MANILA, Philippines – Goodbye, Overwatch. Hello, Overwatch 2!
Blizzard Entertainment on Monday, October 3 permanently shut down the servers of Overwatch in preparation for the launch of Overwatch 2. You’ll no longer be able to access the original game again, and the only way to play matches is via the soon-to-be-released sequel.
“Even the best journeys end, but a new one is right around the corner. Thank you, heroes! See you October 4th,” wrote Blizzard to players via the in-game chat on the last day of Overwatch.
Overwatch 2, which is free-to-play, goes live early on Wednesday, October 5, Philippine time. The game ushers in a number of key changes, including gameplay tweaks to the heroes and the shift to five-versus-five matches instead of six-versus-six. These changes, according to Blizzard, were implemented to improve the readability and balance of the game as it tries to gear itself more towards competitive play while still being welcoming enough for newcomers. Anyone who’s played the original, however, should feel right at home with this sequel.
Apart from the gameplay changes, the team hero shooter also adds three new heroes to the original’s roster: Sojourn, Junker Queen, and Kiriko.
Blizzard recently announced though that those coming into Overwatch for the first time have to unlock heroes from the original roster over the course of about a hundred games or so. This is supposedly meant to help them ease into the game as they learn the different team dynamics and hero synergies. Returning players, meanwhile, don’t have to unlock the original’s heroes.
The announcement drew mixed reactions from fans. Some said they don’t mind the requirement to unlock the heroes, while others said it could prove too much of a grind, which could result in some players possibly sitting through matches AFK (away from keyboard).
Game Rant in its review-in-progress points out how “worrisome” the game’s slow progression is. The outlet said that it could take players a significant amount of time to unlock the new heroes if they don’t choose to purchase the optional Battle Pass.
Overwatch 2 opted for a Battle Pass monetization for unlocks, similar to games like Fornite, to accommodate the free-to-play business model. This approach requires players to progress through tiers of unlocks by completing challenges. Apex Legends, also one of the most popular first-person shooters at the moment, has players earning in-game currency which can be used to unlock new characters as well or skins and other in-game items.
“Those that buy Overwatch 2‘s premium Battle Pass instantly unlock new Support hero Kiriko, but those that would rather stick to the free Battle Pass rewards have to grind all the way to level 55,” wrote Game Rant.
“To put in perspective how long this is going to take, we have played the game for an average of two hours per day for about 10 days at the time of this writing.This includes 83 games played and 44 wins so far. After all this, we’re only at tier 26 in the Battle Pass.”
Another transitional change that doesn’t look to be sitting too well with fans is the new requirement to link a phone number to one’s account. Those who won’t be able to do so won’t be able to play. Blizzard said the change is designed to “protect the integrity of gameplay and promote positive behavior in Overwatch 2,” serving as a barrier of sorts to cheaters and online trolls, with the game now free for everyone.
While the response to some of Blizzard’s decisions about Overwatch 2 has been quite divisive, the core game appears to remain just as fun as the original, if early reviews are to be believed. IGN says the game remains a “fundamentally great hero shooter, just one that is perhaps not currently operating at the towering height of its powers”. Gamespot, meanwhile, says it still needs some work but offers a “strong foundation” that Blizzard can build upon.
Blizzard at least has the chance to continue to improve Overwatch 2 over time, with this launch serving as an early access of sorts to the multiplayer component. The game still has player-versus-environment modes that’s not due for launch until 2023, so it’s safe to expect more updates in the coming year.
Overwatch 2 is available on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC. – Rappler.com