Game time: 40 hours
What is Overwatch 2? It transforms the game from a 6-to-6 team shooter to 5 to 5, introduces new heroes and maps, and other changes that you can expect from the sequel, but it also replaces the original Overwatch. This game is not obsolete, in fact it is unavailable to the Blizzard developer who took it offline. There is no Overwatch now, only Overwatch 2. Therefore, it is not best described as a “sequel”, despite the title “2”. However, it is also not a “glorified patch” as some wanted to name it.
Instead, I started to think of it as “renovation”. Overhauling the design philosophy and structure, Overwatch 2 is re-focusing on what makes this team shooter formula unique. This is the second shift to a brilliant premise – a goal-based, competitive role-playing game – that has previously begun to show stagnation, plunging into old streaks and not adding new champions for over two years.
At first glance, Overwatch 2 looks like a bit of paint to many new and returning players, with the only immediately noticeable difference to the gameplay being the switch from 6v6 to 5v5. So why do I feel like this is one of the best competitive shooters of all time?
Overwatch 2 price and release date
- What is this? Overhaul of Blizzard’s beloved shooter
- Release date: October 4, 2022
- Price: Free games
- How can I play it? PC, PS5, PS4, XSX | S, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch
Thank you very much
This move to 5v5 may not sound like much, but it’s quietly a brilliant choice. Tanks have always been one of the most important roles, but being a sponge to all of the enemy’s damage and abilities was an unrewarding task, making him one of the least anticipated roles. By removing the tank, Blizzard made the battles smoother and more fierce. It helps that the characters in this role have been tweaked to compensate for the loss of one muscle on the battlefield. As a tank, you can now command combat space in a more proactive way, which makes timing much more enjoyable.
The developers also uncompromisingly looked at the role of “crowd control” in the game. There’s a whole set of skills in Overwatch like Freeze Mei, Stun Cassidy and Brigitte, Hack Sombra, and more that temporarily limit your ability to control a character. In Overwatch 2, all of these abilities have been replaced or heavily nerfed, meaning they are less disruptive to your moment-to-moment experience.
Both changes to tank control and crowd control solve problems later in Overwatch’s life. If you haven’t played in several years, you may not realize how bogged down the game of shields and skills. Crowd control has become a way of life in Overwatch. You had the feeling that at any moment in a match the enemy’s skills were bothering you. They were powerful tools, but it did mean that most of the time you felt like you were dealing with skill rotations rather than eliminations. This is a negative seating space as a player. Overwatch 2 is a night and day shift for those familiar with the meta stagnation that has plagued the first game in the last few years.
These changes come together and solve a serious problem with the original: too often you have belonged to a team that refuses to cooperate, making it impossible to win. Overwatch 2 changes that.
When there is one less player in the team, the kill has more value, so you can have more influence on the match thanks to your individual play. There are no longer two tanks on the enemy frontline, so there is less in the way of dealing damage. This makes the battle appear more open, with more emphasis on confirming eliminations. A well thought out, skillfully made game seems possible again.
There is a sense of individual amplification under Overwatch 2 for a much richer experience. Playing for a team, I can see my play helping the whole team to come closer to victory. While these solo glitter moments were possible before, in Overwatch 2, you now have the power to make them happen more often.
The world could always use more heroes
Not all changes to Overwatch 2 are under the hood, however. At launch, three new characters await you – one for each of the three roles. Sojourn, the DPS hero, is a highly mobile marksman who can shoot head-rending rifle shots when charged. The Junker Queen, Tank expansion pack, is a high-profile brawl that involves bumping into enemies’ faces to keep her healthy. Kiriko’s newest hero is also a fascinating support. While it doesn’t have huge immediate healing, it does have surprising mortality rates and skills that make it difficult to master but unique in the right hands.
Each hero brings something new to the roster, but they’re all clearly Overwatch. These are intricate creations that are used to perform tasks on the battlefield. Most importantly, however, they’re all great to play.
As a Sojourn, it’s not uncommon for you to slip around a corner at the start of a fight, build your rifle shot, and then smash through the hero to start a team fight. As Queen of the Junkyard, I’ve fought through an enemy team to get behind her, only to turn around and use her Rampage ultimate, shoving them back into my team for a clean-up. Kiriko also has incredible clutch potential. It’s common for a teammate to dove through an enemy, then teleport through a wall, grant an ally invulnerability, and use her Kunai to kill an incoming attacker. Each of these three heroes feels very active and talks about that individual “pop-off” factor that makes Overwatch 2 battles so much better.
Push it real good
In addition to the heroes, the game introduces six new maps and loses Assault (more commonly referred to as 2 maps with checkpoints). Previously, they were difficult to balance and had problems with snowballs or very long holds. In its place, there is a new Push mode, in which teams use the robot in the opposite way, like Tug of War.
Push is different from anything else in the history of the game. Encourages a very open-minded game with maps designed around open lines of sight and battles centered around a target that is in constant motion. But again, with a greater emphasis on individual impact, this mode really lets the Overwatch 2 master tenant shine brightly.
All six of the new maps are also beautiful, with Midtown being a personal favorite. The action takes place in New York and players fight in the streets as they try to escort a fire truck to a huge Grand Central-style train station. Other highlights include the Circuit Royale where players escort an F1 car around Monaco at night with bright lights and lavish décor, while Esperança is a winding multi-level map set in a charming Portuguese seaside town with quiet bakeries and open squares. The new maps are certainly the most detailed and striking-looking in the history of the game, and the Blizzard art team is doing their best job.
The price you pay
Where Overwatch 2 is in danger of losing some players, it’s a sharp sprint to the game-as-service model.
Overwatch came out as service games really took off, and its then-controversial lootbox system is almost peculiar in the face of the microtransaction landscape of 2022. Blizzard rolled out a free game for Overwatch 2. Now has a Battle Pass and Premium currency for skins. You won’t find anything here that also doesn’t happen in Apex Legends, Fortnite, Warzone, Valorant or Rainbow 6 Siege, but understandably some players might hate this new direction.
However, the upside to this model, which will watch a new season with a new champion or map every nine weeks, is that it gives Overwatch 2 a sense of having a future – and more than that, something to hold on to. Overwatch has not received a single major content update in two years. No new heroes, modes or maps, and the game stagnated without them. This free model is the way Blizzard plans to continue supporting Overwatch 2, promising not to let the game get stale. Now the question is whether that promise is kept.
Overwatch 2 is a strange beast, it’s not a sequel, it’s not a patch, it’s a new invention. There are many changes to the fundamental pillars here. You may not like losing your second tank. You may not love his new focus. You may hate its new monetization.
However, while playing, I can’t help but remember why I fell in love with the original. Her sense of hope, fueled by art direction and character work, as well as a unique competitive experience. Overwatch 2 captured everything I loved about the first game, without all the caveats that ultimately eroded the experience.
“What is Overwatch 2?” Well, it’s brilliant.