'Overwatch 2' release date, characters, and PVE modes for the showstopping sequel

New heroes! New maps! New modes!

Overwatch 2 Trailer New Heroes

Heroes never die — and that’s why we’re getting Overwatch 2. Last week at BlizzCon, the annual Blizzard convention in Anaheim, California, the Irvine-based publisher and studio announced (among other things) Overwatch 2, a full-fledged sequel to its smash hit 2016 online shooter, Overwatch.

Taking place shortly after Winston’s recall message, the game will introduce new modes, most especially player-vs-environment (PVE) missions, new characters, and shared content across both Overwatch and Overwatch 2. The game will also have a new, improved engine over its predecessor, which allows even better graphics than the 2016 original.

Here’s everything we know so far about Overwatch 2 from new characters to key updates.

When is Overwatch 2 release date?

There is currently no planned release date for Overwatch 2.

What platforms will Overwatch 2 be playable?

PC (Battle.net), Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. We guess that means it won’t be a next-gen console launch title?

What’s new in Overwatch 2?

A lot! There are a ton of new gameplay modes, features, and other important things to know about Overwatch 2.

At BlizzCon, game director Jeff Kaplan and art designer Aaron Keller unraveled Overwatch 2 in a lengthy panel that took place on Saturday. Below is everything they revealed about the game:

Player Versus Environment (PVE)

Finally, the dream of many Overwatch fans’ will come true in the form of PVE (player versus environment) modes. These modes will let players team up to fight the game’s A.I. in narrative-driven modes.

The two big PVE modes are as follows:

  • Story Missions

As requested by fans, Overwatch 2 will dive into Overwatch lore in a big way through story missions, complete with cinematic intros and outros. In the first game, Winston sent out an (illegal) message, calling back all his former fellow agents to reunite and stop a new menace, Null Sector, from destroying the world. This event inspired a series of short films produced by Blizzard that explored how different members of Overwatch dealt with Winston’s call.

Overwatch 2 will see the team canonically reunite as Overwatch, with story missions that detail their efforts to save the world.

True to its name, the mode will have players pick a predetermined set of characters that make sense for the story. As noted by Blizzard onstage, it wouldn’t make sense for villainous, rogue characters like Junkrat or Reaper to help Winston. But players can have the option of choosing different characters based on the specific narrative.

  • Hero Missions

The second major PVE mode are Hero Missions, which Blizzard intends to be the PVE mode that keeps players coming back for more over time. “Deeply replayable,” is how Kaplan discussed the mode at BlizzCon.

Unlike Story Missions, Hero Missions will allow players the freedom to choose from any of the characters to play against A.I. on any of the maps. Missions will be changed by Blizzard on a frequent basis. “We want them to feel fresh and new every time you go into them,” Keller said at BlizzCon.

New game mode: Push

For the first time since the release of Overwatch in 2016, Blizzard will add a whole new game mode. Called “Push,” the mode has players escort a robot through enemy territory; think of it as tug of war, but instead of a rope, it’s a walking, talking bot you have to defend across the map. Points are given based on how far teams get the robot down markers (located on the map).

Victory goes to the team that can either amass the most points before the end of the match, or whoever pushes the robot down enemy territory first.

The game will be a major feature in Overwatch 2. It will be a mode playable in quickplay, competitive, and also in the Overwatch League.

Cross-progression

At BlizzCon, Blizzard confirmed a bombshell: Veteran players of Overwatch will keep their progression — stats, loot, skins, etc. — into Overwatch 2. On stage at BlizzCon, Blizzard talked about “redefining” what a sequel means; such language has already begun to appear in the game’s promotional posters.

Said Kaplan onstage at BlizzCon: “It will be a shared, multiplayer environment where no one gets left behind.”

Shared content

Along with shared progression, Blizzard confirmed Overwatch and Overwatch 2 will share content between games. In short, you can play as the same characters and the same maps in either Overwatch and Overwatch 2, including new ones yet to be revealed. Said Kaplan, “The last thing we would ever do is split what an amazing community you guys are.”

So all new PVP maps, heroes, and “new heroes beyond that” will be made available to all players, including those on the original game.

Overwatch 2 Hero Progression
A screenshot of Hero Progression in 'Overwatch 2,' which allows players to improve the abilities of their favorite characters.

Hero Progression

Said to be “still under development” by Blizzard, Hero Progression will essentially allow players to level up their favorite characters and empower them with what Blizzard calls “Talents.” That’s a big departure from Overwatch, which only rewarded players with cosmetic upgrades.

Every character has special Talents that will allow them to basically kick as much butt on the PVE battlefield as possible. The feature will be implemented in all PVE modes; Blizzard confirmed that Hero Progression will not be a factor in PVP competition.

New cities

As revealed at BlizzCon, the globe-trotting settings of Overwatch will return in Overwatch 2. New locations include Toronto, Rio de Janeiro, and Gothenburg, the second largest city in Sweden and the first map to represent the country.

New heroes

As of now, there are two new heroes, with more on the way.

Overwatch Echo

Echo, first introduced last year in the 2018 McCree/Ashe-centric short film Reunion, was confirmed via the Overwatch 2 cinematic trailer Zero Hour. Echo had been confirmed to be a playable character as far back as March 2019, when she was confirmed by Blizzard developer Joshua Noh to be in development.

Overwatch Sojourn

The second character is the one who took the spotlight at BlizzCon: Sojourn, a character first introduced in 2016 via a small appearance in the short film Recall, will finally be made playable in Overwatch 2. Named after African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth, Sojourn is the game’s first Black woman playable character and the first Canadian hero.

Little is known about Sojourn except that she was a captain in Overwatch and is imbued with cybernetic enhancements. How Sojourn’s enhancements will translate into gameplay remains to be seen.


Overwatch 2 does not yet have a release date.