I’ve been raring to write an Overwatch 2 review since Blizzard announced that their staple FPS game would be getting a sequel. With an Overwatch tattoo and a passion for all things Widowmaker, the game has become a huge part of both my personal and professional life, providing me with my first ever ‘big break’ in games media. So, my expectations for Overwatch 2 are pretty high – not unlike the rest of the community.
Overwatch 2 will eventually contain a PvE game, but it’s not due to land until some time in 2023. In the meantime we’ll only be able to play the PvP side of things, and that’s all I’ve been able to access for this review, too. For me, the PvE will be a major part of what makes or breaks Overwatch 2, so I do feel a little like I’m reviewing only half of what the game has to offer. Until then, though, if you want the unbridled thoughts of a once (almost) semi-pro player and avid Overwatch enthusiast, here’s our Overwatch 2 PvP review.
The more the merrier
Given that we haven’t had any new heroes since omnic DPS Echo hit Overwatch 1 back in 2020, the three new Overwatch 2 characters have snatched the spotlight from some of the game’s other features.
Kiriko, a feisty Japanese support hero who is intertwined with Shimada duo Genji and Hanzo, is the first tier in the battle pass, so is easily unlocked from release. She’s a lot of fun to play – especially as a DPS main. Her healing works a lot like Moira’s; you hold down the left mouse button and fire a series of healing tokens at allies. Right click lets you throw deadly ninja stars that can behead enemies with two shots, which is solid damage for a healer.
Her ultimate is even more fun, though. Beautifully animated and incredibly powerful, Kiriko throws a stunning aquamarine fox that sprints through a series of traditional torii gates, speeding up players and enhancing reload speed. Dashing onto sites and bulldozing the enemy has never felt so fun, so I can say I’ll be playing a lot of Kiriko. She adds some much needed variety to the rather slim support pool – rejoice, oh healers, Blizzard has listened.
There’s one new map: Esperança, a stunning Portuguese hamlet nestled amid forested mountains. Unfortunately the map didn’t come up in my pool at all during my limited pre-release play windows, but it looks promising, with a vast array of nooks and crannies, as well as the balconies and elevated platforms that are perfect for snipers.
The future is now (kind of)
The other big addition to the game is the aforementioned battle pass – a series of unlockable rewards that grant you everything from new heroes like Kiriko to a fancy new mythic skin for her fellow stealth master, Genji. The battle pass is decently priced in my opinion, given how good most of the rewards are, but it doesn’t do anything groundbreaking compared to any other. It should help stave off the content droughts that ruined the first game, but battle passes have been a staple of service game monetisation for some years now, with Fortnite having popularised the idea in 2017/18. Overwatch 2 brings the base game into the modern live service age, but other than that there’s not much else to say.
It’s a similar story when it comes to UI updates. You can now press ‘Tab’ to see a scoreboard with kills, deaths, and assists, replacing the frustrating player cards at the end of Overwatch 1 games that simply told you how many kills you got without providing a full breakdown. There are a lot more pings now, too, so you can quickly signal allies just like you could in Apex Legends when it launched in 2019. It’s good to have these features, but again, there’s nothing pioneering here – they simply bring the game up to speed with its competitors.
Overwatch 2’s PvP generally feels like that; it’s small adjustments to the base game that really could have just been a chunky content patch. They’re good changes for sure, but nothing significant enough to really grab your attention.
Five stack DPS anyone?
What does grab your attention is quick play – mainly because it’s literally the only queue that’s unlocked from the get go. Yes folks, you can’t play in role queue until you play five games of open queue. While that doesn’t sound like too many, the fact you can’t just dive in is a little irritating – I think the intention is to introduce people to the game gently, but it risks defeating its own purpose of providing a gentle on-ramp. QP doesn’t have designated roles, so players can play whatever they want to – you could have a team of five supports, five tanks, or five DPS. While that may sound like fun, running into five stacked teams who are effectively already playing their OTP roles is a nightmare, and you get demolished pretty quickly.
Then ensues the flaming – ‘you should have picked Mercy rawr’ and all that. If that were to be your first experience of Overwatch 2, I’d forgive you for yeeting it off of your PC and calling it a day. Forcing people into open queue only makes that more likely, and I can’t understand what the upside is supposed to be. It’s an unwelcome change for fans both old and new, and seems to negate the point of the game entirely. Blizzard’s role queue challenges you to think about what compositions work, which healer works best with Genji, or which tank works on Eichenwalde. Quick Play is a free-for-all mess, and generally seems like an odd way to introduce you to the fundamentals of the game.
I’ll admit that the 5v5 changes are a huge plus – especially as a DPS player. They force you to be more aggressive, but also ensure that you approach things more strategically – especially because the new scoreboard will tell your allies if you’re feeding. For healers, it represents more of a challenge than just pocket healing the tank, as they’ll be taking a lot of damage but your DPS players are, too. Additionally, you’ll need to duck and dive around to ensure you don’t get your head popped accidentally. For tanks it’s a bit of an adjustment, but the slew of changes to both new and pre-existing characters does make the role feel powerful. There ain’t no feeling like landing a Junker Queen ult onto a bunch of unsuspecting DPS players – trust me.
Overwatch 2 in its current state isn’t bad, but it isn’t good either. The improved UI and battle pass bring it in line with competitors like Apex Legends and Valorant, while the addition of Kiriko adds some much-needed spice to the long-neglected support role. Aside from that, though, little has changed.
We said in our first beta impressions that Overwatch 2 feels more like a chunky update than a full-blown sequel. Sentiment online said much the same. After several more betas and some time on the review server, we’ve played nothing to change our mind – and that’s a little deflating. Overwatch 2’s PvP is Overwatch 1 with a few bells and whistles (and the annoying Open Queue system).
While I remain hopeful that the Overwatch 2 PvE release date will give the game the new lease on life it needs, part of me is waiting to be disappointed – and that’s what sucks. I should be excited, but I’m simply ‘meh,’ possibly the worst emotion you can feel about a new game.
The cavalry’s here, sure, but is it enough to revive Overwatch? Not on the strength of the PvP showing alone.
While Overwatch 2 adds a host of heroes and features to Blizzard’s iconic FPS game, its PvP feels more like a simple content update than a full blown sequel.