When Overwatch launched in 2016, it quickly became my favorite multiplayer game of all time. My friends and I sunk hundreds of hours into the title, making gaming sessions a daily occurrence. Quick Play, Competitive, or seasonal events, it didn’t matter. We loved everything Overwatch had to offer. We weren’t alone either, as Overwatch won Game of the Year in 2016, the first multiplayer game to do so in the past decade.
Overwatch held its momentum for a few years, but introductions of characters like Brigitte and the GOATS meta drove my group away. Still, Overwatch 2 gave us hope that Blizzard could get back on track after an inconsistent few years.
Despite years of development time and countless promises, Blizzard failed to live up to the standard they set with the original Overwatch, instead making a sequel that falls short of the quality players expect and deserve. Overwatch 2 is a showcase of everything that is wrong with the video game industry in 2022. While it isn’t the worst game of the year, it is the most disappointing.
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Good Luck Playing that Launch
When Overwatch 2 debuted on October 4, it quickly became the most disastrous launch of 2022. Players sat in queues for hours with tens of thousands of players ahead of them. When people who were patient enough to wait out this slog finally got in, we got kicked out and sent back to the menu to start the process again. The issues happened so often that I still see the ‘Lost Connection to Game Server (LC-202)’ error message in my nightmares. While launch problems are a norm in the video game industry, these were next-level. Accounts wouldn’t merge, certain characters were unavailable, and the game didn’t work for most people. If your game isn’t functional, that’s an issue.
It took Blizzard over a day to even address the issue. While a DDoS attack did cause some of the problems, their expecting the launch to go off without a hitch was arrogant and ignorant given the issues Blizzard’s had with past launches like the infamous Diablo III. Activision Blizzard is a multi-billion dollar corporation and one of the world’s wealthiest video game publishers. Taking time to plan account transfers, cosmetics, and fundamental technical issues should have been first on their list of plans. Blizzard promised a free Legendary skin and weapon charm to compensate players, but I’d rather play the game when they promised I could.
We still see issues weeks after launch that shouldn’t have made it through playtesting. As I’m writing, Bastion’s been out of the game for almost a week because of a bug with his Ultimate ability, and players can’t use Torbjorn in Competitive Mode. This game needed several more months, possibly another year, before it launched, which becomes more apparent with each update.
Did You Spend Any Money Yet?
Once users finally got into Overwatch 2, they saw plenty of changes, but the most noticeable switch came with the revamp of the Overwatch Shop.
Overwatch 2 has a new monetization model as a free-to-play title, and it’s one of the most egregious in the industry. Like most free titles, Overwatch 2 offers a Battle Pass, but progression in this new system is slow and arduous. With over 80 tiers, players only have two months to complete the Battle Pass or miss out on this content. Overwatch 2 ensures you know the amazing content you’ll miss if you don’t grind your way through the pass. Blizzard highlights the Battle Pass and its rewards on the main menu, including the new support hero, Kiriko. New players can only get by hitting Tier 55 of the free pass or paying $10 outright.
A Never-Ending Grind
While exclusive rewards exist in the Premium Battle Pass, there are no currency drops like Fortnite or Fall Guys. You either buy Overwatch Coins or farm them through challenges. Those who complete Weekly Challenges in Overwatch 2 can earn some Coins if they want to save up for these skins too. If you finish all the weekly challenges, you’ll get 60 Coins. It should take about ten weeks to get enough premium currency for a Battle Pass or 7 to 8 months to afford a single Legendary skin in Overwatch 2. That’s only if you never miss one of these challenges too. With how long some of these challenges are, you’ll likely miss a few if you ever get off the game.
Additionally, half of the tiers in the Battle Pass feel like filler, with sprays and profile banners barring players from the cool skins and rewards only available every ten levels. It’s a lackluster offering that feels designed to lengthen progression.
If you don’t want to spend money, you’re in for a grind. Finishing games grants anywhere from 500 to 1500 experience on average. After 60 hours, I’m still not done getting through the Premium Battle Pass with the experience bonus. If I want the new Mythic Genji skin in Overwatch 2, I’ve got at least 10 hours left in this slog since I’m Tier 67, and 70 hours is absurd to expect of players, especially when this season only lasts 65 days.
Let the Challenges Consume You
Challenges expedite levels, and because they’re the fastest way to make headway in this new system, users often stop playing objectively to instead focus on these obscure tasks. When you’ve got a team game that focuses so heavily on a challenge system, it fractures the integrity of a team-based shooter.
Winning ten games queued in the All Roles lobby grants 5000 XP, so many Battle Pass farmers do that. The problem with the All Roles queue sees almost every farmer getting in as a support character. Most players would rather play DPS or Tank, so how do you think they handle support? These players use supports like a DPS or Tank, charging into fights first and never healing allies. Like the one in Halo Infinite, the challenge system often dictates how users play the game, and that impact is rarely positive.
The game has another option for those who want to skip the grind. Just fork over $150 to finish the pass automatically and add all those exciting rewards to your account. Spending money to avoid the struggle is what Blizzard hopes you do, and the thought of rewarding them for that awful monetization system makes me sick.
While the Battle Pass has several exclusive skins, the pricier options are part of the Store. Legendary skins cost an average of $20 a piece, and when skins for new heroes like Kiriko look almost identical for that price, it’s a bit insulting to expect players to accept this price point. Kiriko’s Athleisure outfit, for example, changes her jacket, and it’s one of the priciest outfits in the game. Kiriko isn’t an isolated incident either, with Junker Queen’s Legendary skins barely changing her look.
If you want to save money when buying skins, Blizzard has several “generous” offers in their Shop that pair pricey skins together. The Defenders of the Castle bundle gives players four skins for only 4400 Coins or $45. Remember that this is a sale price, with these items going for 7600 Coins or $76 individually. How these prices got past management is baffling. Most players I know would throw money at these skins for $5, myself included. If I feel ripped off, however, I won’t give you a hot red cent. Good job, Blizzard. You made me feel scammed. I don’t care how cool Coffin Bastion looks. That skin isn’t worth 20 bucks.
The Overwatch 2 Free Player Experience
While veteran players can use all 35 heroes on Overwatch, new users must unlock all the characters one at a time by playing over 100 matches. It’s a grind to get a chance to play these characters. While all heroes are available in training, it’s strange to lock characters off in a game built around counterplay. Despite the inability to play some of these characters, you’ll join lobbies with others who can. If they see your Torbjorn is getting countered by a Hanzo, they’ll demand a change. You better pray your other heroes do the trick, or you’ll enrage your teammates in dozens of games.
On top of Overwatch’s base roster, characters like Junker Queen and Kiriko require either seasonal challenges or a 50-hour grind. With new heroes promised every season, Blizzard expects free players to play an average of 50 hours across 65 days if they don’t want to pay. It’s a system designed to frustrate new players and punish them for not grinding for characters they didn’t know existed.
Many free players already caved and gave $10 to add Kiriko to their lineup and avoid this process. Charging for characters may be profitable for Blizzard now, but it will cause problems in a few months when newer players can’t counter-pick to help the team. You better believe Blizzard will sell those characters in overpriced individual packs when that happens. This short-sighted, money-grubbing mentality could quickly burn the community when it hits, hell, I’m already seething, and their plan isn’t even in place yet. I expect outrage to kick in around the start of Season Two, and you can quote me on that.
New Format, New Heroes
Though Overwatch’s monetization is an atrocity, the core gameplay is the best it’s ever been. Overwatch 2 ditches the six-team format in favor of a 5v5 team composition. Now, there’s one Tank, two DPS, and two Supports per team. This change may seem small on paper, but it revolutionizes this team-based shooter’s feel.
Overwatch 1 having multiple tanks meant team fights could be long and drawn out. Now fights feel streamlined and tense, and with fewer players on each team, individual players have more impact on the flow of battle. You could drop down and get team kills with Genji’s Dragonblade after sneaking behind enemy lines. You won’t have to spend all your time on two meaty tanks like before. It makes the tug-of-war of Overwatch games exciting and suspenseful, and I can’t get enough of the new feel. Several new maps complement the new format and Push game mode, giving players more content to enjoy.
On top of the new format, there are three new heroes for players to use in Overwatch 2: Sojourn, Junker Queen, and Kiriko. Sojourn offers high mobility and a railgun that charges with successful shots. Junker Queen uses a shotgun and bladed weapons to inflict bleed damage that heals herself and deals damage over time. Kiriko uses kunai to deal immense critical hit damage and cures using Suzu charms. Each hero feels powerful and unique, and they’re not the only changes to the roster.
However, some of these heroes feel more powerful than the average Overwatch agent. Sojourn can clean out lobbies with her railgun charge, getting tens of thousands of damage points per round in the hands of an experienced player. Right now, it feels like Sojourn is a must-pick in competitive play because of her damage output, and I still feel a bit gross for taking her into ranked matches and mopping unsuspecting players with her (getting play of the game is always fun, though.)
Reworks to Classic Characters
Blizzard made several significant changes to established heroes in Overwatch 2. Certain heroes like Bastion, Mei, and Orisa saw sizable reworks to make them more viable picks. Though several choices got minor tweaks, some characters got an entirely new kit. My favorite change comes with Orisa, who, instead of tossing down shields in Overwatch 2, employs a javelin in her arsenal that spears enemies, deflects projectiles, and draws enemies near for her ultimate.
These reworks come with impactful new sound effects, animations, and voice lines, highlighting the quality of Overwatch’s sound and visual designs. Orisa regularly talks to her comrades about using her javelin on enemy forces. I’m still not tired of hearing that glowing projectile whizz through the air when I toss it at enemies, and that’s one of many effects sure to bring a smile to your face in battle.
All reworked characters feel fresh and fun, even if not everyone has an outstanding balance at launch. Doomfist, for example, swapped from DPS to Tank but is far weaker than any other character in his class. Because of this, he’s a poor pick during the first season of Overwatch 2. While Doomfist can get around the map fast, that’s all he can do. His attacks barely deal any damage, and he’s outplayed by any competent player right now. You’ll rarely see others using Doomfist, and you’re likely to hear teammates complain to those who do.
On the other side of the scale, Zarya now has two bubble charges that work for her and her allies. Thanks to this change, she’s almost constantly armored and charging her weapon. Your entire team must often focus on this Tank to put her down. As the standout tank in Overwatch 2’s first season, many players will pick her up in a pinch. Get ready to structure your team around this one overpowered hero, and pray that your teammates focus on her. The game’s only been out for two weeks, and the current meta is already grinding my gears, so here’s hoping Blizzard adjusts the balance issues soon.
An Excellent Arcade Offering
Those looking for a casual set of options are in luck in Overwatch 2. The sequel retains its impressive Arcade catalog, featuring fun modes like Total Mayhem and Team Deathmatch. With new offerings daily, you’re sure to find something here to keep you interested. Arcade Mode is where most players can spend their time if they want a break from the traditional format. There aren’t role limits in Arcade Mode, so you could have three tanks and two supports if you’d like to relive GOATS for some reason. Those who want to run all supports can do that too. Arcade mode is a great place to be if you want to laugh with your friends.
On top of Arcade Mode, users can enjoy wild custom games created by the Overwatch community. Want to play Hook the Hog and see who can yank the Tank into the hole on Ilios the most? You can do that here. Does playing Pong with Genji’s reflect sound interesting to you? You can hop in and take the ninja for an unconventional spin. There’s so much variety in this pool of player-made modes and scenarios that I’m still exploring. Overwatch already had one of the best Custom Game creators I’d played in the last console generation, so to see it return unscathed in Overwatch 2 is a surprise.
Arcade and Custom Games are where I have the most fun in Overwatch currently, as the game’s lack of balance can’t impact the joy of each unique mode. It’s also a great place to take heroes out for a test drive. Getting a handle on characters can be tricky during a standard game, and I often head to Arcade and Customs to get a feel for the heroes I’d like to learn. I’m still getting a hang for Wrecking Ball, but I’d love to add this hero to my tank lineup.
Competitive: The Bronze 5 Simulator
Another glorious bug from Overwatch 2 saw players of all skill levels placed in Bronze 5 during Competitive Mode. Bronze 5 is the lowest tier in the competitive ladder, and because the vast majority of the player base is stuck here, games are wildly unbalanced. Players meant for Bronze 5 get stomped by Top 500 players daily, and this isn’t hyperbole. After my placements, I played with a Top 500 Ana on my team.
I knew because of his exclusive player badge, and as soon as that game loaded, it was obvious how things would turn out. We destroyed the other players, and it wasn’t even close. Two rounds on Ilios and the other team never touched the point. By the end, several players were sitting in spawn, waiting for the game to end.
That’s how Competitive Mode rolls right now. Very few games feel close, and the teams never make sense. You’ll often have one team member far more skilled than the others or entire teams that outplay the competition. My Watchpoint: Gibraltar Payload match had my whole team crush even their best player. We never got off the payload, and they didn’t get past spawn on their turn.
Competitive matches should be suspenseful, with the people you’re playing matching your skill level. Two weeks after the Overwatch 2 launch and 90% of the games still feel so heavily skewed there’s no hope for one side. How you perform depends on how lucky you are when you get teammates. While winning does feel good in Competitive, nothing is worse than a loss with odds like this; believe me, I’ve been on the other side.
Because Overwatch 2 wants players to average out on a 50% win rate, the game will often stack the odds against you after a substantial streak. After I won a handful of games and climbed to Silver 1, the games stopped going my way. I got a Bronze 4, Lucio, on my team, that was new to Overwatch, and we got crushed. One of their teammates was far above our rank, scoring 68 kills with only four deaths.
Scripted instances can force good players to stay in the ranks longer than needed. Pair that with the new ranking system where you either win seven games or lose 20 before your level adjusts, and players like my Top 500 teammate could be in the lower ranks for dozens of games before getting to where they’re supposed to be.
That isn’t even mentioning how unrewarding it feels to get no update on ranks between games. I could get a five-game win streak, but I won’t know how that will impact me until I win another two. It feels like a ploy from Blizzard to goad players into staying on far longer. Everyone wants to see how they’re doing, so taking the regular updates away is astounding in all the wrong ways.
The current Competitive ladder is by far the worst competitive system Overwatch has had since its launch in 2016, which baffles me. The final ranking system of Overwatch 1 wasn’t perfect, but it was far better than what players have now. Plenty of players are avoiding this mode until Blizzard sorts things out, but honestly, I don’t have faith changes will come before Season Two launches in December with how bad the system is now.
Missing Content, Broken Promises
When Blizzard announced Overwatch 2, the main draw was the new PvE campaign. Users could experience the story of Overwatch’s rebirth and take control of their favorite characters. Not only this, but they could party up with friends and earn new abilities. I’ve got bad news if you wanted that campaign to launch alongside Overwatch 2. That incredible Overwatch story mode Blizzard promised isn’t out yet and won’t be for some time. When the story mode does launch, don’t expect to get it for free either, Blizzard shared that this portion of the game will run users about $40 whenever it debuts.
The team promises that users can get their hands on the new Overwatch mode sometime in 2023, but without this addition, a sequel feels pointless for Overwatch. None of the changes made thus far are things that wouldn’t work in an update for the base game. Right now, Overwatch 2 feels like an excuse to ditch the original game model in favor of this outrageous free-to-play one. That idea is more likely when considering Overwatch’s offline status. After Overwatch 2 launched, Overwatch got buried by Blizzard. Now, your Overwatch option is this half-baked sequel, whether you paid for the base game or not. Miss the original experience? Too bad, this is all you get.
Overwatch 2 is a massive disappointment, falling short in almost every facet of its intended design. Monetization, the ranking system, server stability, and lack of polish make this a title with faults that are impossible to ignore. While the controls, new Push mode, and 5v5 structure make Overwatch 2 more enjoyable from a gameplay perspective, the surrounding systems bog down what could have been an excellent evolution for the hero-shooter franchise. I can’t recommend this title, even as a free-to-play experience.
|5v5 gameplay feels fluid and streamlined||The servers and launch rollout were unacceptable|
|Sojourn, Junker Queen, and Kiriko are all great additions to the roster||Not enough innovation and evolution to warrant a sequel|
|Reworks for heroes like Bastion, Orisa, and Sombra that make them viable||Poor Competitive Mode ranking system|
|Arcade Mode & Custom Games are a blast||Predatory Battle Pass, microtransactions, and progression|
|Robust Sound Design and Voice Acting||Inconsistent hero balancing|
|No Story Mode at launch|
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