Overwatch 2

Overwatch 2 Review – A Solid Foundation But Lacking in New Content

A half-step forward.

There’s a lot of confusion surrounding what Overwatch 2 actually is. Is it a fully fledged sequel? A glorified update? Is it worthy of the 2 appended to its title in a seemingly desperate fashion? Even after its proper reveal in June of this year, many were left wondering that the game would actually entail. The answer lies somewhere in the middle of all the discourse and conversation surrounding the sequel to Blizzard’s seminal hero shooter.

Fundamentally, Overwatch 2 is a reworking and revamping of the original experience, made free in an age where live service games are becoming more and more accessible to the masses. With a shift to 5v5, an increased emphasis on teamwork, and thoughtful new hero designs, Overwatch 2 makes a good first impression, but ultimately, it feels incomplete and lacking in content.

Overwatch 2

A vast majority of the changes in Overwatch 2 come with changes to its core foundations and overall structure. The change to 5v5 as opposed to 6v6 is one that feels thought out and deliberate, placing more emphasis on the role of tanks and teambuilding for particular playstyles. It ultimately makes way for a quicker, more frenetic moment-to-moment experience that feels different from its predecessor but not to the point that it abandons its core identity. It’s clear that Overwatch 2 is going in hard on being a team-focused game, which comes with it’s own set of pros and cons.

While it’s relatively fun to solo queue into quick play matches, the real satisfaction comes from playing with friends, regardless of whether or not you want to coordinate and play seriously, or just casually and for fun. Being able to communicate and play as a team always was core to Overwatch’s core gameplay loop, but it feels even more paramount here, and is all the more rewarding for it. The downside to this is that the game just isn’t as fun playing solo, often feeling somewhat mindless and mundane outside of a competitive setting.

Overwatch 2 Review

To adjust for the shift to 5v5, a few of the original heroes have been tweaked, adjusted, or straight up reworked to fit better into the new team sizes. Each role has their own passive abilities now to help them further, from support heroes gaining passive healing after a set amount of time or tanks taking less knockback and generating less Ultimate charge for healing and received damage.

Overwatch 2 Review

Heroes like Orisa and Bastion have had their skills changed for the better, placing stronger emphasis on their roles and gameplay loops, giving them more identity in what’s grown to be a large roster. A special shoutout should go to Doomfist, who’s been entirely reworked into the Tank role, functioning as a sort of hybrid between offensive and defensive heroes. He’s loads of fun to play and balancing high-speed aggression with trying to stay alive was constantly entertaining and engaging. There are definitely some heroes who feel lost in translation, such as Widowmaker and Symmetra, who haven’t been adjusted to work better within a 5v5 framework, which is made even more noticeable by the heroes who did get brought forward.

The three new heroes coming at launch, Sojourn, Junker Queen, and Kiriko are all a resounding success as well. Each one has a kit that feeds into itself and flows with clear strengths and weaknesses. Sojourn, for example, is a high speed damage dealer with a rail cannon that’s charged up by its primary fire. She also has a projectile that functions as a vortex on impact, making for easy headshots with said railgun. Junker Queen and Kiriko have similarly coherent designs that feel like a definitive step up from some of the stuff we saw in the first game – especially at launch.

Overwatch 2 Review

Not all is so consistent on the game mode front, unfortunately, and it’s made even more apparent here with the core changes made to Overwatch’s foundation. The new game mode, Push, sees teams going head to head over the control of an endearing robot, who will push a barricade towards the enemy’s spawn when in control of either team. It makes for a dynamic and ever-shifting battlefield where you constantly have to adapt to new terrain and evolving team compositions, and often results in some tense tie-breakers. The downside to this is that some of the other objective based game modes like Escort feel archaic in comparison, especially when the core gameplay has potential for so much more.

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Map design is similarly untouched, with a few of the old ones fitting into the changes and others not so much. The six new maps coming with launch feel tailor designed for it, though, so I often found myself more excited to play on those than a majority of the returning maps. These maps are also set in new and interesting locations that hadn’t previously been explored before, including the likes of Rio De Janeiro, New York City, and Rome.

Overwatch 2 Review

If all of that sounds bare-bones in regards to new content, that’s because it is. Overwatch 2 is launching with one new game mode, three new heroes, and six new maps, which feels decidedly lacking for what is meant to be a whole new sequel. The most glaring omission is the lack of the new PVE mode due for release sometime next year, which one can only assume is the reason things are so content-light on the multiplayer side of things. Still, though, it’s hard not to feel like Overwatch 2 is more of a glorified content update as opposed to a whole new beast at launch.

As with any live service game, Overwatch 2 is adopting the seasonal model, with roughly nine-week long seasons introducing new heroes, maps, game modes, and a season pass. While every new hero is automatically unlocked upon purchasing the season pass, players who choose to stick to the free track can only unlock them upon reaching tier 55, which is another strange decision given the already lacking number of brand-new heroes. Battle pass progression is also noticeably slow, even for those who pay for the premium track.

Overwatch 2 Review

There’s also some baffling decisions that have been made in regards to the new player experience. As a first time user, you have to unlock the original cast of heroes from the first game over roughly 100 matches, limiting the potential pool of playable characters for new players right from the start. While I can understand the amount of options might be overwhelming for some, it’s a strange decision given the emphasis on teamwork and teambuilding, especially with competitive play unlocking at 50 quick play match wins.

One thing you can always count on with Blizzard, though, is production values and polish. Overwatch 2 is yet another outstanding showcase of attention-to-detail with characters that are positively bursting with emotion and personality, a timeless art style that’s quality is only emphasized by the engine upgrades, and fine-tuned optimization that leaves every aspect of the game feeling smooth and seamless. The new heroes, maps, and design reworks are particularly inspired, but even if some aren’t for you, there’s the option to opt for their Overwatch skins as well. Thankfully, all of your cosmetics also carry over to Overwatch 2 here, so there’s no need to worry about any precious skins or gold guns.

THE PC VERSION WAS PLAYED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. A DIGITAL COPY OF THE GAME WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
Overwatch 2
Conclusion
While Overwatch 2 is still a good time, and an improvement over the original, it feels like less of a sequel and more of an update. There's some solid changes to the foundations of Overwatch, but a noticeable lack of new content, archaic game modes, and balancing issues leave something to be desired.
Positives
The shift to 5v5 reinvigorates the meta
Inventive and coherent new hero designs + old hero reworks
New maps are great and Push one of the best game modes yet
Has Blizzard's trademark polish in spades
Negatives
Glaring lack of new content at launch
Some heroes, maps, and modes feel archaic within the 5v5 framework
Baffling new player experience
Battle pass progression is too slow
6.5