Overwatch 2 season is in full swing. Over the weekend, Blizzard revealed that: Overwatch 2The next closed beta will take place on June 28, that game will become free-to-play on October 4, and revealed Junker Queen, the game’s 34th hero.
In a 35-minute video, Blizzard showed off the game’s biggest update yet. And as part of this Overwatch 2-palooza, The edge was able to talk to the developers of the game about what all the news means for fans.
overwatchesteem has declined lately, partly because of the developer and because right after Overwatch 2 was announced, content updates for overwatch prime fell off a steep cliff.
Echo, the game’s most recent playable hero, went live in 2020 and Kanezaka, the game’s newest map, was released in January 2021. Apart from new skins, minor challenge events that allow players to unlock cosmetics, and the same rotating cast of seasonal events (ala Lúcioball), there’s been nothing meatier than “wait a minute, OW2 coming” for 17 months.
The developers understand this and game director Aaron Keller reassured fans during the Overwatch 2 announcement video that saves the days of waiting and wondering “when will my overwatch content come back from the war” are over.
“Our plan is to deliver a steady drumbeat of new content every nine weeks through free seasonal updates, so there’s always something new to play, chase and unlock in Overwatch 2,” he said.
Like many shooters and other live service games before it, Overwatch 2 switches to a seasonal format where the developers plan to deliver content to its fans more regularly.
Starting with the game’s launch in October and continuing with the first update in December 2022, production director Paul Hale said the OW2 team “releases a new season every nine weeks with a new hero, map, or mode, players will have the chance to earn more themed content, complete weekly challenges, access new battle passes, and more.”
overwatch prime (and, critically, fans’ interest in) overwatch overall) languished as the team shifted focus to development Overwatch 2† With this new roadmap and the expansion of the Overwatch 2 team, Keller stated that they can sustainably support this new content-centric vision.
“We’ve taken a lot of steps over the years to grow the team so it can handle the amount of work it takes to make all this content available,” Keller said. “We’re more than three times the size we were when the game first launched, and we’re restructuring parts of the team so we can work on multiple heroes at once, multiple maps at once, while still looking at it . with larger functions that come to the service later, such as PvE.”
Story content was one of the big, new features promised with Overwatch 2† Fans responded positively to story events such as Uprising, Retribution, and Storm Rising, in which teams battled bots as an event of overwatchlore unfolded.
“I am very excited about the Overwatch 2 campaign,” Keller said. “And it tells a complete, linear story with a beginning and an end.”
However, during OW2‘s development, Blizzard decided to split off this kind of campaign mode or PVE content from the PVP core to get the game into the hands of fans faster. According to Keller, the new season structure allows the team to “release stuff when they’re ready,” and apparently Overwatch 2 PVE will not be ready until sometime in 2023. (This kind of gradual release strategy is becoming more common for big games; there are still important parts of the Halo Infinite experience that has not yet been released, for example.)
A battle pass system comes along with the season format. The developers declined to share exactly what to expect from the Battle Pass, what exclusive games fans can hope for, or what the cost will be, but did say that information would come as the launch date approached. Along with the battle pass and the ability to pay a bounty for exclusive content comes perhaps one of the bigger pieces of OW2 news – loot boxes disappear. In the December update, the developers will add a showcase where, presumably, fans can pay directly for desired skins instead of hoping to get lucky with a loot box. Again, the developers didn’t elaborate on how much skins would cost or what would happen to all that in-game currency and said they’d expect an update at a later date.
In addition to the 5v5 format, the long-awaited heroine Sojourn and the latest game mode Push, Overwatch 2 launches with two more new heroes. The first hero, Junker Queen, is a figure from overwatch lore that has been lurking in the dusty shadows of the Junkertown map since 2017 and was announced during the Xbox Summer Game Fest presentation. Born Odessa “Dez” Stone (main story designer Gavin J. Jurgens-Fyhrie emphasized that anyone who uses her full first name does so at their own risk) is a tank hero who uses a giant battle ax to wound her enemies, reducing their ability to receive healing.
One of the biggest, perennial complaints of overwatch prime was the absolute disgust fans had for the double shield style of play. Teams would double up against shield-wielding tank heroes like Reinhardt, Orisa, and D.Va, and matches would stall as teams would slowly and dully poke at each other from behind high-health shields. It happened in the professional Overwatch League; it happened on the competitive ladder; it happened in quickplay. Of Overwatch 2, the number of tanks a team can line up has been reduced to one, eliminating these highly defensive compositions in favor of more aggressive styles of play. Junker Queen, with her ax and her ability to throw a knife and remember like a boomerang (she’s an Aussie after all), fits in well with OW2is more frenetic energy.
Another complaint about overwatch: where are the healers? In a roster of 33 (soon to be 36) heroes, there are only seven healers. The third and final new hero to arrive on October 4 launch is the game’s eighth healer. Sharp-eyed fans saw a ghost fox bouncing around Overwatch 2 trailer during Sunday’s Xbox event and guessed right it could be a new support hero. The developers were understandably stupid about them, but hopefully we’ll hear more soon.
It takes a huge effort from a legion of people to make a video game, and Overwatch 2 may have had to go down a more difficult road than other games. The game was announced three years ago amid controversy when Blizzard came under fire for punishing a Hearthstone player who made a pro-Hong Kong protester statement during a broadcast. Although Blizzard later reduced that player’s sentence and apologized, some fans felt that Overwatch 2‘s announcement was used as a smokescreen to distract from that news. Even if you don’t Overwatch 2 Truth be told, the length of time between that announcement and any meaningful information about the game — aside from images of an updated hero skin here and the news of a game mode’s elimination there — didn’t inspire much confidence that the game was being announced when it was supposed to.
The game was delayed at least twice, once in February 2021 and again in November. Before the latest delay, during Activision Blizzard’s regularly scheduled investor meeting, the company cited “turnover” and “the departure of a number of individuals across the company” as contributing factors. And a contributing factor to employee turnover? Several lawsuits alleging that Activision Blizzard engaged in and allowed discrimination against employees. From July 2021 to the present day, the company regularly made headlines as new allegations emerged, including a report that CEO Bobby Kotick knew about and ignored the problems in his company and as several high-profile employees — including one chief designer for whom and overwatch character was once mentioned – left the company. Add to that the 2021 departure of Jeff Kaplan, the beloved game director of the overwatch franchise since its release in 2016, and it’s getting easier to understand Overwatch 2 has experienced a lot to go from “this game is coming out all the way, guys” to “oh thank goodness there’s finally a release date.” When we spoke to the developers, many were “finally” mixed with happy, relieved smiles as they shared what they’ve been working on for the past few years.
Now that the release date is out and Blizzard has turned on the news fire hose, hopefully these in-depth updates will Overwatch 2 finally feel like the sequel is meant to be.