Overwatch 2: Everything We Know


Though Overwatch 2 might still not have a release date, an abundance of trailers, tweets, blog posts, and even a first round of beta tests are certainly giving us a clearer picture of all the exciting changes coming to the hit series. First announced at Blizzcon 2019, the follow-up to Blizzard’s popular first-person team-based hero shooter will offer plenty of fresh features to both new and returning players, including story missions, hero redesigns, new maps, and new characters. To help you get up to speed on everything there is to know about the game ahead of any possible Not-E3 events announcements and the next Overwatch 2 event on June 16, we’ve compiled all the essential details in one handy feature.

Release date window

Despite 2022 being just about halfway over, Overwatch 2 still doesn’t have a confirmed release date. While it seems likely we could get one during one of the summer’s Not-E3 events or Summer Game Fest Live, don’t hold your breath for a quick turnaround. During a recent Activision Blizzard meeting, the studio suggested it doesn’t expect to see the sales bump it would receive from Overwatch 2 (or another big title on its docket, Diablo 4) during the 2022 fiscal year. That could mean that Overwatch 2 won’t see release until 2023 at the earliest, but this is still somewhat unclear.

Platforms

At BlizzCon 2019, Blizzard confirmed that Overwatch 2 would come to all platforms that currently support the first Overwatch, including the Nintendo Switch. However, it’s still uncertain whether or not it’ll also come to PS5 and Xbox Series X|S.

Beta tests

The first PvP beta for Overwatch 2 took place this spring, giving players time to test out all the game’s reworked characters as well as its newest hero, Sojourn. During GameSpot’s time with the beta, we found it played more like “Overwatch 1.5” rather than an entirely new experience, though returning to the series was still incredibly enjoyable.

Following the end of the beta test, Blizzard published a thorough report detailing hero usage rates, win rates, and the effects of recent buffs and nerfs. The blog revealed that Sojourn, understandably, had an extremely high usage rate at the start of the beta, peaking at around 80%. However, this number dropped off rapidly as time went on and more players got the chance to take the newest damage hero out for a spin. Of the reworked characters, Orisa saw the highest usage, followed by Doomfist, then Bastion and Sombra.

While the first beta test was strictly for those playing on PC, Blizzard has stated that future playtests will be available on console as well. For more information on the next playtest–as well as details on how to participate–tune into Blizzard’s next Overwatch 2 event on June 16.

Director Jeff Kaplan steps down

After nearly 20 years with Blizzard, Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan announced in April 2021 that he was leaving the company. In addition to working on a number of beloved Blizzard titles during his tenure, including World of Warcraft and Warcraft 3, Kaplan has essentially been the public face of Overwatch since before the first game’s release in 2016, and his departure is a major shakeup for Overwatch and its sequel.

Kaplan is succeeded by co-director Aaron Keller–check out our interview with Overwatch 2’s new director after he stepped into the position below.

A tumultuous time for Blizzard

In addition to Kaplan’s departure, Activision Blizzard had a tumultuous past few years as the company has come under fire for allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination, and workplace misconduct. In July 2021, the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment sued Activision Blizzard, alleging that the company “fostered a sexist culture” in which women were paid far less than men and people of color experienced instances of discrimination. The suit goes on to say that sexism has “plagued the male-dominated gaming industry for decades,” and brings forth this legal action to “remedy, prevent, and deter” Activision Blizzard from violating California’s civil rights and equal pay laws.

The suits caused serious backlash throughout the games industry, as well as within the company. Employees staged a walkout to protest workplace conditions and Activision Blizzard leadership’s handling of the situation. Blizzard president J. Allen Brack stepped down from the position, replaced by Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra; Oneal subsequently announced she would step down at the end of 2021, revealing she had been making less than Ybarra despite essentially holding the same position. More recently, the company hired its first Head of Culture to help make greater strides in diversity and inclusion.

There’s a lot more to the internal situation at Blizzard, including more lawsuits, plenty of allegations against CEO Bobby Kotick, and additional actions taken by the company’s leadership. Check out the complete timeline of the situation for more.

Game modes and maps

PvP in Overwatch 2 and Overwatch will be compatible with one another–so even if you stick with the original game, you’ll still be able to play with anyone who buys the sequel.

Overwatch 2 will include some new takes on the combat we saw in the original game, however. That includes a brand-new game mode called Push, in which two teams fight to escort a robot into enemy territory. The team that pushes the robot furthest into the other team’s territory before time is up will win the match. As the robot moves down the linear path towards enemy lines, it’ll occasionally come up against barriers that must be pushed to unlock checkpoints. This momentarily slows the robot down, but the checkpoints unlock new spawn points.

The most notable change is that the game will move to 5v5 matches, as opposed to the current 6v6 model. Team composition is also being adjusted so that squads sport only a single tank.

Overwatch 2 will have all-new PvP maps for Push mode, but also for every current “core” game mode. The team wants to ensure players have a “totally new experience” thanks to the new maps, which are also coming to the original Overwatch as well. Blizzard had previously mentioned several new maps, and showed off two more in May 2021.

Check out Blizzard’s videos of Push mode in action, which shows off the new Rome, Toronto, and New York maps.

Currently confirmed maps new to Overwatch 2 include:

  • Gothenburg
  • Toronto
  • Monte Carlo
  • Rio de Janeiro
  • New York
  • Rome

Blizzard also tweeted some brief videos of a variety of new maps that can give you a little more of a sense of them.

Story missions

Story missions are a new feature in Overwatch 2. They will be heavily curated PvE missions where players will only be able to select from a limited, contextually-relevant roster of characters. Every single story mission will have its own cinematic intro and outro video.

Hero missions

Hero missions are another new PvE feature, designed to be “deeply replayable” thanks to three factors outlined by Overwatch 2’s directors: varied locations, which will take players across new maps and old; constantly changing objectives, which will keep the gameplay fresh and varied; and different enemy groups, such as Null Sector, Talon, and “other threats.” Certain objectives or enemy types may demand certain types of heroes to counter, allowing more hands-on time for players stuck playing their main in PVP, Kaplan explained at BlizzCon 2019.

Ping system

Tired of your teammates not staying on the payload? You’re in luck, as Overwatch 2 is introducing a new and significantly improved ping system designed to strengthen communication between teammates. The new system features more commands than ever before and allows players to precisely ping locations, alerting their teammates to enemies and allowing for more strategic plays. According to Blizzard, “The inspiration behind the ping system came from a value the Overwatch team holds dearly: Every Voice Matters. This is a core value at Blizzard, and the Overwatch team wanted to personify this value in the game.”

Item system

The newly introduced item system is exclusive to story missions. Rather than a loot system like Diablo, Overwatch 2’s item system will work in much the same way items do in games like Apex Legends and PUBG, according to Kaplan: temporary item pickups that you can use for the duration of the mission. These include things like a corrosive grenade, a healing station, or a barrier fence. Items also come in tiers, like Legendary.

Talent system

Overwatch 2 will introduce a new progression system designed exclusively for hero missions. It will allow heroes to level up and unlock talents that give them additional perks in combat and is meant as a strictly PvE, non-competitive mode feature. A series of talents for Tracer were shown off at BlizzCon 2019, but Kaplan warned that the progression system was still very early in development and could change a lot.

Unlockable Talents for Tracer, part of Overwatch 2’s new PvE-exclusive progression system.

The example abilities shown off for Tracer include:

New heroes

Sojourn, Overwatch's first Canadian hero.
Sojourn, Overwatch’s first Canadian hero.

Overwatch 2 will introduce new playable heroes, including both characters that are brand new and “characters you’ve been waiting for.” It will also carry over every hero from the first Overwatch.

Currently confirmed heroes new to Overwatch 2 include:

So far, Sojourn is the only new character announced for Overwatch 2. She is the first Black woman and Canadian hero to grace the game and has a role “right at the center of the story of Overwatch 2,” according to Kaplan.

Described as a mid-range specialist with incredible mobility and artillery skills, Sojourn’s primary weapon is a railgun that generates energy on each successful hit and can then consume that power for a high-impact shot. This makes Sojourn well-suited for players with marksman skills, as they can use that accuracy to deal devastating blows with the railgun’s secondary fire mode.

In addition, Sojourn also has an area-of-effect ability that will snare enemies and eat away at their health, a rocket-powered slide, and an ultimate ability called Overclock. During Overclock, Sojourn can fire shots that pierce through enemies. Secondary fire on the railgun enables her to quickly eliminate enemies with high-powered shots, which Blizzard likened to a “hitscan version” of a Genji’s Dragon Blade attack.

Skins and progress

Kaplan previously confirmed that all progress and cosmetics earned in the first Overwatch will carry over to Overwatch 2. According to Kaplan, “We want to make sure that all Overwatch cosmetics come forward with you into Overwatch 2. So all of your progress matters. Nothing is getting left behind, no one is getting left behind.”

We’ve also seen some new skins for characters returning in Overwatch 2. Here is a complete gallery of what we’ve seen so far:

What Overwatch 2 means for current Overwatch players

In an effort to keep the Overwatch community united, Overwatch and Overwatch 2 players will be able to play the traditional PvP mode together. The original Overwatch will also receive new maps, new heroes, and the new competitive mode, Push. However, the new PvE elements will be exclusive to Overwatch 2.

Hero redesigns

Overwatch 2 is not being designed in a new engine, but it is a “greatly updated” version of the Overwatch engine. Overwatch 2 will have new HUDs for all heroes, and perhaps most importantly, redesigns for all existing heroes. The team wants Overwatch 2 to “have a new look and feel fresh and awesome,” according to its BlizzCon 2019 panel.

Since then, we’ve gotten a couple of looks at ways heroes will be changed in Overwatch 2. Blizzard released a presentation detailing alterations to Sombra and Bastion. You can watch trailers running down the changes out below.

Sombra’s changes will make her more aggressive, with her hacking ability cooling down every three seconds. Hacking will still briefly disable the abilities of characters it afflicts, but more importantly, it’ll boost the damage they take by 50% for eight seconds, the duration of the hack. Her Ultimate is also changing so that it no longer affects shields, but instead damages enemies caught within it up to 40% of their total health. They’ll also be hacked, making them susceptible to even more damage.

Bastion’s changes totally rework the robot, removing its ability to self-repair and its Ultimate ability of transforming into a tank. Bastion’s alternate fire provides an explosive shell that’s good for area denial, and its Ultimate now transforms it into an artillery cannon that can fire three explosive shells anywhere on the map. However, its sentry mode has been considerably reworked. Bastion can now move while transformed, turning the character into a moving gatling gun. While the ability also has a cooldown now, it’s sure to be an essential tool for Bastion players.

We’ve also received a brief look at changes to weapons for Mei and Winston. In a tweet, Blizzard showed off how Mei’s blaster is being made deadlier but no longer freezing enemies solid, and demonstrated a sniper-like alternate fire mode for Winston’s Tesla cannon.

Doomfist and Orisa have also undergone some changes, with Orisa receiving three new abilities and losing her character-defining Protective Barrier, making her more of a frontline fighter. Doomfist, on the other hand, is being converted into a tank, and has been given significantly more health and a new defensive ability called Power Block.

Preorder

As of right now, Overwatch 2 is not available for preorder. If you visit the game’s webpage, clicking the “Buy Overwatch” button directs you to the storefront for the original game rather than its upcoming sequel.

Potential Microsoft acquisition

In the midst of Blizzard’s legal battle, a shocking announcement was made: Microsoft is purchasing the company. On January 18, the Xbox parent company announced its intent to purchase Activision Blizzard for a whopping $68.7 billion, making the deal the biggest in gaming history and Microsoft the third-largest gaming company in the world. As of right now, the deal is still undergoing scrutiny, though it seems overwhelmingly likely the sale will be approved.

Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer says that buying Activision Blizzard will help “accelerate” the company’s plans for cloud gaming, as well as help bolster the value of Xbox Game Pass. Spencer also addressed Blizzard’s reputation for misconduct and shared his desire to help turn things around, stating, “We deeply value individual studio cultures. We also believe that creative success and autonomy go hand-in-hand with treating every person with dignity and respect. We hold all teams, and all leaders, to this commitment. We’re looking forward to extending our culture of proactive inclusion to the great teams across Activision Blizzard.”

If the deal goes through, it is reported that current CEO Bobby Kotick will be leaving the company.





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