Overwatch 2, a modern relaunch of Blizzard's hero shooter that launched in 2016, is finally here. It promises to shake up the Overwatch experience in several significant ways, and ultimately represents the dawn of a new era for the award-winning title. While it's less of a sequel and more of a massive update to the game's foundations, Overwatch 2 nevertheless offers fans plenty of reasons to get excited.
In the days leading up to Overwatch 2's full launch, many fans have wondered when the game is going live, as well as how big it's going to be and when it will be available for preload. In this guide, we'll go over everything you need to know.
What is Overwatch 2?
While the title "Overwatch 2" implies that the game is a sequel, it's more accurate to think of it as a huge update for the original game that overhauls its core systems and transitions it over to a new business model. The biggest change it brings is the move from a 6v6 format to a 5v5 one, removing one tank hero from each team. This has been done to promote more active gameplay, as matches would often come to a standstill in the original game due to how powerful strategies like "double shield" were with two tank heroes.
To compensate for this, tank heroes have been buffed so that they can solo tank effectively, and both damage and support characters have gotten big adjustments as well. Overwatch 2 has also significantly reduced or removed most stun and crowd control abilities from the game in an effort to make the moment-to-moment gameplay less frustrating. For a full breakdown of how each character has been tweaked, refer to our guide on Overwatch 2's hero changes and reworks.
Overwatch 2 also makes Blizzard's hero shooter free-to-play, and replaces its aging loot box system with seasonal 80-tier Battle Passes that are similar to the ones found in games like Apex Legends and Valorant. There's a free and $10 Premium version of the Battle Passes, and both of them offer cosmetic rewards, with the latter offering instant access to new heroes, a 20% XP boost, and a new type of unlock called Mythic skins that are highly customizable. Free-to-play users, meanwhile, can unlock new heroes by reaching Tier 55 on the Battle Pass they're available from.
Both free and Premium users will progress their Battle Pass by earning XP, which is done by playing normally and by completing relatively simple daily and weekly gameplay challenges (think "Block 100,000 damage" or "Deal or boost 150,000 Damage"). Challenge completions also award Overwatch Coins that you can spend in the game's Shop, though Overwatch Coins are purchasable with real money as well (the going rate for them is 100 Overwatch Coins per dollar you spend). The Shop is also where Premium Battle Passes are purchased, meaning that players can earn enough currency through gameplay to occasionally buy Premium access without spending money on it.
Overwatch 2's seasons will last nine weeks each, and will always bring at least one new hero, map, or game mode to the game. Blizzard has promised that a new hero will always be added to the game every other season, so fans can expect a new character to play every six months.
Overwatch 2 launch time and release date
Overwatch 2 rolled out universally on October 4, 2022, going live for everyone in the world at the same time. Players in the United States were able to load into the game in the afternoon, while some folks in eastern regions had to wait until the morning of October 5 to jump in due to timezone differences.
Using official information provided by Blizzard, we've compiled a full list of Overwatch 2's launch times and dates for all major timezones in the table below.
|Timezone||Scheduled release time|
|Pacific Time (PT)||Oct. 4, 12:00 p.m.|
|Mountain Time (MT)||Oct. 4, 1:00 p.m.|
|Central Time (CT)||Oct. 4, 2:00 p.m.|
|Eastern Time (ET)||Oct. 4, 3:00 p.m.|
|Brasilia Time (BRT)||Oct. 4, 4:00 p.m.|
|Universal Time Coordinated (UTC)||Oct. 4, 7:00 p.m.|
|British Summer Time (BST)||Oct. 4, 8:00 p.m.|
|Central European Summer Time (CEST)||Oct. 4, 9:00 p.m.|
|Moscow Time (MSK)||Oct. 4, 10:00 p.m.|
|Gulf Standard Time (GST)||Oct. 4, 11:00 p.m.|
|Indian Standard Time (IST)||Oct. 5, 12:30 a.m.|
|Singapore Standard Time (SNST)||Oct. 5, 3:00 a.m.|
|China Standard Time (CST)||Oct. 5, 3:00 a.m.|
|Japan Standard Time (JST)||Oct. 5, 4:00 a.m.|
|Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST)||Oct. 5, 5:00 a.m.|
|New Zealand Standard Time (NZST)||Oct. 5, 8:00 a.m.|
When is 'Overwatch 1' shutting down?
To prepare for the arrival of Overwatch 2, the client for "Overwatch 1" was taken offline a little over 24 hours before the new game's launch. Overwatch and its multiplayer servers were then unavailable until Overwatch 2's release on October 4 at 12:00 p.m. PT / 3:00 p.m. ET.
If you didn't merge your Overwatch accounts before the original game was closed, you'll need to do it in Overwatch. Review our guide on how to merge accounts for Overwatch 2 for more details.
Overwatch 2 download size
Blizzard revealed Overwatch 2's download size ahead of the game's upcoming launch, and like the original game, it's not that big compared to some other modern games like Call of Duty. The game requires about 30GB of space on consoles like the Xbox Series X|S and PS5, while you'll need about 50GB of space on PC.
Note that you should make sure you have some extra free space available, too, as updates to Overwatch 2 over time will probably increase the amount of space it takes up on your system. Doing this will ensure you won't have to deal with a storage problem down the line.
Overwatch 2 preload
Overwatch 2's developers gave players a chance to preload the game before it comes out so that they could play the second the servers went live. However, the ability to preload the game was only available to players that owned a copy of the original Overwatch or purchased the Overwatch 2: Watchpoint Pack. Preload times were also different depending on whether or not players use a console or a PC to play.
Overwatch 2 is available now on Xbox Series X|S, PS5, PS4, PC, and Nintendo Switch. It's arguably one of the best Xbox shooters available, and since it's free-to-play, it doesn't cost anything to check it out. Alternatively, players can purchase the Overwatch 2: Watchpoint Pack that provides access to Season 1's Premium Battle Pass, 2,000 Overwatch Coins, and a bundle of unique Legendary skins.
Overwatch 2: Watchpoint Pack
The $40 Overwatch 2: Watchpoint Pack offers fans a variety of benefits that will allow them to get guaranteed access to Season 1's Premium Battle Pass track, unlock some unique rewards, provides some in-game currency, and more.