Blizzard Entertainment announced plans at BlizzCon 2019 to release Overwatch 2! No, shockingly, this doesn’t mean it’s time to delete your copy of the original 2016 game. There’s a lot of complex details involved with their announcement – but before we chew on that, there’s also all the exciting news to get hyped about. New heroes, a fleshed-out co-op and story mode, tantalizing talks of an RPG-style progression system…
...and most importantly, a new high-quality Blizzard-style trailer to be amazed by.
Here’s everything we know about Overwatch 2.
Where We Left Off
The eight-minute long trailer for Overwatch 2 was aimed directly at all of the Blizzard lore nerds, with a clear callback to two previous pieces in particular: Winston surviving Reaper’s attack on Gibraltar, and Mei’s recovery from cryosleep. The clearly signaled continuation of the franchise’s story is tied to the sequel, which was announced as primarily a co-op and story-driven endeavor rather than a straightforward replacement for the original Overwatch.
It also introduces a new enemy faction: Null Sector, which seems comprised primarily of weaponized Omnics, lacking the near-human behavior of the Tibetan Buddhist-inspired Zenyatta, or the quirkily innocent body language expected of Bastion and Orisa (when, obviously, they’re not actively fighting). How the villainous organization Talon plays into this new uprising has yet to be explained.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an Overwatch announcement – at BlizzCon, no less – without a new hero reveal. Sojourn will join the fight with Overwatch 2, and won’t be the only one in the fray. Echo, too, is expected with the new game – and was previously revealed as McCree’s charge for as-yet unknown reasons. More will join them, naturally.
Sharp eyes will note a rather Canadian-looking maple leaf on Sojourn’s shoulders, and yes – she hails from the northernmost North American country. Along with her comes a map of Toronto, which was demoed on BlizzCon 2019’s floor with a new permanent map mode called Push.
Push is effectively a mirrored Escort mode, where your team must take control of a robot that will very literally shove a barrier down the city’s winding streets until it reaches various checkpoints. To that point, it’s near-identical to Escort mode – except that, if the enemy team manages to defeat yours, they will take possession of the pusher bot for themselves and have it shove their blockade down to your side of the city. Victory is determined by whomever pushed farthest by game’s end, or if one side manages to push all the way to the third checkpoint.
But it isn’t just a shiny new map that comes with the new game. Shiny new threads are on their way too for the cast, with visual upgrades announced for every hero in the title. You can see some of it on display in the Gameplay Trailer that also debuted at BlizzCon.
The most interesting thing about the Overwatch 2 announcement, however, has to be the glaring lack of otherwise expected impact on the original game. Per Jeff Kaplan’s explanation, all new map modes and heroes are on their way to the original game as well. Furthermore, the playerbase will not be split either – Overwatch 1 players will still be queueing up against Overwatch 2 players on the same map modes, and bickering over the same voice chat about who should switch from Hanzo to a “real hero.”
Overwatch 2 co-op modes, however, may not be as easily shareable. Though the original Overwatch does have its “archive” events and other seasonal co-op modes, the forms they will take for Overwatch 2 may not be backwards compatible. And this is especially true for any modes that are planned for Overwatch 2’s progression system.
If Overwatch 2 shares the same multiplayer modes, heroes, and even playerbase as Overwatch 1, why is it being made at all? The answer for that is twofold, and fairly simple. First, Blizzard’s confirmed that Overwatch 2 is made with a different engine – even if they’re rendering the “same” multiplayer map and effects, we can probably expect a notable visual improvement, or at least visual differences, with the new game.
Second, because the campaign and hero story modes for Overwatch 2 will be its own entire thing – both as a solo experience and as a co-op game. Furthermore, the ability to upgrade heroes, change their skill loadouts, and improve their power over time makes Overwatch 2’s campaign mode more like an RPG – and definitely not something that the original game was designed to accommodate.
Whether all of that is worth the cost of a full-fledged new game, instead of as an expansion like Blizzard’s done with both Diablo and StarCraft, will naturally depend on how substantial the offerings are with the sequel. Otherwise, you will still have a lot of content updates to look forward to with the original Overwatch for the coming years.