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Friday, October 22, 2021

‘Overwatch 2’ Sure Feels Like ‘Overwatch Patch v2.0’ So Far

Blizzard is starting to announce more than just cosmetic changes to its heroes for Overwatch 2, which will start rolling out this spring in competitive play in OWL, using an early build. Yesterday, major reworks of heroes Sombra and Bastion were featured, including changes that make Sombra sound OP on paper, and let Bastion roll around in Sentry mode now, equally terrifying in its own right.

But the more I hear about Overwatch 2 the more it keeps sounding like what is essentially the world’s biggest balance patch, changing the meta with structural changes, like a smaller team size, and then these grand reworks to heroes to make them…better? I mean they’re different, that’s clear, but how much of this is change for its own sake?

While sure, I’ll give these multiplayer changes a chance, it’s not like the decision to make this a full-on “Overwatch 2” has not cost the game or series anything. To do this, they have essentially stopped development on the current game completely, something that is very, very risky in this genre as all other games keep pumping out new content. We haven’t had a new Overwatch hero since April 2020’s Echo. And before that it was August 2019’s Sigma. Development has slowed and then ultimately stopped, and while we’re supposed to get at least one new hero, Sojourn, if not more when OW2 launches, it’s important to remember we still don’t have anything approaching an actual release date for the game, so Overwatch will have taken a “hero break” for a full two years, at minimum, by the time this is over.

Of course, the X-factor in all this is what’s going to happen with single player content. This is the new “paid” part of Overwatch 2, while the multiplayer changes will be free to those who own Overwatch 1. But we’ve heard incredibly little about single player and seen almost nothing from it. There’s something about running story missions on repeat to level up your heroes with PvE only upgrades. Overwatch isn’t getting an open world or loot or anything like that. What I’m hearing sounds kind of like…Battleborn, weirdly? At least a blend of Battleborn, Destiny strikes and the single player content we already see from the game. But that’s just a guess because we only have the barest outlines of how single player or co-op PvE content will work in Overwatch 2. Everything has been focused on these character reworks, and redesigns that I don’t even understand, given that all your skins will carry over from the last game, and players won’t really care that Bastion has a new hat now.

Diablo 4 may be a troubled Blizzard project as well, especially in the wake of all the harassment issues and resignations, but at least I understand that game at baseline. Overwatch 2 remains deeply perplexing, a bunch of massive meta changes for their own sake, a giant mega-patch attached to bunch of PvE content in a series known almost exclusively for PvP. As ever, it feels mainly like Activision wanted to slap a “2” on something, even if it sounds as ridiculous in theory as League of Legends 2 or Fortnite 2, games that are clearly never going to get or need full sequels.

I remain deeply confused about what the end result of Overwatch 2 will look like, or when it will get here. For now, we’ll just keep getting these rework patch note drops, and seeing how things will change.

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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series, and The Earthborn Trilogy, which is also on audiobook.

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