Skip to main content

Overwatch 2's second closed beta still hasn't given us any answers

The hunt for the "2" continues

Liam and I thought Overwatch 2's first PVP beta was fine! It was just hard to say just how much of that came down to the "2" in its title. We jumped back into its ongoing second beta, in the hopes that we'd finally wrap our heads around the game. Maybe we'd got it all wrong the first time around? It's the sequel to the biggest hero shooter out there! This time, this time we'd feel the "2" part come alive beneath our fingertips as we insta-locked Torbjorn on attack.

Dear reader, Liam and I emerged from our Overwatch 2 session having had a marvellous chat. We caught up on life, talked about Monster Hunter Rise, and how nice it is that the RPS Treehouse is complete again. Everything except Overwatch 2 itself was discussed... Which says it all, really.

Here's us talking about the first Overwatch 2 closed beta, with the energy of two dads sitting on a bench that's slowly sinking into the Earth's mantle.Watch on YouTube

Well, that's a little bit of a lie. Liam and I did chat a bit about Overwatch 2's second beta, but only for two brief moments. The first occurred when we gave the Junker Queen a whirl, seeing as she's the new addition; "seems cool" was the consensus. Armed with a boomstick, a huge axe and a throwing knife, playing her felt precarious. Which makes sense, I suppose, considering Blizzard want to reposition tanks as bruisers, rather than brick shieldhouses.

And it didn't take me long to warm to precarity, either. You roar into the frontline and pelt enemies with your shotgun, roar to bolster your allies' speed and your own health bar, and roar with delight when you land a hit with your magical throwing knife. Embed it in an enemy's flank and you'll deal bonus damage, so you're encouraged to actively hunt your next victim. If someone gets too close? Give 'em a smack of your big stick. Your ultimate sees you lunge into teams as you spin your stick like a coffee grinder, damaging enemies over time and preventing them from healing.

Mei freezes Cassidy in Overwatch.
I still can't get over Mei's snow gun not being able to freeze anyone anymore, or Cassidy's stun grenade being swapped out for a measly flashbang. An example of a re-balance that's dulled fun personality traits in favour of a more serious, streamlined shooter.

I remember Liam said Junker Queen seems "designed for Overwatch 2", especially when paired with Sojourn, another aggressive hero that joined the roster not too long ago. And I reckon he's onto something here, as she seems to showcase Blizzard's vision of a faster, more streamlined Overwatch that desperately wants its tug of war contests to wrap up with less resistance. Each hero yanks on the rope with added flair now, but there's a much higher chance they'll expire. And Junker Queen embodies this probing playstyle, where you've got to teeter on the edge as the team's anchor otherwise you're not fulfilling your role properly.

Holding the frontline as Junker Queen is a joy, so I've got no qualms with her being a part of the roster. But there's a sense that the old guard can't keep up with her and the rest of Overwatch 2's new wave of hostile heroes. Reinhardt and Winston and Cassidy are still fun to play but they're forever tied to the game's original, slower paced design philosophy. Sure, some of their abilities have changed - Bastion's been reworked almost entirely - but the roster seems more disjointed than ever, serving as more of a generational mish mash than a cohesive unit working towards one goal.

A cast of heroes from Overwatch 2
The new mode "Push" sees two teams compete to escort a robot. It's fine!

The second time we chatted about Overwatch 2 arrived within the last 20 minutes. "Seems like Overwatch doesn't it?", I chuckled, as Liam responded with a "yeah" that escaped his lips, immediately turned to stone, and shattered to pieces all over his keyboard. Yes, the battles seemed a touch more intense, and the fights focused on completion rather than chaos. But all in all, we struggled to really identify what had changed from the first closed beta to this one. Pick through the patch notes and there's a bunch of tweaks to various heroes: X no longer slows enemies, Y's maximum falloff range increased, Z now grants 50% this and that. Unless you sink into the dark recesses of the meta, you won't notice the intricacies in how fights might play out differently or how various characters aren't quite up to snuff. Poke your eyes above the surface, have a look around, and Overwatch 2 remains Overwatch.

Maybe we're trying too hard to find the "2"? Maybe some of it will arrive with the game's PVE component? Despite our reservations, the more we play Overwatch 2's PVP modes, the more Liam and I fall back into the Overwatch-liker camp. Not that that has anything to do with the "2", but more because it's a byproduct of our curiosity. In digging for the sequel, we sink into the comforting rhythms of an Overwatch that's undergoing a strange shift, like a sport that's trying to make itself more palatable for TV by changing the players, not the rules of the game.

Activision Blizzard are mired in legal issues and reports alleging a discriminatory and harassing working environment. Microsoft also announced their intention to buy Activision Blizzard for $69 billion (£56 billion) in January of this year.

Read this next