Review of Overwatch 2 Beta: The recent Overwatch 2 beta offered us our first glimpse of Blizzard’s concept for its fast-paced and finicky competitive first-person shooter. So far, it’s felt like a pretty weird entity.
The visual similarities to its predecessor are most noticeable, as is a sense of perhaps less drastic progression than we might have anticipated from a sequel. But there are alterations, and their effects have become apparent. And I’m not simply referring to what those monstrous developers did to my poor, dear Bastion.
The change from 6v6 to 5v5 is the most significant modification. It’s a simple update that might have been implemented in the original game, but it completely alters every mode, every team composition option, and every mode. Blizzard chose the 6v6 structure for Overwatch in part because it reduced the individual responsibilities of players. Particularly in the first year of the game’s release, a single Winston or Zenyatta could carry a team of bumbling Soldier 76s and permanently regenerating Tracers, and even as the level of play improved over the years, you could be preoccupied with a fight away from the objective and the rest of your team would be fine without you.
It is now a different tale. Choosing the appropriate characters in Overwatch 2 — not just the right roles, but also the precise combination of abilities, weapon projectile speeds, and passives — seems vital. So much so that if you make a mistake in the first minute of play, it is impossible to adapt, choose alternative heroes, and attempt to salvage the game.
It also focuses on the action. No longer are there frequent skirmishes around the perimeter of the goal. For those of us without World Cup-level tactical understanding, the fact that everyone is congregated around a single chokepoint is a nice change. It clarifies the ebb and flow of around considerably. You can see your teammates’ silhouettes and comprehend the situation immediately after spawning. You are aware of where you must be, and you may make flanking moves off to the side without fear of being picked off by a solitary camping Reaper. Now, they just cannot spare the manpower.
During the beta, a number of hero-related adjustments have also generated considerable buzz. Some have been totally rebuilt into various roles, the majority of them require you to relearn your regular plays, and as a result, stuns and crowd control skills from DPS heroes are nearly extinct.
SOJOURN IS WHAT SOLDIER 76 SHOULD HAVE BEEN: A USEFUL DAMAGE DEALER FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT HAVE CAT-LIKE REFLEXES.
Doomfist’s transformation into a tank hero is arguably the most significant, as he now has greater health, no uppercut, faster ammo recovery, and a Power Block ability similar to Reinhart’s. Mei’s freeze has been removed; it now slows foes and deals damage instead of immobilizing you and causing you to curse at your display. Brigitte’s astonishment has worn off. And Bastion, the beautiful, self-healing, undeserved POTG-gaining Bastion, is an entirely different proposition.
Because I played him the most in the original Overwatch, I am more sensitive to his modifications than those of other characters who have been significantly redesigned. However, he no longer possesses self-healing, and while he may still morph between turret and mobile infantry bot, the turret is now mobile and subject to a cooldown, resembling his previous Ultimate sans the artillery. His new Ultimate resembles an Unreal Tournament Redeemer in that it requires you to mark three targets for larger artillery, and his secondary is now a grenade. Much more so than Doomfist, he is proving to be a popular choice on the servers throughout the beta, but I regret the zoning capabilities he had in his previous turret form. D.Va’s primary fire is probably the closest thing to this at the moment, but the damage output simply cannot compete.
I enjoyed being stunned significantly less. For instance, Cassidy’s previous flashbang is now more of an area-of-effect grenade, and while several of the updated abilities can slow you, it is now extremely uncommon to be completely removed from the fight. In conjunction with the more concentrated activity that 5v5 brings, it feels like a positive sea change.
THIS ORIGINAL COULD HAVE BEEN UPDATED TO DO ALL OF THESE THINGS, BUT BLIZZARD MAY ONLY FEEL AUTHORIZED TO DO SO IN THE FRAMEWORK OF A SECOND PART.
Blizzard has introduced one new hero thus far:
Sojourn. In some aspects, she resembles a visitor from Quake Champions: a pure DPS hero, a fantastic gun with friendly damage spread for newer players, and a secondary that is a cross between a Quake railgun and a grenade launcher. She has also been quite well-liked. She resembles what Soldier 76 ought to have been: a helpful, basic damage dealer for those who lack the cat-like reflexes required for Hanzo et al.
So yet, this is the only modification that has occurred. As this is a beta, we should not consider any of these modifications to be final. But what about what has remained the same? After my time with the beta, I’m left with the same amount of musing.
There is a clear impression that Blizzard only feels empowered to make such radical alterations to the Overwatch formula under the guise of a sequel. That seems to be the most plausible reason for why this is being labeled Overwatch 2; it runs on the same game engine – albeit with a few tweaks – and hence looks very 2016. And this beta did not illustrate anything that the original game could not have accomplished through a succession of patches. A sequel for community management purposes rather than technological or mechanical advancement.
Neither the player base nor the developer would be satisfied with a World of Warcraft-style distinction between classic and new-school Overwatch, therefore there is a requirement for the number “2” in the title. What are we being asked to pay for something we did not purchase in 2016? As the release date of the new hero shooter creeps closer, this may become obvious.