What are the biggest changes in Overwatch 2? Compared to the original, Overwatch 2 looks and feels startlingly similar. It could even be the same game at first glance. That is, until you look a little closer and realise just how the little differences stack up to create a markedly different experience.
With Overwatch 1 shut down for good to make way for its long-awaited successor, we're all gonna have to get used to the brand new world introduced by Overwatch 2. Thankfully, a great many of the biggest changes are also very positive and exciting ones.
Here we've laid out all the biggest Overwatch 2 changes to get you up to speed. So if you haven't been keeping track of the dozens and dozens of patches, buffs, nerfs, removals and additions over the past year, fear not. Read on to learn about all the major differences between Overwatch 1 and Overwatch 2.
Biggest Overwatch 2 changes
Overwatch 2 may on paper look a lot like the original Overwatch, but under the hood there's a number of very significant changes that add up to a rather different player experience.
Here are all the major changes in Overwatch 2 compared to the original:
- Overwatch 2 is free to play
- Matches are now 5v5 instead of 6v6
- New Tank hero Junker Queen wounds enemies while healing herself
- New Damage hero Sojourn comes with powerful beam attacks
- New Support hero Kiriko makes a fantastic pocket healer and flanker
- New role passives added for each hero class
- Orisa has received a substantial rework
- Doomfist is now a Tank hero
- Bastion can now move while in tank mode
- Stuns are far less prevalent
- New Push game mode adds a tug-of-war spin to Escort
- 6 new maps have been added across all game modes
Below we'll walk through each of these changes in more detail so you know exactly what to expect when you dive into Blizzard's new(ish) hero shooter.
Overwatch 2 is free to play
Overwatch 2's most substantial change is that it is free to play with microtransactions. This was one of the largest reasons for the development of Overwatch 2 in the first place, and it's possibly the biggest indicator that this really is a new era of Overwatch. Now, Blizzard will get their money not from the game purchase, but from in-game microtransactions and purchases of Overwatch 2's brand new Battle Pass.
As you'd expect, Overwatch 2's Battle Pass is filled with cosmetics which unlock as you play matches and progress through the Battle Pass's 80 levels. Crucially, however, players who never played Overwatch 1 will only start with 15 out of the 33 total heroes unlocked, and will need to unlock the rest via the Battle Pass. Returning players from Overwatch 1 will have all heroes unlocked by default except for Kiriko, who must be obtained via the Battle Pass for everyone.
Matches are now 5v5 instead of 6v6
The biggest in-match departure from Overwatch 1 is that teams are one person smaller, bringing the matches down from 6v6 to 5v5. No longer will you have 2 Tanks, 2 DPS, and 2 Support heroes on each team in role queue. With the new 5v5 meta, only one Tank is allowed per team in role queue.
This may not sound like a big difference, but the lack of two tanks severely lowers a team's ability to create an impenetrable defence against the enemy team's push. Blizzard wanted to do away with the long-since-stagnant meta of shooting endless bullets into Reinhardt walls and Zarya bubbles, and they've achieved just that with the switch to 5v5. Compared to its predecessor, matches in Overwatch 2 are faster-paced and more aggressive, with teams constantly attacking and counterattacking in order to gain the advantage.
New Tank hero Junker Queen wounds enemies while healing herself
3 new heroes are being added to the roster with the release of Overwatch 2 - one for each hero role. Junker Queen is the new Tank hero. She's one of the most heavily armed heroes out there, with a shotgun for her primary attack, a massive two-handed axe, and a knife that she can throw and recall at will. The latter two weapons inflict Wounds on hit, which heal up Junker Queen as they damage the afflicted enemy over time.
Junker Queen's abilities almost all revolve around this use of Wounds. It's less about the damage over time, and more about the surprising amounts of healing that she can glean from repeated attacks with all her abilities. She's a very self-sufficient front-line hero, which is a very good thing in Overwatch 2's more aggressive matches. If you want to read more about her, check out our Overwatch 2 Junker Queen guide.
New Damage hero Sojourn comes with powerful beam attacks
Sojourn is the new Damage hero arriving with Overwatch 2, and she's a very dangerous individual built in a similar vein to Soldier: 76. Her primary attack is a powerful fast-firing rifle which also builds up energy as it damages enemies. She can then use this energy to power up her secondary attack, a hitscan beam, for large nuking potential.
Sojourn looks to be a well-rounded damage-dealer, with a slide ability that can be cancelled into an extra high jump at the user's command; and a Disruptor Shot which sends out an energy field which slows and damages nearby enemies. Her Ultimate makes her one to potentially turn the tables of any teamfight if left unchecked, allowing her to charge up her energy to full repeatedly over the space of several seconds, and making her beams pierce multiple enemies at once. That's a whole lot of damage potential, right there.
New Support hero Kiriko makes a fantastic pocket healer and flanker
Kiriko is the new Support hero in Overwatch 2, and is probably the closest rival we have to Mercy when it comes to having a dedicated pocket healer on your team. Kiriko's primary unleashes a burst of healing projectiles which add up to a very high rate of healing per second. This combined with her ability to instantly teleport to an ally within 30 metres makes her a fantastic hero for tailing a single ally on dangerous flank attacks and keeping them alive against all odds.
Kiriko isn't just a healer though. She can also deal some amazing damage herself on flank attacks thanks to her ranged Kunai knives, which deal low base damage but massive headshot damage to enemies. She can also climb high walls very quickly, giving her further mobility that can make her a difficult adversary to pin down unless caught unawares or vastly outnumbered.
New role passives for each hero class
Another big change to the heroes themselves in Overwatch 2 is the addition of three brand new passive abilities - one for all Tanks, another for all Damage heroes, and the third for all Supports. Here's what each of them do:
- Tank Passive: Gain 30% knockback resistance and provide 50% less Ultimate charge when damaged.
- Damage Passive: Gain +25% movement and reload speed for 2.5 seconds after eliminating an enemy player.
- Support Passive: Heal 15 hp per second after being out of combat for more than 1.5 seconds.
Orisa has received a substantial rework
Orisa has received perhaps the most comprehensive rework of any hero in Overwatch 2. Only one of her original abilities has been retained, and she also has a brand new primary weapon. Overall these changes are very positive, giving Orisa a lot of new survivability and pushing potential to match the new one-tank meta.
Here are all the changes to Orisa in Overwatch 2:
- Protective Barrier, Halt!, and Supercharger abilities removed.
- New primary weapon: Augmented Fusion Driver - Rapidly fires large projectiles and uses an overheat mechanic instead of reloading.
- Fortify ability - Duration increased from 4s to 4.5s. Provides 125 Overhealth on activation in addition to the 40% damage reduction. Also halves the rate of heat buildup from Orisa's primary weapon for the duration.
- New ability: Energy Javelin - Launch your javelin at an enemy to stun and knock them back, dealing 60 damage. Deals an extra 40 damage and stuns longer if the enemy is knocked into a wall. 6s cooldown.
- New ability: Javelin Spin - Spin your javelin to destroy projectiles and gain a 50% forward movement speed for 1.75s. While active, charging into an enemy deals up to 90 damage and knocks them back. 7s cooldown.
- New Ultimate ability: Terra Surge - Sweep in enemies and achor down, gaining the effects of Fortify and charging up a surge of damage. If charged fully (4s charge time), surge deals 500 damage. Enemies swept in also take damage over time and are slowed by 30%.
Doomfist is now a Tank hero
Doomfist has received the next biggest rework in Overwatch 2 after Orisa. He's now classed as a Tank rather than a Damage hero, and as a result he's able to soak up a lot more damage than before, while also making use of much of his previous brawler playstyle.
Here are all the changes to Doomfist in Overwatch 2:
- Doomfist is now a Tank rather than Damage hero.
- Health increased from 250 to 450.
- Uppercut ability removed.
- Hand Cannon primary attack - Damage reduced from 6 to 5 per pellet. Ammo regen rate increased from 0.65s to 0.4s per pellet.
- Rocket Punch ability - Max charge time reduced from 1.4s to 1.0s. Impact damage reduced from 50-100 to 15-30 damage. Wall slam damage reduced from 50-150 to 20-40 damage.
- Seismic Slam ability - Now launches you into the air like Winston's leap. Creates a shockwave on landing that deals 50 damage around you.
- New ability: Power Block - Block 80% of incoming damage from the front, while reducing your movement speed by 35%. Blocking 100+ damage empowers your next Rocket Punch with +50% damage, speed, and distance, as well as a longer stun to wall-slammed enemies.
- Meteor Strike Ultimate ability - Outer ring damage reduced from 15-200 to 15-100. Knockback has been removed, but all enemies hit now slowed by 50% for 2s. Activation time reduced from 1.0s to 0.5s.
Bastion can now move while in tank mode
Bastion is the last hero to recieve a truly substantial rework for Overwatch 2's release. The headline change is that its can now move while in tank mode, but the configuration only lasts for 6 seconds.
Here are all the changes to Bastion in Overwatch 2:
- Self-Repair, Configuration Sentry, and Configuration: Tank abilities removed.
- Reconfigure - Transformation between two primary combat modes now has an 8s duration and 10s cooldown.
- Recon mode - Weapon fire rate reduced from 8 to 5. Damage increased from 20 to 25. Ammo reduced from 35 to 25. Weapon spread removed.
- New ability: Configuration: Assault - Can now move while firing, at 35% reduced movement speed. Configuration lasts 6s. Unlimited ammo while active. Weapon damage reduced by 40%. 12s cooldown.
- New ability: Tactical Grenade - Fires a grenade bounces off walls but sticks to floors and enemies. Detonates after a short delay and knocks back enemies, dealing 130 damage. 8s cooldown.
- New Ultimate ability: Configuration: Artillery - Locks in place and fires 3 artillery shells anywhere on the map. Can choose a different location for each shell. Shells deal over 200 damage.
Stuns are far less prevalent
Almost every existing hero in Overwatch 2 has received some changes. Many are buffs, many are nerfs. One of the key takeaways is that stuns are far less common in Overwatch 2 than they were in the original game. Many iconic stunning abilities, such as Cassidy's Flashbang, have been replaced altogether in order to do away with so many occurrences of being held still by an enemy player.
New Push game mode adds a tug-of-war spin to Escort
Overwatch 2 brings with it a brand new mode called Push. Much like Escort, Push involves bringing a payload to the opposing team's side of the map. But whereas in Escort there is one team attacking and the other defending, in Push both teams are attempting to push the payload all the way back to the other team's base, in a sort of reverse tug-of-war.
Just like in Escort, players will move the payload in Push just by standing near it, and forward spawns will be activated at certain checkpoints. If the time runs out before either team has pushed the payload all the way to the end, then the team with the most distance wins.
6 new maps have been added across all game modes
Along with new heroes and game modes, we've also got a host of new maps to try them out in. In total there are 6 new maps, listed below along with their applicable game modes:
- Circuit Royal, Monte Carlo (Escort)
- Colosseo, Rome (Push)
- Esperança, Lisbon (Push)
- New Queen Street, Toronto (Push)
- Midtown, New York City (Hybrid)
- Paraiso, Rio de Janeiro (Hybrid)
Those are all the biggest changes you should prepare for when you first load up Overwatch 2. No doubt you want to just get stuck in playing now, but in case you want a fuller idea of what to expect, check out our Overwatch 2 review in progress.