Skip to main content

Overwatch 2: Hero reworks, story mode, and everything we know so far

Overwatch 2 Heroes
Overwatch 2 Heroes (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Overwatch 2 is an upcoming sci-fi hero shooter from Blizzard Entertainment, known for the Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo franchises. It's notable for its flexible approach to sequels, with players on the previous game, Overwatch, retaining crossplay 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 misaligned 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 PvP experience, with a new multiplayer mode known as "Push," alongside all-new heroes and unlockable cosmetics. Notably, all of your progress from Overwatch 1 will also carry forward to Overwatch 2.

Overwatch 2 is scheduled to hit Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Windows gaming PCs, and PlayStation consoles. The Overwatch 2 beta is also now live on Windows PCs.

Here's everything else we know so far about Overwatch 2.

Overwatch 2: Story overview

Overwatch 2 Tracer

Source: Blizzard Entertainment (Image credit: Source: Blizzard Entertainment)

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 commonplace. 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 U.K., 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 Winston

Source: Blizzard Entertainment (Image credit: Source: Blizzard Entertainment)

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 is a group of omnic terrorists, born from the anger over how omnics were being treated in the U.K. 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: PvE and story mode content

Overwatch 2

Source: Blizzard Entertainment (Image credit: Source: Blizzard Entertainment)

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. There are vague hints that Blizzard may release Overwatch's competitive updates before the story PvE mode content is finished.

Overwatch 2: Multiplayer updates

Overwatch 2 Tracer

Source: Blizzard Entertainment (Image credit: Source: Blizzard Entertainment)

Game Director Jeff Kaplan stated that despite the new PvE additions, the core team-based multiplayer competitive combat will remain the focus of the game. However, Overwatch 2 will move to a 5v5 format, removing one tank from competitive setups. To compensate, tanks will be buffed across the board, with resistance to knock backs, additional health, and new abilities, to help perform their more critical role.

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 crossplay 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: Character roster and reworks

Overwatch 2 Mei

Source: Blizzard Entertainment (Image credit: Source: Blizzard Entertainment)

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.

We have a full Overwatch character list that provides more details on how the characters play as of 2022. In addition, to reflect Overwatch 2's more "mobile" gameplay goals in a 5v5 environment, practically every class is getting new tools and changes.

Here are some of the changes Blizzard is working with in beta right now, but these could probably change again before launch.

  • Ana: Ana's sleep dart has been buffed to 15 seconds' worth of sleep time, but the healing aspect of her grenade has been nerfed to 60 points instead of 100.
  • Bastion: Bastion's Recon mode main weapon fire rate has been reduced by 50%, but the bullet spread has been reduced to zero, and the effective range has been increased. Bastion can now move while in sentry mode, and has unlimited ammo, although the damage has been reduced by 40%. Bastion has a new powerful ultimate called Artillery, by which he locks to the ground and can nuke three locations on the map. Bastion can no longer self repair, but now has a tactical grenade that sticks to enemies but bounces off walls, and causes a knock back.
  • Brigitte: Shield bash no longer stuns, but instead deals more damage at a longer range, and on a shorter cool down. Inspire's healing has also been nerfed.
  • Cassidy (McCree): Cassidy's Flashbang has been removed, and turned into a homing grenade that deals damage.
  • D.Va: D.Va's Defense Matrix now charges faster and lasts longer, and can move more quickly while in her firing mode. The bullet spread has also been reduced.
  • Doomfist: Doomfist has been completely overhauled, and converted into a tank. His hand cannon now charges more quickly, at the cost of reduced damage. Doomfist's new "Power Block" skill protects him from frontal damage, and charges up Rocket Punch into "Empowered Rocket Punch," which deals more damage, while traveling faster and farther. Uppercut has been removed, and replaced with Seismic Slam, which is a leap that deals damage and reduces movement speed of affected enemies. Rocket Punch now charges faster, but has reduced damage. Meteor Strike deals less damage, but also now slows enemies, and activates more quickly.
  • Junkrat: Junkrat hasn't received any changes, besides the fact enemies can now move slightly while trapped.
  • Mei: Mei can no longer freeze enemies with her main gun, which now only slows them down.
  • Mercy: Mercy's self-healing and primary healing have been reduced slightly.
  • Orisa: Orisa has been completely reworked as well. She now has a fusion main gun that uses a heat/overheat mechanic instead of ammo/reload. She also now has a javelin projectile that stuns enemies and knocks them back. Fortify provides Orisa with 125 additional temporary health, while slowing her movement by 20%. She can also spin her javelin to destroy incoming projectiles like rockets and bombs, while pushing enemies and increasing movement speed. Her new ultimate, Terra Surge, sweep enemies towards Orisa and charges her main gun to deal a surge of damage, while also triggering Fortify. Protective Barrier, Halt!, and Supercharger have been removed.
  • Reinhardt: Reinhardt's Fire Strike can now hold up to two charges, and his Charge skill has received some buffs to its minimum turning angle, making it easier to direct. Charge can now also be cancelled out of. Reinhardt also got some major survivability boosts, with his main shield going up to 1600 HP, alongside an armor buff to 200 points, and a health boost to 300 HP.
  • Sombra: Sombra has also received some major changes that lean towards nerfs. Her hack ability has gotten a reduced cooldown to 3 seconds, and now increases damage received by 50%. However, its ability lockout aspect has been reduced from 5 seconds down to 1 second. Hacked enemies can now be seen through walls for the whole team, and Sombra can now hack from stealth, although she'll be visible while doing so. Her machine pistol also received a damage nerf, but an accuracy buff. Stealth itself has also been nerfed. Players will be able to see Sombra from 4 meters, up from 2, and the fade in time has been reduced by half.
  • Zarya: Zarya hasn't had a huge rework to her kit, but there's a major change to her defensive bubbles. Zarya can now bubble herself twice, two allies, or an ally or herself as is the case in live, for added flexibility.
  • Zenyatta: Zenyatta has received no real changes, besides new visuals to show who is in range for Transcendence.

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.

In a video aired earlier this year, Blizzard announced that it is going to decouple the release of the PvP mode of Overwatch 2 from its PvE mode. Considering we're getting a public beta for Overwatch 2 this year, it stands to reason that, possibly, we could get Overwatch 2's PvP content by the end of 2022. For the PvE content, however, that certainly seems as though it's further afield.

Overwatch 2 will hit Xbox consoles, PlayStation 4 and 5, alongside PC.

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. Overwatch 2 is currently in a closed beta testing state.

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • Tl;dr: They're selling you the same game again.
  • With single player. They should have just released a SP only game and kept the OW online community untouched
  • I mean, this could all have been a big patch for existing users.
  • Exactly, obviously I'd have no issues with them charging for the campaign mode, but it doesn't really need to be a new game, certainly not a full price one.
  • You expect them to work for free?
  • Who said they'd stop making money with their paid + microtransaction game because of adding content? Surely not me. They would even gain new players and renew interesting. Charging fans for the same game again using them as captive audience is pretty low, though not uncommon in this ****** industry. Ubi, EA, 2K, etc, all of them do it