Going into Blizzcon 2019, it was hard to be too excited for the announcements considering a good chunk of them got leaked. Still, it was nice to get some official confirmation on titles such as Diablo 4, World of Warcraft: Shadowlands and, of course, Overwatch 2. So considering how much we knew going into the event, that would mean we had nothing new revealed and there were no surprises, right?
Well… yes, but actually no. It would be easy to just write off the sequel as being just that and nothing more. When we look at both the cinematic and gameplay trailers, we can actually find a good number of things that some may have overlooked, as well as other concept arts that have been shown off. So, as we wait for the release of Overwatch 2, let’s take a quick look at some of the takeaways we got from this last week’s Blizzcon.
1) The Time Between Titles
Overwatch itself tends to play itself off as characters who reunited after Winston’s recall to fight the good fight. It would make sense if the gameplay in Overwatch was happening right after the recall, but the cinematic paints an entirely different picture altogether.
It’s really difficult to say how much time passed between Winston getting the team back together and the time of the cinematic, considering how some characters look older, it does seem like a considerable amount. Consider the amount of time between Reinhardt in his “Honor and Glory” cinematic and then look at how long that facial hair is now in Overwatch 2. What the hell was Reinhardt doing between then and now for his beard to grow so long? And was Winston just chillaxing with peanut butter until Mei got to Gibraltar on foot or something?
Another reason why this feels weird is how the characters interact with each other when you’d think they would have been working with each other before this cinematic. Tracer reacting to Brigitte’s height, no one being formally introduced to Mei yet, and most importantly of all, Echo seemingly appearing out of nowhere to the shock of Winston.
How did it take Echo so long to find a talking gorilla? You’d think right after Route 66, Echo would go straight to the scientist and be like, “Winston! I’m here to help!” instead of flying in at this moment to fight Null Sector. Still, I suppose we’ll get that explanation in the story mode, and perhaps when Echo joins the roster.
Speaking of new additions to the roster…
2) Sojourn — Could She Be Soldier 76 2.0?
It might seem weird to think that we didn’t get any new hero announcements during the opening ceremony, but to reuse an earlier meme:
Blizzcon tends not hesitate with hero announcements, but we didn’t really get that this year. And yet at the same time, we can confirm at least two things: Sojourn is Canadian and she will join the roster when Overwatch 2 launches (and likely along with Echo).
Does Her Highlight Intro Provide a Sneak Peak?
We didn’t see any gameplay footage of Sojourn in action, but the next best thing we got was something that we could call her “Highlight Intro.” At the end of the official gameplay trailer, we can see how she fires the weapon like an assault rifle while sliding on the floor. Then, she leaps up and then transforms her left arm into a cannon before the video fades to the Overwatch logo.
It would be easy to jump to the conclusion that she’s in the damage category, since she didn’t really look like someone trying to cover for allies or trying to help others as Support.
She also resembles Soldier 76 in many ways. Her weapon seems to fire just like his, while her slide could be her movement ability like Soldier 76’s run. This would likely give her a small movement boost while making her hitbox smaller and harder to hit. And that cannon arm of hers could fire a projectile like 76’s Helix rockets as an alternative fire mode for quick damage.
Hopefully, this small assessment of her abilities isn’t too far off, but it would be nice to see characters that might share skillsets with some small variation in between them.
3) Can Overwatch keep up with Overwatch 2?
If there is one thing that we can compliment Blizzard on, it is the idea that Overwatch 2 isn’t going to outright abandon the original. As Jeff said during his presentation, Overwatch will see the same updates as Overwatch 2 when it comes to new heroes and new maps so no one will be left behind. Of course down the line, the focus will be more on its sequel, but this is something that no other live service games have ever done. All progress and cosmetics you have collected over the years will be ready to go no matter which game you play. However, there are still concerns we have to keep in mind.
Overwatch 2 Isn’t Just a Sequel with a Fancier Paint Job Slapped on Top of It.
The game itself is running on a new and possibility heavily-upgraded engine to enhance both the visuals and the gameplay itself. The best example to consider is how there are reports saying that the Story Mission demo at Blizzcon is twice as large as any current map. This means Overwatch 2 could be the better performing game for those who may want to enjoy the Overwatch multiplayer with an even smoother experience.
The other funny thing to consider is actually something we have right now. Consider how the Nintendo Switch could see its own patch notes compared to the PC and other consoles. The same thing can very well happen with Overwatch 2. When you have characters like Doomfist who has so many bugs to his name that an exterminator would throw his hands up in surrender, you could argue that the best way to fix him would be to build a new game from the ground up (kind of like what Overwatch 2 as a whole is).
So if there are problems in the original Overwatch that do no pop up in the sequel, does that mean Blizzard will make it a priority to fix the issue there? Or will they keep the majority of the focus on the sequel that they want to sell players on? It may be too early to say, but let’s keep that thought in the back of our minds until we see Overwatch 2’s PvP in full action.
4) Finally Giving the Spotlight to Underutilized Characters
These last few years have probably been rather upsetting for Overwatch‘s lore fans. There might be times where we got a cinematic play out, a comic released, or a whole story to read, but it wasn’t like that was Blizzard’s main focus in comparison to the gameplay and the Overwatch League.
Eve more so was the issue of how it felt like some characters were completely irrelevant to the plot. Why is this DJ skater fighting against the edgelord with two shotguns? Who is this floating robot with balls circling his face? And who invited the Korean girl piloting a mech if she is supposed to be back in South Korea to prevent the evil robots from suddenly invading?
Thankfully, those concerns could become a thing of the past now that we’re getting a PvE story mode. It is fair to say that with us going to Rio, Lúcio’s role in the story will finally get some explanation while Genji is interacting with Zenyatta, so he’s finally getting some screen time. And since we are going to Busan, D.Va’s involvement is very likely and we could see some resolution to that plot too.
Ideally, we’d the majority of the cast will have some sort of involvement in the locations shown off during the story, and we’ll get to learn why they fight. It would be nice if we also get to see the introduction of a playable evil Omnic. Some are still in hopes that Maximillian will fill out this role, but it might be better to showcase a really dangerous Omnic besides Bastion or Orisa.
5) How Big Will PvE Be?
During Blizzcon, we saw how the mode will consist of six locations. We have previous locations Route 66, Paris, Ilios, and Busan in addition to two brand new locations: Toronto and Rio de Janeiro.
While it’s still too early to say how many PvE stages we’ll get, it’s probably safe to guess that just about all the maps will feature a story mode with all 31+ characters getting their time to shine. And there’s a very good chance that in the future, we could see more playable stories with the newer additions to the game.
Imagine if Junkrat and Roadhog happened to join Overwatch and had to go to Junkertown because of a threat so serious that they get drafted against their will. Or something is happening in the Antarctic that forces Mei to go back to the base and stop someone from stealing important data. Maybe the gorillas on the Moon found a way to turn the telescope on the Moon into a dangerous death laser, thus forcing Winston to confront his past and travel to his former home to stop them and Null Sector from succeeding.
And What of Numbani?
Even a map like Numbani can have a lot of untapped potential for both a story and a possible new hero. Orisa would have her chance to prove her worth to Overwatch, possibly even giving Efi her chance to shine.
Blizzard can do so much with PvE to make the mode engaging and by using it as a means to tell the overarching story. It can help to satisfy players who want to learn more about the world of Overwatch. Hopefully, they will take a page out of Left 4 Dead and will add a few more campaigns to the game over time so that there’s more to do within the mode.
But of course, there’s one other way to ensure players play the story mode…
6) Left 4 Dead Meets Overwatch Soon?
If there was a game that kept getting thrown around more times than naught as a comparison to Overwatch 2’s PvE, it would be with Valve‘s big zombie franchise, Left 4 Dead.
Now at the present time, the PvE mode is strictly going to be just that and nothing more. But being able to play as brand new characters that we never had the chance to before. The best example of this would be the special Talon Units during the Archives event. Yeah, the Sniper is clearly Widowmaker, but so many people want that assassin as a playable character as well as that Heavy.
In a sense, you could argue that any special units in those modes could very well find representation as a playable hero in the main game. Many have drawn comparisons between the Heavy and Mauga, and even Orisa was a special enemy unit during the Archives’ first year. With even more unique Talon and Null Sector characters that will be coming to the game, why not use this time to not only make more heroes but to make a PvEvP mode?
Hopefully, Blizzard will make this a reality since this could be a really big selling point for those who are complaining that “Overwatch 2 doesn’t offer enough to justify the sequel”. If you have not had the chance to play Left 4 Dead 2, be sure to go play it. The world of Overwatch can always use more game modes, after all.
7) Could Customization Be a Thing in PvP (In the Future)?
So before you point out the obvious, we already know this isn’t going to happen at all whatsoever. But let’s really think about this for a moment.
During the story mode, players can apply various talents and abilities to their characters. The best example (and the one that everyone now knows was real) is the various abilities of Tracer. She can choose between instant reloads when using a skill or damaging enemies with recall, hurting enemies with a blink, or have her pulse bomb trigger secondary explosions onto nearby enemies, and reduce her cooldown through kills or use recall to pull enemies and ensnare them.
These skills can be helpful for a Tracer player and it is likely that all other heroes that will be playable in this mode could see talents that will drastically increase their power. Other examples that we see is how Genji uses the Dragonblade to launch a powerful strike through multiple enemies, Mei using her freeze ability to freeze all enemies around her, or Reinhardt’s ultimate delivering a powerful blow that take out enemies all around him instead of stunning enemies in front of him.
How to Implement This Into PvP
So now imagine having access to these skills in PvP. Of course, a few skills would need some adjustments to not be broken in PvP, but it could serve as the means to shake up the whole meta as a whole.
Not only could you give players access to skills that could drastically alter their gameplay, but it can help differentiate two players using the same character. Imagine having one Tracer that uses Blink to damage and weaken enemies while the other Tracer uses her skills to force her opponents together before using the Pulse Bomb to blow everyone up? Even the idea of giving Genji an option for his ultimate to launch a powerful projectile attack could allow him to have a whole new playstyle, while another Genji could rush in while swinging his sword.
Again, this is likely not going to happen, but it would be insane if this were to be enabled. Make it where before a match, players could have a basic set up and can tweak their abilities before a match is underway. It would add a whole new depth to the strategy and enable plays that we never thought possible.
8) To Literally Push the Objective
It feels like it has been a long time coming but it seems that Blizzard was able to count two the number 4 twice. Not only did Diablo 4 finally get its announcement (while Diablo Immortal went silent, can’t imagine why…) but a 4th game mode has finally made its way into Overwatch 2 in the form of “Push”.
This is rather funny to consider since you have a giant robot literally “pushing” the objective, although it will be fun to not only see why it is pushing this giant whatever but also to see the variety of strategies used in this game mode. The robot will only follow the team that is nearby him and will push your team’s objective towards the enemy spawn point. After eight minutes, whoever pushed their objective the furthest (or whoever pushed the objective all the way) wins the match.
Players will need to adopt a new set of strategies, as you could have some teammates rush forward to deal with opponent while others hang back to escort the robot. Or, while a fight breaks out, someone can sneak past them and start pushing the Robot in the other direction behind everyone’s back.
There isn’t really much here to speculate about, but we should still be thankful for a different kind of game mode to be coming to the game soon.
9) Bundles of Heroes?
If we were to make a list of complaints about Overwatch, you can probably take a guess at the Top 5 and hit each of them dead on. Toxicity, game balance, various reasons why one could hate what the Overwatch League apparently represents, the list can go on. But for many players around the world, one point that many would agree on is the output of heroes.
Consider this: every year we get three heroes. So that’s more or less about a new character every four months. That’s all fine and good, but some would argue that because of how big Overwatch is, we should have something like four or five heroes instead of just three. It is usually because of the slow output that the game’s meta can usually find itself dragging its feet on the floor, and we get stuck in a game that could take a whole year to change things up.
Even with the announcement of Overwatch 2, there was still a lack of a new characters at Blizzcon this year. So that means that unless we get a surprise announcement between now and December, we could very well only have two new characters 2019! Blizzard needs to step up their game, but with the teaser from Jeff, this could very well be the case.
So How About Several Heroes at Once?
During the “What’s next?” panel, we got a small teaser of how we could see the release of multiple heroes, something that hasn’t happened since Beta.
It’s hard to say who we’ll see, since there’s a whole collection of characters we can consider. Of course, we can guess Sojourn and Echo to be two of them, but who else? Perhaps if Sojourn is Damage and Echo is a Support, then maybe we’ll get a tank to balance things out.
Like we said before about the enemy units in the PvE modes, they could see a playable hero counterpart join the game too. Chances are you have a wide range of characters that you would want to see become playable, and if Blizzard wants to make Overwatch 2‘s launch as big as possible, they could throw in a couple of fan favorites.
10) Visual (and Selectable) Updates for All Characters
So, an interesting thing was seen on Overwatch 2’s charater selection screen. If you look at the selection, you will see a “2” hovering over a couple of them to indicate that their default look is their new attire in Overwatch 2, while all other characters still appear the same as they do now.
This raises a few questions about what we could expect out of a couple of these heroes. For all we know, there may not be a reason to update everyone’s look. How strange would it be to introduce Sigma and then to give him a sudden redesign because that is what’s expected out of everyone?
And what if some players prefer the old-style look? Could this mean that players can toggle their old look in Overwatch 2? And what about the Overwatch League skins? Will we get to see Genji sporting a hoodie of the team he’s playing with now? Or will they keep the only skin designs since they already have the groundwork set for it?
The Good News: You Can Choose Your Default Skin!
I do really like some of the redesigns. It can be hard to tell with some characters such as Winston or Brigitte, but then you have characters like Lucio and Reinhardt that you can immediately tell how different they are to their previous selves. Still, if you prefer how the default characters look right now, you are more than welcome to pick and choose your particular style.
But there is one other reason why these redesigns are so special. The best reveal of them all:
Bastion wearing a hat! We got a small sneak peek at how Torbjorn and Bastion will look, and while it looks like Torb is actually turning into a biker, we see Bastion not only looking rather clean but also wearing a hat now too. It would seem that Torb has taken good care of the Bastion unit. Maybe Blizzard will eventually put a hat on Bastion’s bird buddy so they can be hat buddies.
So What Do You Think?
So those were ten small observations we saw from the announcement of Overwatch 2. What was your favorite announcement? Are you planning on getting Overwatch 2 when it launches? Or will you stay with the original?
It will seem that Overwatch is ready to switch things up soon and it will be fun to see where the journey takes us next. Hopefully, with a new game, this will mean new modes for events, but considering the Winter Wonderland is coming up, it does seem like the wait for the sequel will feel much longer than what we would like… and by wait, we of course mean this time next year, since the game is still well into development. Oh well…
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How’s it going everyone, I’m Mike Sol and I am one of many contributing writers to Culture of Gaming. You can usually find me playing some of the latest games to come out, although I tend to avoid anything related to sports or strategy. I enjoy the big three and all the games on them but my main console is the Xbox One. I don’t have a specific preference in gaming, but any game that has fun action and beating up waves of enemies is usually my cup tea. If you ever want me to game with me or want me to write about something of interest, feel free to hit me up. I hope to have a personal blog set up soon, but my loyalties shall remain with CoG.