Overwatch 2 starts and yet there are still some controversies in the room. They gnaw at what Overwatch actually wanted to be.
After long years of content drought, Overwatch fans are finally beginning a wild time again. Overwatch 2 launches on October 4th and even comes as a Free2Play game, so you don’t have to spend a penny.
The developers promise regular content updates, new heroes and maps, rapid adjustments to the balance in the event of problems and generally everything a shooter fan could wish for.
But even before that, there was a whole series of controversies. Even when the developers announced that they would switch from a “6vs6” format to “5vs5” and knock a tank out of the match, it caused an outcry. Many professionals feared for their job if teams now needed one tank less.
The much more recent stumbling block is that Blizzard not only brings a Battle Pass with cosmetic rewards to Overwatch that replaces the loot boxes, but also brings new heroes into the Battle Pass.
Correct: New heroes will not be available to everyone right from the start, you have to unlock them first. This can be done with the free version of the Battle Pass – but time must be invested in any case.
By the way, the final trailer of Overwatch 2 looks fantastic:
Also quite fresh: Blizzard has redesigned all heroes in such a way that there are basically no more “hard counters”. In Overwatch 1 it was relatively simple. The opposing team had a good tracer? Then, in return, you just need a Cassidy (then “McCree”) to take them out. Similarly, you could take out a strong Widowmaker with Genji, or an annoying Reinhardt with a solid Reaper.
Blizzard wants to get away from that. Heroes should still be able to be countered, but there should no longer be really “hard” counters. In principle, every hero should be able to compete against every opposing team, without it being fundamentally the wrong decision.
On the one hand, this is of course a nice thing for everyone who only likes to play a few heroes and would like to play their favorite hero with joy, but on the other hand it goes against the basic gameplay of Overwatch. The ability to switch heroes over and over to adapt to situations and keep both teams in sync against each other has been a core mechanic.
It doesn’t feel like the team made these decisions because it’s best for Overwatch gameplay, but because it better suits the marketing of a Battle Pass.
Because if you immediately unlock a new hero, such as Kiriko, with the Premium Battle Pass, you want to be able to play it and not have to change frustratedly because hero X or Y is a hard counter to the new heroine.
The intention behind it looks like something out of a mobile game: when the player spends money to unlock something, it should feel good. Hard counters would be a problem here that can bring frustration.
What I always liked about Overwatch was that you could just leave the game alone for a few months and come back when you feel like it. Usually there was a new map or a new hero to play. The game was just there when you felt like it and to the full extent.
This will no longer be the case in the future. If I want to play the newest heroes, I have to earn them within the season in which they appear. Although there should still be a way to get the new heroes afterwards, it should become clear relatively quickly what that looks like, even if Blizzard hasn’t officially said anything about it so far:
You can earn them at a later date – probably with a lot of time – or you throw euros at the problem.
Blizzard is always emphasizing that they care so much about Overwatch’s competitive integrity. But if that were really the case, then new heroes would always be available for free and instantly. Any barrier created in accessing heroes is a step away from the fairness that Overwatch has distinguished.
And yes, I know the counter-arguments. That new heroes are not in ranked mode at the beginning, so that in theory all players have enough time to earn them via the free Battle Pass. That sounds fair. But that’s only if you assume that everyone who is interested in Overwatch really always plays Overwatch.
In the short term, this may not be a big problem, because at the beginning everyone who is interested will play anyway and unlock new heroes along the way.
But people who have less time or simply want to get in later are faced with hurdles and barriers. If you want to play something completely different for a few months, you will then be faced with a gap in heroes to be unlocked.
And I can already see in my mind’s eye the “Super Latecomer Pack” in the shop for 4,500 fantasy currency, which is a hard-to-convert equivalent of $75.00 that unlocks all the heroes. While this is just a pipe dream so far, if we look over to Hearthstone we can be pretty sure that Overwatch will be similar.
I would like to be taught better here. I’d love to be able to say in a year’s time, okay, I was wrong, latecomers have it just as easy, and the game’s equal-opportunity PvP integrity is completely intact.
But until Blizzard expresses itself, the bad feeling remains of knowing exactly where the journey is going.
And that’s a shame, because Overwatch 2’s gameplay is even more mature than Part 1 – and it’s just plain fun. Don’t use that against your players again… please.
Shoot overwatch from me with optional cosmetics in the battle pass. But stay away from what Overwatch is all about: Anyone can play any hero – and not only after investing time or money.
Or how do you see it?