Overwatch, Blizzard Entertainment's FPS team shooter, captured the attention of millions following its 2016 release. The game has steady evolved with the addition of new characters and their own esports league. Overwatch was riding comfortably on the tides of its success, which is why it came as a shock when Blizzard announced the game's sequel a mere 3 years after launch.
Blizzard Entertainment officially announced Overwatch 2 during the 2019 iteration of its annual convention, BlizzCon. The announcement mostly focused on a snazzy new cinematic video, which Blizzard is well-known for. The details regarding the shooter's sequel were unsurprisingly sparse during the convention. Jeff Kaplan, the game's director, spoke about the potential release date during its reveal panel.
“I don't know, I have no idea. Like, just let us make it great, that's what we care about more than anything. We don't have a date in mind.”
In all likelihood, fans might have to wait for BlizzCon 2021 for any substantial information about the upcoming sequel. This is what fans are currently expecting from the game unless its production was massively hindered by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless, Blizzard often keeps most of its updates under tight lids until BlizzCon in order to concentrate all fan hype into one momentous event.
What can we expect from Overwatch 2?
There is something that we can extrapolate from what little information about Overwatch 2 is currently available. The supposed sequel feels more like a massive expansion pack to the first game than an actual full-blown game sequel. Overwatch 2 will allegedly focus more on PvE missions as opposed to its predecessor's focus on PvP. Blizzard granted some content creators the chance to test out the Overwatch 2 demo live from the BlizzCon stage.
The game's teaser video felt more like an actual concerted plot line for all of the Overwatch heroes as opposed to the standalone videos for Overwatch 1. This is welcome news for players that prefer to play single-player story-driven games as opposed to duking it out with random players on PvP. It can also serve as a respite for PvP-heavy players looking to take a break from the endless queue times and teammates refusing to move the payload.
Getting the full story
Overwatch 2's story will be reminiscent of the old Uprising event from the first game. In Uprising, players teamed up to fight against hordes of NPC robots in a survival game that tested teamwork. OW2's main campaign will be comprised of numerous co-operative Story Missions which sees old and new Overwatch heroes facing off against the numerous robotic soldiers of the Null Sector. Blizzard had this to say about the awaited story mode.
“Players will be able to team up as different sets of heroes and fight to defend the world from the omnic forces of Null Sector, uncover the motives behind the robotic armies’ attacks, and come face-to-face with rising new threats around the globe.”
There will also be an alternative PvE mode called Hero Missions which will be designed to be highly replayable. Hero Missions will allow players to level up heroes and unlock ability customization options. Both of these game modes will allegedly not have an effect on the game's PvP modes.
Saying goodbye to loot boxes?
One very exciting possible change to the Overwatch franchise is the abandonment of loot boxes. This is a surprising move from Blizzard as most of the revenue from Overwatch is rooted in players spending real money for loot boxes. Jeff Kaplan briefly discussed the possibility of exploring alternative modes of monetization for Overwatch 2.
“Well, we have made a lot of changes to loot boxes and how they work over the years, so we’re definitely open to change. Overwatch 2, in terms of business model, we’re exploring different options that move us away from loot boxes, but I think that will be more for Overwatch 2 than the core game. I would never rule anything out,”
Loot boxes have been a tense subject of discussion for quite some time. Arguments against loot boxes often focus on its similarity to gambling and the vagueness of item acquisition rates. Should Overwatch 2 move forward without loot boxes, we can expect a different system in place for players to grind for the favorite cosmetic upgrades.
Playing with your friends
There's good news for players who won't be able to purchase the game's sequel close to its launch. Blizzard Entertainment stated that Overwatch 1 will still receive all of the PvP updates coming to Overwatch 2. This will mean that both games will be completely compatible. Overwatch 1 players will be able to play with their friends playing on Overwatch 2. It remains to be seen whether or not the crossplay function will cause problems because of graphical differences.
Overwatch 1 and 2 will receive a new PvP map type called Push. The new game mode will fight over control of a big robot that will push two barriers back and forth across a giant map. This will be the first new game mode for Overwatch in quite some time. Push will be a breath of fresh air to the stagnating game modes.
Heroes of the future
Blizzard will no longer be releasing any new heroes for Overwatch 1 prior to the official release of the sequel. Echo will remain as the latest hero for quite some time. Soujourn, the latest teased hero, will debut on Overwatch 2's official release alongside several unannounced heroes.
Cosmetic collectors will also have no worries about their vast collections heading into Overwatch 2's release. All existing Overwatch 1 cosmetics are promised to carry over to the sequel. It's a small reassurance that early patrons of Overwatch 2 will not have to through the entire trial of grinding for cosmetics for a second time.
The only thing left for Overwatch fans across the world to do is wait for more updates to drop. It looks like we'll have at least one certain thing to look forward to when BlizzCon 2021 opens its gates next year.