20 May 2021 8:04 PM +00:00

Overwatch 2: Release Date, News, Leaks, New Heroes, Maps, Features, and More

Blizzard Entertainment announced plans at BlizzCon 2019 to release Overwatch 2, but things have been a little quiet since.

The game is expected to release in 2021, though details are still a little scarce! Regardless, here is everything we know.

Here's everything we know about the next iteration of the first-person shooter phenomenon.

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Overwatch 2 Livestream Announcements

The Overwatch 2 PvP livestream dished up some new details on Overwatch 2 changes, including how Blizzard is altering some of the heroes.

The biggest change is team composition.

Overwatch 2 teams will comprise five heroes each instead of the usual six: two damage, two support, and one tank.

Keller said tanks are "noisy" and having more heroes on screen makes keeping up with the action difficult.

Here's what we know about hero changes so far:

  • Reinhardt — easier-to-control charging and two Fire Strike charges
  • Zayra — can choose who gets her support bubbles
  • Winston — alt-fire mode that lets him shoot lightning
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Blizzard to Host Overwatch 2 PvP Livestream

New Overwatch 2 director Aaron Keller announced an Overwatch 2 livestream for May 20, where the development team will show off Overwatch 2 PvP gameplay. Keller noted the footage is still from development builds, but it's the first new Overwatch 2 footage we've seen in a long time.

Blizzard Hiring for New Overwatch Junior Writer

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Blizzard posted a new job listing for a junior writer dedicated to new Overwatch blog content and community interactions. It's difficult to draw firm conclusions from something so vague, but new blog content brings hero lore to mind, and a more engaged Blizzard is always a good thing for the Overwatch community.

Overwatch 2's New Director Outlines Plans For Post-Launch Updates

With Jeff Kaplan's recent departure from Blizzard, new creative director Aaron Keller spoke with Gamespot about his approach to Overwatch 2. Aaron outlined his plans for more regular content updates, and you can find more details here.

Not Releasing in 2021 - February 4, 2021

During the annual Activision Blizzard earnings call, they commented on the release date of Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4.

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Sadly, it appears both titles will not be releasing this year according to a tweet from Geoff Keighley. 

During earnings call, Activision Blizzard said it does not expect Overwatch 2 or Diablo 4 to launch in 2021.

 

Overwatch 2 to be shown at Blizzcon 2021 – December 17, 2020

Overwatch 2 is going to be shown at Blizzcon 2021 in February, Jeff Kaplan has revealed.

Discussing everything coming to the first game, the director noted that "even more so, I think we're excited for the future."

"Can't wait to talk to you more about Overwatch 2, can't wait to show you more with Overwatch 2. We know it's been too long, we know we've been quiet, and we still have a ways to go, just to manage expectations."

Check out the video below:

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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 signalled continuation of the franchise’s story is tied to the sequel, which was announced as primarily a co-op and story-driven endeavour rather than a straightforward replacement for the original Overwatch.

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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.

Content Updates

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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.

(Source: Blizzard)

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 whoever pushed farthest by the 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.

Crossplay

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 player base 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.”

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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.

 

New Stuff

If Overwatch 2 shares the same multiplayer modes, heroes, and even player base 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.