With Overwatch 2’s launch last month, Devinn Hurley asks: is it really a sequel?
After its initial reveal in November all the way back in 2019, Overwatch 2 finally released for the public on the 4th of October this year. Responses have so far been mixed from fans and critics alike, and it’s important to note that only the PvP portion of the game has been released, with the promised PvE portion set to release in the first half of 2023.
The best change from the original is Overwatch 2’s switch from the 6v6 format of its predecessor to a new 5v5 format dropping one tank per team. This of course prevents you and a friend from queuing together as a tank duo, but in terms of gameplay 5v5 is a noticeable improvement compared to the original Overwatch. Gone are the days of aimlessly shooting into shields. Matches are faster paced and more mechanically driven. The change to 5v5 is part of Blizzard’s new commitment to make Overwatch 2 a true hero shooter and not the first person MOBA that Overwatch often felt like. Matches of Overwatch 2 are more engaging, and less stale than those of Overwatch, due to the aforementioned switch to 5v5, and the other balance changes made to facilitate it.
Overwatch 2 adds three new heroes at launch, Sojourn, Junker Queen, and Kiriko, all of whom are fantastic additions to the roster. Each one is unique compared to the other heroes in their role and they all add something new and fun to the game. Additionally, a suite of new maps have been added to the game, all of which play excellently. The Assault game mode has been removed and replaced with Push, essentially a tug of war. Push plays great but it’s a mark against Overwatch 2 - that an entire game mode from the original is being left behind for the sequel.
Matches are faster paced and more mechanically driven
So, with the positives out of the way, it's time to talk about the negatives. First up was the game’s truly disastrous launch. Shaky server connections and DDOS attacks on Blizzard left many hopeful gamers stuck in queue behind up to 90,000 other players. Servers wouldn’t be fully operational until a week after initial launch. Bugs also marred the release, some minor, some funny, and some game breaking. Bastion, a hero who has been a staple of the franchise since it launched, had to be removed from the game entirely for three weeks because of one of these bugs.
Overwatch 2 doesn’t appear to be a true sequel, except in one way, monetization. Overwatch 1 operated on a single purchase, loot box driven model, but Overwatch 2 has gone free-to-play and has introduced a battle-pass and cash shop to drive revenue. These have been controversial additions with a new hero locked in the battle-pass behind a paywall or a lengthy grind. Pricing is also a pain point for the community with skins reaching the 20 euro mark in the shop.
As you unpack it, Overwatch 2 feels less like a healthy reimaging of what Overwatch can be and more like a way for Blizzard to adapt a successful IP to the modern games-as-a-service business model.