Overwatch 2 has been repeatedly delayed, but it looks like it's finally on its way - albeit in a changed form. In a blog post and video earlier today, the Overwatch team announced that they were decoupling the game's PvP and PvE modes, and that the PvP mode was now entering the first of several testing phases.
Here's the video with Overwatch game director Aaron Keller:
Overwatch 2 was announced a few years ago, and updates to the original game have slowed since while developers focused more on its sequel. The above basically says: oops.
"We recognise that we haven't communicated well, haven't kept you up-to-date, and honestly, we've let you down when it comes to delivering Overwatch content," says Keller. "We hear you, and we're committed to more continual updates on all things Overwatch 2."
Uncoupling PvP and PvE in Overwatch 2 is part of doing that, by apparently letting them release PvP content fast. To that end, Overwatch 2's new PvP features are now in closed alpha testing, meaning esports pros (among others) are currently playing it under NDA. That includes the new 5v5 matches (as opposed to 6v6), a new hero called Sojourn, new maps, the new Push mode, a new ping system, and a bunch of updates to existing heroes. Blizzard say it's "the most significant release we’ve had since our launch."
This same set of updates will be available more broadly for closed beta testing late April. If you're interested in taking part, you can opt-in via the Overwatch site. "Players will be granted access in phases, and we will add more and more players as we progress through the upcoming beta phases," says the blog post. There will be other closed beta tests later in the year, too, which will add more characters, maps and so on.
Blizzard have made several attempts recently to communicate more with their audience, including an early announcement of an in-development survival game. They're also, along with parent company Activision Blizzard, embroiled in several lawsuits which allege a culture of sexual harassment and discrimination within the company, and in the process of being bought by Microsoft.