In December 2019, Blizzard released the gameplay trailer of Overwatch 2, which caused a stir in the community of fans of the game, because it promised a lot – story tasks and personal missions of heroes, new co-op, upgrading characters with a talent system, customization of skills, new game maps, heroes and one new mode. It really looked like a strong next step and gave hope, as the original Overwatch was already suffering from a lack of new content that only got worse in the years that followed. But the players waited patiently, reassuring themselves with Jeff Kaplan’s promises that the developers did not just abandon the game, but were actively working on a sequel. And now, three years later, Jeff Kaplan is no longer the game director of Blizzard’s shooter, and we got this. Overwatch 1.25, not even 1.5, as already joked on the Internet.
|Platforms||Windows, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch|
We were given a new mode, three new heroes, six fresh maps, new cosmetics, a battle pass, and the game itself became free, but that’s all, the rest is already with a minus sign. None of the promised PvE, talents, and skill customization, minus account levels, minus the entire Point Capture game mode, and with it the maps of Hanamura, Volskaya Industries, and Temple of Anubis, although they can still be found somewhere in the custom games, minus one tank in the team, because the battles are now in a 5-on-5 format, minus the crowd control skills of the damage heroes (goodbye, freeze, stun and all other types of immobilization), minus the loot boxes and minus the original game. By the way, the sequel literally replaces the first part, so players who, like the author of this text, did not appreciate the “improvements” proposed by the developers, have nowhere to go.
The hell with it, the new content, one day it may still be added (for now, they promise in 2023), but at least you do not break what worked and distinguished the game from among countless other hero shooters. But Blizzard does not look for easy ways and for some reason redesigned the very core of the gameplay. The thing is that the characters in Overwatch were not just divided by the roles of tank, damage, and support heroes, but also had their own, absolutely specific tasks on the battlefield, and their talents were fully revealed only in synergy with other heroes, which made the game very tactically oriented.
You had in your team the main tank with a shield, able to withstand the frontal attack of the enemies, and an auxiliary one, who was supposed to cover the flanks and replace the first one while the shield was reloading. You had characters with relatively low DPS and low health, but their role was to, for example, scout an area while staying safe, or to immobilize an enemy or even an entire enemy team by exposing them to partner hits.
The trick of Overwatch was in the kind of logical problems – what to do with the enemy’s double shield, how to deal with the Phara-Mercy combo, how to bypass the bottleneck covered by the Symmetra’s and Torbjörn’s turrets, and so on. It is clear that in six years the optimal composition of teams for each specific situation was selected and the original game could not offer anything new, so we expected how the sequel would handle this situation. The answer is it won’t. With the recent changes to the heroes, Overwatch 2 has become much closer in spirit to the usual team shooters. It seems that the developers have heard the complaints of casual players repeatedly crashing into the “pirate ship” of Orisa, Reinhard and Bastion in turret mode on a cart with cargo that must be escorted to the target, and completely revised the concept of tanks. As we have already said, now we have one tank per team, and there are generally two and a half tanks with a shield in the classical sense for the entire roster, all the others either operate with temporary barriers, or simply know how to restore health or temporarily increase its level, instead, they deal more damage and are harder to knock back from the point.
Do you remember the horror of matches in which the only tank was RoadHog, which left all other team members without protection from the fire of enemy snipers? This is what half of the games look like now. What is the way out? It’s simple: don’t stand still and don’t stick to the pile. And this is in a game where the entire gameplay is built on keeping points or escorting cargo, yeah. In accordance with the new concept of the game, damage heroes received a bonus to the speed of movement and cooldowns after killing an enemy, and support heroes now passively regenerate their own health. Got punched? It is not necessary to call another healer, stand behind the nearest column and everything will pass.
The sequel forces players to be more aggressive, take risks and basically act on their own, and the new maps are generous with a variety of detours, further encouraging players to roam around. Yes, it was before, but there were fewer alternative routes, and in some cases, the team had to have Symmetra with her teleport or Mei with the wall, which could provide passage to otherwise inaccessible areas. Now, often 1-2 players remain near the key object, and all the others run elsewhere, due to which battles, regardless of the purpose of the map, in spirit and dynamics resemble an ordinary deathmatch. It definitely lowers the barrier of entry for new players and may appeal to some of the old guard, but for me personally, it’s a big downside so far.
The new heroes don’t really bring anything fundamentally new to the game and look more like a symbiosis of old ideas. The most noteworthy here is Junker Queen, the queen of Junkertown, whose voice we could previously hear on the map of the same name. It’s a tank that lacks any additional defenses other than the extra health buff, instead, all of her skills deal periodic damage to enemies and thus heal Junker Queen, and her blade, like Thor’s Mjölnir, returns to its owner after being thrown, together with the poor guy who was hit by it. The character takes some getting used to and is currently out of favor in ranked games, but definitely deserves attention, especially if you combine her attacks correctly. My personal pick right after Orisa, who trades shields and crowd control for a spear and an infinite ammo machine gun that runs on the overheat mechanic, and becomes a near damage hero.
Ninja healer Kiriko is a kind of mix of Zenyatta, Moira, and Genji: she can climb walls, teleport to a wounded teammate even through obstacles, creates a zone in which allies become invulnerable for a short time, and clear themselves of most negative effects, throws slow but deadly kunai and heals with a stream of ofuda amulets. She has the most interesting ultimate ability of all the newcomers – a holographic corridor that increases the speed of movement, attack, and recharge of partners.
Sojourn is just a Soldier-76 on steroids with a railgun instead of a rocket launcher. Thanks to her robotic legs, Vivian can slide forward quickly while firing, as well as jump high. Sojorn can cover small passages or disperse enemies from a point with a disintegrating shot that creates an AoE zone that deals damage and slows characters at the same time. Aiming fire at the enemy charges the railgun, which can be discharged at any time without waiting for a full charge. Her ultimate ability is fast automatic energy storage for the railgun.
As for the new mode, at the announcement the push-pull robot on the map, a kind of tug-of-war, sounded interesting, because it changed the emphasis from sitting in the defense/ storming enemy positions to a more dynamic constant movement, but now that all the battles are already lacking dynamism do not suffer, Push no longer looks as fresh as before.
Never thought I’d say this, but I miss lootboxes. Yes, that’s a strange statement, but a battle pass with a variety of daily, weekly, and so on tasks is a much worse alternative in my opinion. Now let me explain – in the almost 1300 hours that I spent on the first Overwatch over the years, I did not have any desire to buy a loot box for real money, and at the same time I collected absolutely all the cosmetics that interested me, either by getting them or from those loot boxes, that were issued for free, or purchased for the internal currency of the game. At the same time, in the case of loot boxes, there was always an element of surprise and the joy of winning, like in the lottery, which it essentially was. Now we have a situation where you just… played for another skin or emotion, and they are still quite mediocre in the first season. The tasks, unlike some other games with battle passes, are not stressful, do not require a serious change in the usual way of playing and are performed somehow by themselves. I went to the tab with them twice – on the day of the launch and when I took a screenshot for review, but here the fact that the battle pass also unlocks new heroes is completely nonsense and seems to have been done only to stimulate sales of premium passes that unlock all heroes at once. Oh, and as you might have guessed, the store is now full of a variety of character packs, skins, sprays, and weapon charms, just like any average free-to-play shooter.
If you thought that when talking about Overwatch 2, I mentioned too much that it is bad because it is not like the first part, then you were right. For a beginner, this is just another good team-based shooter with a whole bunch of heroes, bright locations and dynamic gameplay, and it’s free. But for some veterans, it’s a failure because it’s not quite Overwatch anymore. And precisely because of this influx of newcomers who flooded the game and still have no idea how the characters work, what to do on the map, and what the game is all about. And also due to the chasm of technical problems – even now, after several patches, probably every third ranked game takes place in the 4 vs. 5 format because someone fell out in the first minutes of the game, Torbjörn is still unavailable for selection in the same ranked games, due to bugs with his skills, Bastion generally temporarily disappeared from everywhere because his ultimate skill could be spammed endlessly, Zarya in Total Chaos mode is immortal because she can constantly impose a barrier on herself. And also because in its current state it is not a sequel at all, but a dubious content patch. In short, a total disappointment. If I were rating the game from a beginner’s point of view, if I could add points for something that could potentially appear in the game at some point later, the rating would be higher, but the situation is different here. As it currently exists, this game is broken, try to avoid it, at least for a while.