When the official gameplay trailer for Overwatch 2 was released at BlizzCon 2019, fans could barely hold it together in anticipation for the sequel to the massively popular team-based FPS. However, as of recently those expectations have dropped with the news of the new game’s development running slowly, with Blizzard revealing that Overwatch 2 wouldn’t be released in 2021 after conducting a conference call with investors in early February of this year.
Prior to the commencement of BlizzCon 2021, players were expected to be gravely disappointed with the Overwatch 2 updates. Within the 40 minute segment dedicated to Overwatch 2, Blizzard managed to reveal a lot of interesting information that fans didn’t see coming.
Firstly, let’s go over the details that people did see coming. Two new maps for PVP were revealed, the first of which is Rome. The map modeled after the capital city of Italy contains plenty of old architecture and recognizable landmarks such as the Colosseum. The map was designed to contain rebuilt ruins with the hills of Rome displayed in the background.
The second map that was revealed is New York City. The Big Apple is making its debut in PVP with an early 20th century aesthetic. The map starts off in the Village, which includes the Flatiron building as well as fire stations and pizza shops.
Blizzard revealed that they are currently experimenting with “role passives,” which are abilities that affect specific classes of characters. Damage characters will receive a boost in movement speed. Support characters will each have a gradual healing effect similar to Mercy’s current passive. Tank characters are being adjusted in order to make them more suitable for brawling instead of mostly just taking damage for other players.
Blizzard focused on an experimental build of Reinhardt in which he has two firestrike shots, better steering during charges, and the ability to cancel charges. We also got a closer look of the new character Sojourn, who was previously revealed in the Overwatch 2 announcement trailer. Gameplay footage reveals that her weapon is a rail gun which is designed to “rip through” enemies if used with precision.
Certain combat upgrades will be implemented to enhance the weapon handling experience. As players shoot their gun, they will now be able to feel their weapon running out of ammo. Multiple subtle tweaks have been made including environmentally specific gunshot reverb and camera movement in order to give the characters a more visceral weapon feel.
Players that are not as interested in competitive play will be able to level up during the game’s replayable co-op Hero Missions. Each of the missions will contain toned down story elements and can be played using any one of the characters in the Overwatch 2 roster.
Hero Missions will utilize existing maps with daytime and nighttime variants depending on what time the game is played. Dynamic weather changes, such as sandstorms and snowstorms, can happen during the middle of each mission. This can be advantageous to long range characters such as Widow and Hanzo, who can reveal where enemies are located despite obstructed visibility.
Blizzard plans on creating hundreds of Hero Missions which can be played “night after night.” Some of the objective types that were mentioned include “Gather and Return,” Wall of Death,” “Scavenger Hunt,” and “Kill Quest.”
Blizzard revealed a system for hero progression for PvE in the form of individual character skill trees. There are three trees for each character that are suited for different builds. For example Reinhardt’s trees are Crusader, Juggernaut, and Guardian while Soldier 76’s are Commander, Rifleman, and Vigilante.
Each tree contains seven tiers in which each skill can be unlocked using Skill Points. The unlockable abilities that were glossed over include Junkrat’s dual-wield grenade launchers, Reinhardt’s charge that pins enemies, Mercy’s healing staff with the ability to fire explosive rounds, and Mei’s ability to snowball into a line of enemies. There are also elemental effects that can be unlocked for attacks including electrical shocks and freezing strikes.
The development team showcased some artwork containing new looks for some of the original heroes. McCree still has a classic cowboy look but with a longer beard and more robotic armor. Pharah’s armor contains blue and white colors with a transparent visor. Reaper now looks more metallic with a prominently silver exterior. Widowmaker now has a braided ponytail and a futuristic femme fatale look.
The enemies for PvE missions also received a major upgrade. Blizzard felt that the Null Sector enemies weren’t exciting enough in previous builds, so now they made them more engaging to fight against. Different missions will bring in different enemies ranging in sizes and capabilities. Breachers are objective based enemies that deliver bombs towards the objective. Pullers are enemies with tractor beams that pull you in in order to attack you. Elite enemies are ones that alter their weaponry while also adding health to their surrounding comrades. The Null Sector enemies have now become a force to be reckoned with.
Overwatch 2 will finally expand upon the lore that was only subtly introduced in the first game. The “Zero Hour” cinematic that was released in 2019 provided a glimpse into the campaign’s story details. The story mode will mainly center around the members of the Overwatch team reuniting in order to fight against the second Omnic Uprising.
Each story mission will contain cinematic intros and outros that will look very much like the “Zero Hour” trailer as well as the previous promotional cinematic episodes released by Blizzard. The maps that will be a part of the campaign are all expected to be gigantic in scale. The maps revealed to be in the campaign include India, Gothenburg, and Toronto.
Players will be able to choose any character they want for story missions, which will create a host of different character interactions and story beats. The development team believes that fans will be heavily invested in the campaign and find the deepening of character personalities very rewarding.
Despite low expectations from fans, Blizzard was able to deliver with a lot of new information in a short amount of time. They revealed just enough to build hype and leave players wanting more. Even though a release date still hasn’t been officially announced, it is obvious that there is a lot of passion being put into Overwatch 2 and there should be no reason to rush it.