Anyone that has been playing Overwatch frequently for the last six years probably has enough familiarity with how things go. Pick your hero and fill your role as your team attacks or defends different objectives. There is the occasional Team Deathmatch game here and there, but Overwatch is mostly focused on objective game types with good teamwork being emphasized heavily. And with the release of Overwatch 2 nothing has changed, which may or may not be a good or bad thing.
It’s easy to dismiss Overwatch 2 as a halfway-done sequel that does little to nothing to change things up. But there are enough significant additions to come from the game to justify calling this a sequel. New heroes to play with, brand new maps to play on, updates to previous maps, and quality-of-life tweaks are what make Overwatch 2 different. New maps for the game are set to release every other season of the game, with new heroes being added in between. However, most of these new additions will require players to wait and stick with the game for a long time, as opposed to seeing all the brand-new stuff right at launch. There’s also a free-to-play version of the game that is available for everyone to download, which will boost the number of people online significantly.
But are the new heroes that you can play with in the game now worth diving into this sequel? You have the choice between Kiriko, Sojourn, and Junker Queen. Each new character plays with the roles of what you may have seen with the previous roster of heroes, mixing and matching certain elements that weren’t really paired up before. Kiriko is a healer that can support teammates and deal damage with her kunai, while also being super nimble with her movement just like Genji. Sojourn is a character that feels like a variant of Solder 76 with higher mobility and great mid-range shots, provided you have good accuracy. Junker Queen is the new tank that is deadly at close range with a shotgun and battle axe, while also having a good passive ability to steal health from damaged enemies.
All three newcomers have interesting aspects to them that will mesh with different players, depending on your own playstyle. But what’s disappointing is how each of them doesn’t feel too different from what was already seen with Overwatch’s large roster. There are differences between them, but not enough to really impact the overall meta of competitive play or change up the flow of games you’ve probably seen hundreds of times already. Chances are you’ll pick a new character based on what you’ve probably already been playing in Overwatch 1, should you even decide to try them out.
And let’s not forget the entire original roster of characters from the first game. Every character has been tweaked in some way, either getting their abilities adjusted or receiving new moves entirely. You’ll more than likely find a few things that are different about your main that you’ll have to get used to. Overwatch 2 is a game that will get many updates over time, so much of what will be at launch may change months or years down the line. That’s a big aspect to the game as a whole, which can either help or hurt Overwatch 2’s bigger problem.
Balance is a constant struggle for games like this, especially when so much needs to be tweaked and adjusted based on constant feedback from the community. At the time of launch, Overwatch 2 has a lot of things that need to be changed for balance and competitive sustainability. Characters from the previous game have new abilities that can make some skirmishes feel one-sided, as well as encounters with others tilted in favor of one outcome. Eventually, this may get changed, but it leaves those who play with certain characters as their main in a very difficult position when going online for matches, especially in competitive play.
Good luck trying to find an answer to Orisa’s Javalin Spin as she’s aggressively coming toward you when you’re not even a squishy character. Or brace yourself when you hear that sound cue from the enemy’s Bastion using an Ultimate that is bugged out online, allowing them to drop around 20 shells from the sky on top of everyone. Hopefully, Blizzard can be vigilant enough to correct balancing issues like this quickly when they arise.
Other quality-of-life aspects of Overwatch 2 are hit or miss, depending on how you felt about playing the original Overwatch. Players cannot view their character’s abilities during a match, the medal system for post-match screens is no longer around, and you can’t use voting cards anymore for players to receive bonus experience. For some these were distinct parts of the original game, so their absence is very hard to ignore.
There’s also the new Battle Pass replacing the Loot Box system of the first game, which has received a lot of criticism. The Battle Pass itself is nothing different from other games that utilize a leveling system to unlock new cosmetics and other online bonuses. If you’re playing the free version of Overwatch 2 then most of these items are locked off and unavailable. You can also purchase items from the in-game store, but the value of these items is incredibly subjective and will depend on how much you value digital items within the games you play.
When you look at everything together, Overwatch 2 is just more of the same we’ve gotten over the last few years, but with mild additions to it. There are some extra seasonal events that will mix things up, but the core of the original game remains the same, for better or worse. Does that make Overwatch 2 a bad game or a bad sequel overall? No, it’s still a solid experience that gives longtime Overwatch players what they would expect. If you’ve invested a lot of time into Overwatch already, you’ll feel right at home. Maybe things will feel very different over an extended period of time to set Overwatch 2 further apart from its predecessor, but for now it’s the same stuff on a different day.
The game is good to play but will need many balance updates and changes over time. More new content will get added down the line, but what you have around launch is more of the same from before.