You probably want to know ‘when is Overwatch 2 coming out’? Well, thanks to Blizzard’s recent delay announcements (triggered, no doubt, by the ongoing sexual harassment case that’s shaken the company to its core), we’re not even Blizzard knows the Overwatch 2 release date at this point. In a strange process, we’re also going to see some of the content from the new game appear in Overwatch, too, making this sequel a truly difficult one to try and pin down, but we’ve done our best and gathered everything we can below for your reading pleasure.
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If you need a top-line understanding of what Overwatch 2 is, fret not: we’ve got you sorted. In essence, Overwatch 2 is more like an expansion than an honest-to-God sequel. The game will add a swathe of PvE content to the whole experience and is focusing on putting the world’s narrative at the head of the project. Expect more story, dialogue, and inter-character chat than we’ve seen before, then.
Per Blizzard, in Overwatch 2 you will “team up as different sets of heroes and fight to defend the world from the omnic forces of Null Sector, uncover the motives behind the robotic armies’ attacks, and come face-to-face with rising new threats around the globe.” There will be both Story Missions (where you’ll team up and take down Null Sector) and Hero Missions (where you can can level up heroes and unlock customization options that modify their abilities).
Overwatch 2 release date delays
Activision Blizzard announced back at the start of November 2021 that it would be delaying both Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4, with no new release dates set for either title as of writing. The news wasn’t directly shared to fans, but rather appeared in an investor document.
The statement reads: “As we have worked with new leadership in Blizzard and within the franchises themselves, particularly in certain key creative roles, it has become apparent that some of the Blizzard content planned for next year will benefit from more development time to reach its full potential.”
“While we are still planning to deliver a substantial amount of content from Blizzard next year, we are now planning for a later launch for Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 than originally envisaged,” it adds.
“These are two of the most eagerly anticipated titles in the industry, and our teams have made great strides towards completion in recent quarters. But we believe giving the teams some extra time to complete production and continue growing their creative resources to support the titles after launch will ensure that these releases delight and engage their communities for many years into the future.”
At BlizzCon 2021, then-director of the game, Jeff Kaplan, noted that the game still has “a ways to go” before it would launch. In a ‘behind-the-scenes’ video (above), Kaplan said Overwatch 2 would still “need some more time till we can say it’s perfectly polished in the way that we want it”, adding that “in order to make a game great it takes time, energy, collaboration… Our goal is for Overwatch 2 to be the worthy successor to the first game, to be the next evolution and to be a true sequel.”
So, to put it bluntly, at the time of writing, there is no solid Overwatch 2 release date – but you can expect it no earlier than holiday 2022. A recent rumour states that the game is ‘taking longer than expected,’ though, and as such may end up being released in 2023 and beyond.
Overwatch 2 original release date, platforms and price
Way back at BlizzCon 2019, Blizzard revealed that Overwatch 2 was still early in development and that no firm release date was planned. “I don’t know. I have no idea,” former game director Jeff Kaplan said at the reveal panel when asked when the game would arrive. “Like, just let us make it great, that’s what we care about more than anything. We don’t have a date in mind.”
Back then, it was largely assumed the game would land in 2021 – there was a playable vertical slice at BlizzCon 2019, after all – but recent events within Activision Blizzard have eliminated any chance of the game launching soon.
In a February 2021 financial call Activision Blizzard CFO, Dennis Durkin, said the company’s outlook “does not include” Overwatch 2 releasing in 2021. Before the sexual harassment case kicked off, COO, Daniel Alegre noted: “The pipeline is progressing really well, and we anticipate that 2022 will be a great year for Blizzard.” This makes it sound like the game is targeting 2022, for sure, but who knows where the project lies at the moment.
When it comes to platforms, we can expect the game to launch on the same consoles as its predecessor. This means Overwatch 2 will be available on PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch, and (of course) PC. Unlike Overwatch, the sequel will also come to PS5 and Xbox Series X/S as a proper release, not just available via backwards compatibility.
It’s also worth mentioning that Blizzard is ‘exploring’ crossplay between platforms for Overwatch 2, but no formal announcements have been made.
Will Overwatch 2 have loot boxes or a battle pass?
In terms of price, you can once again expect Overwatch 2 to be a premium title – but this time the developer may do away with loot boxes. “Well, we have made a lot of changes to loot boxes and how they work over the years, so we’re definitely open to change,” Kaplan noted in an interview with PCGamesN.
“Overwatch 2, in terms of business model, we’re exploring different options that move us away from loot boxes, but I think that will be more for Overwatch 2 than the core game. I would never rule anything out.”
Overwatch 2 trailers
Blizzard is good at the cinematic stuff, we already know that: a cursory look at any of the developer’s games that have launched in the past few decades will tell you that. The company is keeping the tradition alive for Overwatch 2 – all the trailers and cinematics from the game so far look like they could easily be taken from an animated Hollywood film.
In the first Overwatch 2 trailer (below), we saw the reformation of a band of heroes we know and love as they team up to battle the Omnic threat once again. Paris is being torn apart by the robotic menace, but Winston, Mei, Echo, Tracer, Brigitte, Mercy, Genji, and Reinhardt all come together to save the day in a heartwarming show of camaraderie.
The second trailer jumps across the world and lands in Rio de Janeiro, where we get to see some actual gameplay. This trailer focuses more on the revamped PvE elements of the upcoming hero shooter, and gives us a glimpse of how the title will actually play once we (finally) get our hands on it.
Given this trailer is a good few years old, now, it stands to reason the final product is actually going to look quite different to this – but we’ll have to wait until we get another look at the title before we make that call.
For now, check out the gameplay trailer below.
Overwatch 2 maps
Overwatch 2 will feature “more complex” maps than the original title, and we’ve already got a fairly good idea of what to expect from some of them. Here’s a quick rundown of the maps we know we’re getting whenever the title launches.
- New York
- Rio de Janeiro
- Monte Carlo
Overwatch 2 new character changes
Several heroes of Activision Blizzard‘s upcoming Overwatch 2 have received videos showing their new abilities and changes.
You can read more about these characters and their proposed changes at the link. So far, we’ve heard about:
- Brigitte, whose shield bash is no longer able to stun opponents but will deal more damage as a result of the changes.
- Sombra, who has been reworked to “give her more potential damage” at the cost of her crowd control utility.
- Bastion, who will lose his self-heal ability and see big changes to his ultimate ability (instead of transforming into a tank, he will swap into a stationary artillery piece).
Overwatch 2 – 5v5 changes
During a two-hour PvP focused livestream (below), Overwatch’s new Game Director Aaron Keller guided viewers through the new experience, the biggest undoubtedly being that the sequel would be moving from a 6v6 to a 5v5 standard. Now, games will be played with two DPS characters, two supports but only one tank.
“We feel like this is the next step in the way that Overwatch ought to be played,” game director Aaron Keller said. “If you think about it, there is a lot going on in an Overwatch map. It is incredibly fast paced. We have always tried to make our combat easy to read and very understandable, and even with all of the work that we’ve put into that, sometimes it’s just hard to track what 11 other players are doing on the battlefield. Removing two of those simplifies everything, and it allows players to understand everything that’s happening around them, and to be able to make better choices.”
While many barrier heroes like Reinhardt, Winston and Orisa are designed as ‘main tanks’ and the first port of call for the front line, off-tanks like Zarya, Roadhog and D.VA are much more hybridised.
Changing to just one tank will make the idea of a ‘support tank’ less valuable. Teams will need a front-line and a presence that at least performs some of the jobs of the main tank. Mainly, creating and taking space. However, one thing to keep in mind that while the classic ‘off-tank’ might die, these characters won’t.
Every character in Overwatch now is making the jump to the sequel. In the presentation, it was clear that many of the tanks have seen a massive rework and buff to facilitate the loss of a whole player.
It’s a huge change, but one that entirely shakes up everything we understand about the current live game in one way or another. Its success will hinge on the details of execution. Right now, it’s impossible for anyone outside of the development team to know how this feels. Any reaction to how it will play is pure speculation.