BlizzCon 2019: Hands-On ‘Overwatch 2’ Impressions

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BlizzCon 2019: Hands-On 'Overwatch 2' Impressions

Overwatch is back with Overwatch 2! Many announcements were made in both the opening ceremony and the “Overwatch: What’s Next” panel that will have fans of the franchise excited. New maps, new heroes, new PvP game mode, story missions, hero missions, talent progression that unlock improved abilities, and updated graphics are just a few of the things players can look forward to. Blizzard had both the story mission and new PvP game mode available to play at the convention.

Story Mission

In the story mode, attendees played as either Tracer, Lucio, Reinhardt, or Mei to defend Rio de Janerio from the Null Sector which was depicted in the opening ceremony’s cinematic. At the start of the mission, players picked one of two talents to enhance their hero. The tier system was multiple levels deeps and opened up players to crazy versions of their abilities down the line. Who doesn’t want to do a 360 Earth Shatter with Reinhardt or roll around in an ice ball as Mei?

The mission itself played out story missions typically do in Overwatch 1.  Go to objective. Kill things at the objective. Repeat. However, new enemies made the mission harder than usual. Bigger and bulkier enemies along with flying enemies put in a new wrinkle to strategy that took a wave or two to get used to. Luckily, the new item system made our lives a little easier.

Throughout different check points, players are able to pick up items from crates that are upgradeable throughout the mission. A healing station, a mini turret, protective barrier, and a grenade coupled with the new synergies available with the talent pools made the mission a breeze once we all got our bearings. I can see how players who played the demo may be worried about replay ability of these missions. We played the mission on expert and despite someone never playing Lucio before, we still got through it with little issues once we understood the new mechanics. However, the BlizzCon mission did end on a bit of a cliff hanger so perhaps that is how Blizzard hopes to keep players invested in the missions.

PvP Mode: Push

BlizzCon 2019: Hands-On 'Overwatch 2' Impressions

Push is the newest game mode for Overwatch 2 and will be included in both quick play and competitive matches. Much like in the Escort mode, players must work together to get the payload across the finish line. However, the difference in Push is that both teams are essentially attacking at the same time. Instead of a payload, players fight for control over a robot pushing a metal barrier. A team wins by having the robot push the furthest in their favor. The seems ideal to eliminate draws in competitive play while always leaving space open for a comeback in quick play.

While the payload moves back slowly if you are not with it in Escort, the robot in Push moves a bit faster. Leaving the robot alone for even a second caused the robot to turn around and push for the enemy team if they were touching it.  This requires team to be constantly vigilante of Sombras, Reapers, Tracers, and the like from sneaking behind your team to steal the robot away from you.

During my demo play-through, we admittedly got rolled over pretty hard.  However, after a quick team kill when the enemy team almost pushed to their end goal allowed a brief moment back in the game. The robot pushes quickly. If you are able to gain the upper hand  and the enemy team doesn’t regroup in time, there is a lot of room for comebacks in this mode. That is always the easiest thing to say when playing the other game modes. If you’re worried about the value of Push being enough to upgrade to Overwatch 2, don’t worry. Overwatch 1 players will automatically be able to play the new game mode with no extra cost.

Unfortunately, Sojourn, the newest hero to be announced, was not playable. The first Canadian and Black female hero in Overwatch has been rumored for quite sometime. Her background as a captain in Overwatch and her appearance cinematics makes one of the perfect characters to introduce as the team gets back together. Sojourn’s addition continues to add to the diversity of this cast of heroes.

While not confirmed at the convention, the appearance of Echo, the robot seen in the Ashe’s origin film, in the Overwatch 2 cinematic leads many to believe she will be the next confirmed hero. Echo is the voice that led attendees through the demo mission so it seems as if not a playable then she will likely have a large role in the story missions.

Of all the announcements at BlizzCon 2019, Overwatch 2 has to be among my favorites. On episode 64 of But Why Tho? the podcast (found here), my co-hosts and I talked at length about the way that the franchise tells its stories and brings in diverse characters. With the addition of new heroes and their commitment to give players new stories, I am sure we will need to revisit the game in the future.

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