Liam and I have given Overwatch 2's PVP beta a whirl and it's been... interesting. Both of us have come away with mixed feelings, especially around that big "2". Does it really seem like a sequel? To answer that question, we've teamed up in this article like a Müller and its corner to mingle our thoughts in word form. Of course, if you'd rather hear us grumble at each other in glorious video form, you can watch that down below.
Ed: Alright Liam, let's start with the obvious question. We're both lapsed Overwatch fans, having played an indescribable amount in the past. So, did your time with Overwatch 2 PVP beta reignite that interest, if at all?
Liam: I mean... I guess so? Like... yes and no? I had a lot of fun playing the Overwatch 2 beta but not necessarily because of anything specific to the new game. There’s a lot of chat online about how this feels more like a substantial balance patch rather than a numbered sequel, and it's hard to disagree with that sentiment. Playing the beta just felt like playing the original Overwatch again - which was great because that game is still as fun today as it was in 2016 - but other than some updated UI elements and teams being limited to 5 players now, it’s hard to notice what’s actually different this time around. How about you?
Mei being unable to freeze foes with her primary attack anymore is a bit like your dad telling you to stop putting milk into your water balloons because you're making the neighbour's kid cry.
Ed: Yeah, I totally agree here. Dipping into Overwatch 2 after years of Overwatch neglect felt like, well, not a lot had changed. And like you say, the game is still fun! It's just hard not to feel a little deflated when a sequel to a PVP shooter you adore doesn't seem all that sequel-ly. The roster has a new addition, Sojourn, and there are some new maps and a new mode called Push, but the game lacks that earth-shattering "2" tweak. I mean, some heroes have seen big ability shake-ups - for instance Mei's ice blaster doesn't freeze enemies if you spray them anymore. Cassidy's stun grenade is now a measly flashbang. But these refinements seem competition oriented, not fun oriented. What do you reckon?
Liam: Definitely. It feels like in an attempt to tighten things up, Blizzard have shaved off the edges from a few of the game’s more interesting characters. Mei being unable to freeze foes with her primary attack anymore is a bit like your dad telling you to stop putting milk into your water balloons because you're making the neighbour's kid cry. Like, I understand the reasoning, but where’s the fun in that? The joy of the original game was mastering each hero’s unique move sets, understanding how each ability worked in unison with one another to best assist the wider team. I’m sure everyone who played the original can recount a time they utilised a specific hero’s ability to save the day at the last second. It’s a little disappointing that those moments are now – by design, it seems - few and far between.
What I will say though, is not all hero changes are a net negative. Hulking robot quadruped Orisa, a hero I cared little for back in my ranked days, has received a huge overhaul that basically makes her a different character. Her shields have been swapped for a javelin that she hoys at enemies, which is enormous fun, and in general she just feels far more robust. A tank in the very literal sense of the word. Speaking of tanks, how do you feel about Blizzard’s decision to limit teams to just one?
Ed: With games being 5 vs 5, there's a lot less of the old impenetrable shield wall that plagued Overwatch for a dark, dark time. This makes games seem surprisingly open; almost freeing. As a DPS character there's a lot more space to maneuver and shurikens to thread. It finally feels like there's greater opportunity for individuals to shine, basically. But from a totally selfish standpoint, I miss the chaos. For me, Overwatch was built on frenetic tug-of-war battles that lasted an uncomfortable amount of time. You know, like sweat-patch-on-your-gamer-chair levels of intensity. But now that teams have been docked one tank, it feels like there's less carnage as a result. Fights are more measured and, if anything, there's more of a chance that one side will snowball to victory thanks to DPS characters being let off the leash.
That's enough of me grumbling on, though. From your time with the game's PVP beta, would you say you're looking forward to its release?
Liam: Despite my dour tone, I am actually looking forward to seeing how the game evolves between now and launch. That core foundation may be a bit too familiar, but it still absolutely rules. Overwatch was able to generate some phenomenal moments of drama as you desperately battled to move the payload that one final inch to secure victory, and thankfully that’s still very much a thing in Overwatch 2. For me, though, I’m more excited to see this PVE mode Blizzard have been cooking up behind the scenes. I’m hoping that’s where the true sequel lies.
Ed: I'm going to continue my grumble, actually. I do still have a soft spot for Overwatch, and I do agree that Overwatch 2 captures those special, heart-stopper moments. I'm just not sure the PVP side of things does enough to bring me back into the fold. Secretly, I think a part of me hoped I'd get back on the 3am ranked grind again but Overwatch 2 doesn't give me that urge. HOWEVER, I do agree with you on the PVE side. I'm also holding out hope that this is where the "2" comes to the fore.