Three years ago, Blizzard announced that Overwatch would receive a sequel in Overwatch 2. A story mode, new heroes, and mechanics were just the beginning of promises from Blizzard. Now that launch day has come and gone. Almost all players agree this is a step down in virtually every facet. What went wrong after over three years of development? How could Blizzard drop the ball so hard?
The game’s issues and impending failures aren’t the faults of any one decision. Overwatch 2 manages to mess up several critical portions of the free-to-play model while destroying what made its title unique. It’s a release that shows how out of touch Blizzard is with its community, a situation so fascinating it deserves dissection.
Overwatch 2 and the Dreaded Servers
When Overwatch 2 launched on October 4, I was excited to turn on the game for the first time in four years. After swapping to PlayStation as my primary console in 2018, I lost most of my progress on my Xbox account. Coupled with the consistent issues I had with balancing and frustration with the game’s direction, Overwatch pushed me away for almost half a decade. Once I heard that progress was finally cross-progression, I wanted to give Blizzard one last shot to win me over.
That shot somehow left me feeling more appalled by the game than I ever had. More so than when the GOATs and Dive meta were necessary tactics in Competitive Mode. The issues here made me beg for the days when three tanks and three healers were the least of my worries.
After years of preparation for the launch of a game that could make or break the Overwatch franchise for casual players, Blizzard somehow managed to fumble the ball worse than they ever have with their hero shooter. Players sat in the queue, unable to open the game on launch day. These issues persisted for days after the Blizzard title’s debut. I spent the better part of the launch week waiting for hours to hit the front of the line. Once I finally made it there, I’d get kicked out with an error message.
I wasn’t alone either. Social media posts flooded the internet complaining about the game not working. Hell, most users waited at the same menu for hours without a single notification. Overwatch 2 went viral for this botched launch, and media outlets had a field day with the embarrassing display creating every negative post imaginable.
Free to Play is More Expensive Than Ever
Not only is Overwatch 2 a technical disaster, but it insults its players’ time and intelligence. After dubbing itself free to play, Blizzard dares to charge around $20 for a single Legendary skin in the shop. Not only are the skins exorbitantly priced, but some of them barely change how characters look. Kiriko’s Athleisure skin only changes her jacket, and that skin is a $20 “Legendary” offering. Other free-to-play games have pricey skins, but at least they look different.
Because the pricing is so outrageous, you’d be lucky to get several skins for the price of the original game, but that’s only true if you can get the purchases to register to your account. I bought a cheap skin to see how things worked for our upcoming review, and the game gave me nothing for my purchase. I’m out $5 because I assumed Blizzard would provide me the Doomfist skin I paid for in their shop. Blizzard is aware of many of the game’s launch issues, but that doesn’t make them acceptable. The game is out, and they’re charging money, so it is ripe for critique.
Related: Each of the known issues in Overwatch 2
Don’t worry, though. There is a way to unlock premium currency for free in Overwatch 2. If you grind for about 10-20 hours a week, you can get a whopping 60 Coins for your account. Just complete 11 Weekly Challenges, and those 60 Coins are all yours! That means you can get your Legendary skin free in just eight months! I was in disbelief once I figured out how many Coins I’d earn for my efforts.
Series veterans who played the title since its release in 2016 are ready to drop it entirely. Almost no one who played the base game is happy with the current model, and users are calling the game out for its exploitative nature. It calls attention to a more significant problem in the gaming industry: excessive greed with free-to-play titles. It’s a model I’ve grown to loathe since its inception.
Trend Chasing Chaos
If you thought the Overwatch shop prices were bad, wait until you see the Battle Pass models. Instead of keeping player levels and progression like in the original title, Blizzard opted to chase trends. Like every other live service in the business, Overwatch 2 has a Battle Pass, and it’s one of the most annoying yet.
New heroes get locked behind a paywall for the first time in Overwatch history. Kiriko, Overwatch 2’s first support, is only available for free to veteran players. Don’t worry; they market her as free in all the trailers.
Everyone else has to hit tier 55 of the Battle Pass to get the healer. Each level in the battle pass requires 10,000 XP. If you want to hit tier 55, that’s 550,000 experience points before you get Kiriko. You’re grinding for weeks with matches that average 1000-3000 points per match without challenges.
Those who fork over $10 can ignore 20 tiers of the Battle Pass, and it’s evident that’s what Blizzard wants because progression in this game is a slog. Though the first 20-tier skips are cheap, getting the rest is pricey. For $100, users can skip the tedium of the remaining Battle Pass tiers. With a new one dropping every nine weeks, the price of convenience worsens the longer you play. The handful of Legendary skins isn’t worth a 50+ hour grind or $40, no matter how great they look.
The abovementioned issues don’t even consider the cosmetics that pad the pass, including weapon trinkets and sprays. Each feels explicitly designed to extend the grind, so users get frustrated enough to spend money on tier skips.
Too Poor? Too Bad
Despite the egregious monetization mechanics in Overwatch 2, there’s something even worse waiting for players. Those who wanted to play Overwatch 2 had to link a post-paid mobile phone number to their account to use the game at all. Sorry, you can’t play this title without a pre-paid plan. Because Blizzard took Overwatch 1 offline, some lost all access to Overwatch in its entirety.
Blizzard said they chose this option to combat cheating players, but most of the player base got punished for a small segment of the fanbase. Now those with more economical phone plans, primarily used by lower-class households, aren’t even able to play this video game. Unsurprisingly, fans took to Twitter to share how they felt about this predatory decision, and it even overshadowed the online login fiasco for a while. Several users made posts online recounting their experience for others to see.
The SMS Protect design saw so much hate from the community that Blizzard removed the feature for veteran players within the first few days, addressing the issue on their forums. Legacy players and those with Battle net accounts won’t need to add phone numbers to play. The fact that this “feature” continues to live on in any capacity is unfair, though.
Questionable Omissions in Overwatch 2
Typically, a sequel builds upon what made its predecessor great, or that’s what one would think. If you’re a Blizzard fan, you know it’s one step forward and two steps back when it comes to improvements. Several key features and staples don’t return for Overwatch 2, and the community isn’t oblivious to it.
Why Blizzard would remove features the community loved at random is a mystery. It’s more work to take out the features like the post-game menu and the ‘on fire’ display. Characters still mention the on-fire mechanic during fights in Overwatch 2 as well. It’s another instance of Blizzard’s lack of attention to detail when pushing this sequel far before it was ready. These are just some of the missing portions from the original promise for Overwatch 2, with players finding more lacking features each day.
If you’re waiting for the single-player campaign Blizzard advertised, you’ll have to wait a while. The team behind Overwatch 2 confirmed that this portion won’t come out until 2023, and you’ll need to pay $40 to play.
Blizzard could make this portion of the title free with all the money they’re sure to get from microtransactions, but they want to exploit the free-to-play model and charge them a campaign fee to get as much as possible. The fact that they’re charging for a segment of the game with all these predatory microtransactions is a decision that I and many others find unacceptable. While other games in the industry use painful monetization methods separately, Overwatch 2 compiles the worst trends in free-to-play live services while charging for the most anticipated portion of the game.
Great Gameplay Buried by Bad Systems
Though Overwatch 2 is a massive disappointment in my eyes, it’s not all bad. The gameplay sees vast improvement in Overwatch 2, especially with the new heroes like Sojourn, Kiriko, and Junker Queen. These additions feel incredible. Not only are the new heroes fun to play, but many of the issues I had with Overwatch 1 get addressed here. Tracer, Mei, D.Va, Wrecking Ball, and Lucio were the only characters I felt worked for me in the original game, with other characters never feeling quite right.
In Overwatch 2, however, I’ve yet to find a legacy hero I don’t love using. Some standouts for me so far are Bastion, Orisa, and Ashe. The tweaks and reworks to the roster make everyone feel viable, and that’s a change Overwatch sorely needed. You’re sure to find a character that fits your playstyle in this sizable roster, provided you can stomach the other issues plaguing every other facet of this release.
Overwatch 2 is a strong title buried by many terrible design decisions from a team that’s lost touch with its community over the past six years. The gameplay feels better than ever, but that doesn’t matter if the rest of the game is a disaster. This team shooter isn’t dead yet, but not even a free-to-play model will save it from extinction if the team doesn’t start caring about its fanbase and changing things ASAP. After only two days, my patience is waning, and I know I’m not the only one.
If you’re interested in playing Overwatch 2, I advise you to try again next month. Overwatch 2 is easily the worst launch of 2022, and while I believe the developers have good intentions, those get buried by a sea of greedy corporate choices that make my favorite game of 2016 into one I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. With luck, these issues will get sorted out in a few weeks, but it’s not worth the headache right now.
For more on Overwatch 2, including our upcoming review, stay tuned to Press SPACE to Jump!