Heroes never die, so it stands to reason that Overwatch 2 was inevitable. Though it was originally announced in November 2019, the sequel to 2016’s hero shooter may not arrive for a long time to come.
Particularly since the departure of Game Director Jeff Kaplan was announced in April 2021, the series’ future seems like it’s on unsteady footing.
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.
Here's more on those details and everything else we know so far about Overwatch 2.
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. Jeff Kaplan’s April 2021 departure also throws things into question.
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 arrive before April 2022.
Blizzard President J Allen Brack said during the same financial call, "We anticipate that 2022 will be a great year for Blizzard." He confirmed that the Overwatch 2 team had been on track in meeting major development milestones. New Game Director Aaron Keller corroborated this in the April 2021 blog post confirming Kaplan’s departure from the company.
“Development is continuing at a good pace,” Keller said of Overwatch 2. “We have exciting reveals planned for this year and beyond as we ramp to launch. We’ll be sharing more frequent updates about Overwatch 2 progress and new features in the live game with you all very soon.”
These comments make it seem like we’ll get more reveals in 2021, but the “beyond” implies the “ramp to launch” won’t happen until 2022. Thus far, that’s the best indication we have.
Is there an Overwatch 2 trailer?
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. It’s immaculately produced, totally epic, and enough to make diehard fans well up with tears.
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. But there’s also an extended behind-the-scenes video from BlizzCon 2021 that comes in at a whopping 38 minutes and 50 seconds.
Check it out below:
What are the Overwatch 2 platforms?
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.
A next-gen upgrade for Overwatch rolled out quietly for Xbox Series X|S in March 2021, which is a good indication that the sequel will also launch on the platform. Curiously, a PS5 upgrade remains (presumably) in the works. Given the fact that Overwatch 2 will likely launch close to two years after the release of next-gen consoles, higher-end versions of the game feel like a certainty. The worst-case scenario is that the Xbox One and PS4 versions will be playable via backward compatibility, perhaps with slight upgrades.
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 to 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, in a way that almost sounds like how Super Smash Bros. Ultimate handles its story mode. 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?
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.
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. In some ways, it sounds like Overwatch 2 could wind up feeling a bit like Marvel’s Avengers, with a team of heroes assembling. And over time, you upgrade whatever abilities you feel keen on investing in.
Will Overwatch 2 have new heroes?
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 in March 2020 that he was departing the company. 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.
Alyssa Wong, a Nebula Award-winning author who joined the Overwatch team's writing staff in August 2018, also departed in August 2020. After both Chu and Wong’s departures, it’s unclear who’s at the helm of the narrative these days.
Overwatch 2 is in development for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
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