Overwatch 2 – First Impressions
It’s easy to write up my first impressions of Overwatch 2. They’re pretty much exactly the same as my last impressions of Overwatch 1.
I know that’s not the most original take on the internet, but unfortunately it is an inescapable one. I loaded up the game, picked a couple of familiar characters, played for a little bit and it could’ve been an update for the old game.
And don’t get me wrong: it would’ve been a hell of an update. As a PlayStation player of Overwatch, the graphical update alone is a stunner. I have no doubt in my mind that this has been a massive effort.
But it has been a massive effort on a subtle scale. It is a largely below the surface effort, where most of what the player actually notices is superficial. What good is a new scoreboard screen if the game going on around you feels exactly the same? Same levels, same characters, same gameplay.
Yes, there is one less player on the pitch. And yes, there have been balancing changes and a new hero, but the reality is that all this stuff feels like it wouldn’t feel out of place in a patch. That’s Overwatch 2’s biggest problem. But in reality, it doesn’t even matter.
What Makes a Sequel?
Because in real terms, Overwatch 2 isn’t the kind of sequel that builds on its predecessor. It is numbered so that it can separate itself out from it.
On the face of things, it would’ve been simple to just announce Overwatch as a free-to-play title. Just tick a button on the backend of the various stores to reduce the price to zero and watch as the player count goes up.
But that wouldn’t necessarily make money. So you start to reexamine the way the finances work. Eventually you decide on a season pass. To go to that model you have to change how everything connected to the old lootbox model works.
I never felt this system was particularly egregious. With a few hundred hours in it, I unlocked most of what I wanted. But lootboxes, probably correctly, are becoming old hat, and Overwatch 2 is following suit.
As a result, we end up with a beta for an underwhelming sequel where the biggest change – the season pass model – isn’t present.
Overwatch 2’s Newest Content
I’ve not played enough with the newest characters to form a solid opinion, so that will probably come later down the line. These are the sorts of games where you can play for dozens of hours and still not full grasp who you’re playing as. I will say that there are a few teething issues, as there always are with new characters, and I have confidence that they’ll find their place.
The new push mode is good fun, although at this point I’m not sure it’s doing enough to differentiate itself from the other modes. More hardcore players who focus on the second to second plays will obviously have a different take, because it will effect how they approach things. For relative casuals like me, it’s simply a different point to defend.
The maps are colourful, and, again, I’m just happy that we finally have a visual upgrade on PlayStation. It was always a source of annoyance that I didn’t pick the Xbox One X version in the first place, instead playing the 1080p (with 4k hud) PS Pro version. This is a much bigger upgrade than that, and it is instantly noticable.
I enjoyed playing Overwatch 2. Just as much as I’ve enjoyed playing Overwatch recently, which is to say not as much as I used to. This beta was great reassurance that the sequel won’t bother me from a gameplay perspective. The season pass stuff was understandably not included. One because it probably isn’t ready yet, two because whoever heard of a season pass for a beta, and three because it would get torn apart. I suspect rightly so. Since what little progression there is in Overwatch is being so drastically altered and little else is changing at all, that is the area I am most interested in. And that is the area we are yet to see.
It is hard to call this a sequel, although I’m not entirely opposed to the developers retaining and building on their work from the first game. Maybe the release date will change my take there. I hope so. In the mean time, I hope there’s more opportunity to test out Overwatch 2’s new content before October 4.