It’s been a long time coming, but Overwatch 2 is finally here, and it is fantastic. The launch has been terrible, with servers down for days. Now that it’s finally working, and I’ve gotten a solid 20 hours in though I’m a happy, happy boy. The changes feel great, the new maps and heroes are excellent, and the change to free-to-play has gone well so far. I absolutely loved Overwatch, putting over a thousand hours into the original release, so let’s break down what’s changed, is new, and is still a bit broken.
Are You Chicken?
The big question is why call it “2”. As a long-time World of Warcraft player, this feels like a game-changing expansion to me in a lot of ways. Activision has long maintained that making some of the worst decisions possible is their go-to for a given situation, so Overwatch 2 it is! There is a lot changed in this game, though. All but a few heroes have been adjusted in some ways, with the tanks seeing the biggest changes of all. That is because this is now a 5v5 PVP title, instead of the original release’s 6v6 and I think it’s a brilliant change. The meta (aka the current best way to play) has been ever evolving for the series, and for a while, it had become a far slower and more boring “shoot the shields” back and forth that eventually drove me away from playing the game often.
This new 5v5 setup that sees one tank, two DPS, and two healers is far faster and has higher damage. Every tank has seen either a slight or complete re-work. Newcomers to the tank class are Doomfist, who previously had been DPS, and the Junker Queen who is new to the series. Subtle changes for Doomfist include giving him more health, removing his uppercut and replacing it with a block, and lowering his damage slightly feel both well balanced and thought out. Orissa has gone from being a slow-moving shield user best on defense to an offensive menace with her new spear throw, deflect, and ultimate ability. It would take a lot of words to break down all the changes, so I’d recommend it for any lapsed fan of the series that may be coming back to search out the latest patch notes whenever you may be reading this.
This review is taking place at the launch of Overwatch 2 during its first season of new content. Future seasons in 2023 are planned to include the long-awaited PVE cooperative content. For Season 1 we have eighty tiers of cosmetics and one new character, the support Kiriko. She uses Kunai to attack and a cool homing mechanic for healing along with a ridiculously powerful Ultimate that buffs all teammates’ movement and attack speed while they stand in it. The third new character for the season is Sojourn who is a DPS focused on using her fast-firing assault rifle’s charge up to power her devastating railgun shots. She has rocket legs that move in a similar though far wilder manner to Reinhardt’s rocket charge. The previously mentioned Junker Queen is a big brute with a powerful close-ranged weapon and axe which she can throw or slice with. Her Ultimate sees her dash forward in a straight line dealing moderate damage, leaving a damage over time debuff, and causing all players it hits to be unhealable. It had been over three years since the newest hero, map, or mode had been released into the series, and not only do we get three fun heroes to start with but new maps and a new mode called Push.
Maps, Modes, and More
Along with reworked lighting and assets for the original maps, a large collection of new maps for various modes were released with the game’s 2.0 launch as well:
- Circuit Royal
- New Queen Street
These maps can be either the classic Payload or Control maps, but all Assault maps are now relegated to Customs as the mode has been removed entirely from matchmaking. A few of them feature the new Push mode, which has each team work to have a robot push forward an objective per side. To gain control of the robot you must be the only ones in range of it, similar to how the points and payloads work. It ends up being a long game of back and forth with tons of movement on maps featuring multiple paths to get back and forth often in my experience and I’ve really enjoyed it.
The other massive change for the series, and perhaps the one that most earns the “2” moniker is the change to free-to-play, which was a massive headache at launch. For returning players you can merge your account to finally have the same unlocks and stats across all the platforms the game is available on. This was completely broken at launch, of course, and led to my first three days of trying to play the game being met with only error codes, anger, and sadness. Once the weekend hit though the problems had been solved and I was met with all my unlocks, stable servers, and a brand-new progression system.
If you are new to the franchise, you’ll have to play 100 matches to unlock the original roster and reach rank 55 of the battle pass to unlock the new support, Kiriko. For returning players, all should be unlocked right away including the three new characters if you have the origins edition DLC tied to your account. At $10 US the battle pass has seemed like fair value, offering up over 80 different cosmetics. The majority of these would have been tied to loot boxes before, but it’s the reality of f2p (free-to-play) games, this system works, and people will put far more money into it than seemingly any other monetization system. For purchasing the first battle pass you get Kiriko, a skin for D’va, a weapon charm, and 20% more experience for the entire season. As long as the quality and quantity of what is on offer does not change each season there are worse ways to spend $10 on a game if you’re enjoying it. One question I have is how special events will work. Overwatch has had a seasonal event every two months for a while now, and most of the skins attached to them from the first game are now locked to paid purchases in the store.
Graphics, Controls, and Performance
Graphically the game looks fantastic, offering up reworked versions of each character as an “Overwatch 2” skin alongside a slick new UI that only took a few hours for me to get used to. There are three graphical settings on offer with all of them having slight issues. First up is resolution which aims for a dynamic 4k resolution and 60 frames per second. Next is the balanced mode which aims for 1440p resolution, 60 frames per second, and higher base settings than the 4k one. Finally, we have performance that lowers the resolution even further and goes for 120 fps. The resolution mode was my choice for the footage used in this review, but it chugs in the UI and drops frames noticeably at times during intense combat. The performance 120hz mode would be my normal go to but it tanks the resolution to the point where it can be difficult to make things out in the distance. I found the balanced 1440p setting to work best overall for both visual clarity and rock-solid framerate. I am on a 1440p monitor so the resolution mode may work best for you, and if you have any halfway decent gaming PC you can expect insanely high framerates at most resolutions. Though that does make me wish for better performance in resolution and a better resolution in performance on console.
The controls for aiming feel tighter than the original release in my experience so far on a controller. Using an elite 2 it’s one of the better-feeling FPS games on the console. Thanks to the game’s replay system after a death, it was obvious that some were using a XIM or other similar devices to use a mouse for aiming in the console crossplay pool, which has been a scourge for a while now. You can choose to play against PC players if you want (and you must if you group with one), but I wouldn’t recommend it as the mouse aim is so far superior to a controller that you will be put at a massive disadvantage.
The sound is better than ever with reworked sound effects for most, if not all, weaponry and a bevy of new voice lines for each character. The story has been pushed forward and as a fan of the series that has read all the comics and lore, it’s been great to hear all the new combos of pre-match banter. I have had a few UI bugs where certain actions would become unresponsive until I had pressed A in the post-match experience screen, but that’s been about it for non-server-related issues. Overall, after an incredibly frustrating launch period, the game has felt polished, well-balanced (though not perfectly so), and teeming with new content to dive into.
Overwatch 2 is a rebirth for one of my favorite games of the past generation. Featuring great new heroes, gorgeous and well-balanced new maps, a new mode in Push that I’ve greatly enjoyed, and a progression system that feels about the same as most free-to-play titles it’s an easy recommendation for both new and returning players alike. Add in an upcoming PVE co-op mode next year and I can see myself easily putting another one or two thousand hours into this title over the coming few years.
|Reviewed on||Xbox Series X (main), PC|
|Available on||Xbox, Playstation, Switch, PC|
|Release Date||October 4th, 2022|
|Rated||T for Teen|