After its first closed beta for PvP, Overwatch 2 has a release date…for early access. That’s right – your favorite (or most disliked) hero shooter will be going the early access route on October 4th for Xbox One, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. What are all the details you should know, especially with the next closed beta set for June 28th? Let’s take a closer look.
Free-to-Play, Cross-Play and Cross-Progression
The biggest change from Overwatch 1 is that Overwatch 2 is going free-to-play. No more purchasing a copy – simply download it and you can jump in immediately to start playing. This will be available from the early access launch itself in October. Cross-platform play is also supported, allowing players across all platforms to play together. There’s also the benefit of cross-progression – any progress made on any platform will carry over to the others. So if you unlock a few skins on PS5 and then swap over to PC, you’ll have access to the same. And yes, all cosmetics that you’ve unlocked in Overwatch 1 will still carry over into Overwatch 2.
Early Access Content
When early access begins, Overwatch 2 will have maps from the first game, just like in the closed beta (though even more could be added on top). Midtown, New Queen’s Street, Circuit Royal, and Colosseo will also be available along with two new maps set in Rio and Portugal (with the latter being a Push map). Over 30 new skins and the first Mythic Skin – more on that latter – are also coming along with three new heroes – Sojourn, an unannounced hero, and the Junker Queen.
The Junker Queen, the current ruler of Junkertown, is a new Tank hero and a rather aggressive one at that. She wields a shotgun, swings a giant axe (which makes guitar-shredding noises when pulled out), and wields a knife, “Gracie”, that can inflict wounds on enemies. Those suffering from wounds receive less healing for a brief time and Gracie can even be thrown from a distance. If it lands on an opponent, the Junker Queen can activate her magnetic gauntlet and pull them towards her. “Rampage”, her Ultimate, sees her rushing forward, axe spinning, and damaging foes while inflicting wounds and recovering health. Finally, she can activate a commanding shout which increases the speed of nearby allies for a time. Along with the early access launch, the Junker Queen will be playable in the next closed beta.
Battle Pass (and no Loot Boxes)
The shift to free-to-play also means a revamp of monetization. Loot boxes are out (good riddance) and Battle Passes are in with players levelling it up to unlock new cosmetics, from the usual skins and emotes to new banner and weapon charms (and yes, you can now inspect weapons). Free rewards have been showcased along with the Premium Battle Pass, and it seems there will be Challenges to complete for advancing through the tiers. On top of this, an in-game store is also confirmed along with Premium Currency. Blizzard has sold premium skins for limited periods in the first game so expect some items to rotate in and out of the shop regularly.
Like many live-service games, Blizzard is going with the seasonal approach with Overwatch 2’s content. Seasons last for nine weeks and along with a new Battle Pass, players can expect new heroes, maps, skins, and cosmetics. Season 1 kicks off in October with the early access launch. Season 2 starts on December 6th and adds a new Tank hero, a new map, over 30 new skins and a new Mythic skin.
Mythic is the new top tier for cosmetics in Overwatch 2, sitting up Legendary tier items. What makes Mythic Skins different from other rarities is the level of customization. The development team showcased concept art for the new Cyberdemon Genji Mythic Skin – which looks like something out of Cyberpunk. You can use different colors for its decals and weapons, swap out different masks and even customize the tattoos (or remove them entirely). Additional Mythic Skins are in the works and to be deployed in future seasons. Though the method for obtaining them is unclear, they’ll likely require Virtual Currency (read: real money) to own.
The PvP meta has been shaken up significantly with 5v5 and having only one tank. However, that’s not all – Competitive play is also getting some big changes. Dubbed “Competitive 2.0”, it will feature a revamped scoreboard, action reports for post-match analysis, and new Skill Tiers (divided into five sub-tiers going from highest to lowest). Winning a single match no longer causes your Skill Rating (which is no longer an arbitrary number) to go up. Instead, your Skill Tier will be assessed after seven wins. More details are to be revealed in the coming months but overall, these are some interesting changes that should help refresh the current system.
Founder’s Pack and Watchpoint Pack
Overwatch 1 players who own the game before June 23rd will be receiving a free Founder’s Pack, which contains two new Epic skins, an exclusive Player’s Icon, and a “surprise gift” which has yet to be revealed. You’ll need to go into either game before December 5th to claim the rewards. In the meantime, the Watchpoint Pack is available for $40. It provides two Legendary skins – Space Raider Soldier 76 and Space Raider Cassidy – along with access to the June 28th beta, the Season 1 Premium Battle Pass, 2000 Virtual Currency, and Overwatch: Legendary Edition (which includes five Epic and five Legendary skins). So if you’ve never played the first game or just want to gain as many virtual goodies as possible, then this is the way.
PvE in 2023
With all this talk about PvP, the question to inevitably ask is, “What about PvE?” Blizzard has confirmed that PvE content will be coming in 2023. Speaking to GameSpot, director Aaron Keller explained that a linear single-player campaign (which is triple-A in scope) is still coming along with a replayable mode for progressing heroes. Instead of “keeping those until they’re all finished at the same time and releasing them in a box,” says Keller, “We would like to release those as part of our seasonal cadence for Overwatch 2.” Hero talents on levelling up and gaining equipment to increase one’s power are still a thing but PvE is still a pretty far way off. So expect more information in the future. The developer is also looking to advance the narrative and answer long-standing questions with the new PvE missions. You’ll even get to visit some of the heroes’ hometowns, like Torbjorn’s factory.
Aside from PvE, what else can players expect from Overwatch 2 in the future? Along with new heroes and maps, new modes are also in the works along with over 100 new skins. Blizzard has already confirmed that three more heroes are in the works – two Support (one using a mystical fox and teased in the current Kanezaka map) and one Tank. When they’ll release remains to be seen but the developer is looking to introduce some completely new, never-before-seen characters.