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Overwatch 2
OW2 Logo Dark

Developer
Blizzard Entertainment

Team 4

Publisher
Blizzard Entertainment
Release date
October 4, 2022[1] (early access)
August 10, 2023[2] (official release)
Platforms
Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

Overwatch 2 is the free-to-play replacement and sequel to Overwatch. It was released on August 10, 2023 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and the Nintendo Switch.

Story[ | ]

Overwatch 2 takes place one year after Recall, and explores a second omnic uprising orchestrated by Null Sector.[3][4][5]

This section is a stub section. You can help by adding any available information to this section.

Gameplay[ | ]

New looks

Updated character models

While the gameplay in Overwatch 2 is fundamentally similar to the original, there were several major changes made with the goal of improving player experience.[6]

Overwatch 2 introduced cross-progression, which required all players to create a Battle.net account.[7] During Overwatch, players would need a separate account for each platform they wanted to use. Cross-progression made it so that players were able to merge accounts on different platforms, combining progress and cosmetics into a single profile.[8]

Cross-play was also added during early access, which allowed console players to friend, group, and be matched with PC players.[9] Cross-play is currently available in all modes except for Competitive Play.

Another new addition was the First Time User Experience system. The FTUE was designed based on player feedback to help ease brand new players into the game by gradually unlocking different game modes, heroes, and chat over a period of 100 matches. It also restricts new players from Competitive Play and displays tips on screen to encourage improvement.[10]

PvP updates[ | ]

A prominent difference in standard play was the switch from 6v6 to 5v5, which removed one Tank spot on each team. In Role Queue, each team is now composed of one Tank hero, two Damage heroes, and two Support heroes. At the same time, a new game mode called Push was released which complimented the updated team format and replaced Assault.

Several new hero mechanics were added upon release, such as role passives: Damage heroes moved faster, Support heroes regenerated their own health, and Tank heroes had knockback resistance.[11] Some existing heroes, such as Bastion, Doomfist, and Orisa, even had their ability kits completely reworked.

New maps, heroes, and cosmetics have been added consistently since release. Additional content is available with each season, and a new hero is unlocked every evenly-numbered season.[12]

PvE content[ | ]

Overwatch 2 also includes new PvE content in the form of Story Missions. In 2023,[12] three new Story Missions were released as part of Season 6: Invasion, set after the events of Recall. They are a step up from the limited-time event missions in Overwatch, featuring much larger maps, improved enemy units, and new story content.[13]

Monetization[ | ]

Since release, Overwatch 2 has utilized a free-to-play model that replaces paid access and Loot Boxes. It introduced a Battle Pass system, an in-game shop, and Overwatch2 Coin Overwatch Coins, a new currency only purchasable with real money.[14][15] Each Battle Pass includes a free track and a premium track, the premium track requiring players to purchase Overwatch Coins to obtain.

The in-game shop also offers cosmetics which rotate to match the current season's theme; many are only purchasable with Overwatch Coins. Alongside the release of Season 10, the Mythic Shop became available. It added Mythic Prism Mythic Prisms, a currency that allows players to purchase Mythic skins from the current and previous Battle Passes.

Originally, all heroes released since Overwatch 2's launch required players on the free Battle Pass track to reach a certain tier to unlock the hero. However, players that purchased the premium track unlocked that hero instantly.[16] Later, in March 2024, it was announced that future heroes would be automatically unlocked for all players.[17][18]

Testing[ | ]

Alpha[ | ]

The game entered its alpha phase in March 2022 and was PvP exclusive. Closed alpha testing began for "Blizzard employees, Overwatch League pros, and 'a few other select groups' to help prepare for wider testing."[19]

First PvP beta[ | ]

Sojourn-beta

Overwatch 2 first beta announcement

The first PvP beta began on April 26, 2022 for PC players in select regions, and included the following updates:

Players could sign up to request access to the beta on PlayOverwatch.com, and access was granted to players in phases.[19]

The first beta ended on May 17, 2023.[20]

Second PvP beta[ | ]

JunkerQueen-beta

Overwatch 2 second beta announcement

The second PvP beta began on June 28, 2022 for PC, Xbox, and PlayStation. Beta access was again granted in phases, but players could purchase the Watchpoint Pack to gain immediate access when it went live.[21][22]

The second beta included the following updates:

Players that participated in the first beta still had to opt-in to the second beta in the same way, and progress was not carried over.

The second beta ended on July 18, 2023.[21]

Development[ | ]

Work on Overwatch 2 began as soon as Overwatch was released. Former game director Jeff Kaplan wanted Overwatch 2 to be a PvE-focused sequel, so that players who did not enjoy PvP would try the game.[citation needed] Additionally, Kaplan pushed for PvE to be a larger part of Overwatch, but it was never made into a permanent mode.[citation needed]

Much of the original development work for Overwatch 2 was focused on PvE elements. Even during the development of Overwatch, a large part of Team 4 were transferred to work on PvE features for the second game, including hero talents, new enemy units, and early versions of Story Missions. However, the team struggled to find stability while working on so many different aspects at once, and was never able to bring the content together as a polished final product. The team was forced to abandon their planned PvE timeline and pivot back to PvP in order to limit the resources taken away from the live game.[4]

Overwatch 2 has a "revamped engine" compared to its predecessor, which has improved lighting, scenery, and physics, and made the game easier to update.[23][24] This was crucial to the team, since a major development goal of Overwatch 2 was to increase the frequency of events and limited-time game modes.[25]

Pre-reveal[ | ]

The existence of a second Overwatch game was hinted at by Blizzard's former president, J. Allen Brack, in May 2019.[26]

In a June 2019 Kotaku article, it was confirmed that Blizzard staff were being transferred from Ares to work on other projects, and a rumored new project was a PvE-focused Overwatch game that had been likened to Left 4 Dead.[27] It was expected that Overwatch 2 would be revealed at BlizzCon 2019,[citation needed] but one Blizzard employee reported that they felt the game would not be released before 2020.[citation needed]

In October 2019, ESPN revealed more information regarding BlizzCon 2019's predicted announcements.[28] It confirmed the upcoming reveal of Overwatch 2, new maps, new game modes, and major PvE updates including hero talents. Later that month, an ESPN writer clarified that it was likely the game would actually be called "Overwatch: Chapter 2," as opposed to "Overwatch 2."[29] On October 31, 2019, artwork that showed many hero redesigns was leaked to the public.[30]

Overwatch 2 was officially announced at BlizzCon 2019.

Post-reveal[ | ]

Around 2019, Team 4 made the decision to exclusively focus on development on Overwatch 2. However, as development continued, Overwatch received less focus, reducing the amount of new content to virtually none.[31] In late 2020, the size of the game's development team was expanded; the game passed a "significant" development milestone in December 2020, and at this time had hundreds of developers working on it.[32][33]

During development, a 4v4 PvP layout was tested, as well as a new team composition of three Damage heroes, one Tank hero, and one Support hero. The developers later settled on a 5v5 format.[34] The game entered the "later stages of production" in the second half of 2021.[35] In 2022, the Overwatch League began using Overwatch 2 for their matches.[36]

Character design[ | ]

Overwatch 2 Redesigns Concept Art

Concept art featuring new hero designs

The game's heroes have undergone an artistic redesign. Each design seeks to be true to the hero's core story, and to suggest where the hero has been during the past year, and who they have spent time with.[23]

Evolutions to the game’s technology, like new shaders and lighting, have allowed for greater detail in character rendition, which translates to more emotion via facial features and body language.

Graphics and audio[ | ]

To further improve the feel of the world, the art team explored ways to push the technology and bring environments to life using weather systems, fog changes, improved cloth, more particles, and sequenced events. Dynamic weather effects, first introduced in Storm Rising, have been improved.[23]

The game's weapons have also been overhauled both visually and audio-wise. New software allows for the use of sounds from real-life firearms, and more accurately records how different weapons sound depending on the environment (e.g. firing inside vs. firing outside). An improved camera shake effect is now employed when firing weapons, simulating recoil.[5]

Storyboarding[ | ]

The developers intend for the game to have a cinematic feel to it, taking inspiration from the cinematics that were released sporadically during the time period of the first game. The game's plot was storyboarded, where developers would conceptualize cutscenes via whiteboards on a daily basis. Later, the storyboards were sent to the writers' room to refine the plot.[5]

Cut content[ | ]

As work slowly continued on Overwatch 2, we began to pull more and more of our focus and energy away from the live game and all of the people that were playing it. We had people that were excited to be playing that game, and they just wanted more of it. So, we had a difficult choice to make: We could continue working on our original vision for Overwatch 2 without a definitive end date in sight or change our strategy and get something in front of players sooner. We chose the latter, and we released Overwatch 2 last October with new heroes, new maps, new modes, and regular seasonal updates. But more than that, we shifted our values for how we want to develop the game. No longer would we store content up for really big releases and leave the game sort of languishing on the side. Now, we made the commitment to always prioritize the live game and all of the people playing it and to devote our development efforts there.
~ Aaron Keller

In May 2023, it was announced that PvE would be 'deprioritized' in favor of PvP development.[37] In March 2024, Blizzard confirmed that there would be no further PvE content released, citing poor sales performance from the missions previously released.[38]

Reception[ | ]

Overwatch 2 was received in a generally positive manner by critics, with sites like Game Informer, IGN, and GameSpot rating it at an average of 8.3 out of 10.[39][40][41] Several critics suggested that the new game was familiar enough for players to remain confident, but refreshed the gameplay for veterans with the new 5v5 format and other major changes.[42]

During the Overwatch 2 beta, the game accrued 25 million total players in the first ten days, and 35 million in the first month.[43] This was a massive increase from Overwatch, which hosted only 15 million players in the first three months after its full release; this is partially because the game became free-to-play.[44] As of April 2024, the game averages over 6 million players daily.[45] As of June 2024, the game has over 100 million registered players.[46]

The shift from Loot Boxes to a Battle Pass system was received less favorably, especially the decision to lock new heroes behind the pass. Both players and critics felt that this was unnecessary, since the ability to play different heroes is a major attraction for the franchise.[47] The introduction of the Battle Pass caused players to feel that Blizzard was becoming "money hungry,"[48] and that the game was only an released in an attempt to increase profits.

The new in-game shop was perceived similarly. Specifically, players felt that the value provided by the cosmetics did not justify the high prices.[49] While the game offered the ability to obtain currency for free through challenges, many reported that the high amount of playtime required to unlock enough to purchase cosmetics was discouraging for the average player.[50]

Post-release updates[ | ]

After the announcement that Hero Missions were being scrapped, many online users falsely claimed that all planned PvE had been cancelled.[51][52] The upset caused the game to be "review bombed" on Steam and Metacritic, making it the worst-rated Steam game of all time and resulting in a Metacritic user score of just 1.4 out of 5.[53][54][55]. Many of the negative reviews were also due to Blizzard refusing to renew their contract with NetEase, making Chinese players to lose all their progress and forcing them to migrate to the Steam version on a different server.[56] However, Blizzard renewed their contract a year and a half later.[57]

When Blizzard announced that all further PvE was no longer planned for release, players questioned the reason behind the game's release, citing that PvE was going to be what set Overwatch 2 apart from the original.[58]

References[ | ]

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  4. 4.0 4.1 2023-05-19, DIRECTOR’S TAKE – REFLECTING ON THE FUTURE OF OVERWATCH 2. PlayOverwatch, accessed on 2023-05-20
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External Links[ | ]

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