Overwatch 2 review – The next generation of competitive gaming

Let me ask you a question. At their core, what makes multiplayer games fun for you?

You might say it’s “a sense of community” or “the competitive spirit”. For me, it’s the reward of knowing I’m working towards something. Every win, hell, every second of the experience makes me better and better. Knowing I’m doing all that I can against the enemy team, just to pull together a win or completely dominate them, is one of the most enjoyable things. Some games do this extremely poorly; like, arguably PUBG — but it’s less so the gameplay’s fault but rather the dwindling player base. There’s nothing like going head to head with another person and coming out on top, rather than facing bots.

Overwatch is one of my most played games, ever — nearing about 500 hours. There’s something so entertaining about rising up through the rankings alongside your friends, or going on a losing streak after convincing yourself you’re only gonna play “one more”. Overwatch gave me something that not many other games can provide so well — a low-skill floor and a high-skill ceiling. What do I mean by that? Well, it’s extremely accessible since all the characters cater to a specific playstyle, but equally, it’s hard since there are many nuances to learn before you can really say you’ve gotten good.

Overwatch set the bar, but has Overwatch 2 raised it or lowered it? Is it worth your time? I mean, it looks like a microtransaction-hell with better graphics, right?

At least, that was my first take on it.

Let’s start with our heroes. The original roster returns, and with it, three new characters from the Tank, Damage, and Support classes. If you’ve read my Overwatch 2 Preview (link) then you’ll know that almost all the characters have seen a massive change in how they play. Of course, I’m not going to get into each and everyone otherwise we’d be here for hours — let’s just tackle the most notable ones.

We should address our big heroes first; the Tanks. These have seen the most drastic of changes, all to support their survivability since the switch up from 6v6 to 5v5. Not only that, but several of the characters have had their movesets altered. Orisa has swapped her shield for a javelin, which can be used to either pin enemies in place or spin in her hand to damage close-range enemies, block projectiles and melee attacks. Reinhardt’s shield is down from 1600 to 1200 HP, but has been given two Fire Strikes instead of one. Since losing his uppercut, Doomfist isn’t nearly as much of a juggler as he used to be — but his Rocket Punch can now send him any direction you point it and he’s given a block move that protects him from frontal damage.

Our next batch of characters comes from our Support class. These guys haven’t seen any moveset changes (unless we’re talking about Moira, who dropped that silly damage needle in the beta and has since had her damage orb returned), so most of the changes here are either better healing output or their improved ability to self-heal. Zenyatta players will see the most notable improvement here, with his orbs now moving way quicker than they were in Overwatch.

Overwatch 2 Junker Queen Gameplay - PC [Gaming Trend]

Now, who could forget the largest list of characters on the roster – Damage. Damage output and survivability both feel relatively unchanged, it’s some of their movesets that have seen updates. Sombra’s gotta have had both the craziest nerf and the greatest buff; hacking now prevents enemy heroes from using their abilities for no more than two seconds (although the visual indication of a hacked enemy remains the same), yet her SMG deals damage much quicker. Mei no longer freezes enemy players (just slows them down) and Cassidy has lost his flash (RIP) in favor of a sticky grenade. Now Bastion is our heaviest hitter in the change department, and I’m sure those players are gonna be kicking their feet knowing their main is back — Bastion’s now able to move around in tank configuration and can lob grenades. Bastion’s ult, however, is going to be the worst thing to play against — you can now launch a mortar strike at any place on the map, under cover or not.

If you haven’t realized already, all of the changes the characters have seen can be fit into two brackets; improved pace or improved damage output. Characters like Mei can no longer pause the action, while Bastion has been redesigned for maneuverability. Overwatch 2 is far more competitive than its predecessor, and I’m all for it it. Not only can we see these changes in the heroes, but also just how the game operates. In Quickplay (or Unranked) you’re now playing defense and attack rounds — mimicking Competitive mode.

Overwatch 2 Sojourn Gameplay - PC [Gaming Trend]

The three new characters also lend to all of these gameplay changes. We’ve got Junkerqueen (Tank), Sojourn (Damage), and Kiriko (Support). Junkerqueen has to be the most fun Tank on the roster right now and really reiterates the importance of the Tank’s role and its survivability. Borderline unkillable, she’s the new Queen of Junkertown and who will likely play a role in Junkrat/Roadhog’s story. She wields a shotgun as her primary, and a knife as a secondary. Unlike the shotgun, her knife is pretty remarkable — it’ll deal a small amount of bleeding damage when it hits an enemy and will pull towards you if you manage to stick it onto someone. Pull an enemy out of position, have your team dogpile them, and you’ll cut down the enemy like a hot knife through butter. Her axe deals even more wounding damage than the knife, and can also hit multiple enemies at once. Where things get crazy is her Ultimate. She’ll spin her axe, launch an insanely long distance, and any enemy she hits she will prevent them from being healed. Couple that with Zarya’s ult, and you’ll nullify every healer.

On the Damage side we have a returning face from the beta; Sojourn. The first thing of note is that, since premiering in that beta, I’ve not noticed any drastic balancing changes. Her arsenal consists of a projectile-shooting railgun that charges after every successful hit, letting her launch a high-velocity round that deals (approximately) a whopping 250 damage. The charge time for that shot is stupidly low as well; about three seconds on body shots and two seconds on headshots. She can also fire an AOE attack that deals consistent damage over time, which is especially useful for crowd control. In terms of her Ultimate, this has to be the most insane DPS attack available across the entire roster. It charges her secondary ability to max SEVEN damn times, which means you could even ace an entire enemy team if you were accurate enough. At least she can’t self-heal, I guess.

Overwatch 2 Kiriko Gameplay - PC [Gaming Trend]

I think we can all agree that a new Support hero has been a long time coming, so it’s great to see Kiriko also joining the roster. She’s an insanely versatile character, being able to launch a projectile attack akin to Genji and heal with her other hand. At first, she was a bit tough to play, given that she heals with the left-click and attacks with her right-click —- so I recommend swapping that around as soon as you can. In terms of healing, she directs a burst of talismans that seeks targeted allies — although it takes a bit of time before they reach the player, deals only about 100 HP of healing, and takes some time to fill up again. In her current state, she plays more like Moira than a traditional healer. Of course, we can’t forget her Ultimate. She launches her fox spirit forward, and anyone on its path gains improved attack speed, movement speed, and reduced cooldowns. It’s an extremely effective Ultimate that discourages your team from stagnating, so I’m sure we’ll be seeing her played quite often.

Thankfully, we’re not going into Overwatch 2 with just 3 new characters and balancing changes — otherwise, I’d be calling it Overwatch 1.5. There are quite a few maps added to the roster, some existing maps have gotten day/night variants, and we also got a new gamemode. Some of the new maps have been a bit of a 180 as compared to the OGs, and that’s mainly due to the level design. Maps like Circuit Royal are far more claustrophobic than Route 66, and that’s all because there aren’t a lot of, if any, flanking routes. For Circuit Royal, you’re fighting through city streets and preventing a Formula Lux car from reaching the hotel lobby, which is standard — no issues there — until you’re on the attacking side. This map is absolutely defense-sided, and that can be seen in the amount of verticality that side has. No matter where you are you’re always fighting an uphill battle, and given that there are no flanking routes you’ll likely struggle getting it to the first point. Maps like Route 66 and Hollywood do a fantastic job of providing more angles to attack from and more shortcuts, and that’s what we’ve really come to expect from these types of maps.

It’s not all doom and gloom; where the maps are designed well, they’re designed well. The new gamemode, Push, really highlights what Overwatch 2 level design should look like. Let’s take Colosseo, a map set in Rome. In this mode, you’ll effectively play tug-of-war with the map’s robot. Each time a side takes control of the robot, it’ll move up quickly up to the large obstacle and slowly push it into the other side’s spawn. Across Rome, there are plenty of flanking routes, and plenty of high ground as you either attack or defend. This absolutely enhances Overwatch 2’s high pace, whereas maps like Circuit Royal have you hide behind shields or corners until you manage to push the objective to an even playing field. Thankfully, of the new maps, only Circuit Royal and Paraiso seem to suffer this fate, whereas Colosseo, Esperanca, and New Queen Street are peak level design.

We still need to address the elephant in the room; microtransactions. At least for the current generation of video games, this is one area I think we all hate with a passion. To put it plainly, Overwatch 2 is riddled with microtransactions. Original Overwatch cosmetics are no longer able to be unlocked as easily unless you spend money via the shop to gain the required currency or complete enough weekly challenges. These weekly challenges, however, only give you (at the time of writing) a max of 60 Overwatch coins. How much do the legendary skins cost from the original game? 2000. Good luck with that.

Now, the stress of microtransactions isn’t only limited to the cosmetics — new heroes will initially be unlocked via the battle pass at either Tier 1 (paid battle pass) or Tier 55 (for free). Thankfully, however, they can also be unlocked through the shop or special hero challenges once their battle pass is over — meaning you’ll never be at a loss against your competition.

The other thing that grinds my gears is how expensive the battle pass will be. Fortnite’s system of refunding the player their currency through the battle pass works wonders; it keeps them rewarded for playing consistently instead of having them purchase the battle pass every time there’s a new season. At the time of publishing, everything on the battle pass is some form of a cosmetic or new hero, with the battle pass costing 1000 coins to unlock. Want to do it for free? You’ll need to complete enough weekly challenges then. But wait, how many weekly challenges you ask? Well, since you can earn no more than 60 Overwatch coins per week, for free, it’d take you 17 weeks to get enough coins. How many weeks does one battle pass last? Nine.

Phew, alright that’s enough of a rant.

The stuff on the battle pass is still extremely rewarding. Blizzard promises almost 200 skins per year (up from Overwatch’s 42 skins per year), and while it’s likely some of these will be color variants of the same skin, even the stuff that’s currently available looks amazing. We also have a new tier to the skin system, Mythic, and it’s unlocked at level 80 on the battle pass. Genji has the first and only Mythic skin of the lot, which once unlocked you can change the look of his weapons, tattoos, masks, and even the color palette. Other than skins, there are plenty of name cards, icons, voice lines, charms, emotes, sprays, and souvenirs (although it hasn’t been addressed what its purpose is) to unlock. Unfortunately, as it’s come to be expected nowadays, all cosmetics will be locked behind either the battle pass or the shop, so expect to experience some FOMO when you see a cosmetic on the field that you don’t have.

The only true downside of Overwatch 2 is the battle pass — as far as the gameplay is concerned, this is what peak Overwatch should be. The new maps and the Push gamemode undoubtedly suit the game’s higher pace, and the transition from 6v6 to 5v5 has been as smooth as silk. Sure, it might not suit the more casual of players, but those who enjoyed its competitive nature will find solace in knowing that Overwatch 2 is exactly what it needs to be. Its extremely gratifying gameplay is complemented by the new characters, whose design goes hand in hand with the change in the meta.

Somehow, they’ve raised the bar once more.

With a deep interest in writing, Ben followed that into a Journalism degree. As an avid lover for gaming, he is constantly expanding his library with console, PC, and VR games. He's obsessed with stealth games and loves hunting down the smallest of details inserted by devs.



Overwatch 2

Review Guidelines

Overwatch 2 is so damn good. 5v5 has breathed life into the game, Junkerqueen, Sojourn, and Kiriko are a breath of fresh air, and the game’s new high pace suits its competitive nature perfectly. The new maps are insanely fun to play, albeit with some needing tweaking, and the new Push gamemode only enhances Overwatch 2’s core experience. The only downside comes from its cosmetic-locked, 9-week battle pass system, which will be costly to continually purchase.

Ben Lombardo

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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