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What is Overwatch?: The Hotspawn Guide

Bradley Long

Following the release of Overwatch 2, Activision Blizzard’s tentpole class-based shooter has reemerged as a major player in the FPS space. With 35 million players in the game’s first month, it’s clear the sequel has recaptured some of the magic that made Overwatch a smash hit back in 2016. Players returning to the franchise will find the bones of Overwatch 2 very similar, with a few key alterations. If you’re picking it up for the first time, we’ll cover everything you need to enjoy all that Overwatch 2 has to offer.

Overwatch

Overwatch is Blizzard’s one-of-a-kind class-based FPS. (Image Credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Overwatch 2 Basics

At its core, Overwatch has always been a very unique game. Since its 2016 release, the game has delivered a blend of fast-paced FPS gameplay and MOBA-style heroes that encourage a variety of styles and skill sets. You don’t need pixel-perfect aim to succeed in Overwatch 2, but it’s still possible to take over a game with mechanical ability.

For the most part, Overwatch 2’s gameplay is relatively straightforward. Two teams of five players fight for control of a specific objective, depending on the game mode. At launch, there are four game modes in Overwatch 2, but the developers have indicated more are coming down the line.

  • Escort – Attackers attempt to move a cart along a defined path by standing on top of it. Defenders can slow them by standing on the cart themselves or by clearing off the attackers.
  • Hybrid – Attackers must first unlock a cart by clearing defenders off of a point. Once unlocked, the cart moves just like on Escort maps.
  • Control – Both teams fight to capture a neutral control point. The team in control accrues percentage points until winning the round at 100%. Each Control game is best two out of three rounds.
  • Push – Teams fight to control a neutral robot that pushes a barrier away from the spawn of the team in control. Whichever team pushes the furthest wins.

Every mode plays somewhat differently, but there are also a number of maps available in each mode. Experienced players will adjust their tactics based on which of Overwatch 2’s maps is chosen. The game had 22 maps upon release, but the developers have limited the number with a seasonal map pool that rotates every nine weeks. Future maps are expected every other season moving forward, or every 18 weeks.

Overwatch 2 Heroes

The complexity and depth of Overwatch 2 springs from its roster of playable heroes and the interactions between them. Each hero comes equipped with their own unique weapon as well as a number of abilities – typically two or three – that help them deal damage, traverse the map, incapacitate enemies, or protect teammates.

Every Overwatch 2 hero also has an ultimate ability that can single-handedly swing a fight. These are available less often, but when used in the right situation, they can result in some of Overwatch 2’s most spectacular moments. Ultimate combos occur when teammates coordinate to unleash their ultimate abilities in devastating unison and are a core part of the game’s strategy.

The game’s heroes are split between three roles: Tank. Damage, and Support. With the release of Overwatch 2, teams are composed of one Tank, two Support, and two Damage heroes. In general, every role will have its own responsibilities, but even within roles, tremendous variety exists depending on the hero you choose.

Tank heroes are typically at the front lines of a fight. They have higher health pools and at least one defensive ability. Tanks are capable of dealing significant damage, but have limited range. They will usually be responsible for taking and controlling areas of the map so their teammates can follow up from behind. Tanks are the centerpiece of any team and wield some of the game’s most powerful ultimates. If protecting your team and being in the thick of the action is your jam, pick up a tank hero.

Damage heroes have the most straightforward job of any of Overwatch 2’s roles. See enemy, shoot enemy. Often called DPS (a term borrowed from MMO games), these heroes will be expected to lead the way in damage and eliminations. The damage role contains some of the game’s most mechanically intensive and difficult-to-master heroes. In the right hands though, they can produce magic in the form of flashy pop-off moments.

Overwatch 2

Image Credit: Blizzard Entertainment.

Overwatch 2’s final role is often overlooked, but supporters are more than capable of taking over a match. As the name suggests, these heroes bolster their teammates, mostly by healing them when they take damage. Supports are incredibly valuable in longer fights as both teams take damage, and they will always be high-priority targets for enemies.

The key to finding success and enjoyment in Overwatch 2 is to figure out which heroes fit your style. Want to scrap on the edge of the skirmish and assassinate targets in the blink of an eye? Tracer and Genji might be the move. Prefer to sit back and take shots from afar? Widowmaker or Ana are your best bets. Do you just want to rollerblade along the walls while you blast sick beats that protect your teammates? Lucio is waiting with open arms.

Other considerations when picking a hero are the map being played, the heroes chosen by teammates, and the enemy team composition. Every hero will have their quirks – maps that favor them, heroes they work well alongside, and matchups with opposing heroes – that will affect each game of Overwatch 2. Learning these quirks is key to mastering the game, but the beauty of Overwatch 2 lies in its ability to cater to both the casual gamer and the seasoned player.

The game strikes a balance of simple, beginner-friendly heroes and incredible depth for players that want to seriously hone their skills. At the highest level, Overwatch 2 is played at a frenetic pace that has the potential to overwhelm. For those that learn to follow the action, the reward is a game that delivers individual brilliance and strategic depth in equal parts.

Overwatch 2 Tips for Beginners

  • Keep it simple. Start with some of the game’s straightforward heroes and expand from there. Soldier: 76 and Reaper are good options for Damage heroes, while Mercy and Moira make great starter Supports. Tanks are tough, but Reinhardt and Winston are relatively beginner friendly.
  • Don’t be afraid to switch things up. Part of what makes Overwatch unique is the ability to swap heroes in the middle of a match. If your current pick isn’t working, make adjustments on the fly.
  • Stick together. Winning a game of Overwatch 2 is all but impossible without the help of your teammates. You don’t have to stay glued together, but make sure your team is in the area before you start fighting. It may cost you a few seconds, but waiting for backup is often the right move.
  • Prioritize the Supports. Support heroes are hugely important for the healing they bring, but they’re also the most vulnerable. If they’re under too much pressure, they won’t be able to heal the team. Focus your fire on enemy supports and protect yours when you can.
  • Pay attention to ultimates. Ultimates are game-changing abilities that usually only happen a few times per game for each hero. Knowing the ultimates both teams have at their disposal will impact how you play. For example, a Zarya on your team offers a great opportunity when her Graviton Surge pulls enemies together. Damage heroes will want to capitalize, potentially even using their own ultimates to create a deadly combo.
  • Communication is key. There are a ton of moving parts in Overwatch 2. Keeping track of it all is tough, but coordinating with your teammates can make it easier. Even something as simple as picking a single target to focus fire on can go a long way.

What is the Overwatch League?

Overwatch esports feature a franchised league with 20 teams representing cities across the globe. Most teams operate out of North America, but there are also teams based in Korea, China, and Europe. The league’s original design saw teams traveling around the world for Homestands hosted by individual teams.

 

What is Overwatch 2

Photo Credit: Blizzard Entertainment.

The COVID-19 pandemic put an end to that vision, but the league continued, playing most of its matches online. The league is currently split into two regions, with Asian teams in the East and the majority of the league in the West playing from North America.

The league has adopted a format that sees teams play regular season matches to qualify for periodic tournaments. Some tournaments are regional, but the biggest ones bring the two regions together. The 2022 Playoffs featured the league’s first international LAN event in several years. The Dallas Fuel claimed their first Overwatch League title, and the league saw its biggest viewership in quite some time.

The OWL has faced its share of controversy and criticism, much of it justified. In an effort to emulate traditional American sports leagues, Blizzard originally sought out big-money investors to bankroll teams. Franchise buy-in fees came in at $20 million on the low end, and expectations for the league were way too high. The goals these days are much more modest, but the league is still working to shake off its early perception.

Who Are the Best Teams?

The 2022 season was one of the most competitive yet for the Overwatch League. Across six tournaments this year, four different teams claimed titles. Nobody was dominant the whole way through, but the Dallas Fuel came pretty close. They started the year with a second-place finish in the Kickoff Clash tournament, but they really hit their stride at the season’s halfway mark.

After their loss in the Midseason Madness bracket in July, they dropped just one match the entire rest of the season. That included two perfect tournament runs in the Summer Showdown and the Playoffs, where the Fuel picked up their first season title. Thanks to their hive-mind style and wealth of experience, Dallas is the undisputed best team in the world, at least until next year.

The Fuel wasn’t the only team that achieved greatness in 2022. The LA Gladiators picked up two titles of their own to start the year. In winning the Kickoff Clash and Midseason Madness, the Glads combined experienced veterans with talented rookies to form a truly great team. Player health issues and changes to the pro meta derailed their season towards the end, but they still have a promising core for the future.

Over in the East, the two best teams this year were Seoul and Shanghai. Both teams featured storied rosters and stars with impeccable track records. In the end, neither found their footing on the international stage despite their dominance in the East. Still, if you want to follow teams playing in Asia, these are the top dogs.

Last but not least, we have the San Francisco Shock. They never won a tournament in 2022 but finished second three times in a row. The Shock are used to winning after lifting the trophy in 2019 and 2020, but they’ve been unable to get back to the mountaintop. Their future remains bright, but they’ll have to wait until 2023 for another bite at the apple.

Who Are the Best Players?

There’s really only one place to start when it comes to the league’s top individuals. After coming of age, Kim “Proper” Dong-hyun made his OWL debut after years of dominating in Overwatch Contenders, the game’s tier 2 competition. The hype was off the charts, and he lived up to it in every way.

Proper was a superstar from the jump for San Francisco and became the centerpiece they built around. His play on heroes like Genji and Tracer earned him the regular season MVP award, and his playoff performance on Sojourn was unbelievable. His peaks are some of the highest we’ve ever seen, and his OWL career is only just beginning.

What is Overwatch 2

Photo Credit: Blizzard Entertainment.

Of course, the league has no shortage of star Damage players. Several players could challenge Proper for the title of best in the world. Kevin “kevster” Persson is one of the league’s most reliable stars in LA. Lee “LIP” Jae-won has been a monster for three straight years now in Shanghai. We would be remiss to leave out Park “Profit” Joon-yeong, likely the greatest player of all time. His longevity is unrivaled and he remains at the top of his game after six years of professional play.

The Tank role has changed dramatically with the release of Overwatch 2, but several players distinguished themselves this year. First and foremost, Yoo “smurf” Myeong-hwan has proven himself to be the most flexible tank in the entire league. He played every game for Seoul and performed well across every meta. On the other end of the spectrum, we have the Dallas Fuel tank duo of Choi “Hanbin” Han-been and Lee “Fearless” Eui-Seok. They split time throughout the season, but both were instrumental to the Fuel’s success in 2022.

If you’re after the best Support in the world, look no further than Kim “Shu” Jin-seo of the LA Gladiators. His level of impact on a huge variety of heroes is unmatched, and he always seems to come up clutch. Other top Supports include Shanghai’s Kim “IZaYaKI” Min-chul and the Toronto Defiant duo of Lee “Twilight” Joo-seok and Sung “CH0R0NG” Yoo-min.

Where Can I Watch Overwatch?

If you want to see the best players and teams compete, the Overwatch League is really the only game in town. Matches can be viewed on the league’s YouTube channel. The OWL season typically runs from early spring through early fall. During that time, matches can be seen live most weekends.

For fans who want to tune in periodically without having to follow every bit of the action, the league has implemented regular tournaments that provide focal points for the season. Teams compete for prize money and points in the league standings. In 2022, the Overwatch League handed out over $4 million in prizes across all of its tournaments.

2023 and beyond represents something of a new start for the Overwatch League and the franchise as a whole. The release of Overwatch 2 has brought fans back to the game after many years and opened the door to a whole new audience that missed out on the original.

For those finding the game for the first time, Overwatch 2 can be a little overwhelming. The frenetic pace of action and visual clutter make it hard to keep up with at times. Those that stick with it will find a game full of vibrancy and character. Overwatch 2 rewards casual play and diligent dedication in equal parts and delivers a wholly unique gameplay experience every time you log in.

Bradley Long

Bradley Long

Bradley is a freelance writer who started his esports journey with Overwatch’s launch in 2016. Since then, he’s thrown himself headfirst into the competitive scene at all levels. When he’s not writing about the Overwatch League, he’s probably casting Tier 3 tournaments or playing with his cats.

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