The original Overwatch has been entertaining players worldwide for about 5 years, and in March 2021 Blizzard Entertainment released an updated version for the Xbox Series X and S. While the owners of Microsoft’s new console can enjoy the new performance upgrade, the community at large continues to wait for Overwatch 2. Let’s have a look at what we know so far about the sequel in March 2021.
Old and new
There are those that would say Overwatch 2 looks more like a huge expansion than a stand-alone product, and that’s not far from the truth especially when you consider that the company released their other game – StarCraft II – as a set of three huge parts, each introducing a lot of new things. Blizzard is planning to keep both Overwatch games alive and some of the new features will be made available to the owners of the original. Overwatch 2 will use an updated version of the original engine.
Solo and co-op PvE
The sequel will feature a campaign mode to be played in co-op, enriched by cinematics and expanding on the lore of the universe. Blizzard is famous for top quality videos for their games, and series such as Diablo, Warcraft and StarCraft have given us some of the most memorable cinematics in the history of gaming. Story missions will have Overwatch characters fighting against Null Sector, a robotic extremist group. Some of the campaign areas are Toronto, Rio, Monte Carlo, Gothenburg as well as an Indian location. The campaign will feature several huge maps with unique environments, enemies and characters. Locations will have items available for pickup by any character, but it was reported that they will not carry over to subsequent missions. Players will be able to experience the story mode through co-op or solo with bots.
PvE in Overwatch 2 will involve character progression. By participating in PvE missions, player characters will earn experience that will be used to unlock new character features – presented as a set of three skill trees with seven tiers featuring 1-4 abilities. This will introduce a lot of new gameplay opportunities for characters both old and new. The enemies in PvE missions will include both regular units as well as elites with increased HP and DPS. The second PvE mode is Hero missions, set in locations throughout the world (perhaps even Rome and New York, but so far these two maps have been announced only for PvP). Balancing a PvP game is difficult even without character progression, so it is doubtful skill trees will make their way to competitive modes.
Blizzard has announced early that PvE modes will not be coming to Overwatch 1, and so far not much has changed in this respect.
New PvP elements
Perhaps the biggest announcement in the PvP department is that Blizzard wants to keep the PvP community of Overwatch 1 and 2 together. This means that a lot of the new features will be available to owners of both games and there will be cross-game play between the sequel and its predecessor. It is not yet clear if cross-game will also work cross-platform. PvP modes will include new maps, and so far we know about the abovementioned Rome and New York. There will be several additional multiplayer modes, including Push, where each team has a robot pushing a barrier to the opposite side of the map and needing protection. PvP will introduce new passive abilities referred to as “role passives”, affecting character roles. The developers are also considering making tank characters more effective in close combat, seeing them more as brawlers rather than protectors. One of the new heroes is a female called Sojourn who wields a weapon reminiscent of the classic railgun from the Quake series. Several existing characters will be redesigned.
Cosmetics and lootboxes
There are a lot of good things that can be said about Overwatch, but let’s not forget this is the game that introduced lootboxes, which are now banned in several countries. However, Jeff Kaplan, the game director of Overwatch 2, has recently stated: “we are exploring different options that move us away from loot boxes...”. It seems that the potential for having lootboxes (or the entire game) banned in some countries is enough for Blizzard to change its monetizing policy. The cosmetics will be transferable from the first Overwatch to the sequel.
Overwatch 2 Release date and final thoughts
Blizzard remains silent about the release date for the next Overwatch, and the ongoing health crisis most probably made game development more difficult. The fact they are taking their time is probably for the better. After all, the company has faced several controversies in recent years and have disappointed their fans on a number of occasions. Let us hope that Overwatch 2 becomes a great hit that will put the company back on the right track.