In an era of live service games, where titles are supported many years after their initial launch, Overwatch 2 is an oddity. More than half a decade old, Blizzard’s original multiplayer shooter has received countless updates, introducing new maps, modes, events, and of course, new heroes. What’s potentially confusing about Overwatch 2 is that it’s not a fully fledged sequel, not a separate game but one that will completely replace the original. It can be seen as a major expansion; a second chapter that comes in tow with a payload of fresh and reworked content for both returning fans and first-time players.
At its heart, Overwatch 2 hasn’t changed: matches are now 5 versus 5, the loot boxes are gone, and many characters have received facelifts, but that intoxicating blend of objective-based play and rewarding teamwork remains. Its high octane multiplayer action will have you gritting your teeth in those clutch moments while punching the air with each expertly-timed ultimate.
So, how exactly does Overwatch 2 integrate with the original game? In short, it will completely replace Overwatch at launch, ushering in a new era for the hero shooter. Don’t worry though, your career progression and unlocks will carry over – not only that, Overwatch 2 will be free-to-play. On one hand, this is bound to upset a minority of legacy Overwatch diehards, but it creates an exciting opportunity to welcome lapsed fans and newcomers into the community.
In terms of new content, the team at Blizzard have been hard at work inventing new heroes and reworking existing ones while also creating new maps. When Overwatch 2 finally lands in October it will also debut Push, a tug-of-war style game mode that changes up the typical attack/defend dynamic of other match types. Your objective is to rally around a giant robot as it advances into enemy territory towards an end goal. However, if the opposing team manages to gain control, the robot will march in the opposite direction, the winners either reaching the goal destination or pushing the objective furthest within the time limit.
Heroes have always been a massive part of the Overwatch experience with three new characters about to join the existing roster. First up there’s a Sojourn, a newb-friendly damage hero who somewhat mirrors Soldier 76 with her straightforward railgun weapon and abilities. New tank hero, Junker Queen, is slightly more complex, buffing nearby allies while causing close-range carnage with her Scattergun and axe. A third hero (hopefully a support) has been confirmed for the game’s October 4th release date, with an additional tank character rocking up at the end of 2022.
Of course, there are more heroes planned throughout 2023 and beyond, along with maps, modes, and other content. However, one major part of Overwatch 2 that fans are most looking forward to most is the hotly-anticipated PvE experience. Blizzard has yet to share a deep dive though we’re expecting PvE to evolve those time-limited co-op skirmishes that featured in the original game. In truth we’d like to see something similar to Destiny’s dungeon-like Strikes or survival missions akin to Call of Duty’s Zombies. The challenge Blizzard needs to overcome is making this content either highly replayable or satisfying enough for a single run.
As a concept, Overwatch 2 is a bit strange to get your head around at first. However, over time the rationale behind Blizzard’s numbering starts to make a bit more sense, taking the opportunity to replace the original game with a more refined, content-rich version of the game’s core multiplayer ideas, while also adopting a completely different approach to monetisation.
Overwatch 2 will officially launch on October 4, 2022, for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. The closed beta is now on and runs until 18th July. Here’s how to sign up.