May 11, 2022

Overwatch 2: Free to play with an Early Access Release date 

Overwatch 2 will be undertaking “in early access” on October 4, Activision Blizzard reported Sunday. At least the PVP aspects of it will be.

And in a significant change, it will be free to play — the original Overwatch was a paid title. It will be released on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X / S, PS5, PS4, and Nintendo Switch.

“We can’t wait to roll out the start of the Overwatch 2 experience on October 4 and introduce a stimulating new competitive vision, featuring amazing new content and a reimagining of the maps, iconic heroes, and gameplay that made the original game so compelling,” President Blizzard, Mike Ybarra, said in a press release. “This is the start of an always-on and always-evolving era for the franchise, and a recommitment to helping players with frequent and substantial updates scheduled well into the future to keep Overwatch 2 fresh and entertaining for many years to come.”

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Blizzard also introduced the second new hero for Overwatch 2, Junker Queen, which the company defines as “a high-mobility and railgun-wielding former Overwatch captain with cybernetic capabilities.”

The company intends to share more about Overwatch 2 in a “reveal event” Livestream in just a few days — you can watch it on June 16 at 1 PM ET.

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Blizzard first announced Overwatch 2 in 2019, but it only began showing the game in earnest over the past few months, including with a closed beta. The company has split the development of the PVP and PVE parts of the game. While the PVP element will be available on October 4, we still don’t know when the PVE portion will be available.

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Microsoft is set to accept Activision Blizzard in a deal worth nearly $70 billion, though the acquisition isn’t expected to close until Microsoft’s fiscal year 2023, which starts in July.

Overwatch 2 is a hero shooter where players are split into two teams and choose one of more than 30 established hero characters as of 2022. Characters are broken out into damage class, doing most of the team’s offense against the opposing team; help class, providing heals, and buffs to teammates; and tank class, including a high damage threshold and can soak damage for their teammates. Each character has a different skill kit with a combination of active and passive abilities and an extraordinary Ultimate power that can be utilized after it is charged. The base Overwatch 2 game, like Overwatch, mainly features player-versus-player battles across several modes and maps and includes casual and ranked matched play.

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A substantial departure will be moving to a five-on-five PvP mode, with a restriction of only allowing one tank in play on a team. According to Aaron Keller, the initial allowance for six players per team and two tanks made gameplay slower than they would have liked, and by moving to five players and removing one tank, they believed this sped up play. It additionally simplified how much action there was to watch for both players and spectators.

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Therefore, new maps were planned to include more options for cover due to the reduced presence of tanks. Heroes will have a general reworking within their classes to make the game generally faster. Damage heroes will typically have increased movement speed, while Support heroes will all earn some passive self-healing skill. Tank heroes are expected to undergo the most significant change to make them able to take on more offensive roles.

Heroes are also undergoing a visual update to reflect the few years of in-game time between the events of Overwatch and Overwatch 2. Additionally, the game will include a ping system, similar to that of Apex Legends, for players to quickly alert teammates to points of interest on the map and existing callouts.

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A new PvP mode, “Push,” will be introduced, which functions like a tug of war, where each team is vying for control of a robot pushing a team’s payload to the opponent’s side of the map when a group controls it. Push will become part of the standard map rotation in the Overwatch League and be available for Quick and Competitive play.

Some existing gameplay modes may be dropped in Overwatch 2; Kaplan has stated that there are two control point maps. In addition, horizon Lunar Colony will likely not be available in Overwatch 2 as these have been difficult to balance in response to monitoring gameplay and player feedback.

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The game will have persistent player versus environment modes (PvE). These are similar to the special seasonal events, which will feature four-player cooperative missions against computer-controlled opponents. In this mode, players can gain experience for the hero they are using and, at certain experience levels, unlock new passive skills called talents that boost the hero’s current abilities, allowing them to customize how the hero plays. In addition, at least two PvE modes will be added: a story-based mission mode, where players are limited to their hero selection in replaying missions based on Overwatch’s lore. Hero missions allow all heroes to be used in fending off waves of enemies at various locations.

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Blizzard anticipates that Overwatch 2 will ship with over 100 different missions, utilizing new maps and existing multiplayer maps to include new areas and adding dynamic effects, such as night and day modes and weather effects. Additionally, enemy types will be expanded from the Null Sector robotic opponents used during seasonal PvE mods, adding new kinds with unique behavior.

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