Overwatch 2 is an upcoming sci-fi shooter from Blizzard Entertainment, known for the Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo franchises. Overwatch 2 is notable for its flexible approach to sequels, with players on the previous game, Overwatch, retaining cross-play multiplayer with players on the sequel.
For those who do grab Overwatch 2, the game will feature "a ton" of PvE co-op multiplayer content, following a new Omnic Crisis global attack by a horde of evil machines. The heroes of Overwatch have reunited, and players must use all of their team working skills to overcome increasingly difficult story missions and on-going adventure mode-style replayable content.
Overwatch 2 will also retain the core 6v6 PvP experience, with a new multiplayer mode known as "Push," alongside all-new heroes and unlockable cosmetics. Notably, all of your progress from Overwatch will also carry forward to Overwatch 2.
Here's everything else we know so far about Overwatch 2, which will (hopefully) get more details at Blizzcon 2021.
Overwatch 2: Story Overview
Overwatch is typically known as a multiplayer shooter, but the game has a vast amount of lore experienced through external media, including cinematic shorts, comics, and more.
At its basic level, Overwatch takes place in a near-future version of Earth, where robotics and cybernetics are common place. They're so commonplace in fact, that it gave rise to an entire race of sentient machines called omnics. Omnics were originally built by humans to work in industrial and service roles, overseen by a self-improving artificial intelligence. If you've seen The Matrix, you know where this is going.
Eventually, the omnics gained sentience, free will, and even religions and cultures. Some omnic manufacturing facilities went rogue, and spewed out thousands of militarized machines which then attacked humanity, in an event called the Omnic Crisis. Overwatch was formed by the United Nations to help put an end to the omnic crisis, launching high-tech surgical strikes against omnic command posts and strategic targets. Overwatch proved to be a resounding success, putting an end to the Omnic Crisis, but the fallout from the world war had ramifications that still permeate the globe decades later.
The relationship between humans and omnics is complicated and differs per region. In the UK, Omnics are denied basic rights, and in Russia, the omnics still wage war against the population. Many of Overwatch's multiplayer levels offer hints at the state of the world in different parts of the conflict, with some of the game's short animations adding other important plot details.
Overwatch 2 follows the stage set from the first game. Overwatch as a group became distrusted in the years after the Omnic Crisis, and countries became increasingly skeptical of this band of high-tech super soldiers who seemed able to flout national sovereignty in order to pursue omnic terror cells. Information about Overwatch's black ops arm, Blackwatch, also leaked to the press, painting the organization in a bad light, due to the morally-questionable lengths they would sometimes go to get information. International pressure forced Overwatch to eventually disband.
While plot details for Overwatch 2 are scant, Blizzard has noted that Overwatch 2 will have a full-blown story mode to help bring the universe to life. In the announcement trailer, we see some of Overwatch's core members band together against a renewed Null Sector. Null Sector are a group of omnic terrorists, born from the anger over how omnics were being treated in the UK. Now, Null Sector seeks to wage war against humans and human-sympathizing omnics across the globe, launching attacks in various cities.
In the Overwatch 2 cinematic, we see Null Sector attack Paris, with Mei, Winston, and Tracer leading the engagement. Against the odds, they're also later joined by Genji, Reinhardt, and Brigitte, and swiftly put an end to the Null Sector attack. The subsequent gameplay trailer reveals that Null Sector has actually geared up for a full global invasion. Little more is known about how Overwatch 2's story will unfold, but we suspect it will revolve around the redemption of the Overwatch unit, featuring threats from Null Sector, and most likely the shadowy Talon council that seeks to exploit the chaos for its own ends.
Overwatch 2: Gameplay, story mode, multiplayer, and shared progress
Famously, Overwatch 2 will feature deeper story-based PvE gameplay, where players fight against AI enemies rather than other players. The story missions will feature co-op play, similar to some of the first Overwatch's seasonal PvE events, complete with dialogue, cutscenes, and other story beats. Blizzard describes Overwatch 2 as having a "ton" of PvE content, so hopefully, the story will have some real meat to it. One brief clip even appeared to show vehicular combat, with Echo piloting some kind of jet.
Beyond the main story campaign, Blizzard is looking at ongoing PvE content as well. It seems as though you'll select missions from a world map in a non-linear fashion, raising the possibility of Blizzard adding more missions over time to keep players engaged. Some of these activities include "Hero Missions," which Blizzard describes as highly-replayable co-op PvE, analogous to Diablo III's adventure mode. These missions seem to revolve around a specific hero or event.
You'll also be able to "level up" your heroes, unlocking skill customizations. Some of the ones they've shown off include a cluster bomb version of Tracer's ultimate, and the ability for Genji to throw his katana like a boomerang. Given that balance is perhaps less of a cause for concern in PvE, Blizzard can go ham on making the PvE abilities and skill modifiers a little bit more spectacular as you take on hordes of Null Sector robots in the game's missions.
Game Director Jeff Kaplan stated that despite the new PvE additions, the core 6v6 team-based multiplayer competitive combat will remain the focus of the game. In addition to all previous maps and modes, Overwatch 2 comes with a new mode dubbed "Push," where players have to protect a large robot moving across the map. Push will be a "core" game mode, used for Quick Play, Competitive, and even esports events.
Overwatch 2 will also feature updated skins for all existing characters, as well as new characters, including Sojourn. It's also set to feature an upgraded gameplay engine.
Importantly, Overwatch 2 will feature cross-play with the original Overwatch. All of the new maps in Overwatch 2 will also become available to Overwatch base game players, and you'll be able to go up against the new heroes even if you're using the original copy of the game. All of the content skins and unlocks you unlocked in Overwatch will come across with you to Overwatch 2. If you want to access new skins, PvE modes, and new heroes, however, you will need a copy of the new game.
Overwatch 2: Characters and heroes
Overwatch 2 will feature all of the heroes from the original game, and all of your skins, unlocks, and other progress will carry forward from the previous game. Players on the original Overwatch will still get matched with players from Overwatch 2, but to access new heroes you'll need to pick up the new game. So far, only one new hero is confirmed, named Sojourn. Overwatch 2 will also feature new locations, including Gothenburg in Sweden, Toronto in Canada, and Monte Carlo in Monaco.
The full hero roster looks like this, so far. We also have a full Overwatch Character List that provides more details on the roster.
- Soldier 76
- Wrecking Ball
Overwatch 2: Trailers
Overwatch 2: Release date
Overwatch 2 was revealed in 2019. As of writing, there's no known launch date, or even a launch window.
Blizzard historically has taken a methodical "ship when it's ready" approach to game development, which makes the studio a tad notorious for infrequent game launches. Activision Blizzard has confirmed that Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2 won't release in 2021. Hopefully at Blizzcon 2021 in February, we'll find out more information about the planned launch window.
Overwatch 2: Will it have a beta or alpha?
Blizzard games almost always have some form of public beta and alpha testing programs, albeit on a limited closed basis. Previously, Blizzard had a section on its Battle.net account website dedicated to beta and alpha opt-ins, but it seems as though they have removed it. For World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, Blizzard had a separate beta opt-in page on the game's website, so perhaps they'll do something similar for Overwatch 2 in the future. We'll keep an eye out, and let you know as soon as we see it.
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