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Overwatch 2 beta: How to play, start date, Junker Queen, and more

Overwatch 2
Overwatch 2 (Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

Blizzard Entertainment's team-based hero shooter, Overwatch, has remained popular since it was released in 2016. Following the game's many years of success, its developers are looking to evolve Overwatch with the upcoming release of Overwatch 2, a sequel that overhauls the game's PvP content with a new format and a move to a free-to-play model. On top of that, Overwatch 2 will also feature a full-length PvE campaign available to purchase, complete with several story missions, cutscenes, and campaign-exclusive upgrades for each hero in the game's roster.

Blizzard also recently revealed that Overwatch 2 will launch on Oct. 4, 2022. Leading up to that point, the company will unveil several Overwatch 2 betas so players can try out new heroes, new maps, and new balance changes. Here's everything you need to know about the betas, including what they are, what they entail, when they're coming out, and how you can play them.

What is the Overwatch 2 beta?

Source: Activision Blizzard (Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

The Overwatch 2 beta is a pre-release version of the game that Blizzard is using to test and gather player feedback on new features and content.

In the first Overwatch 2 beta, players were able to test out the 5v5 format shift, a new damage hero named Sojourn, and the Push game mode where two teams fight to control a payload that they need to push to the other team's base. There were also hero reworks for Orisa, Doomfist, Bastion, and Sombra, as well as a new ping system that allowed players to ping enemy or objective locations for teammates and some balance tweaks. All of the maps from the original Overwatch were included in the beta, as well as four new ones: Circuit Royal (Escort), Midtown (Hybrid), Toronto (Push), and Rome (Push). 

The second Overwatch 2 beta includes everything from the first along with the new tank hero Junker Queen, a new Hybrid map called Rio, and the new default hero appearances for each character coming to the full Overwatch 2 release. Several hero balance changes have also been added in the latest beta as well.

Blizzard has indicated that future betas will include more of the content that players will be able to experience in Overwatch 2's full release, including additional new maps, hero reworks, and new heroes. It's possible that PvE content from Overwatch 2's campaign will eventually be included in later betas, though the developers have made it clear that testing the game's PvP offerings is the priority.

Overwatch 2 beta start date

Source: Activision Blizzard (Image credit: Source: Activision Blizzard)

The second Overwatch 2 beta is now live, having launched as planned on June 28, 2022. Players selected to participate have received emails confirming their invitation to the beta with instructions on installing it. See our guide on how to download the Overwatch 2 beta for more information.

Blizzard has announced that the second beta will run until July 18. This gives the players selected to participate several weeks to try out the new content and hero adjustments. 

Overwatch 2 beta Junker Queen gameplay details

Overwatch 2's new Junker Queen hero.

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Arguably the most exciting element of the second Overwatch 2 beta is the introduction of Junker Queen, a new tank hero with strong close-range abilities.

While Junker Queen doesn't tank in the traditional damage-blocking sense, she does have an ability called Commanding Shout that gives herself and her teammates a boost to their health and movement speed. This ability is ideal for pushing through chokepoints quickly and enabling Junker Queen and her allies to go on the offensive.

Junker Queen's primary ability, Scatter Gun, is a powerful shotgun-style weapon that's effective in close-quarters combat. As you use Junker Queen to jump into the fray and get in the faces of your enemies, this will be your main source of damage. 

She also has a special Jagged Blade knife with two uses. She can throw the knife at enemies as an active ability that works as her secondary fire. If it lands, it sticks into the target and pulls them closer. Passively, Jagged Blade turns Junker Queen's quick melee into a knife slash that inflicts a wound and causes bleeding damage-over-time (DOT). Her Carnage axe swing melee attack has a wider arc and does more damage than Jagged Blade's quick melees, though it has a cooldown. It, too, can wound foes and cause DOT. 

Junker Queen in Overwatch 2.

(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

Junker Queen's Ultimate is Rampage, an ability that causes her to leap forward and slash at enemies in a wide arc with magnetized metal. Not only does Rampage deal strong damage, but it also inflicts bleeding DOT and debuffs enemies with an anti-heal effect like Ana's Biotic Grenade.

The hero's final ability is Adrenaline Rush, a passive that allows Junker Queen to heal from all DOT caused by bleed wounds. This means that by wounding multiple enemy heroes at the same time, you can self-heal and boost your overall uptime. 

How to play the Overwatch 2 beta

Source: Activision Blizzard (Image credit: Source: Activision Blizzard)

To play the Overwatch 2 beta, you'll need to sign up for it on the official Overwatch 2 beta page (sign-ups are now live). Then, you'll need to check the email you signed up with and keep an eye out for an official invite. Players will also need to own a copy of the first Overwatch game on the platform you want to play the beta on. It's one of the best PC games as well as one of the best Xbox games, so we highly recommend picking it up if you don't own it already.

Alternatively, you can also get guaranteed access to the beta by purchasing the Overwatch 2 Watchpoint Pack. This $40 edition of Overwatch 2 includes instant access to the current PvP beta, as well as guaranteed access to Overwatch 2's first premium Battle Pass, 2,000 Overwatch 2 in-game currency, an exclusive player profile icon, and a variety of Legendary and Epic hero skins.

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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 the game's beta, unlock some unique rewards, provide some in-game currency to use when Overwatch 2 launches, and more.

Buy from: Microsoft (opens in new tab) | Battle.net (opens in new tab)

Is the Overwatch 2 beta on console?

Source: Matt Brown | Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

Unlike the first Overwatch 2 beta, the second one is available on both consoles and PC. This means that Xbox and PlayStation players have a chance to get in on the action.

Notably, the second Overwatch 2 beta supports crossplay between console and PC, just like the original Overwatch does. If you're playing on PC and you have a friend using Xbox or PlayStation (or vice versa), you can group up and play together. 

Will there be Overwatch 2 beta rewards?

Source: Activision Blizzard (Image credit: Source: Activision Blizzard)

Right now, it's unclear whether or not players who participate in Overwatch 2 betas will be able to earn rewards that carry over to the full game. If rewards are offered, we expect that players will be able to earn exclusive cosmetics such as sprays, voice lines, profile icons, or potentially even emotes and skins by playing the beta. We won't know more until Blizzard provides more details.

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.