Overwatch 2 Is the Best It's Ever Been — But Is It Too Late?
The game has come a long way, but it still has further to go.
A sequel to Activision Blizzard’s incredibly successful MOBA/FPS title Overwatch was always going to be a hard sell. But the developers behind Overwatch 2 promised new heroes, new approaches to team play, and the long-awaited introduction of a meaty PvE element that leaned into the franchise’s extensive lore.
The problem was that many of these promised features weren’t in the game when Overwatch 2 finally launched last October.
Nearly a year later, Overwatch 2: Invasion finally delivers many of these long-promised features in the biggest content update the game has seen since launch. Overwatch 2 is the closest the game has ever been to the product that was originally promised to players — but it doesn’t fix the deeper problems plaguing the experience.
I have been playing Overwatch before the game launched, having taken part in the open beta. Since 2016, I have spent countless hours in the hero shooter, but over the years I have dipped my toes in less often as the game struggled to rediscover its identity. Overwatch 2: Invasion is the first time in years I have felt the glimmer of joy the original Overwatch gave me.
Invasion’s story missions are a big part of this, as they bring the interesting lore of Overwatch that has been a pillar of the community into the game instead of only existing in short animated features and stories. Seeing the sharply designed heroes of Overwatch interact as their own characters instead of as vessels for players is a breath of fresh air, as is working as a team against a computer threat. Invasion’s story missions take the best parts of limited-time PvE events past and combines them with the charismatic characters to great effect.
But it succeeds in the shadow of bigger promises. While this is a delivery of larger PvE content, it is not the originally advertised Hero Mode that was sadly canceled earlier this year. It also isn’t without more delays, as the Hero Mastery mode for the game won’t release until September after originally planned to be part of Invasion’s launch. In addition, not all players will experience this content, due to its extra $15 price tag.
On the PvP side of things, the game has also seen meaningful improvements thanks to Invasion. Flashpoint is a new core game mode introduced to Overwatch 2 that feels immediately exciting. It brings with it two new maps that are the most expansive the game has ever seen. The mode itself has control points pop up across the map that teams need to capture, each point has its unique strategy to take. As one point is captured the next point on the map becomes available. It's a frantic and frenzied fight that captures the best of Overwatch’s competitive play.
The roster is also getting bigger with new support hero Illari. She has an exciting kit with a major first for a support hero, her ultimate doesn’t heal. Instead, Illari’s ult gives her plenty of DPS potential. While there is a complexity to how she can be played it worryingly feeds into a trend for Overwatch 2, which has devalued support characters.
Invasion has done nothing for Mercy, who have received nerf after nerf over the years to the point the hero’s entire playstyle has had to change multiple times to remain viable. This is indicative of a larger problem in the meta for Overwatch 2 and how it is played. The original Overwatch heavily relied on team-comp and communication to utilize each hero’s strengths. Overwatch 2’s nerfs and buffs have made many heroes feel like they can carry a team, even without communication or strategy, leaving the importance of knowing your role on the side of the road except in competative play with skilled players.
Invasion is being billed by Activision Blizzard as the next step in the Overwatch story and comes alongside the recent release of a short prequel animated series on YouTube and a big pride event in June that built on the accepted fandom theory of certain heroes.
After an extended period of struggling and trying to recapture the magic of the original Overwatch, Invasion feels like the closest Overwatch 2 has come to delivering. Going forward, the question remains whether Overwatch 2 can continue to deliver this quality of content — and remedy the remaining problems that plague it.