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Overwatch 2: all the details and speculation in one place

Overwatch 2 has gargantuan hype. However, release details suggest that it will be a sequel like no other. We investigate how it’s all coming together.

Overwatch 2 has been billed as a true sequel to the hugely successful original. The first game, one of Activision Blizzard’s crown jewels, is focused on multiplayer team-based battles. During these skirmishes players control hero characters, using their unique abilities to aid their allies and destroy their enemies. It’s the perfect recipe for frantic PVP action, made deeper and more addictive by light RPG elements.

However, because of the original’s success and the large number of active online players, crafting Overwatch 2 is a tricky situation. Activision Blizzard have a huge audience that will be excited to see where they take the franchise. On the other hand, they risk losing players who can’t afford to purchase a new game – essentially splitting their player base between two products.

Overwatch 2
Image: Overwatch / Blizzard Entertainment

New characters, maps, and game modes are features that could reignite interest in past, current, and new players alike. Yet because the original is a live-support title, players are already accustomed to these sorts of things being added at regular intervals.

To justify a sequel, Activision Blizzard must make Overwatch 2 more than an update, while allowing current Overwatch players to continue enjoying the product they have already invested heavily in.

This is the unique and complicated situation of Overwatch 2. Despite it all, so far the signs are promising – the developers seem to understand their player base and are crafting a sequel that will offer exciting new options without breaking what they already have going on.

In this guide, we will run through everything we currently know about Overwatch 2 and analyse how this will effect the series moving forward.

Is there an Overwatch 2 release date?

Blizzard is famous for its lengthy development cycles, and Overwatch 2 is proving to be no exception. As the game’s director Jeff Kaplan said in 2019, “just let us make it great, that’s what we care about more than anything. We don’t have a date in mind.

Since that anti-announcement, we have pretty much had confirmation that Activision Blizzard will not be releasing Overwatch 2 in 2021.

However, in Happy Mag’s recent interview with Adam Burgess, Overwatch‘s music composer, a little bit of information did come to the fore. When asked about his current work, Burgess replied “the big exciting thing on the horizon is Overwatch 2. We are currently hard at work creating music for that”.

So, while it’s not exactly a release date, we know that they have started work on the music – something that usually happens later in the development cycle.

The story of Overwatch continues

The original Overwatch game had a storyline, but it was communicated to the player via cutscenes, in-game character chatter, and transmedia content such as comic books. Overwatch 2 will continue this story, but in a more traditional campaign format (more on that below).

What we do know is that the Null Sector, the mysterious robot army that terrorised earth in the first game, are anything but finished.

PVE becomes the focus in Overwatch 2

As we mentioned before, Overwatch 2 needs to introduce new and exciting features without ruining the original’s appeal. What this basically means is that the developers need to leave the online PVP well alone. This leaves them with the PVE game modes to work with.

Story Missions are one of the most interesting features that Activision Blizzard have announced for Overwatch 2. This mode will allow players to cooperatively make their way through levels that directly relate to the game’s story – a clever solution to an issue that Kaplan identified back in 2014:

I don’t think we would ever do a single-player campaign, because the way these characters work… they’re cool when you combine them together“.

By creating a campaign that relies on players cooperating, they can have their cake and eat it too.

That said, how players will be able to team up to complete these missions remains to be explained. I can imagine a matchmaking system working well at launch, but less so after the initial batch of new players move on.

Hero Missions are where these players are meant to move on to. These missions have been designed to be “highly repayable”, suggesting a more challenging experience that can be completed with a number of different strategies. These missions will not have anything to do with the narrative of the game, rather they will function as an alternative to the more competitive PVP matches that the original is known for.

New abilities and skills

Both of these new mission types will feature abilities and skills that can only be used in PVE modes, making them exclusive to Overwatch 2 players. However, in the interest of keeping a level playing field, these powerful abilities will not be useable in PVP – at least to begin with.

This system will give players the ability to customise their favourite heroes, making them more powerful and distinctive than ever before. This particular brand of progress, more often associated with single player games, will be fun and rewarding for fans.

However, I foresee players getting frustrated that they are forced to revert back to ‘vanilla’ versions of their preferred characters in PVP. In fact, it could end up hurting the performance of players that return to PVP after a spell in Overwatch 2’s PVE modes.

overwatch 2 skills
Image: Blizzcon Online 2021
Image: Overwatch 2 Gameplay Trailer

PVP in Overwatch 2 and backwards compatibility

Because of Activision Blizzard’s desire to accommodate players who will not buy Overwatch 2, immediately PVP will remain the same. Well, sort of. It’s probably more accurate to say that players who don’t buy Overwatch 2 will receive a free upgrade to the PVP of Overwatch 2.

How this happens and what it will entail is still a big unknown. Currently the developers are still experimenting with various sorts of tweaks to see how this could change gameplay – much the same as they do year-round with their regular updates.

However, we do know that there will be new characters, as well as new looks for all your current favourites, launching alongside Overwatch 2.

New maps

It has been announced that each mode in Overwatch 2 will receive new maps. The new locations that have been confirmed are Toronto, Gothenburg, Monte Carlo, and Rio De Janeiro. However, which map corresponds to which game mode is still up in the air.

Nonetheless, the maps themselves look fantastic and have just enough creative spark and personality to fit in with the colourful Overwatch vibe.

I can’t get enough of those gorgeous, cherry blossom-looking maple trees that are all over the new Toronto map!

overwatch 2 toronto
Image: Overwatch 2 / Blizzard Entertainment

New characters

It has been kept under wraps how many new characters will be released alongside Overwatch 2. So far we have been introduced to Sojourn, a railgun-wielding Canadian that looks built to deal high amounts of damage in as little time as possible. That said, we’ll have to wait for more information to get a real idea of her playstyle.

Activision Blizzard appears to have big plans for her as a character, describing her as “central figure to the Overwatch organisation“.

Overwatch 2 Soujourn
Image: Overwatch 2 Gameplay Trailer

Considering that Overwatch 2 doesn’t have an official release date yet, there is still a lot of information to come out. We’ll do our best to keep this page updated as new announcements are made.