitive skill ratings will continue to be separate, with console and PC ranks remaining independent of each other.[11]

DevelopmentEdit

Overwatch 2 was announced at BlizzCon on November 1, 2019, with plans that the game would maintain a "shared multiplayer environment" between it and the original Overwatch, so that players in either game can compete in the existing player versus player (PvP) game modes, retaining all unlocked cosmetics and other features.[6] Jeff Kaplan explained that this was a major decision and that he had to justify this "player-first standpoint" to Blizzard executives, given the current industry trend to draw in new sales.[12] All new heroes, maps, and PvP modes were to be added to both games to maintain this shared environment.[13] However, Overwatch 2 was later announced as a free-to-play title, and that on its release on October 4, 2022, Blizzard affirmed that Overwatch 2 live services will replace those of the original game; the original Overwatch servers will be shut down on October 2, 2022.[14] Players will retain their exisiting cosmetics and in-game currency, while the remaining loot boxes will be opened automatically upon release of Overwatch 2.[15] At least three new heroes will be added to the roster, including Sojourn, a Canadian Overwatch officer, Junker Queen, the ruler of Junkertown, and Kiriko.[16][17]

Overwatch 2 runs on an upgraded version of the original game's engine which allows for larger map sizes to better support the new story-based PvE elements.[6] Additionally, all of the existing heroes are getting visual redesigns for Overwatch 2, although Blizzard does not expect every hero to have theirs finished by the time Overwatch 2 launches, with twelve of the existing 31 completed at the time of the game's reveal.[16]

Overwatch 2 has released for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S in early access on October 4, 2022.[17] Kaplan stated they were more concerned about quality of the product than timeliness of the release.[18][19] Investor documents released in November 2021 reported that the initial 2022 release window was delayed to at least 2023, intended for "giving the teams some extra time to complete production and continue growing their creative resources to support the titles after launch".[20] Kaplan anticipated that Overwatch and Overwatch 2 will ultimately merge into a single product to avoid having any engine differences affecting player experience.[21] Technical director John Lafleur has stated they are also interested in supporting, at minimum, cross-platform progression and are looking at the possibility of cross-platform play.[22] In the interim from its announcement prior to release, Kaplan left Blizzard in April 2021, with Aaron Keller taking over the lead development role,[23] while the lead developer for new heroes, Geoff Goodman, left sometime in mid-2022.[24]

In March 2022, Blizzard stated that they had put too much focus on Overwatch 2 over the past few years to the detriment of support of the original game, and have changed plans to release Overwatch 2 in parts, with the PvP portion to be released in beta form starting in April 2022 and the PvE part to come at a later time. This would allow them to also continue to support Overwatch alongside Overwatch 2's development.[25][26] Later, Blizzard announced that the first wave of Overwatch 2 invitation-only betas would begin on April 26, 2022, and end on May 17. Access to the closed beta could be earned either by signing up for a chance to participate or by watching select Twitch streamers for a limited time on April 27.[27][28]

The game without its PVE mode was released as early access on October 4, 2022, for Windows, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One and Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch.[29] That day, in addition to a large number of players, the game's servers were hit with a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack that made it difficult for many to access the game.[30] Additionally, as part of Blizzard's efforts to reduce smurfing, the use of new accounts by experienced players as to try to game the system, the company required all players to confirm their identity through a SMS message on their cell phone linked to their account. For many with prepaid cellular plans, particularly in the United States, they cannot use SMS on their plans, and effectively locked them out of Overwatch 2, though Blizzard stated they were working to resolve that issue.[31] By October 7, Blizzard removed the need to verify one's identity for those that had played Overwatch since at least June 2021.[32]

ReceptionEdit

Overwatch 2 received "generally favorable" reviews upon release according to review aggregator Metacritic.[36]

Tyler Colp of PC Gamer was critical of the sequel, writing that the game "intentionally or not, is trying to bury its predecessor alive." Colp added, "the original Overwatch is still in there, bruised and broken, but the weight of Blizzard's commercial and competitive expectations keeps piling up."[37]

On the game's 5v5 gameplay dynamic, as opposed to its predecessor's 6v6 dynamic, IGN's Simon Cardy wrote: "it fully drags Overwatch 2 out of the stagnant meta swamp its predecessor found itself in over the past couple of years, but also denies itself some of the lustre of its satisfying team play."[34] Cardy also wrote "if the pertinent question to ask about Overwatch 2 is simply if it's a fun game, then the answer right now is yes. It's still a fundamentally great hero shooter, just one that is perhaps not currently operating at the towering height of its powers."[34]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Early access
  1. ^ Chalk, Andy (May 20, 2021). "Overwatch 2 PvP will be 5v5 with only one Tank per team". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on May 20, 2021. Retrieved May 20, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Nunneley, Stephany (February 20, 2021). "Overwatch 2 features "hundreds" of Hero Missions, character dialogues, updated hero looks, dynamic maps, more". VG247. Archived from the original on February 21, 2021. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  3. ^ McWherter, Michael (March 24, 2022). "Overwatch 2 is getting a ping system; here's how it works". Polygon. Retrieved March 25, 2022.
  4. ^ Park, Morgan (November 4, 2019). "Overwatch 2: Everything we know about the unconventional sequel". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on November 5, 2019. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
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  8. ^ "Overwatch 2 ditches loot boxes for battle pass, seasonal model". Polygon. June 16, 2022.
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  23. ^ McWhertor, Michael (April 20, 2021). "Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan leaves Blizzard". Polygon. Retrieved April 20, 2021.
  24. ^ Colp, Tyler (September 20, 2022). "Overwatch 2 loses its lead hero designer". PC Gamer. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  25. ^ Vincent, Brittany (March 10, 2022). "Focus on Overwatch 2 left the original game struggling, Blizzard says". GamesRadar. Retrieved March 12, 2022.
  26. ^ Lawler, Richard (March 18, 2022). "The Overwatch 2 closed beta starts April 26th on PC only". The Verge. Retrieved March 25, 2022.
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  28. ^ "Welcome to the first Overwatch 2 PvP Beta". news.blizzard.com. Retrieved April 26, 2022.
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  36. ^ "Overwatch 2 for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 4, 2022.
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External linksEdit