One of the surprising areas of Blizzards yearly conference/festival/gamingcon extravaganza, Blizzcon 2021 was the lack of info regarding Overwatch 2.
The sequel title was originally confirmed back in 2019 and is set to “replace” the current 2016 title, introducing PvE modes, character progression and new maps.
We were expecting to see a little more justification around having those additions make up an entire sequel title rather than simply releasing them as patches and updates, as most other games in the shooter/competitive multiplayer genre do.
Sadly Blizzcon 2021 proved that Blizzard seem to be scrambling for any real justification as to why Overwatch 2 needs to be an entirely new title in the franchise.
You can watch the core show info below but if you’re just looking for the headlines and a little expert opinion you can find that below.
So here’s all new information the devs, voice actors and one terrifyingly intense panel host (seriously it was a lot) had to share.
Overwatch’s futuristic Big Hero Six/Pixar view of the future is one of the titles major selling points. Its world-building is impressive for a multiplayer title which fleshes out most of its characters and locations in stunning high-quality shorts released separately from the game via social media.
So it’s nice to see that Blizzard understand that and open with doubling down on it with a glimpse of some of the new locations we’ll be visiting when the new title finally releases. The two new locations, Rome and New York can be seen in the video above but here are the screenshots if you want to get a decent idea. They’re perhaps a little too similar to Kings Row and Temple of Anubis, but it’s difficult to get a good idea without having a hands-on experience of them.
New Hero Sojourn First Look
The new character we’ve had confirmed to join the Overwatch 2 roster Sojourn finally gets some gameplay, focusing on her railgun focused gameplay. She seems to be a bit of a combination of Ashe, Soldier 76 and Mcree which doesn’t sound bad at all, although that mix of playstyles might make her a jack of all trades, master of none.
Backstory wise we weren’t given too much on the character, although I wouldn’t be surprised if we got a new hero short closer to the Overwatch 2 release date (whenever that might be).
More Details on Hero Missions
This area of the game was a little more fleshed out but still seems concerning surface level from a gameplay point of view. Hero missions will be replayable content that allows you to level up whichever hero you use for them, selecting skills from a skill tree with 3 distinct paths.
It’s been done before, but certainly not in Overwatch.
It’s a natural area for the team to want to break into, the problem for me seems to be the lack of engaging gameplay involved in the PvE gameplay we’ve seen so far, even in this year’s latest footage. When fans were given a hands-on it was one of the main areas of criticism so it’s definitely still worrying that there seems to be so little depth to the moment to moment gameplay.
They listed off a number of positive features including maps that will update between runs to minimise monotony, as well as additional enemy types and objectives to help keep things fresh but if the actual run and gun shooting doesn’t work, it’s always going to be a losing battle for them.
New(ish) Looks for Existing Characters
Probably the most underwhelming part of the reveal was the new looks for the characters. Now I can’t say I’ve been a day to day Overwatch player for a little while, but seeing the “new” looks for the characters, I was immediately hit with some deja vu. Does everyone else not think they look exactly the same as they did in the base title? Let me know in the comments so I know whether I’m going crazy or not…
Gameplay, Graphics and Sound Improvements
There were a number of in-depth examples of gameplay improvements given from tweaks to the mobility of Reinhardts charge skill, to adding new environmentally interactive sounds e.g. your gun sounds different fired in a canyon to a corridor, and improved weapon feel. My issue is that these are the kind of things we’re seeing developers add to current titles for free when they’re moving from the last gen to current gen consoles, certainly not using them as a selling point for a new $60+ title.
“There are just some things we can’t do without a sequel” commented Game Director Jeff Kaplan – the problem is I’m struggling to see exactly what they are yet!
What did you think of Overwatch 2’s coverage at this year’s Blizzcon? Where you expecting more or are you happy with what you’ve seen so far and don’t need anything else adding.