Heroes never die — and that’s why we’re getting Overwatch 2. In November 2019, video game developer Blizzard announced (among other things) Overwatch 2, a fully-fledged sequel to its 2016 smash-hit, the hero-based online shooter called Overwatch.
Taking place shortly after Winston’s initial recall message initiated in the "Recall" animated short, Overwatch 2 will introduce new game modes, with the most notable being story-based player-vs-environment (PVE) missions. There will also be new characters and shared content between Overwatch and Overwatch 2, and all progress from the first game will carry over into the second. In some ways, the sequel feels like an overwhelmingly massive expansion of the first, and the two games will have an unprecedented amount of synergy between them. The game will also have an improved engine allowing even better graphics than the 2016 original.
To get even more specific, here’s everything we know so far about Overwatch 2 from new characters to key updates.
When is the Overwatch 2 release date?
There is currently no planned release date for Overwatch 2. One leak from Sony's PlayStation Brazil Twitter account that has since been deleted indicated back in January that a PS4 release date in 2020 would happen, but that seems unlikely.
What platforms will Overwatch 2 be playable?
PC (Battle.net), Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. The game will all but definitely be available for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X as well.
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 2019, Game Director Jeff Kaplan and Art Designer Aaron Keller talked at great length about Overwatch 2 in a lengthy panel. Here's everything they revealed about the game:
Overwatch 2 will have PVE missions
Finally, the dream of many Overwatch fans’ will come true in the form of PVE 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 the former 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 responded 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 from 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 comes with Hero Missions, which Blizzard intends to be the PVE mode that keeps players coming back over time. Kaplan described the mode as “deeply replayable.”
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, somewhat similar to the sporadic PVE missions we've seen in the first Overwatch. 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.
Overwatch 2 will have a new game mode called Push
There's a whole new game mode called “Push” that resembles escort game modes a great deal except it's a bidirectional tug-of-war. Rather than have an offense and defense, both teams are competing to push a cart in either direction.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 playable in quickplay, competitive, and also in the Overwatch League.
Overwatch 2 will have shared cross-progression
At BlizzCon, Blizzard confirmed a bombshell: Veteran players of Overwatch will keep their progression (stats, loot, skins, etc.) going 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.”
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. “The last thing we would ever do is split what an amazing community you guys are," Kaplan said.
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 will have 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, and this would allow players to customize their characters in ways that lean into playstyles.
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.
Overwatch 2 will have New heroes
As of now, there are two new heroes, with more on the way.
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.
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 has a new writer
The original Overwatch was primarily written by Michael Chu, who held 20 years of credits with the company. Chu announced on March 11, 2020 that he was departing the company. Chu's reason for leaving is currently unknown. When discussing the departure on his personal blog, Chu expressed that he'll continue to write games, specifically ones that "build worlds that unite people."
He ended his post with his dream for the future: "To help create an inclusive world where more people will want to share stories that reflect their own experiences. I hope it’s something we can build together."
Chu's narrative contributions can be found across Blizzard's library: he assisted in writing World of Warcraft, Diablo 3, Overwatch, and the in-development Overwatch 2. It's unknown how much he was able to contribute to Overwatch 2's single-player campaign prior to departing, but it's possible that most of the story-based work is already complete.
Blizzard has yet to announce who will replace Chu as Overwatch 2's Head Writer. That role could possibly be taken up by Alyssa Wong, a Nebula Award-winning author who joined the Overwatch team's writing staff in August 2018