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Overwatch 2

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Online Multiplayer
Publisher: Activision Blizzard
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Release Date: 2023

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PC Preview - 'Overwatch 2'

by Cody Medellin on April 29, 2022 @ 1:05 a.m. PDT

Overwatch 2 is a supercharged sequel that will send players deeper into the world and story of Overwatch and build upon the original game's foundation of world-class PvP competition.

Overwatch was an instant hit. It was a time when Blizzard could do no wrong, and even though it was a genre that the developer had never attempted before, people were on board with a PvP-style hero shooter and the character personalities. The announcement of Overwatch 2 was initially met with some of that same enthusiasm, but that quickly faded due to constant delays, other shooters that received some of that adoration, and the inescapable behind-the-scenes drama of the companies behind it. We spent some time with the recently released open beta of Overwatch 2 to check out what's new.

The beta, which runs until the middle of May, features a number of tweaks to existing characters. Sombra can reveal hacked enemy locations to everyone in her squad. Cassidy wields a magnetic grenade. Mei can only freeze enemies with her ultimate ability. Most characters play like you remember them, but a few stand out as different, like Doomfist becoming a tank character, so he's even more dangerous than before. Beyond character tweaks, three specific changes stand out in the beta.


There's a reduction in player numbers per match. You still have the full roster of characters to choose from, but matches are 5v5 instead of the first game's 6v6 match-ups. The team composition is now two support characters, two assault characters, and one tank. The idea is that the teams would have to play more strategically, since only one character can act as the damage sponge. It doesn't seem to have changed anything at all when you're playing as a casual player versus someone trying to get ranked. Battles remain chaotic, but fewer Ultimates are thrown around since that meter progression has been slowed down.

The second major change is a new character, Sojourn, the game's first black woman who happens to hail from Canada. Sojourn's loadout feels like Soldier 76. Her machine gun does decent damage, and all of that damage can be converted to railgun shots that don't need to be warmed up before they're fired. She has a boosted dash and the ability to fire a ball of energy that does damage. Her Ultimate has her in a powered-up state where her bullets become armor-piercing, but it's difficult to tell if that is happening in the heat of battle.

The last of the major changes (thus far) is a new game mode called Push, where both players rush toward a robot that's being tasked with pushing a barrier closer to the opponent's base. Like the escort mode, you need to stand near the robot so it can go toward one of two barriers, and the winning team is the one that gets the robot to push their respective barrier the closest to the opposing base. On paper, this seems like a decent variation of the escort mode. In practice, it seems to immediately favor the team that reaches the bot first. There's rarely a situation when the opposing team can eliminate a team and get the bot to move fast enough to make decent progress on the other barrier.


Other than those three elements, there is another change in the beta: the UI. Everything has been tweaked to be much smaller than the first game. Character portraits are smaller, the kill notifications don't pop out like before, and some of the text is more difficult to read. An argument could be made that this was developed for PC first, so more people are going to be sitting at a desk near their monitors, but the game is confirmed as multiplatform. Hopefully enough beta testers will be providing similar feedback about the UI to the developer.

There is a great addition: the ability to search for games that need a specific role. You can still choose the "All" option if you want to get into a game and don't care about your role in the match, but those who specifically want to jump in as an assault, support or tank character, they can do just that. The wait times seem to be longer than advertised, so expect to stay in your chosen sub-mode while a match is being set up.

It's still early days, and Overwatch 2 still has an unknown release date, but if you're already an Overwatch fan, then you'll dig the stuff in the beta. We'll keep reporting on content updates and future betas to follow the title's progress.



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