Overwatch 2 Review
How do you review Overwatch 2? Honestly, I’ve been wondering ever since I downloaded it. Is it fair to give a high score to a sequel that isn’t in any way a sequel, but just the same game in disguise? Is it fair to mark up excellent gameplay when the free-to-play system beneath it feels so dirty?
More than that – this isn’t my first visit to Overwatch. I have a few hundred hours into it, and there are benefits that come with that. Most apparent is that all the characters are immediately unlocked, semi-disguising the annoying free-to-play system that is plaguing others.
In short? There is no good way to review Overwatch 2. Whatever I say will be a screenshot of this moment in time, seen through the lens of someone who, while I wouldn’t call myself a fan, has played it enough to already see the cracks in the new veneer.
A few obvious things to get out the way first. Overwatch is still an incredible game. There are loads of great characters, great levels, great combat. You still play in roughly the same way – two teams of characters with various abilities battle it out over objectives. None of that has changed.
To make that clear: none of that has changed. This is Overwatch 1, if Overwatch 1 was free-to-play. There are a few new characters, and some changes to some older ones too. But for all intents and purposes, this is the same game.
Want to know the extent of that? My friend, who downloaded Overwatch 2 as his first entry into the franchise, is still playing Overwatch 1 according to my friend list. My wife changed options in her PlayStation 4 version of Overwatch that have remained changed in Overwatch 2. It feels like a patch.
Welcome to Overwatch
Characters being added has obviously been a big part of the game before. Levels too. Hell, even the new game mode – in which both teams try and push one robot to their goal – doesn’t feel massively revolutionary. It doesn’t need to. It’s still awesome fun, if the maps for it are a little maze-like.
The promised PvE levels are still a long way off. The graphics are a clear improvement but will be wasted on the average gamer who just will not notice. And why should they? It still looks like Overwatch.
The biggest feature change, then, is that the game is now free-to-play. I haven’t had any particular problem with that. There are people playing it like it’s Call of Duty, but there always was. For veterans, competitive mode will take (most of) the edge off of that. Everyone else will have to grin and bear it.
I wish that there hadn’t been maps removed – the Assault maps are gone completely from all but custom games. With that said, I don’t think there has been a better time to play Overwatch in terms of pure gameplay.It’s good fun, there are loads of characters to learn, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll become utterly addicted all over again.
I’m perhaps not the best judge of whether the free-to-play elements are working. I’m bitter about losing loot boxes, which were a little treat for every level gained. I wish they could have been reworked within the free-to-play model.
Instead we now have a battle pass, which is awful. It has taken all sense of progression out of the game for me. All those sprays and emojis that I ignored for the last however many years are now front and centre, and mostly only if you pay extra money to get into the paid battle pass.I’ve played it a lot since launch, and I think I only checked my battle pass once. Like Call of Duty, it will be an occasional annoyance.
This is coming from someone in a particularly privileged position, in that the new characters were unlocked automatically. Others will have had to get to level 55 of the battle pass to unlock Kiriko. Or, ya know, shell out the money and unlock her straight away.
I suspect, although I might be wrong, that once the initial excitement of unlocking characters runs out for the new players, and once the “grace” period runs out for returning players, this is going to become a much bigger issue.
Those that can play for hundreds of hours a month will unlock the new character with ease. Those of us with lives will not. And so purchasing becomes the only option. That isn’t right.
With that said, there is enormous depth to this game, far above many free-to-play titles. The voice work alone is incredible. Each character has dozens and dozens of lines, and interactions with other characters too.
Overwatch 2 Review – Conclusion
How do you review a game like Overwatch 2? Well, I think the only way you can: by how much you’ve enjoyed it in the moment.
And the answer is that I’ve enjoyed it a huge amount. It feels like a return to form for a game I’d become tired with. They do say absence makes the heart grow fonder.
But this positive score comes with a caveat: that it will not always be this way. Today, tomorrow, in a month’s time – everything could change. For the better, or not. There are already a few potentially annoying things on the horizon.
But more people getting access to a great game is never a bad thing. And Overwatch 2 – whether it deserves that number or not – continues to be an incredibly enjoyable use of time.