Overwatch 2 is now over a week old, and already we’re seeing pretty glaring evidence that the sequel to the once legendary hero-based team shooter has been rushed out the door — whether to meet a quarterly financial target for publisher Activision Blizzard or distract consumers from its many, many controversies and scandals.
Although that number ‘2’ officially marks this game as a ‘sequel’ to the original Overwatch, the number of changes made to the game is somewhat interesting, but many are questionable. Making things worse are the myriad number of technical issues that have persisted throughout the launch, making Overwatch 2 undoubtedly, video gaming’s biggest dumpster fire of 2022.
8. The Battle Pass is a flawed replacement for loot boxes
When the original Overwatch launched, loot boxes were the monetization system preferred by most big AAA games and their publishers. In its switch to free-to-play, Overwatch 2 has gone for the Battle Pass, a seasonal model of rewards that incentivizes player engagement.
Battle passes were popularized by games like Fortnite, and feature a track of rewards divided between free tiers and premium tiers. That’s right, while the new game is free-to-play, it’s hoping players will experience enough FOMO to shell out cash every season just to get the best in-game rewards.
7. Every old hero has had their identity crushed
One of the things that made the original Overwatch interesting is how much it emphasized a unique gameplay identity for each hero. While that meant that they were put into straight jackets insofar as how they played, they also did wild, crazy, and unique things that set each other apart. In Overwatch 2, many heroes have been reworked.
Support heroes like Ana and Moira play a larger role in damage output. Heroes like Cassidy and Mei have diminished crowd control and tanks like Brigitte and Orisa have had their defensive abilities nerfed. Heroes are now more self-sufficient, which is great if you’re a high-skill esports pro, but that means Overwatch 2 loses the original’s emphasis on tactics and teamwork.
6. The promised PVE story mode is nowhere on the horizon
One of the purported motivations behind Overwatch 2, according to the developers, was the creation of a PvE mode, that is to say, a single-player story-based campaign that would finally place the heroes of Overwatch within their proper lore context, rather than the PvP limbo they’ve existed in.
Unfortunately, Blizzard has chosen to launch Overwatch 2 without the much-vaunted PvE story mode and confirmed at the Xbox and Bethesda Showcase this year that it will be launching in a vague ‘2023’ window. For many, story mode was THE reason to get hype for Overwatch 2.
5. With very little that’s new, it’s a sequel only in name
Generally speaking, a numbered sequel carries certain expectations: a meaningful expansion of gameplay mechanics, improvements to audiovisual presentation, and continuing development of said game’s characters and setting. But already the game is being referred to as a glorified patch, with only slight alterations to gameplay and an incremental update to the game’s technical presentation.
Worse still, Overwatch 2 wipes the original Overwatch from existence. The latter was taken offline and replaced by the sequel. Sure, the new game is free-to-play but the game that original fans purchased and enjoyed has been wiped from history in order to funnel them into an experience that prioritizes ‘engagement’ and ‘user metrics,’ the new yardstick that measures a game’s success.
4. Representation remains terrible
In marketing, Overwatch prides itself on diverse representation through heroes that hail from different nations and cultures. But critics contend that the representation only runs skin deep. Despite some detailed backstories, Overwatch heroes inhabit stereotypes.
Overwatch 2 could have been an opportunity to do better. Unfortunately, Junker Queen is the third Australian character that plays into weird stereotypes about the country. The newest hero, Kiriko is now one of three Japanese characters who happens to be a ninja (and they all know each other).
3. Previous heroes are locked, and new heroes are battle-pass gated
In Overwatch, perfecting a stable of reliable picks to make mid-match was critical to your success. But in Overwatch 2, new players will find a majority of heroes unavailable to play. Unless you had the original Overwatch – no longer available on your preferred platform’s digital store – only 13 of the 35 heroes are unlocked.
According to Blizzard, new players can unlock every hero by playing “roughly 100” matches, but it’s actually 150 or by paying for the $40 Watchpoint Pack. Meanwhile, new heroes like Kiriko are withheld from players who must either grind through the Battle Pass to unlock them or pay for instant access. Good luck mastering your team comp if you’re on a budget!
2. Persistent technical issues haunt it across different aspects
Every questionable design choice for Overwatch 2 would be fine if its launch hadn’t been marred by a myriad of technical issues. From a bug that makes unintended purchases that Blizzard won’t refund to a mobile number authorization system that only works for people with the “right” kind of phone plan to a bug that shuts down your PC mid-match, just to name a few.
The game also continues to be haunted by a number of issues regarding queueing for matches and remaining connected while being dogged by DDOS (distributed denial of service) attacks. Suffice it to say, it’s another bad launch for an eagerly anticipated game.
1. Publisher Activision Blizzard is the worst and continues to be the worst
Almost every major big-budget videogame is the product of soulless corporations. Overwatch 2 is, among games like Call of Duty and Diablo Immortal, published by Activision Blizzard, the parent organization of developer Blizzard Entertainment and easily one of the worst videogame conglomerates in the world.
Since 2021, the company has begun to reckon with allegations of a frat boy culture of harassment and discrimination against women and LGBTQ people. At the center of this crapfest is CEO Bobby Kotick, who makes millions of dollars a year while covering up for bad behavior in the executive class at his company, destroying evidence of harassment, sexual assault, and even yelling death threats at his employees.
That being said, video games are made by artists, programmers, and designers, not the twerps in leadership and managerial roles that harass people and foster a toxic culture. Playing a video game like Overwatch 2 isn’t an endorsement of that culture, but the publisher is actively using excitement for their new games and other positive press to distract from scandal and controversy.