Blizzard Details New Direction for Overwatch 2 in Reveal Stream
It’s been a big week for Overwatch. After the reveal over the weekend that the game is going free-to-play with the Early Access release of Overwatch 2 on October 4th, the developers took to Twitch for a live stream detailing many of the updates coming to one of Activision Blizzard’s tentpole franchises.
For the first time, fans were delivered a more complete picture of how the game will function upon release. Alongside the shift to 5v5 gameplay comes the move to a free-to-play model and a constant seasonal cycle of new content. As Overwatch Game Director Aaron Keller puts it, “the move to free-to-play makes it easy for everyone to just drop in, play the game, and join the community whether they own Overwatch 1 or not.”
With the game now available to a wider audience for free, Overwatch is shifting to a live-service model. An in-game store will make cosmetic content available for purchase, and a Battle Pass is in the works for players to unlock rewards as they play. New heroes, maps, and skins have been promised for the game’s October 4th launch, and new content will be coming consistently from that point forward.
All of these updates will look to bring Overwatch into the modern era of gaming. While many fans enjoyed the generous supply of Loot Boxes and in-game currency in Overwatch, the sequel will provide a more reliable stream of fresh content via the Battle Pass and in-game store. That will include new additions in the form of weapon charms, banners you can place on the map, and Mythic skins that players can customize to their liking.
New Heroes and Maps
The developers also revealed their plans for new heroes and maps coming with the game’s October 4th launch. Three heroes will make their debuts upon release. The first is Sojourn, the long-awaited DPS hero who saw action during the first beta. The third hasn’t been revealed yet, but Activision Blizzard showed off the second in the brand new cinematic, “The Wastelander”.
Junker Queen has been teased for quite a while in the game’s lore, and it’s finally time for her to take center stage. The bold and brash Australian uses her brains and brawn in equal measure as Overwatch’s newest tank. Her hyper-aggressive kit should fit right in with the new, faster-paced direction the game is moving.
Six maps will also join the rotation on October 4th. At least three will be for the new game mode, Push. New Queen Street and Colisseo were both released during the first beta, and another map located in Portugal was shown briefly during the stream. Another new map in Brazil has been shown several times and looks to be an Escort map. Circuit Royal, an escort map, and Midtown, a Hybrid map, were already included in the OW2 beta.
PvE Coming in 2023
The announcement was relatively light on details regarding the PvE portion of the game. The biggest news in that vein is that PvE will be released via the same seasonal cycles as the PvP content. However, while PvP arrives on October 4th, the date for PvE isn’t set in stone yet. During the stream, it was revealed that PvE content will go live sometime in 2023.
The inclusion of PvE in the live service system means that PvE will not just be a one-time release at the launch of the game. New maps and stories will come on a consistent basis for fans that want to dive deep into the lore of the Overwatch universe.
While the stories from that universe have been beautiful and captivating, they’ve largely been limited to media outside the game itself. Cinematics, comics, and voice lines are great, but they can only go so far to put the player into the world of Overwatch. “With PvE we have an opportunity to go a step further, to go deeper into diverse storytelling in ways that we just haven’t been able to before,” stated Keller.
Overwatch 2 Beta Returns June 28th
Alongside the news about Overwatch 2’s direction, a new round of beta testing is set to being on June 28th. As opposed to the first beta, which was limited to PC players only, this next beta opens the floor to consoles as well. The expanded beta access will give the team more data to work with as they fine-tune Overwatch 2 in the coming months.
The beta will include Junker Queen, the first new tank made specifically for Overwatch 2, as a playable hero. Players can opt-in to be eligible for beta access on the PlayOverwatch website. There is no announced end date at the moment for the second beta.
Overall, the announcements this week have given Overwatch fans plenty to get excited about. The move to a live-service model feels long overdue, but it still represents a big step forward for Overwatch as a whole. The firm release date for PvP and the clear content roadmap put to rest much of the speculation surrounding the game’s release. Free-to-play should open the game to a much larger audience and revitalize a community that has been suffering from a severe content drought. At last, the dog days are nearly over and the sun is rising on Overwatch once again.