Overwatch 2‘s rumored 2020 release date has come and gone, and players still don’t have the sequel in their hands. Announced at BlizzCon 2019, Blizzard has slowly released details about Overwatch 2, including showing off concept art for new maps and letting streamers sit down to play the game.
Although we still don’t have a release date or any concrete details on pre-orders, Blizzard has still revealed a lot about Overwatch 2, with even more details coming from the recent BlizzConline this February. Until the next event gives us new details to work with, here’s everything we know about Overwatch 2.
- Every Overwatch 2 character confirmed so far
- Overwatch 2 developers explain how the game’s dynamic maps work
- Overwatch pros weigh in on the sequel’s shift to five-player teams
Blizzard announced Overwatch 2 in the opening ceremony of BlizzCon 2019. Although the development team showed off some new content, game director Jeff Kaplan said that he has “no idea” when it will release. At the time, Kaplan said that Blizzard doesn’t “have a date in a mind,” and that’s still true today.
Blizzard still refused to give us a firm release date for Overwatch 2 at 2021’s BlizzCon event. The only news we got regarding the game’s launch was confirmation that it won’t be coming this year. In November, however, some disappointing news hit that both Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 had been delayed. Getting delayed before even having a release window leads us, and many others, to believe that Overwatch 2 may not come around until 2023.
Overwatch is available on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. Blizzard confirmed in 2019 that Overwatch 2 is coming to every platform that currently supports the first game.
Given that Overwatch was released simultaneously on PS4, Xbox One, and PC in 2016, Overwatch 2 will likely launch on PC and consoles on the same day. We don’t know for certain that the game will come to the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, but it would be very strange if it wasn’t based on how long we still have to wait for it.
Although we haven’t had a chance to get our hands on Overwatch 2 yet, some players have. YouTuber ohnickel was allowed to stream nearly two hours of gameplay from the BlizzCon 2019 show floor. And, unsurprisingly, the game looks great.
During the 2021 BlizzCon event, we got a look at a new talent system that shows each character having their own abilities and skill trees to unlock. Odds are this will be specific to the PvE modes of the game, but it may show up in traditional multiplayer as well. We also saw that some characters are getting a facelift. Reinhardt doesn’t have a helmet anymore, Mercy got a haircut, and Lucio has glowing hair. So far, there are new character designs for Tracer, Mercy, Lucio, Reinhardt, Genji, Mei, and Winston, which you can find here. It sounds like all of the heroes are getting a graphical update, though.
To those versed in Overwatch lore, Sojourn is a natural inclusion for Overwatch 2. She’s been featured in multiple cinematics for the original game and has roots dating back to before Overwatch’s 2016 launch. Michael Chu, lead writer of Overwatch 2, told PlayStation Blog that “she will be extremely important to the events that take place in Overwatch 2.” Still, we know very little about how Sojourn will actually play.
It’s pretty clear that she’s an Offense hero, though. In place of arms, Sojourn has two guns. One is clearly shown as an assault rifle in the gameplay trailer, though the other remains a mystery. For a briefing shot at the end of the trailer, it looks like a shotgun or maybe a grenade launcher, but it’s hard to say for sure. We do know that she’s Canadian, so we expect many of the story missions will take place on the Toronto map.
Going backward, all Overwatch heroes will be in Overwatch 2. In the announcement panel, as well as several interviews, Kaplan has confirmed that they’re not cutting any characters from the roster, simply adding new ones. We’ll likely see some balance changes to account for the new heroes, but the roster is only going to grow from here on out.
Overwatch 2′s multiplayer PvP environment is simply an extension of the first game. When playing competitively, all players will operate in the same ecosystem, regardless of the game version they have. Blizzard will add new PvP content to Overwatch, creating a centralized system for all players.
We don’t know how this will look, however. You may need an external account, but that seems unlikely given Blizzard’s dedication to maintaining the current Overwatch ecosystem. We know that players with both versions of the game will play together. However, we don’t know if players on other platforms will play together.
This centralized approach also affects cosmetics. All of your cosmetics from the first game will transfer to Overwatch 2. Although Blizzard isn’t releasing any new heroes for the base game until the sequel launches, the cosmetic factory is still in full swing. Even now, you can rest assured that if you earn rewards from loot boxes, you’ll have them in Overwatch 2.
Overwatch has been at the center of the controversy surrounding loot boxes, though they may not be present in the second entry. In an interview with PCGamesN, Overwatch 2 game director Jeff Kaplan had this to say: “Well, we have made a lot of changes to loot boxes and how they work over the years, so we’re definitely open to change. Overwatch 2, in terms of business model, we’re exploring different options that move us away from loot boxes…” In the same interview, Kaplan mentioned a battle pass, though not as a direct replacement for loot boxes.
Overwatch 2 will bring a few new multiplayer game modes, but we only know about one: Push. Essentially, two teams each have a robot pushing a barrier to the other side of the map. If you push back the enemy team far enough, the barrier will move forward and vice versa. Push is a bit of a riff on Escort, except both teams have payloads they need to protect.
Frankly, it looks excellent. The focus on two central points opens up a lot of possibilities. Sure, you’re going to encounter a firefight around each barrier. However, you can use that to your advantage to hang back and attack from a different angle.
In a very controversial move, especially among the competitive scene, Blizzard has chosen to change one of the core dynamics of Overwatch in the sequel by reducing team sizes from 6 players to just 5. The game’s director, Aaron Keller, claims this change was to help simplify the game that can have “a lot going on” and make it easier for players to know what’s happening and what they should be doing. During a live stream, Keller said, “Overwatch has changed over time,” Keller said during the livestream. “We’ve gone from having no hero limits at all in the game, to having a hero limit. We ended up introducing a role lock over the course of the game. And we feel like this is the next step in the way that Overwatch ought to be played.”
Along with the change from 6v6 to 5v5, teams will also be limited to only one tank character per team. On this, Keller said, “Tanks can be problematic. A [damage-per-second] hero is simple — they’re shooting. But a tank has abilities that can be noisy, or when stacked with other tanks can cause problems for other teams to try to overcome and counter.”
Finally, besides just the addition of new maps to keep things fresh, Overwatch 2’s maps will also include a system called Environment States. This will give maps a new feel each time you play by implementing different weather effects and times of day. That means one match may see you playing a certain map during the night, or another during a snowstorm or desert map during a sandstorm.
The only things that Blizzard won’t add to Overwatch are the PvE modes. There are two types of PvE missions: Story and Hero.
Story mode is, essentially, a co-op Overwatch 2 campaign. Players will join arms as various heroes from the Overwatch roster to take down the robotic Null Sector. Although we don’t know much about Story mode yet, we do know that you’ll be able to pick up items while you’re playing. Playing as Tracer, for example, you could pick up a barrier shield to protect you when bullets start flying. None of the items are exclusive to any particular hero, but they won’t carry over between missions. Each mission will also feature one of Blizzard’s excellent cinematics to lead you in and out of the mission.
Hero mode is a living PvE environment. The missions are designed for high replayability, allowing players to group up and take on the same swarm of enemies over and over again. These will be played across many maps, with unpredictable objectives and enemies thrown in each time you play. The main draw of this mode seems to be character progression. As you play Hero missions, you’ll earn experience for the hero you’re playing as, which unlocks modifiers for that hero’s abilities. Given how strict Blizzard is about competitive play, we suspect that these buffs are exclusive to PvE.
It’s probably safe to assume Overwatch 2 will receive DLC over time, just like the original game. However, it probably won’t fit the mold of traditional DLC released for single-player games. As a “live” game, Blizzard will likely continue monetizing Overwatch 2 with cosmetics and in-game items, not expansions or map packs. Instead, Overwatch 2 will get that content for free, like the first game.
Overwatch continues to receive updates from Blizzard with new content, even four years after release. Players can expect that Blizzard will continue releasing that content for Overwatch 2.
Pre-orders for Overwatch 2 haven’t gone live yet, and with the recent news of a delay making most agree that the game isn’t even releasing in 2022, odds are we’re quite a long way off from hearing anything about pre-orders.
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