Even the best journeys end, but a new one is right around the corner. Six years after its original release, Overwatch 2 is finally ready to review, attempting to redefine what a video game means to be a sequel. Filled with an abundance of new content, a new business model and the promise to deliver consistent live service, Blizzard’s unique FPS might just have another shot at being at the top. What exactly could go wrong? Well, a little more than you’d think, actually.
While the original Overwatch was praised for its interesting spin on the FPS genre with accessible heroes and an incredible lore-intensive universe, the game soon became a shadow of its former self. Events repeated every year, new content was lacking, and the communication between the developers and their community dwindled. A game with such carefully constructed foundations had the potential to be something really prosperous, and I think Overwatch 2 is a second chance to get this right.
Story – A Journey Continues
As an online FPS title, stories aren’t necessarily all that important or prominent. In Overwatch, however, this hasn’t always been the case. This title has always featured lore woven into its gameplay, with voice lines and interactions between its diverse array of playable characters. For example, you’ll subtly learn about specific plot points in the lore’s history when you have an Ana and a Soldier: 76 on your team. Or, if you happen to have Genji and Mercy together, you’ll find out a little more about their relationship.
It doesn’t stop there, however. Interactions are not just before the match, but during, too. When you eliminate specific targets around specific allies, you’ll hear even more interesting revelations. There are 25,000+ voice lines added to the sequel which is an incredible number. It’s refreshing to hear so many new interactions between the characters, and I have always praised Blizzard’s ability to succeed in this area. It makes the game feel more alive and further solidifies its characters.
There’s no specific story to discuss in this Overwatch 2 review since each match is technically non-canon to the timeline itself. In what universe does Mercy team up with Reaper to kill Reinhardt, for example? At some point, however, we’ll be getting a much more in-depth look at a proper story with the PvE half of this game releasing sometime next year. For now, enjoy listening out for the various interactions and voice lines hidden throughout the game.
Gameplay – Familiar Yet Fresh
Sporting a new 5v5 set-up, silky smooth animations and a fresh, futuristic UI, Overwatch 2 feels like the optimal, modern FPS to play right now. You get to choose from currently 35 unique heroes, all with their own set of abilities and personalities. Blizzard has always taken care of their heroes and no two offer the same experience. Hop onto Widowmaker to play the round as an aim-sensitive sniper in the back, or as Winston as a front-lining hero who initiates team fights. Maybe you fancy a go as an offensive support like the all-new Kiriko. There’s a hero for everyone.
With multiple game modes in rotation and the new Push Mode coming in hot, the game stays fresh and enjoyable for long periods of time. From pushing payloads and escorting robots to fighting for an objective, the different modes are tonnes of fun in their own ways. Shout out to King’s Row for being one of my personal favourite maps, set in London, UK. You’ll explore so many locations and see team fights commencing in some peculiar places. With six players on each team in the original, it began to feel like the same thing was happening every round. With two fewer players, though, there are more opportunities for fights to happen in more constricted areas.
For us returning players, the game feels comfortingly familiar and yet so reinvigorated at the same time. With new heroes Sojourn, Junker Queen and Kiriko to join the fun, a plethora of new maps, a new game mode and a whole host of new cosmetics, the game feels brilliant. Along with this, we’ve got countless reworks of old favourites such as Doomfist, Orisa and Bastion. Overwatch 2 also gives a review of your teams’ statistics in the new scoreboard, which is a great feature.
All-New Battle Pass
Another thing to keep you playing for hours is the all-new challenges. Daily, weekly and seasonal challenges give you a reason to play each and every day as well as an incentive to make progress over time. You’ll earn Battle Pass points, a system that, so far feels ridiculously time-consuming. Unfortunately, some heroes are even locked behind the Battle Pass, such as Kiriko. She’s locked far into the Pass, requiring genuine days of playtime to grab her, which feels unfair.
Overall, I think it’s a step in the right direction. With a Battle Pass system, we are assured of consistent new content. Though personally, I’m not a fan of locking new heroes behind a ‘play-wall’, as I’m coining it. New players have access to a few heroes at the start and will earn new ones as time goes on. This, I’m actually fond of. It allows players to learn the game in portions rather than having it all thrown at them at once. Other games like SMITE and Paladins do this, and in those, it feels great to unlock characters while learning the basics of the game itself. It’s a lot to digest at once.
What I’m not fond of, though, is the idea of having to either pay up or play for days on end just to get access to the new heroes like Kiriko. It feels like borderline pay-to-win territory. How am I meant to swap characters to counter enemies if I don’t have access to a certain hero? Despite Blizzard mentioning that their new design philosophy is to avoid hard counters, the game still functions in this way. I hope we don’t see this continue in the future. It just doesn’t feel right by the player base and I think in Overwatch 2, the developers need to review this aspect.
Graphics & Audio – Beautiful Yet Insightful
Overwatch 2 keeps the stylised, vibrant looks of the original and takes it to another level. Just by looking at the character re-designs, you can see how much effort Blizzard put into maintaining this. The maps all look gorgeous and truly reflect whichever part of the world they reside in. We get to visit so many places, all with unique assets and looks. This is one of the biggest selling points of this game, and the developers have absolutely done a fantastic job.
Explore the sun-kissed streets of Colosseo, Rome, the snowy boulevards in Toronto, Canada or the moonlit rivers of Circuit Royal, Monte Carlo. Each location feels alive, and sometimes you just want to appreciate this beauty in-game, even amidst intense combat. The amount of love poured into this aspect of the game is clear to see and deserves recognition.
In terms of sound design, Overwatch 2 doesn’t skimp. Each weapon and ability has its own sound that veterans will learn to recognise at a moment’s notice. This is purposeful and makes it even more rewarding to progress as a player. It’s genuinely incredible how powerful you feel while handling each character’s weapon. Not only this but depending on whether you’re inside, outside or in an alleyway, the sounds made will change accordingly. This is incredible attention to detail and really helps with gameplay, too.
I can’t fault the new UI, either. It’s clean, helpful and gives the information that it’s supposed to. The menus, in-game interfaces and everything beyond have been overhauled to make it all easier to grasp and navigate. Oh, and of course, I couldn’t fail to mention how much clearer the action is with fewer heroes on your screen in this Overwatch 2 review. Despite its rocky launch, and current faults, I think it’s just brimming with potential, and as long as Blizzard actually listens to its players, it could definitely be the number-one FPS for years to come.
Overwatch 2 was reviewed on Xbox Series X.