There’s no shortage of big releases in October, and it all kicks off early with the launch of Overwatch 2. Available October 4th for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, PC, and Nintendo Switch, the hero shooter is very similar to the original in terms of the core gameplay. However, a lot has changed as well – here are 15 things you need to know before playing.
Free-to-Play Early Access
Instead of releasing at a fixed retail price, Overwatch 2 will be free-to-play. That means most of the content, barring the more premium cosmetics, will be free for all players, from new maps and modes to new heroes (provided you grind enough). The “early access” tag means that the game will be updated over time with even more content. It also means…
No PvE (at Launch)
When Overwatch 2 was first announced at BlizzCon 2019, it was with a cinematic trailer that showcased the new story. There was extensive footage of PvE, particularly four-player co-op, and mention of different abilities, Hero Missions, and whatnot. Unfortunately, Overwatch 2’s story campaign is not available at launch. The current plan is to roll it out in 2023, though the number of missions is unknown. PvE events like Junkenstein’s Revenge are coming back though and will have some changes along with new cosmetics to earn.
“The world could always use more heroes,” as the saying goes, but Overwatch has badly needed some new ones for a while. Thankfully, the sequel will launch with three new heroes. Damage dealer Sojourn wields a railgun that’s charged with primary fire, and can pop off multiple shots with her Ultimate, Overclock. New Tank Junker Queen can use Commanding Shout to grant temporary health to allies, inflict wounds, slice with an axe, and shotgun enemies. Kiriko is the newest Support, employing ofuda to heal allies and Suzu to grant them temporary invulnerability. She can also teleport, wall-climb and throw kunai along with summoning a fox spirit.
A new feature for heroes in Overwatch 2 is role passives. These are separate from a hero’s innate passive. Tanks, for example, give less Ult charge to enemies when taking damage and have reduced knockback. Supports have passive health regeneration, with Mercy and Lucio recovering more since they already self-heal. Damage dealers gain 25 percent reload speed and movement speed for 25 seconds with eliminations, which can be refreshed. Also, every hero will retain 30 percent of Ultimate Charge when switching, a benefit previously reserved for DPS heroes.
Tank duos will soon be a thing of the past, with the sequel featuring teams of five players instead of six. Only one Tank is playable on each team, so you have to choose between shield-wielding heroes like Sigma and Reinhardt or off-tanks like D.Va and Junker Queen. While it takes some getting used to, matches are generally faster than Overwatch 1. It also means that a game can be borderline unsalvageable if someone chooses Roadhog, so exercise those avoid slots.
New Maps and Push Mode
On top of the current map roster (minus Assault maps), Overwatch 2 will launch with six new maps. Midtown and Paraiso are Hybrid maps where players must capture a point and push the payload. Circuit Royal is an Escort map with the two teams fighting over the payload. Colosseo, New Queen Street, and Esperança are Push maps. Push involves escorting a bot pushing a barricade through multiple checkpoints. The team that clears all checkpoints will win, and if the time runs out, then the one with the most distance is the victor.
Overwatch 2 takes the seasonal approach with its future content, adding new maps, heroes and events every nine weeks. Season 1 launches with the game in October and includes Esperança, a new Push map; new hero Kiriko; Junkenstein’s Revenge: Wrath of the Bride; and new Legendary and Epic skins. It will also have a Cyberpunk theme, which will apply to cosmetics in the store. Each Season will also have a new Battle Pass – more on that in a bit.
Season 1 Nerfs
Junker Queen was a popular pick in the Overwatch League this year and has thus received some nerfs ahead of Season 1’s launch. Much of this applies to her Commanding Shout ability which now grants less health, has less duration for allies, and a longer cooldown (though temporary health no longer decays during the duration). Other heroes like Orisa, D.Va, Baptiste, Bastion, Reaper, and Sombra have seen some buffs, while Brigitte’s Inspire duration has been nerfed from six to five seconds. Another nice change is that Ultimate Charge gained from damaging enemies with temporary health is now 50 percent of the normal rate instead of zero percent.
Like many free-to-play titles, Overwatch 2 will sell cosmetics via an in-game store and Battle Passes. The Battle Pass consists of 80 tiers, with free players having access to 20. Players who purchase the Premium track for $10 will have access to Legendary skins, Battle Pass XP boosts and the first Mythic Skin, Cyber Demon Genji. They also unlock Kiriko immediately; free players need to grind to tier 55 to access her. Along with playing matches, players can complete various Challenges – like winning matches, completing Arcade games, and so on – to earn more XP. These also go towards earning Overwatch Coins, which are also purchasable with real money and can be used to purchase cosmetics from the store or even upgrade to the Premium track of the Battle Pass for 1000 Coins.
Blizzard hasn’t updated its system requirements for Overwatch 2 since the first beta, but there shouldn’t be many changes. At the very minimum, one will need an Intel Core- i3 or AMD Phenom X3 8650, 6 GB RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 600 series or AMD Radeon HD 7000 series GPU. Recommended requirements include a Core-i7 or Ryzen 5, 8 GB RAM, and GeForce GTX 1060 or R9 380. These will be enough for playing the game at 1024×768 resolution, and you’ll need 50 GB of installation space.
Crossplay and Cross-Progression
Have you ever wanted to play with your friends, but they’re on other consoles? Overwatch 2 will support cross-platform play out of the gate, allowing Xbox, PlayStation, PC, and Nintendo Switch players to matchmake together. Of course, in the first game, there were some rules. PC players that grouped with console players would face other PC players, and crossplay wasn’t active in Competitive Play. It’s unknown whether these things have changed, but at least there’s cross-progression, allowing all cosmetics, Currency and OWL Tokens to carry over to the sequel.
4K/60 FPS on Xbox Series X and PS5
Blizzard hasn’t officially confirmed 4K/60 FPS or 1440p/120 FPS for Overwatch 2 on Xbox Series X and PS5. However, for an update to the first game, it would make sense. PC players should also expect all of their previous options to carry over. Fun fact: It can run at +360 FPS in 1440p on a GeForce RTX 4090, according to a new video by Nvidia.
Before the first beta began, you probably heard about the Overwatch 2 Watchpoint Pack, which provided access on top of other items for $40. There are no more betas, but the pack is still on sale. So what does it offer? Pretty much the same content, which means 2000 Overwatch Coins, seven Legendary skins (which includes two new Space Raider skins for Cassidy and Reaper), a player icon for Overwatch 2, five Epic Skins, and the Season 1 Premium Battle Pass. All of this becomes available when Overwatch 2 launches. The pack also gives access to Overwatch Legendary Edition, but that alone might not make for the best deal.
Overwatch 1 Status
That’s because Overwatch 1 will be playable until October 2nd, Pacific Standard Time. After that point, servers will go down for about 27 hours while Overwatch 2 is prepared for launch. Such is the unavailability that current players aren’t downloading a brand new game so much as updating Overwatch 1 to Overwatch 2. If you want to get some time in now or acquire the skins available in the Legendary Edition, then go for it. But if you want to continue playing Overwatch 1 in its current state with 6v6, Assault maps, and so on, then you’re out of luck.
In terms of future content, a new Tank hero is coming in December with the launch of Season 2, along with a new map, Mythic Skin, Battle Pass, and over 30 new skins. Next year sees the launch of PvE and new modes on top of new heroes, maps, etc. After Season 2, new heroes will launch every alternate season. So the next will arrive in Season 4, followed by Season 6, and so on. New maps will be released in between.