Overwatch 2 Review

The original Overwatch game was a huge success for Blizzard, earning critical acclaim and becoming one of gaming’s biggest new IPs of the past decade. Blizzard supported the original Overwatch with cosmetic items, game modes, seasonal events, and new heroes, keeping fans engaged for a long time. But a few years after its release, Blizzard announced Overwatch 2, a game that promised a hero makeover, new PvP content, and most excitingly, a proper story campaign. Overwatch 2 and Blizzard itself have seen a lot of change since the game’s initial release in 2019, and the launch may not have been what many fans had hoped for following the release of the game’s emotionally charged trailer.

Before getting into the details of its shortcomings, it’s important to emphasize that Overwatch 2 is a hugely entertaining game that will keep fans playing for hundreds of hours. It boasts an impressive roster of 35 heroes, with three new characters joining the sequel’s early access roster. It features a plethora of vibrant, impressively designed and memorable maps, and offers a selection of PvP game modes, including a brand new push mode.

The biggest change to Overwatch 2 is the drop from a 6v6 setup to a 5v5, which is dramatic but doesn’t prevent the game from still feeling like Overwatch. In character queues, the new setting allows for one tank hero, two damage heroes, and two support heroes per team. Overwatch 2 Tanks have been significantly polished and reworked to make this new setup possible. Orisa has changed the most, losing her shield and her original ultimate in favor of a spear that can be thrown or used to lure hapless enemies for devastating melee slams.

overwatch-2-orisa-throws-spear Other Overwatch 2 tank heroes retain their existing abilities, but have mostly been enhanced. Reinhardt can now throw two Fire Strikes at once, and he can also cancel Charge. Zarya has two bubbles to use, and Roadhog can use hooks and heals alongside his ult. Using fewer shields, switching to a 5v5 setup, and changes to tank heroes makes Overwatch 2 more aggressive and faster-paced in Overwatch. It’s still unmistakably Overwatch, but it’s more action-packed and exciting than ever.

Some will crave the 6v6 setup of the original Overwatch, but most will quickly move to 5v5. It’s one of the riskiest, most effective changes to Overwatch 2, and one of the few things that makes the game feel like a sequel. The other gameplay changes and additions are great for the most part, and the three new Overwatch 2 heroes are a lot of fun to play.

Every character in Overwatch 2 gets a new hero. The new damage hero is Sojourn, a soldier with enhanced mobility and abilities for those who like both the simplicity of Soldier 76’s gear and the accuracy demanded by snipers like Widowmaker. The new tank hero is the Junker Queen, who can throw knives at enemies and pull them towards her, similar to Roadhog’s hook. The new support hero is Kiriko, the only new character that didn’t appear in the game’s multiplayer beta.

overwatch  2 kiriko  spirit  fox Most die-hard Overwatch fans have probably been in the Overwatch 2 multiplayer beta, so they’ve already played Sojourn and Junker Queen, but Kiriko is brand new. Kiriko is the first new support hero in over three years, and she’s very popular. She’s able to walk through walls, heal allies with a stream of magical amulets, and throw an item into the ground that temporarily renders her allies invulnerable, which is great for countering devastating ultimate attacks. Even better, Kiriko is equipped with a deadly kunai that deals a ton of critical hit damage, so she’s not only an effective healer, but also an effective attacker.

Kiriko’s ultimate in Overwatch 2 is a force to be reckoned with in the right hands. It creates a path of torii gates that give any teammates within it a massive speed boost, allowing them to send their attacks and abilities in a way that can completely change the tide of battle. Games in Overwatch 2 can legitimately be won or lost if Kiriko’s ult is used effectively, which is why blocking access to her behind the Battle Pass is a huge mistake.

In the original Overwatch, new heroes and maps were always added to the game for free. This keeps Overwatch players on an even playing field, giving the game a sense of fairness that other shooters lack. In an effort to convince people to buy the premium battle pass, Overwatch 2 ditched that idea and made players have to grind all the way to level 55 to unlock Kiriko, or buy the battle pass and unlock her instantly.

overwatch  2 kiriko  legendary  skin It wouldn’t be that bad if you could reach level 55 in the Overwatch 2 battle pass without spending ridiculous amounts of game time, but it doesn’t. It will probably take weeks for most free game players to unlock Kiriko. In other words, after playing 90+ games and winning 50, we’re only at Tier 32 in Battle Pass. There’s a 20% XP boost to owning the Premium Battle Pass, so those who choose to stick with the free pass will have more work to do.

The best way for Overwatch 2 players to speed up their battle pass progress is by completing challenges, which are a great new addition to the game. Overwatch 2 has Daily, Weekly, Seasonal, Competitive, Lifetime, and Heroic challenges for players to complete, most of which offer a substantial boost from the Battle Pass. Some challenges may encourage players to play in ways that are not good for the team, such as asking support hero Zenyatta to use his new kick ability to kill in the environment, but most challenges just encourage players to try new heroes and explore game modes beyond Standard quick and competitive play options. The rewards don’t always equate to the work required to earn them, like winning 100 competitive matches for half your battle pass tier, but they still at least make the battle pass less boring.

The growing distaste for loot boxes and the fact that they are outright banned in some countries meant that Blizzard had to change the monetization of Overwatch 2. However, locking new heroes behind Battle Pass, especially if Battle Pass is as filthy as it is in its current state, isn’t the right thing to do. Honestly, Overwatch loot boxes are one of the least egregious in the industry, as they only offer cosmetic items and players can unlock a ton of premium skins in the game without paying a dime. Ironically, it seems that Overwatch 2’s attempt to get rid of loot boxes has actually made the game’s monetization more predatory and far less consumer-friendly.

overwatch  2 competitive  play Another way Overwatch 2 is more anti-consumer than its predecessor is its new phone number requirement. Overwatch 2’s phone number requirement is designed to strengthen the game’s security, making it harder for cheaters to create new accounts and log back in immediately after a ban. However, this creates an unnecessary barrier for legitimate players to enter the game. As evidenced by related fan posts on social media, some people’s phone numbers are not accepted by Battle.net, for example, if they use a prepaid phone. This may be a relatively small number of people, but there are people who buy Overwatch 1 and enjoy it, and then suddenly they won’t be able to play the game they paid for because their phone number is not compatible. Since the vast majority of free-to-play games don’t require a phone number, it’s safe to say that most gamers will be fine without one, even if it means in the unlikely event that their account is compromised somehow Security will be reduced.

Many gamers will be able to ignore this new requirement as they will have a compatible phone service provider and simply update their Battle.net account to jump into Overwatch 2. But that inconvenience was far from the only reason some fans were frustrated or disappointed by the release of Overwatch 2.

Overwatch 2 introduces six new maps, three new heroes, and a new Push game mode. However, it also moves away from the raid game mode of quick and competitive play. That means Overwatch 2 actually has the same number of game modes as its predecessor, and only three more maps in total. The biggest disappointment is the complete absence of a much-hyped story event, which is indeed one of the sequel’s biggest selling points, if not its biggest. Admittedly, the game is technically in early access, but those who have been waiting for an Overwatch sequel for years may be disappointed.

The Overwatch 2 story campaign is expected to launch next year, along with a ton of new PvP content. Blizzard showed us some upcoming heroes, maps, game modes, and more for 2023 and beyond, and assuming everything goes according to plan, Overwatch players will never have to suffer from content depletion again. Add all of that, and Overwatch 2 becomes a game that feels like a sequel to the original. But don’t judge a game by what it will be. It can only be judged according to the current situation. And right now, Overwatch 2 is mostly made up of content that fans have been playing for years, and while it’s still very interesting, it’s disappointing. For longtime players, Overwatch 2 may feel more like a glorified update, but the progression issues and enjoyment barriers that existed in the original game didn’t exist. In its current state, Overwatch 2 is more of a product than art, but there’s still plenty of time between now and the game’s 1.0 release to turn things around.

Overwatch 2 is out now in Early Access for PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. Game Rant obtained the PC code for this review.

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