Developer – Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher – Blizzard Entertainment
Platform(s) – PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Release Date – October 4, 2022
Overwatch is undoubtedly my favorite multiplayer experience of all time. When Overwatch was released back in 2016, you’d be hard-pressed to not hear anything about it if you were in the gaming space. I bought into the conversation and picked up the game a few months after its release and I couldn’t be more glad that I did.
The gameplay, the lore, and the overall structure of Overwatch hooked me immediately. I’ve played and enjoyed many multiplayer experiences over the years such as Halo Infinite, Splatoon 2, Fortnite, Fall Guys, and GTA Online. The thing about all those games is that sooner or later I eventually stopped playing them for a variety of reasons. Overwatch is the one multiplayer game I still play consistently from my first ever play session to now.
Even through the 3-year content drought that the game went through while Blizzard was developing Overwatch 2, I still stuck with the game and played it almost every month. As of this writing, Overwatch 2 was released earlier this month and I’ve played it almost every day since its release. As someone who knows all the ins and outs of Overwatch, this review will be written by someone with an informed standpoint instead of that of a newcomer.
First things first, Overwatch 2 is a team-based multiplayer first-person shooter. The original game had a 6v6 format throughout its entire lifetime but Overwatch 2 has switched over to a 5v5 format. This is one change I truly don’t know how to feel about yet, I think it’ll take a while for me to give a firm opinion. One thing I’ll say is that 5v5 definitely feels a lot faster-paced than 6v6. The game largely plays the same, although along with 5v5 there are a lot of new additions and changes to certain aspects of the game. From the battle pass system, matchmaking in competitive play, and hero changes, there’s a good bit to unpack here.
For those who played Overwatch, you’ll be aware of the loot box system that was in place. It used to be that each time you level up, you’d obtain a loot box that would contain 4 Items ranging from Common, Rare, Epic, and Legendary. Loot boxes contained items such as player icons, skins, emotes, sprays, voice lines, and highlight intros. Blizzard has completely removed the loot box system altogether in favor of a battle pass system to suit the new free-to-play format.
Now each time you level up, you’ll go up a tier in the battle pass and obtain items like the ones I named in the section along with new additions such as weapon charms. You can earn XP for the battle pass by playing matches and completing challenges that update every day. The battle pass goes all the way up to level 80 and will reset with new items after each season.
This is a big point of conversation with Overwatch 2. There’s the camp that prefers the loot box system and the camp that prefers the battle pass system. I personally don’t mind either system and I’ll admit that may be because I’ve played this game for years and have every item I could want for each individual hero. The battle pass gives me something to work towards which I know won’t appeal to everyone. I will say that the items in the actual battle pass could stand to be a LOT better in the future.
Overwatch is touted for its gameplay and the lore behind all the characters. That aspect hasn’t changed in the slightest. Overwatch gameplay is still as fun as it was back in 2016. I have my bad games like anyone else but 90% of the time I’d say I’m having fun. The 20-plus cast of characters behind the game lends itself well to a gameplay loop that doesn’t get boring. From a high-mobility, aggressive, and active hero like Junkrat to a grounded yet effective hero like Mei, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find someone to play as consistently. From the music, map design, and many varied game modes, the game gets most of its fundamentals down substantially.
I know it’s likely many have forgotten by this point but there is a still story mode for Overwatch 2 coming sometime in 2023. I’ll admit, I wish the story mode was available for the launch this year. I want to say that if the story mode expansion isn’t ready then I would rather it releases only when it’s ready. It’s just that when Overwatch 2 was first announced all those years back, many including me had the impression that the game would launch with everything but unfortunately that’s not the case.
I don’t think Overwatch needed to be rebranded into a sequel, but the fun factor of the game hasn’t gone away. I have my issues here and there, for example, the seasonal events don’t lend themselves well to the free-to-play style in terms of earning items. If you’re reading this, chances are you know all about Overwatch back when it was first released in 2016. To keep it simple, I still play the game and will continue to do so, I just really think that story expansion will do a ton of wonder.