Well, it's a sequel to Overwatch, but not in the way that we usually think about sequels. By the sound of it, Overwatch 2 is more like a big expansion that focuses primarily on PvE missions. These missions appear to build off the Overwatch Archive seasonal events from the past few years. The new story missions will likely have more story, dialogue, and cutscenes than the highly repeatable limited-time events. We go over those in greater detail below.
When is Overwatch 2 coming out?
That question is stilled marred in mystery, but after Blizzard gave a behind-the-scenes look at the game during BlizzCon 2021, we have a much better sense at what Overwatch is bring to the table. Interestingly, this new step into the Overwatch universe won't be your average sequel. Some of its new multiplayer modes will actually be coming to Overwatch 1, as will new heroes.
At BlizzCon 2019, Blizzard said that Overwatch 2 is still early in development and isn't sure when it will release. "I don't know. I have no idea," game director Jeff Kaplan said at the reveal panel. "Like, just let us make it great, that's what we care about more than anything. We don't have a date in mind."
That's still true, but now we know Activision won't be releasing Overwatch 2 or Diablo 4 in 2021. "We expect Blizzard's net booking to grow, given the momentum in World of Warcraft and the other growth initiatives we have in the business," said Activision chief financial officer Dennis Durkin, during a quarterly financial call. "Our outlook does not include Diablo 4 or Overwatch 2 launching in 2021."
So, 2022? The bits of gameplay we saw at BlizzCon 2021 looked promising, so let's hope for that.
What we learned at BlizzCon 2021
We saw two new maps (New York & Rome)
New changes are coming to Tanks to make them play like "toe-to-toe bralwers"
We got a good look at Sojourn's weapon, an assault rifle/railgun combo that looks very satisfying
Blizzard is experimenting with "role passive" bonuses that would help differentiate Overwatch's three core roles
Overatch 2 didn't get the same opening ceremony treatment that its Blizzard cousins, but that hardly means it didn't have any exciting announcements. We now have a much better sense of how Blizzard is tweaking Overwatch around its sequel. On the PvP side, big change is on the horizon. Tanks will be modified to play more aggressively (Reinhardt's current iteration lets him throw two Firestrikes per cooldown and cancel his charge at will).
Blizzard also stated its intention to revamp modes as needed. Game director Jeff Kaplan suggested, for instance, that the unpopular two capture point mode may be gone forever in Overwatch 2. It may be replaced by a new mode that Blizzard feels confident in like Push. We didn't hear anything more about the robot-on-robot Push mode at BlizzCon 2021.