With new PvP modes, new maps, cosmetic items and characters, Overwatch 2 seems set to push the series forwards and Jeff Kaplan has said he wants the game to be a “true sequel”. Even more excitingly, we can expect the addition of story and hero missions which will allow for “highly-repayable” cooperative play with up to five friends – a first for the Overwatch series and likely to bring a feeling of freshness to proceedings.
When Is Overwatch 2 Coming Out?
Blizzard officially unveiled Overwatch 2 at BlizzCon 2019. Apparently, the sequel is still in early development and Blizzard doesn’t know exactly when it will release, though it’s looking like it’ll be 2022 at the earliest.
In a February 2021 financial call Activision Blizzard CFO, Dennis Durkin, said the company’s outlook “does not include” Overwatch 2 releasing in 2021.
Raising hopes that 2022 will be the year, in the same call COO, Daniel Alegre, said that “The pipeline is progressing really well, and we anticipate that 2022 will be a great year for Blizzard.” Even more promisingly, Blizzard’s Jay Allen Brack said that a “major internal milestone” had been passed in the development of Overwatch 2 in November.
When asked about the game’s release during the Overwatch 2 reveal panel, creative director Jeff Kaplan said, “I don’t know. I have no idea. Like, just let us make it great, that’s what we care about more than anything. We don’t have a date in mind.”
In December 2020 Kaplan added in an update that the team is working “extremely hard” but there’s still “a ways to go” in terms of the game’s development. Expanding on this during a behind the scenes video during BlizzCon 2021, Kaplan and his team said that they “need some more time till we can say it’s perfectly polished in the way that we want it”, adding that “in order to make a game great it takes time, energy, collaboration…Our goal is for Overwatch 2 to be the worthy successor to the first game, to be the next evolution and to be a true sequel.”
What Is Overwatch 2?
Well, it’s a sequel to Overwatch, but not in the way that we usually think about sequels. By the sound of it, Overwatch 2 is more like a big expansion that focuses primarily on PvE missions. These missions appear to build off the Overwatch Archive seasonal events from the past few years. The new story missions will likely have more story, dialogue, and cutscenes than the highly repeatable limited-time events. Overwatch 2’s announcement cinematic is pure delight
The new 8-minute cinematic feels like a dramatic declaration of a new Overwatch age. It feels different from the disjointed hero cinematics that we’ve gotten used to over the years, tying together multiple characters into a focused story. Overwatch 2 will have a story that moves forward, and this is the kickoff.
Overwatch 2 Gameplay Trailer
The Overwatch 2 gameplay trailer is a quick rundown of everything coming in the sequel. We get a look at the story, co-op, and the new hero Sojourn.
BlizzCon may not have brought us a release date for Overwatch 2, but a 40-minute behind the scenes video certainly gave an insight into the improvements and additions the game’s development team is looking to make. It also offered an insight into why we might have to wait a little bit longer for the game’s release date.
Game director Jeff Kaplan and other members of the development team said that while “right now, we can sit down and have a night of Overwatch 2 and have it be a really fun experience” they “need some more time till we can say it’s perfectly polished in the way that we want it.” Kaplan himself said that “in order to make a game great it takes time, energy, collaboration…Our goal is for Overwatch 2 to be the worthy successor to the first game, to be the next evolution and to be a true sequel.”
Over the course of the 40-minute video, the development team touched on the things that they’re developing and improving in the game, from its PvP, Hero Missions and Hero Progression to the Campaign and the appearance of existing characters.
Two new maps were revealed during the video: New York and Rome. Both maps have completely different looks, with Rome leaning into Romance and ancient architecture while New York puts a sci-fi spin on Art Deco.
Developer Update And BlizzConline
In an end-of-year developer update posted in December 2020, Overwatch 2 director, Jeff Kaplan, has confirmed that after much silence there will be an update on Overwatch 2 during BlizzCon 2021, Blizzard’s annual developer conference where announcements, trailers and previews are usually shared.
Entirely online for 2021, BlizzCon will take place between February 19 and February 20.
Kaplan also tried to manage expectations about the game in the update, saying that while the team is focused on developing Overwatch 2, it still has “a ways to go”.
This makes it seem unlikely, then, that previous rumors (via GamesRadar) that the game will be launched in February alongside Blizzcon are accurate. In 2020, prominent leaker Metro said that the game’s full release could come as soon as February 2021 but Kaplan’s cautious update suggests that won’t be the case. Metro also floated the idea that a beta could be launched around this time. This seems more likely but we won’t know for sure until BlizzCon itself.
Wider Maps And Extra Heroes
In a recent interview, Overwatch 2’s assistant director, Aaron Keller, and lead writer, Michael Chu have expanded a little on the team’s ambitions for PvE play. According to Keller, there are “lots of heroes” in the work for the game and that its PvE maps are “2x larger than regular Overwatch maps.”
This increased scale is all in the service of telling more story in the Overwatch world and that the new co-op story missions will allow for “a more traditional way to tell a story in the Overwatch universe.”. A story which, Chu said, will have a “beginning, middle, and end”.
Naturally, as stated before, PvP is still a focus for the team and progression in PvP will be “entirely separate” from PvE.
According to Keller, “we don’t want gameplay changing talents and abilities to give an unfair advantage in PvP. We’re still exploring what players can earn in PvE and building out the progression system for that. Our goal is to make a robust meaningful progression system that feeds into our Hero Missions where players can play and replay for many hours or as their main mode of play after they complete the Overwatch 2 story.”
Narrative Plot Focus
“With Overwatch 2, we’re building the cooperative, narrative-driven game experience that players have been asking for since the original—and that we’ve wanted to make for a long time,” said J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard Entertainment. “We’re looking forward to telling the next chapter of this epic story in-game, and we’re excited to give players a whole-new kind of co-op experience built around progressing and customizing their favorite heroes – all while providing even more of everything they love about Overwatch today.”
PVP (player vs player)
Despite a heavy emphasis on the new co-operative modes, Kaplan took time to dispel the myth that Overwatch 2 would lose out on the multiplayer modes that made 50 million people play the game in the first place.
In fact, according to Kaplan, a huge focus for the Overwatch 2 team is making PvP as good as it possibly can be – which includes new maps, new modes and new characters further down the line.
Crossover Of Cosmic Items
According to Kaplan, all the cosmetic items earned in the original Overwatch will be ported over to Overwatch 2 – a move that will help expedite the transition to the new game.
Hero Missions see the Overwatch team traveling the globe, defending cities against robot invasions, taking on elite Talon agents, and battling the villainous forces laying siege to the world. This “highly-replayable mode” will allow players to level up their favorite heroes and earn powerful customization options that supercharge their abilities in co-op play – such as altering Reinhardt’s Fire Strike to ignite nearby enemies or modifying Tracer’s Pulse Bomb to cause a devastating chain reaction – granting the extra edge they need against the overwhelming odds.
Compatibility Of Overwatch And Overwatch 2
Current Overwatch players can play alongside Overwatch 2 players in PvP multiplayer. In addition, current Overwatch players will be able to play Overwatch 2 heroes and maps.
Co-operative missions see players teaming up to “stand together against an overwhelming outbreak of threats around the globe”.
Overwatch 2 Play
Similar to what we seen with its predecessor, Overwatch Play carries forward existing players’ accomplishments and loot collections and features the current complete Overwatch roster, a new generation of heroes, new maps that “widen the scope of the world” and a new Push map type – plus more to be revealed.
Story missions sees Winston, Tracer, and other members of the original Overwatch, join forces with a new generation of heroes. Players will take an active role in the Overwatch saga as a new global crisis unfolds through a series of intense, high-stakes four-player missions. As the story progresses, players will team up as different sets of heroes and fight to defend the world from the omnic forces of Null Sector, uncover the motives behind the robotic armies’ attacks, and come face-to-face with rising new threats around the globe.
New Engine Upgrades
Overwatch 2 introduces significant engine upgrades that support larger maps for co-op (PvP) play, as well as the wide variety of new enemies and factions that players will encounter on their missions. The game also introduces visual enhancements.
Overwatch 2 was officially revealed at BlizzCon 2019, alongside an eight-minute cinematic trailer. We also got a three-minute gameplay trailer which showcased the sequel’s new look, alongside new hero abilities.
Overwatch 2 will feature new PvP modes, with tug-of-war Push being the staple of competitive play, as well as new maps, cosmetic items and characters, including Sojourn. While the new PVP modes are expected, new for the series is the addition of story and hero missions that allow for cooperative play – a first for the series.
And that’s a wrap on all that is currently available on the sequel, Overwatch 2.
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