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Everything we know about Blizzard's highly anticipated Overwatch 2

New heroes! New maps! New modes!

Heroes never die — and that’s why we’re getting Overwatch 2. In November 2019, video game developer Blizzard Entertainment announced Overwatch 2, a fully-fledged sequel to its 2016 hero-based online shooter. We haven't heard much about the sequel since then, but fans are hoping to learn more soon.

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 a massive expansion of the first, and the two games will have an unprecedented amount of synergy between them. Overwatch 2 will also have an improved engine allowing even better graphics than the 2016 original.

But when can we actually play it? Here's that and everything else we know so far about Overwatch 2.

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When is the Overwatch 2 release date?

There is no official release date for Overwatch 2, and Activision Blizzard asserted in February 2021 that players shouldn't expect it anytime soon. While one leak from Sony's PlayStation Brazil Twitter account indicated back in January 2020 that a PlayStation 4 release date in 2020 would happen, that obviously never came to pass.

During a financial call in February 2021, Activision-Blizzard's CFO Dennis Durkin said that the company's outlook for the next fiscal year does not include upcoming Blizzard games like Diablo 4 or Overwatch 2. That means those games probably won't come up before April 2022.

For now, we can just hope that the game will arrive sometime in 2022. That seems likely as Blizzard President J Allen Brack said that "we anticipate that 2022 will be a great year for Blizzard" during the same financial call and confirmed that the Overwatch 2 team is meeting major development milestones.

Is there a trailer for Overwatch 2?

There are several Overwatch 2 trailers that were released alongside the game's announcement in 2019. Below, you can check out the cinematic trailer, which is titled "Zero Hour." This is the latest in Overwatch's series of high-quality animated shorts. It shows how the team finally gets back together before the events of Overwatch 2's story.

If you want to see the game, its PvE missions, and story mode in action, you can also check out the gameplay trailer that Blizzard released at BlizzCon 2019. Hopefully, we'll get a new trailer to enjoy at BlizzConline 2021.

What platforms will Overwatch 2 be on?

So far, Blizzard has confirmed that Overwatch 2 will be released for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. That isn't surprising considering that the first game is also on all of those platforms. PS5 and Xbox Series X versions have not gotten confirmed yet, but seem likely if the game isn't coming out until 2022 or later.

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

PvE story content was long-requested by the Overwatch community, and players will finally get that with Overwatch 2. Other standalone PVE content is a big draw as well. These modes will let players team up to fight the game’s A.I. in narrative-driven modes.

Story Missions will dive into Overwatch lore in a big way, 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. Characters like Wrecking Ball that don't speak also won't play a big role in the narrative.

Hero Missions are the second major PVE mode. Blizzard intends this to be the PVE mode that keeps players coming back over time. 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.

This is similar to the sporadic PVE missions we've seen in the first Overwatch like Junkenstein's Revenge. 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.

Will Overwatch 2 add new PvP game modes?

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. More new modes might be in the pipeline, but they have not been revealed yet.

Will Overwatch 2 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. Blizzard talked about “redefining” what a sequel means; such language has already begun to appear in the game’s promotional posters.

Said Kaplan onstage: “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.

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

How does Overwatch 2 Hero Progression work?

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.

Will Overwatch 2 have new heroes?

Blizzard

So far, only one new hero has been confirmed: Sojourn. This is a character first introduced in 2016 via a small appearance in the short film Recall. She 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.

Who is the Overwatch 2 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.

When will we learn more about Overwatch 2?

Blizzard has been relatively silent about Overwatch 2 since its reveal, but that may change soon. BlizzConline is an online event Blizzard will hold from February 19 to February 21 of 2021. Blizzard typically shares updates on their games at events like this, and BlizzConline will be no different.

While it's possible that Overwatch 2 skips the show, BlizzConline is the most likely place we'll learn more about this game.

Overwatch 2 is in development for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

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