Overwatch 2 changes: what’s different in the sequel?

We pore over all the major Overwatch 2 changes, from roles and game modes, to how some of the hero shooter's most iconic characters have been reworked

Overwatch 2 changes: Support hero Brigitte in a tavern, wearing full armour

There are dozens of Overwatch 2 changes set to shake up Blizzard’s FPS game when launch rolls around. So, if you haven’t played Overwatch in a while but you’re thinking of jumping back in, then you may want to do some homework to get up to speed.

The Overwatch 2 release date will usher in tweaks and tune-ups to every hero in the game, introduce new maps, monetisation, and cosmetic options, and overhaul how all the roles work. Join us as we break down all of the upcoming Overwatch 2 changes, from the structure and mechanics of the game itself, to all the major hero reworks.

It’s free to play

The most important thing that you need to know about Overwatch 2 is that it’s a free-to-play live service game. This should lower the barrier to entry for loads of new and returning players, so if you had trouble convincing friends to buy the original then they’ll be out of excuses for this one.

The Overwatch team said in an update on their website that moving to a free-to-play model was “a natural step forward for our game and our players.” The game will also move to a seasonal update model like many live service games, refreshing every nine weeks with new Overwatch 2 heroes, maps, cosmetics, and game modes.

Overwatch 2 changes: New hero, Junker Queen, swings an axe in the outback

Plus, as an extra bonus incentive, anyone who already owns Overwatch can redeem an Overwatch 2 Founder’s Pack by logging in to either game before the 5th December 2022. The Founder’s Pack includes two epic skins, an exclusive icon, and a surprise yet-to-be-announced gift.

Overwatch 2 is 5v5, not 6v6

Another major change coming to Overwatch 2 is the switch from 6v6 gameplay to 5v5. All existing game modes will make the switch to five players per team, with Competitive and role queue Quick Play restricting teams to two Support heroes, two DPS heroes and one Tank hero.

After testing various team comps from 4v4 to 7v7, the Overwatch team decided that this was the best move for the game’s sequel. According to the patch notes, “with one less player on each side, individual contribution means more to the overall success of the team.” Fewer players per team and more room to move around means that, overall, there will be less visual clutter and players will be able to focus on what is happening in the match.

Clearly, Tank players will be the most affected by this change. However, the Overwatch team have reworked all of the tanks to fit the new team comp, making them “even more impactful and fun to play.” In general they’re all much harder to take down and they should benefit from more focused support players.

Goodbye loot boxes, hello battle pass

Overwatch 2 is completely doing away with the old loot box system, replacing it with a battle pass and “an all-new and consistently updated in-game shop.” This means that players can directly acquire the items they want rather than rolling the virtual die for the chance of getting it in a loot boxes.

The battle pass will refresh in line with the seasons, bringing us new skins and voice lines, plus all-new types of rewards such as banners, weapon charms, and mythic rarity skins.

Overwatch 2 changes: concept art of a new mythic skin, showing different styles for the same cosmetic

Mythic Skins

Mythic skins are set to become Overwatch 2’s rarest form of character skin, overtaking Legendary skins in the current rarity system. From what we know so far, mythic skins will bring an element of customisation to the design, allowing players to pick and choose which parts of the design they want to equip, creating a little more space for individuality. An oni-themed mythic skin was teased in the Overwatch 2 reveal event, and many more are in the works.

New core game mode: Push

There are some big changes to game modes in Overwatch 2. Assault maps, commonly known as 2CP, are a thing of the past, and an all-new map type, called Push, is entering the rotation in their place. Overwatch 2 is going to launch with two Push maps, one set in Toronto and another in Rome.

Overwatch 2 changes: a match of the new Push game mode, with two teams vying for control of a moving barrier

In a Push match, both teams are fighting for control of the Treadweather TS-1 Large Utility Robot, who starts in the middle of the map. When teams take control of TS-1, their barricade will be pushed along the map, and if they make it to the end they win. If neither team reaches the end point in eight minutes, the team who has pushed the farthest distance and has control of TS-1 at the end of the map wins.

Overwatch 2 hero changes

We’ll start with new heroes, who have all been designed from the ground up to suit the new 5v5 format. Sojourn has been available throughout the Overwatch 2 betas and is a versatile DPS hero (check out our Overwatch 2 Sojourn guide for a breakdown of their kit), while Junker Queen is a damage-dealing tank who can help out with eliminations but might struggle to provide much cover – we’ve got an Overwatch 2 Junker Queen guide that explains her abilities, too.

As for the returning cast of characters, here are all the major reworks:

Doomfist

Doomfist has been reworked to join the Tank roster for Overwatch 2. The new ability that shifts his kit from damage-focused to a more tanky role is Power Block.

Doomfist uses his gauntlet to block incoming damage and charge up a barrage of Rocket Punches. Power Block gives Doomfist an 80% damage reduction, and increases the damage output, distance, and speed of the next Rocket Punch.

Bastion

The biggest change to Bastion’s playstyle is that he can now move in his turret form using his ability Configuration: Assault. This ability turns Bastion into a moving turret with infinite ammo for a limited amount of time, compared to his static turret form in Overwatch.

His new kit also features a sticky grenade that can bounce off walls, and a new Ultimate, Configuration: Artillery which rains explosives down on up to three locations that you pick.

Overwatch 2 changes: Orisa, a giant mech, stares down the camera

Orisa

Double shield haters will be pleased to know that Orisa no longer has a shield ability. Her shield has been replaced with an Energy Javelin which can skewer enemies to walls, stunning them.

She can also spin the javelin in front of her to protect herself and her teammates, increasing her movement speed and destroying incoming projectiles.

Orisa’s bongo has also been replaced with her new Ultimate, Terra Surge, which pulls in enemies and deals a large amount of damage, depending on how long the ability is charged. She’s much more of a damage-focused tank, and currently sits near the top of our Overwatch 2 tier list thanks to her ability to put out near-constant damage and evade enemies.

Winston

While he’s got a few buffs and nerfs, the main change is that Winston has a charged ranged shot in addition to his gradual zapping.

Cassidy

You no longer have flashbangs, but you do get a magnetic grenade that sticks to enemies, homing in on them and chasing them if they’re close by.

Junkrat

Steel Trap no longer prevents all movement, instead slowing movement until the victim reaches the end of the chain’s tether and breaks it. To balance out the loss of crowd control utility, Steel Trap does more damage, is faster to throw down, and it still counters all movement abilities.

Overwatch 2 changes: Sombra using her hacks and invisibility abilities in tandem

Sombra

Our resident hacker has had several changes. Her machine pistol does less damage per shot but is more accurate, which is pretty good, but more importantly her hacking ability can be used faster and more often, especially when it comes to interrupting enemies – it only takes a second to cast now, not five, so expect to see it a lot more often.

She can also hack while in stealth, and will be able to deal an additional 40% damage against hacked targets. However, she can’t get anywhere near as close without being detected, so keep your distance.

And there you have it, all of the biggest Overwatch 2 changes to get you back on track come release day. Every hero has been tweaked in some way, and each beta has also introduced fresh balancing tweaks, but these are all the big revisions in case you’re booting up for the first time since uninstalling the first game.