Overwatch 2: The heroes, modes, and changes we expect from Blizzard’s strange sequel

When is Overwatch 2 coming out? That question is stilled marred in mystery, but a recent update from Blizzard suggests we’ll get to play the PvP portion of Overwatch 2 relatively soon. It’s a bizarre sequel, with some of its new game modes and heroes also coming to Overwatch 1. thanks to a behind-the-scenes talk during BlizzCon 2021, though, we do at least know a bit more about what’s to come in Overwatch 2. Blizzard’s goal is for both games to coexist. Whether you’re planning on picking up Overwatch 2 or sticking with the first game, you’ll be able to play alongside players from both in PvP modes. That said, Overwatch 2 will primarily focus on PvE story missions. Following their successful character cinematics, which have consistently proved to be big hits with the community, expect to see a heavier focus on relaxed environments and lore in this game.

Here’s everything Blizzard has said so far about Overwatch 2.

When is Overwatch 2’s release date?

At BlizzCon 2019, Blizzard said that Overwatch 2 is still early in development and isn’t sure when it will release. “I don’t know. I have no idea,” former game director Jeff Kaplan said at the reveal panel. “Like, just let us make it great, that’s what we care about more than anything. We don’t have a date in mind.”

We had our eyes set on 2022, but it’s not happening anymore; that was Blizzard’s plan. Alongside its November 2021 quarterly earnings call, Blizzard stated that Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 have both been delayed.

A 2023 release now looks likely, but Blizzard recently decided to “decouple” the PvP portion of the game from PvE, suggesting new maps, modes, and heroes could come sooner than we thought.

Overwatch 2 beta sign up.

Overwatch 2’s first closed beta is kicking off in late April. You can sign up for right here. The beta will include a lot of new stuff that has previously only been seen in showcase videos:

  • New Damage Hero: Sojourn
  • New Game Mode: Push
  • 5v5 Multiplayer
  • Hero Reworks
  • 4 New Maps

Blizzard is splitting up PvP and PvE in Overwatch 2

It was always the plan for Overwatch 2’s new modes, maps, and heroes to come to the original game as a free update, but Blizzard has now decided that Overwatch 2’s PvP will split from PvE and release at different times. Blizzard is making this changed so it can release new stuff “sooner,” and this begins with an Overwatch 2 closed beta that starts in April.

Does this mean Overwatch 2 will release in some form in 2022? That much isn’t clear, but since it seems like PvE is taking longer than expected, the new PvP additions now have more room to breath.

What does the Microsoft purchase mean for Overwatch 2?

InIfhe internet has been out for you and you missed the news that Microsoft is acquiring Activision Blizzard in their quest to assemble video-game-developer-Voltron, it’s happening. However, when it comes to Overwatch 2, what this means is still uncertain.

It’s unlikely we’ll see much in the way of effects for awhile, since Overwatch 2 is slated for 2023, and the deal itself hasn’t been finalized yet. But it’s likely we’ll get some commentary on all the big Blizzard projects once the deal turns over, much like any kid—enormous-corporate-conglomerate or small—Microsoft will want to play with their new toys.

Competitive teams will use a build of Overwatch 2 in 2022

We don’t know much about the 2022 season of the Overwatch League just yet, but we do know that competitive players will be using an “early build” of Overwatch 2 in 2022. Blizzard confirmed this is still the plan despite Overwatch 2’s delay. The season is set to begin sometime in April 2022, meaning that the sequel will be out in the wild, albeit in an extremely limited fashion, in the first half of next year.

What we learned at BlizzCon 2021

Overwatch 2 didn’t get the same opening ceremony treatment that its Blizzard cousins, but that hardly means it didn’t have any exciting announcements. We now have a much better sense of how Blizzard is tweaking Overwatch around its sequel. On the PvP side, big change is on the horizon. Tanks will be modified to play more aggressively (Reinhardt’s current iteration lets him throw two Fire strikes per cooldown and cancel his charge at will).

Blizzard also stated its intention to revamp modes as needed. GaFor instance, game director Jeff Kaplan suggested that the unpopular two capture point mode may be gone forever in Overwatch 2. A new way may replace that Blizzard feels confident in, like Push. We didn’t hear anything more about the robot-on-robot Push mode at BlizzCon 2021.

What is Overwatch 2, exactly?

Well, it’s a sequel to Overwatch, but not in the way that we usually think about sequels. By its sound, Overwatch 2 is more like a significant expansion that focuses primarily on PvE missions. These missions appear to build off the Overwatch Archive seasonal events from the past few years. The new story missions will likely have more story, dialogue, and cutscenes than the highly repeatable limited-time events. We go over those in greater detail below.

Overwatch 2’s PvP will be 5v5 teams with only one tank

During a Livestream in May, Blizzard revealed that Overwatch 2 would change team sizes down from six to five. It will also change up team composition, which will be limited to one tank, two DPS, and two support.

“We feel like this is the next step in the way that Overwatch ought to be played,” game director Aaron Keller said. “If you think about it, a lot is going on in an Overwatch map. It is incredibly fast-paced. We have always tried to make our combat easy to read and very understandable, and even with all of the work that we’ve put into that, sometimes it’s just hard to track what 11 other players are doing on the battlefield. Removing two of those simplifies everything, and it allows players to understand everything that’s happening around them and make better choices.”

Tanks will also undergo some individual changes for Overwatch 2 aimed at making them “a lot more aggressive,” lead hero designer Geoff Goodman said. “They’ll be a little more hybrid-y on the gameplay side, and less just wall protection.

Game director Jeff Kaplan has left Blizzard

In April 2021, Jeff Kaplan announced he would be leaving Blizzard. KaFormer assistant director Aaron Keller takes over Kaplan’s role as game director for Overwatch.

“While I have no pretenses about filling Jeff’s shoes, I’m excited to step into the game director role and continue to be part of a team that’s putting all of its heart, talent, and focus into the next iteration of Overwatch and I’m honored to continue serving this incredible community,” Keller said. He also noted that development of Overwatch 2 is “continuing at a good pace.”

ThOverwatch 2 will have a story that moves forward, and this is the kickoff. e new 8-minute cinematic feels like a dramatic declaration of a new Overwatch age. It feels different from the disjointed hero cinematics that we’ve gotten used to over the years, tying together multiple characters into a focused story. The Overwatch 2 gameplay trailer is a quick rundown of everything coming in the sequel. We get a look at the level, co-op, and the new hero Sojourn.

Overwatch 2 PvE missions are divided between ‘Story’ and ‘Hero’ missions

Overwatch 2 is going all-in on PvE. The game’s main campaign, made up of co-operative Story Missions, will see new and old Overwatch heroes teaming up against the Null Sector, the robotic army players fought in the Uprising event from the original game.

According to Blizzard, players will “team up as different sets of heroes and fight to defend the world from the omnic forces of Null Sector, uncover the motives behind the robotic armies’ attacks, and come face-to-face with rising new threats around the globe.”

Story missions will also have item pickups that can slightly modify a hero’s playstyle. The three shown were an HP generator, a corrosive grenade, and a barrier shield similar to Winston’s. Any hero in the mode can pick these up and use them at will, but they don’t carry over between missions.

On the other end of PvE are Hero Missions, missions separate from the story that are designed to be highly replayable. In this mode, players can level up heroes and unlock customization options that modify their abilities. InWeee, a modified Tracer build thin the gameplay trailer at chains her Pulse Bomb explosion to multiple enemies.

As far as we can tell, these ability modifiers are exclusive to PvE and won’t have any impact on PvP.

Get ready for skill trees, baby

To further increase the replayability of Overwatch 2’s Hero Missions, each hero will have three distinct skill trees that enable some bonkers ability that would never work in PvP. Kaplan used the intriguing example of Junkrat dual-wielding grenade launchers. That sounds incredible.

The behind-the-scenes video also detailed Soldier 76’s “snowplough” build, which gives him the ability to push enemies away from him in a wave. This also pleases me.

Overwatch 2 may not have loot boxes

In an interview with PCGamesN, game director Jeff Kaplan discussed how the team is exploring other monetization models for Overwatch 2. “Well, we have made a lot of changes to loot boxes and how they work over the years, so we’re open to change. Overwatch 2, in terms of business model, we’re exploring different options that move us away from loot boxes, but I think that will be more for Overwatch 2 than the core game. I would never rule anything out,” he said.

Kaplan also said that he thinks battle passes are a great idea, but wouldn’t go as far to say that Overwatch would implement something similar. Still, assuming Blizzard doesn’t come up with a different model altogether, battle passes are a good guess.

Youtuber oh nickel is one of several content creators who were allowed to stream their Overwatch 2 demo from the BlizzCon 2019 floor. The video above is a fairly comprehensive look at a story mission and the new PvP Push mode.

Overwatch 2 hands-on impressions

Joanna sat down with Overwatch 2 at BlizzCon 2019 and felt like she’d played an expansion rather than a full-on sequel. Read on for hands-on impressions of the story mode and Push PvP mode.

Sojourn is one of Overwatch 2’s multiple new heroes

And she looks fabulous. We don’t know much about Sojourn yet (other than that she’s Canadian). But her build and intimidating gun arm suggest that she’s a damage-focused hero. In her highlight intro seen in the gameplay trailer. She also slides into a super jump, so mobility might be her thing. In an interview with PlayStation Blog, lead writer Michael Chu said that Sojourn is a “central figure to the Overwatch organization, and a critical character moving forward.”

At BlizzCon 2021, we got a better look at her intriguing loadout. Sojourn is the first Overwatch hero to wield an FPS classic: the railgun. It looks incredibly powerful if her shots land, but you’ll have to pick your targets carefully. Each image appears to require an initial charge-up, similar to Widowmaker.

Blizzard is being coy about how many other new heroes we can expect at the launch of Overwatch 2. Fans previously suspected that Echo, the elegant flying Robo revealed in the announcement trailer, would be another new hero in Overwatch 2, but turned out to be the last hero added to the original Overwatch.

Overwatch 2’s new Push mode is a tug-of-war match

Overwatch 2 is getting a new map type called Push. The premise is as simple as it sounds: Two teams fight over control of a robot that pushes two barriers back and forth across the map. Whichever team goes farther into the other’s territory wins.

Push sounds like a cool twist on traditional payload that might encourage different hero compositions based on which team is pushing farther. During the Overwatch2 BlizzCon panel, assistant game director Aaron Keller described the mode as “really funky” because players can access various points along the robot’s path through different shortcuts and connections.

You can see what he means when looking at this overview of the Toronto map. Keller said heroes that wouldn’t normally see as much utility on Control or Payload maps (Tracer, Reaper, etc) excel in Push thanks to flanking routes.

Like all PvP content in Overwatch 2, Push maps are also coming to Overwatch 1.

Overwatch 2’s new PvP maps are predictably gorgeous

Overwatch 2’s website and panel revealed a few new maps coming with the sequel, with the promise of more to come. The first four shown above are Monte Carlo, Toronto, Gothenburg, and Rio De Janeiro. The last one with the big ring in the sky is still a mystery, but I sure like its style.

We know that Toronto is a Push map type, but the rest are unclear. During the Overwatch 2 panel, Monte Carlo was shown with a payload. Jeff Kaplan also revealed that every mode will receive new maps with Overwatch 2, so there’s a lot more to be revealed.

Overwatch 2 PvP is compatible with the original game

The two matches will be utterly compatible since Overwatch 1 is receiving all of the PvP updates coming in Overwatch 2. Overwatch 2 players can party up with Overwatch 1 players like they always have.

This is really cool, but it also raises interesting questions. Will Overwatch 1 receive the same graphical updates promised in Overwatch 2? If not, will players see things a bit differently depending on their version of the game?

No more new heroes will release until Overwatch 2

With the release of Echo, Blizzard is continuing to wind down support for the original Overwatch as it prepares for Overwatch 2. No more new heroes will come to the game until Overwatch 2’s release, will have multiple new heroes at launch (including Sojourn).

We should also expect seasonal events to be simple reruns of past years’ content from here on out. The one train that doesn’t stop is the cosmetic department, which is still pumping out top-notch skins for events.

All existing Overwatch cosmetics will carry over to the sequel

For existing players of Overwatch, that’s huge news. Going into Overwatch 2, many players will already have an extensive library of skins to equip. This backward compatibility is great to see, but I wonder if Overwatch 2 skins will come to the old game. Based on the “shared multiplayer environment,” it sounds that way.

Lucio’s hair glows now?

Listen, I know there’s a lot of seemingly more important stuff going on in Overwatch 2, but we need to talk about this. His hair is glowing. It’s like glow-in-the-dark Play-Doh noodles. I like it, but is it even hair? Is it a synthetic replacement, or some nylon cover over his real hair? Where do I get some?

 

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