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Overwatch 2 Beta Impressions: Headed in a Good Direction

Overwatch 2 Beta Impressions: Headed in a Good Direction - Preview

by Daniel Parker , posted on 07 May 2022 / 4,211 Views
To be totally honest, Overwatch has been in a pretty bad state for the last few years.  Ever since the release of Sigma, the game received less and less notable content, with the final hero (Echo) arriving eight months after Sigma, in April 2020.  Long gone were the days of having a new character every three months and a new map the month after that.  Various other forms of content have been added to the game since then, including skins, maps, and also game modes, but none of that was what the community desired most - a new character to play as.
The content cycle was, of course, broken by the development of Overwatch 2, which was originally announced in November 2019 and had its first closed beta just last month.  But is it really a fully-fledged new game and has it been worth the wait?
To answer that, the important thing to consider is what exactly defines a sequel.  If you go neck-deep into the toxic pits of the Overwatch community you'll find that most would have you believe Overwatch 2 is nothing more than a glorified add-on pack that we would have gotten over time anyway if Overwatch had stuck to its usual content cycle.  Even though most sequels are built on top of their predecessors, and many re-use legacy assets originally created for older entries in the franchise, maybe they're right.  After all, just because it was the normal thing to do decades ago doesn't mean that's the way things need to be done today.  However, we do at least get to carry over our progression from Overwatch to Overwatch 2, where some titles (like Dead or Alive 6, for example) will have you buying the same skins from an earlier entry all over again.
As far as doing what a basic sequel should do - updating the visuals, refining the gameplay, shaking up the roster, and changing rules/logic around how some of the systems within the game work - Overwatch 2 makes the grade.  Things that no longer work, like Orisa with her barrier, have been shaken up; where other franchises can casually toss out characters in favor of new faces, Overwatch 2 has retained its characters in order to respect players' progression and unlocks. Not only has Orisa been fundamentally changed, but so have Bastion, Sombra, and even Doomfist, who's now been moved to the tank class.  This is all in an effort to bring the roster in line with the game's new five-versus-five vision, which is being done for the sake of giving more weight to each individual player in how the match plays out.
Beyond that, each weapon's audio has been redone, using not only real weapons but real weapons in various environments, which not only makes fired bullets sound realistic but also causes them to vibrate and muffle through corridors and buildings.  Every weapon in Overwatch 2 sounds threatening, which makes each landed shot feel much more satisfying.
There are also other minor changes that will likely go unnoticed by most players, including new voice lines and small balance changes, like Brigitte's Whip Shot going a little farther than it used to, or D.Va being able to melee without canceling her Boosters.  Even the slightly more noticeable changes, like the new character designs (none of which were available in the beta), can seem a little underwhelming because they carry over the exact same color scheme as the designs from Overwatch, and from a casual perspective they can look the same.  Tracer, Sombra, Reaper, and Widow Maker are particularly underwhelming; it's difficult to spot the differences between their original and new designs.
Although Overwatch 2 looks similar to the original, it plays much better.  Old and sometimes oppressive strategies, like pirate ship formations on a moving payload, aren't a thing anymore, because Bastion and Orisa don't function the same way.  Double barrier teams don't exist either, because there isn't that second tank waiting for his ally's barrier to burn down, which also means fights end faster.  Additionally, the Assault game mode and the associated maps have been removed from competitive and unranked games, so Hanamura, Temple of Anubis, and Volskaya Industries have joined Horizon Lunar Colony and Paris, in that they're only selectable in custom games.  
Also gone are the medals, and for good reason.  They were never a great indication of a player's contribution during a match (for instance, getting a gold medal for damage output means nothing if nobody was dying, and the healers on the enemy team were gaining ultimate charge).  Now, instead, you can see everyone's eliminations, damage, deaths, and healing at all times, which is a better indication of what's actually going on in the match.
Despite having no faith in Overwatch 2 being a good game initially, the changes being made are fantastic. Although I personally would have liked for the game to have retained the six-versus-six format.  For the game to remain in that way, there would have to be more thoughtful changes to reduce how well some tanks synergize with one another so that your team doesn't tilt for having D.Va and Roadhog, such as lowering Zarya's projected barrier to 100HP when used on another tank, so that her synergy with Reinhardt isn't as strong, but she could still use it on him to stop Roadhog's Chain Hook, for example.
As for the double barrier compositions in the old six-versus-six format, there could have been a mechanic added to the game that discouraged the use of two barriers, like a shared barrier resource, so that enemy fire would damage both barriers independent of which one was being fired upon.  So for example, regardless of where Winston's barrier was, if Reinhardt blocked over 700 damage then Winston's barrier would be reduced to 0HP.  This would solve one of the major advantages double barriers have over abilities that absorb damage in six-versus-six.
Similar changes to mitigate abusive tank strategies are being put in place for Overwatch 2 though.  For example, Echo's Duplication ultimate caps at 300HP, which means copying a tank is especially bad because she'll have a large hurtbox without the HP to sustain herself.
As a tank player, Overwatch 2 feels great. There isn't that other tank to strategize with or throw the game because he doesn't like the character you decided to use.  Playing healer is also pretty fun as long as you take cover and stick to the high ground.  On a personal level, whenever I play a damage character I'm usually in for a rough ride, because the only one I can use competently is Symmetra; she's situational and isn't very good on Push or Escort maps.
Speaking of the new Push game mode, it's quite a satisfying replacement for the old Assault mode.  In it, teams fight for control of a large robot in the map's center, with barricades on each side.  As the name suggests, the team with control of the robot will have their barricade pushed further and further from the map's center, and the team that pushes their barricade to the maximum distance (or farthest, depending on time) is declared the winner.  While the mode is still being balanced, I think it's much better than the old Assault mode, which could potentially end after just two team fights if you were able to properly stagger an enemy player.
Seeing significant changes finally coming to Overwatch again has made the game feel fresh and new.  While I never participated in the beta for the original Overwatch in 2015, I have played through all of the game's ups and downs since its formal release, even going through the effort of collecting all of the mini-event skins and their associated Twitch-drop sprays.  I think this new direction the series is headed in is fantastic, because the gameplay balance is finally starting to come together.  It's not what I would have wanted in an ideal world, but there's honestly more than one way to balance the game, so I'm comfortable with that.  It seems as though Blizzard is really focussed on eliminating the things players found the most frustrating about Overwatch.  There's even a pinging system for those who don't want to engage with others over the microphone - which is great, but takes some getting used to.  It's quite informative to know where enemy players are and who exactly is on the enemy team, and now even those without a microphone can contribute such information.  
Finally, I think it's important to outline what exactly Overwatch 2 is and isn't in terms of its transition from the original game.  Overwatch 2 is split between its PvP and PvE modes, and everyone who owns the original Overwatch will automatically own the PvP portion of Overwatch 2, with all of their skins, sprays, etc. carrying over as long as they're on the same console.  While there is currently cross-play in Overwatch (excluding ranked games on PC), there isn't much of a reason to link your account with your console account, as there's currently no cross-progression.  
Although everything surrounding Overwatch 2 is absolutely confusing, the game itself is headed in a good direction, at least from the perspective of this Overwatch enthusiast.  More casual players and those who disliked the original are highly unlikely to be converted by Overwatch 2 though - at least not by its PvP aspect.  That said, if you stopped playing the game years ago, perhaps before the release of Baptiste for instance, then maybe there will be enough changes to satisfy you by the time the game eventually launches, and it's not like it will cost you anything extra to jump back into the PvP.

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Alistair (on 09 May 2022)

I was hoping for high resolution textures packs. These games will be made to play on Playstation 5 but it is still a 3GB VRAM game... amazing art design, the game looks great, but why not give us those 4x textures now (there's not a lot of content to get people to pay money, I'll take the free upgrades though)

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Burning Typhoon Alistair (on 09 May 2022)

Honestly, I can't recall how much vram overwatch uses. Personally, I play with everything at the lowest settings, except texture quality and model detail to cut down on response time, and maintain 1440p, 165fps. I really don't notice the changes in graphical quality while I'm playing the game anyway. As for the consoles, it's still the beta, and maybe by the time OW2 releases, there will be proper current-gen versions.

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The Fury (on 07 May 2022)

What slowly turned me off OW in general was role queue and the lack of content since Echo's release. From what I've heard from friends getting in or youtube videos I've watch, this is much the same, tanks being a single player, 5v5, it's odd changes I think personally. To me, limiting the choice of character went back against it's original appeal and their ideas for it. What all because some people wanted to play attackers all the time? Well duh, in MP PvP games that's how it works, people don't want to be tanks, just being in front of everyone or a support at the back hiding while healing, they want to be in on the action.

Of the new characters they created since launch and the way they changed 'roles' from Tank, Offence, Defence, Support to what we have no. Joining majority of character into one thing called Attackers then limiting the choices in other roles then adding role queue was just a mess.

My main hope however is for PvE, which this beta isn't. I've had a lot of fun in the Arcade PvE mode with my friends, the challenge of it at higher levels. That will be unaffected by Pro balancing changes but they need to add a lot for it to be worth the upgrade personally.

EDIT: Sorry, double post.

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Burning Typhoon The Fury (on 07 May 2022)

Yeah. As I said, I would have liked the game to stay 6v6. But there's more than one way to balance the game, and if it is balanced in the end, then it's fine. Two less players on the map, so it means there's more open space. The offensive and defensive categories weren't really necessary and that's why they were fused together into the damage role. But, tanks, DPS, and healers all play the game differently.

There is open role queue in Overwatch. It's been there for about 2 years or so and it's honestly a mess. Most often times, I'm the only tank, and there's literally 0 healers. I think it's fine to split them up, because the game did improve by most peoples' opinions. People just want to make sure they have actual tanks and healers on their team so they can have a reasonable chance of winning. Getting 4 healer mains, then expecting one of them to just swap to Widow Maker because that's what the team needs is unrealistic.

The original vision of the game didn't really align with how players were actually playing the game, so it's good they didn't stick to allowing things like selecting 6 Winston's on a team.

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The Fury Burning Typhoon (on 09 May 2022)

I know it's hard to get the right balance. The offence defence thing was because of the game's design as each game you'd switch sides. If they could have added the 2-2-2 thing but kept the original 4 categories it might have worked so if you picked 'tank' what this mean was tank or defence, attacked was offence or defence and then support was support and defence (yes defence is the changable class) because having a Mai can be as good as any tank depending on their role or map.

I never thought the game was unbalanced for the way it was when it was 6v6 and open to what champs you played, issue came from people complaining about a team just picking attackers or gaots. Enemy team picked GOATS, yet our team picks Widow and Hanzo, why do you think goats was working so well?

I'd still take open 6v6 over restricting my choice any day. The forced roles is what really turned me off and when they added back in normal, I still played tanks and supports but played and changed based on what I thought was needed at the time, sometimes Orisa can only do so much when a Bastion mowing the enemy down was a far better choice.

Maybe this is more my problem though, as I played based on map, not role and 2-2-2 took that away from me. If people were so limited by their characters that as a support main they could only play support when characters like Orisa or Mei exist. You need to be able to adapt that was the point of the game right?

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Burning Typhoon The Fury (on 09 May 2022)

Disagree with the Mei comment. You cannot shoot or see through her Ice wall, and if she's not using ice block or ice wall, she's not tanking any damage for the team and she cannot attack while using ice block. Her specialty is dividing the enemy team so that they can be picked off.

Goats is exactly highlights why the game was so imbalanced back then. There should have been negative role-passives that stacked if you picked multiple of the same class. I've made custom games in Overwatch. I never had a problem with GOATS, because while you could pick them, Tanks gave off lots of ult charge, and healers couldn't heal other characters at the same rate as characters without healing abilities. So, Ana, Mei, Roadhog, Reaper etc. would only get 30% or less healing from Mercy.

To balance out the ult charge tanks gave out, you'd pick someone like Doomfist, or Genji, who didn't give out lots of ult charge, but still did plenty of damage and didn't have the healing penalties of the other characters.

It meant that each role had its place, and you needed a combination of all three to keep things in order. There's nothing stopping you from picking whatever you wanted, but if your loadout wasn't thoughtful, you were gonna have a rough time but at the same time, such teams weren't doomed to fail.

I don't like the idea of an "open" 6v6, because the game doesn't balance for things like that. The game degrades to stacking on the same hero, that can stack abilities, like Sigma, Winston, or Torbjorn, and if you're not doing that, you're not playing to win.

As I said before, Tanks and healers play the game differently, so just because you're good with tanks doesn't mean you're going to play healers at the same level. Some people can, but most can't and that was a problem. Especially considering people would be so upset on character choice without considering how of a player is on a specific hero.

Personally, I hate playing DPS characters simply because of the queue times, so I'm more than happy with tank so I don't have to wait. And in Overwatch 2, I get the whole category to myself.

You can still play heroes based on map, as long as you stayed within your role. The problem before 2-2-2 was that teams often wouldn't have a tank or healers because no one wanted to play those characters and would compete against members on their own team, and whoever had the least damage would be screamed at to do something else. While that was going on, the clock was still ticking, and when goats finally came about, Blizzard eventually gave up trying to balance the game for it, because they didn't know how to balance it.

It was just a big mass of problems and they couldn't add a third shield tank to the game without 2-2-2, as they would have had nearly 5,000HP in barriers at the time of Sigma's original release and you'd never break through that. Even Orisa and Sigma alone were enough to break the game.

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The Fury Burning Typhoon (on 10 May 2022)

Sadly, the way the game has adapted is a result of pro and casual play based on Blizzard's own character design. The area of effect healing shields and tanks allowed GOATS to thrive after release of Bridgette and constant shields adding to the game. Sigma's release shield was 2000 strength, like why did they think that was okay?

Don't get me wrong, I understand why changes were made, just as a flex player, 2-2-2 was just a hindrance to my enjoyment of the game and if anything it was a punishment for one-tricks. Only play McCree huh? Well, now you can only play him every 10 minutes for 10 minutes. ;-)

I just wonder if better compromises could have been made. Maybe even going as far as to just add bans but there are too few characters for that.

I can play most characters at a decent level, I'm obvious better as some (Orisa) and worse at others (Widow) but could play all roles well enough because that was required for the game overall. Limiting yourself to just 1 character or 1 role always seemed like bad thing to me from a player standpoint because the games original design was to adapt, on situations, on if a comp wasn't working, on map. Sometimes a objectives did not need 2 tanks and 2 supports and distribution of character did not help the matter either.

Was it really that hard for a support who got stuck playing DPS to just pick Bastion and sit there mowing people down? or a DPS who got stuck playing tank picking Roadhog and hook shoot melee oneshotting squishies?

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Burning Typhoon The Fury (on 10 May 2022)

Brigitte, nor any other character gives armor in Overwatch 2. As for Overwatch 1, Brigitte can only give armor with her Ultimate, and they degrade after 30 seconds. All instances of extra health in Overwatch 2 is treated as temporary and doesn't give ult charge.

For the point about Bastion, yes, that's a bad idea. Bastion as a character was so bad that he had to be changed for Overwatch 2. He's extremely easy to deal with, especially if the person playing him is a healer main.

Roadhog can hook combo him. D.Va can hold defense matrix over him (Bastion can't move away from the ult in time if he's in turret mode) and he also requires all the teams resources to be pumped into him to keep him alive.

And Roadhog isn't going to be a good replacement for a main tank. If you're not playing on your main role, you should be playing in a lower rank. If I was expected to play DPS in diamond just for getting there on tank, I'd throw. I cannot play healer or DPS in diamond or even platinum for that matter.. I only assume I could at least maintain in gold.

Also, I've had hogs on the team who missed nearly all their hooks, and when they'd finally get one, they didn't finish off the enemy.

The whole, "picking what's best for the team" idea isn't really a thing. Just playing what your best at gives so much more value, because you're locked to a particular role anyway. You can possibly make an argument for tanks, because tank synergy can make or break the game, but for every other role, there's no reason to just pick whatever you're best at.

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The Fury Burning Typhoon (on 10 May 2022)

"Just playing what your best at gives so much more value, because you're locked to a particular role anyway."

But that's the point, forcing people to wait 15 minutes to play what they are best at doesn't help anyone, it's wasting their time. 6v6 open allows people to play what they are best at and most the time, there is at least 1 tank and support anyway.

I don't think much of what they are doing is going to help things. Like moving Doomfist into tank. With only 1 tank a comp where that tank player is Hammond or Doomfist, I expect people to just get flamed more because the way their characters are played.

But we are obviously going nowhere with this. ;-)

I prefer open flex play you prefer role queue. We can just hope PvE is worth it. :P

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Burning Typhoon The Fury (on 10 May 2022)

Considering that Orisa doesn't have a barrier anymore, your only barrier tanks are Sigma, Rein, and Winston. I've only had one instance of someone telling me to switch off D.Va, but after eating graviton, dragons, and getting a triple kill with my ultimate. he went quiet. I understand wanting to win, but some people are treating the beta like it's competitive. lol.

Also, there was a patch that was released since my write-up. Open Queue is back, now. It's still 5v5, but if you want 3 tanks and 2 healers, you have that option still.

Doomfist wasn't just moved to tank, he plays differently, and he's a larger character than before, too. Some players are really good with him, but he's going to take a lot of practice.

Having one tank really forces you to learn the map and not fight out in the open. You're not going to have a barrier tank every game and you have to learn to do without by not standing in front of chokes.

Honestly, though, I switch between open queue and role queues. Once I started getting top 500 players in my open queue games, I stopped playing it, because I felt I was high enough. Top 500 begins around 3400 SR in open queue, whereas, it's probably closer to 4100 SR in role queue.

Let's hope the PvE is good, though. It seems that's what blizzard is putting most of the development into anyway. Perhaps there's nothing to worry about with that either.

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