Overwatch sequel fails to live up to expectations

By Jackson Hare, Education and Enrichment Coordinator

After its long-awaited release on Oct. 4, Blizzard’s Overwatch 2 inspired an overwhelming yet welcome sense of “deja vu.”

Overwatch 2 is a team-based, first-person shooter developed by Blizzard Entertainment. Highly anticipated since its initial announcement in November 2019, patrons of the wildly popular Overwatch held lofty expectations for the sequel of the already sensational-game. 

The premise of the game is set 60 years in the future after the Omnic Crisis, when hostile robots and AI began to attack. Overwatch, a league of heroes from all around the world, was created to protect the world from these dangers and other evils that may arise.

Overwatch 2 features six new maps, a new gamemode, three new heroes and many other gameplay changes, including a switch from 6v6 to 5v5 team game modes, a change intended to speed up gameplay and to drastically change the competitive scene.

While I believe most of these new additions to the game are incredible and have enriched the Overwatch experience, I would venture to say it is more of a large update rather than a sequel. I have yet to notice a substantial difference in the gameplay that would warrant calling this a new game. It is especially disappointing to see that this is the product of three years of development.

Photo courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org

However, I do not believe this is an inherently bad thing. The first iteration of Overwatch set a high bar for the developers to meet to be able to successfully wow gamers with a sequel. If developers had attempted something too revolutionary, they ran the unnecessary risk of severely disappointing their loyal fanbase.

On that note, Overwatch 2 has abandoned the beloved loot box system, swapping it for a battle pass system in which players must earn experience points by playing matches and completing quests in order to unlock cosmetics. This change has been highly controversial in the Overwatch community, and I have to agree with the criticism. 

Despite being made free to play, which unequivocally expanded the player base, the highly-valued cosmetics have been locked behind a paywall, which requires players to purchase the $10 premium battle pass every nine weeks. Even then you must advance up 80 levels in order to acquire all of the cosmetics of the season. In addition, in loot boxes available in the original Overwatch, players could earn coins to buy cosmetics for specific characters. However, the new battle pass system makes coins only available via microtransactions.

Some might argue that the battle pass offers a rewarding system for gameplay; however, I believe it is rather exhausting. Of course, they make the most highly desired cosmetic the final reward at level 80, and, personally, when it’s 10,000 experience per level, and some games you only earn 500 experience, I get burnt out and stop playing.

Meanwhile, there are several kinks that need to be worked out since the launch of the game, including but not limited to balancing heroes and fixing bugs. There have been some slight and significant changes to certain heroes and their abilities, which have been well-received. Despite this, it has caused certain characters to dominate and others to be near useless.

Overwatch is, overall, a fantastic game. It has always been a great game, and most of the changes reflected in Overwatch 2 are adequate and enjoyable. Yet, in rating the game, I feel it’s only fair to consider it as the sequel it is supposed to be, which is, in short, underwhelming, earning three out of five stars in my book. However, if the game were not a standalone title but instead an update to the original game, I would say it was a five out of five.

Blizzard has said changes and more content are still on the way, including player versus environment game modes and more characters in the near future.