Blizzard have still yet to tell us when Overwatch 2 is coming out, but last night they at least shared a load of what they've been working on for the game's PvP multiplayer. We got a fresh look at the hectic new mode Push, and saw a few matches on new maps like New York and Toronto. Perhaps the most surprising bit of info the devs revealed, however, is that teams in Overwatch 2 will have five players, rather than six, dropping a tank from each side. As a tank main, I have thoughts.
Weirdly, they're good thoughts. For as lonely as it might be in tank-land in OW2, I think the change makes a lot of sense. For context, Overwatch's current matches are 6v6, with teams made up of two damage characters, two supports, and two tanks. Tank has been the least-played role for a while now (evident from the fact that role queue frequently rewards players for diving in as one of the beefy heroes), so chopping one out might help with queue times.
During the stream, game director Aaron Keller said one of the main reasons for this change is to make matches less cluttered. Having to track the movements of 12 players is a hell of a lot more difficult than just 10, made worse by having two giant characters on each side. He adds that tanks can be "problematic" and "noisy", particularly because the role is less defined than damage or support. Some tanks are already quite brawly, while others just stand around to soak up damage and heals. Certain tank comps can be really oppressive too - I, for one, will not be sad to see the death of double shields.
A change this big has wider implications for the rest of the characters in OW as well, so expect plenty of reworks and balance changes. Blizzard have stated previously that they're turning tanks into more aggressive brawlers, rather than simple damage sponges, and they showed a little more of that in last night's stream. Winston has an alternate fire that sends a little ball of electricity at his foes, while Zarya has two charges of her shield bubble that she can use on herself or allies (this was actually a change put into regular Overwatch for lols during April fools, but the devs realised it works well for OW2's tank changes).
On top of that, tanks will be harder to knock back in general, and other players will get a reduced amount of ultimate charge for dealing damage to them. That last one is a pretty welcome change. If tanks are diving into brawls more in OW2, it means they won't be feeding the enemy team as much as they would in the current game.
Blizzard also showed some new footage of the Push game mode (at around 51:08 in the stream vid). It looks: chaotic. But a lot of fun. The goal of Push is to get a big friendly robot to shove coloured blocks in your team's direction, and you do that by standing next to said bot. It's kinda like an Escort match, except no one is defending. It's all-attack all the time, making it more like a team deathmatch with purpose. Even with the reduced team sizes, there's an awful lot going on. It looks more energetic than the current game modes, which I'm quite looking forward to.
That Push match takes place on one of the new maps, Toronto. The devs also gave us another look at the New York City Hybrid map, the Rome Push map, and the Rio de Janeiro Escort map (which you might recognise from the PvE story mission for Rio they showed at BlizzCon 2019). Blizzard also revealed Monte Carlo, a lavish new Escort map dressed in gold.
Race toward the Monte Carlo finish line in Overwatch 2.— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) May 20, 2021
Points of interest:
🏎️ Auto Pilot Cars
🛥️ Flying Yachts pic.twitter.com/tlE6d8UJ8R
Aside from that, Bliz shared Torbjorn's new OW2 look. He doesn't seem all that different, but I do appreciate the tidier and more detailed design. Still not quite as fashionable as McCree and Widowmaker, though.
And last but not least, the stream shows some super useful new HUD elements for support heroes like Mercy and Zenyatta. When healing another player, each character will see a picture of the character they're healing next to how much health they have. For Zen, when he throws a discord orb on an enemy, he'll also see their pic and health bar. In the current game it can be hard to keep track of where Zen's orbs are, so I'm looking forward to this.
Blizzard are still quiet on when we'll actually get to play Overwatch 2 ourselves, but these semi-frequent updates are enough to keep me sated for now. However, I do feel like the important bits from this almost 3-hour stream could've been rounded up nicely in about 30 minutes. Then again, I suppose it's nice to see a few full matches with the new 5v5 comp.
You can head to the Overwatch website for more details on Overwatch 2.
Matt Cox reckons it doesn't look like a sequel, "but a true sequel would be doomed to disappoint". I disagree! While PvP might not change much, the new story-driven PvE missions look much more advanced than the little PvE brawls Overwatch has now. Seeing as that's the focus, I think those missions will help the sequel will shine.