It’s been just over two months since Overwatch 2 launched, and with a full season of the game complete and a second season underway, it’s a good time to assess how the promises made at launch are being fulfilled. When we reviewed Overwatch 2 back in October, we called it, “a worthy successor to the original Overwatch that doesn’t so much reinvent the wheel as it does improve upon it,” and so far that still rings true in Season 2.
Right off the bat, and most importantly, the game is still fun to play. The 5v5 gameplay, removal of most stun abilities, and revamped passives make each role feel more impactful, and standout plays are possible and plentiful from all roles. That being said, tanks still have the most carry potential and having a sub-par tank player can unfortunately ruin a game for your team.
This hasn’t changed in Season 2, and it frankly seems to be the way that Overwatch 2 will continue to operate going forward. Still, even with a few frustrating matches, Overwatch 2 feels better to play compared to the 6v6 of Overwatch 1, but we’ll see if it still feels that way in a year’s time.
Content-wise, the new tank, Ramattra, launched with Season 2, and he was actually revealed way back in 2019 during the Storm Rising PvE event. He’s perhaps the most impactful new hero from a narrative perspective, given his hatred for humans, prominent place in Omnic society, and ties to classic Overwatch hero Zenyatta, and he’ll probably feature in next year’s story content.
“Still, even with a few frustrating matches, Overwatch 2 feels better to play compared to the 6v6 of Overwatch 1…”
Unfortunately, Rammatra isn’t quite as impactful from a gameplay perspective, and he is the first new hero in a while that feels under-powered upon release. Most of the time, new heroes arrive laughingly overturned and almost instantly take over the game’s meta. This period of being broken makes new heroes extra attractive to play, and it results in more players learning the character.
While all of these heroes are eventually tuned down, the core controls and gameplay style remain and players theoretically feel more comfortable with the heroes, which can lead to a rise in their playtime overall. By having Ramattra mediocre at launch, the team seems to be relying on the allure of him being shiny and new to tide things over until they make the character more viable.
It’s an interesting strategy and in the time that I’ve been writing this article, they have actually buffed Rammattra’s movement speed, and armour bonus while reducing the cooldown on his shield. This active rebalancing is something that hasn’t existed consistently enough in Overwatch and is a definite positive for the game going forward.
This active approach to game balancing is perhaps the most important factor for Overwatch 2’s continued success. Season 1 was completely dominated by DPS character Sojourn, and it felt like the team didn’t do enough to tune her down throughout the season. Less than ten days into Season 2 and it seems like the team understands that as she’s already had her abilities tuned down once. The issue is that with a roster of over 30 heroes and counting, there will always be unbalanced characters, no matter how well the team alters them, and it may be time to start seriously considering a hero ban system.
“It wouldn’t be an article about Overwatch 2 without touching on monetization and frankly, it’s even a little bit worse than expected.”
A ban system would shift the pressure from the dev team and onto the actual players, by allowing them to decide which hero(es) they deem to be overpowered and allowing players to ban them for the match. It would also force players to diversify their hero pools and feed into the vision that the devs have for Overwatch 2, which is a game that rewards changing heroes and thinking up counters for opponents.
It wouldn’t be an article about Overwatch 2 without touching on monetization and frankly, it’s even a little bit worse than expected. Sure, Season 1’s mythic Genji Skin is super cool and Junker Queen’s Season 2 skin is electrifying, but the rest of the Battle Pass is largely forgettable. The best skins can only be bought through the in-game store, which makes buying the battle pass feel like somewhat of a waste. Will it get better? Probably not, but at least they moved Ramattra from level 55 of the free Battle Pass to level 45. Progress!
Speaking of progress, the last major addition in Season 2 is the new Nepalese-based escort map, Shambali Monastery. It’s the second map from Nepal in the game and one of the few countries that have two maps featured in Overwatch 2. The Monastery features winding roads and rising elevations that make it an enjoyable map, but the location feels similar to the control based in Nepal, which dulls a bit of the new map excitement.
On the flip side, the new lighting and weather updates to Nepal, Oasis, and Blizzard World look and feel fantastic to play. These maps have been around for years but feature a new day/night cycle or weather patterns that change the vibe of the map. Blizzard World, for example, has experienced a moody and rainy makeover that changes the tone of the map in a way that makes it feel fresh. It’s more than just a simple pallet swap: it breathes new life into maps that haven’t felt exciting in a long time.
Which is a good way to sum up my feelings for Overwatch 2 a couple of months in. It has me excited about a game series that hasn’t been exciting in years. Let’s see if they can keep it going.