Overwatch 2 didn’t get a release date, or news about a beta at BlizzCon 2021, but the medium-length film Overwatch 2: behind the scenes revealed a host of new details, expanded information, and ongoing experiments from the game’s development team.
We know the game won’t arrive in 2021, but director Jeff Kaplan and his team made it clear how much work has gone into the game so far, revealing that “right now we can sit down and have an Overwatch 2 night.”
The new details included all-new maps, a huge improvement for PvE hero progression, new story and campaign details, major PvP tinkering experiments, and much, much more. Check out everything new we learned below:
Overwatch 2 – New Maps
- Two new Overwatch maps were revealed as part of the panel: Rome and New York (although it’s unclear what types of PvP missions they will be for).
- Rome was shown in both conceptual and in-engine art, and is intended to offer the “powerful and romantic feeling of old world architecture.” The Colosseum, a Roman temple, and a modern stadium appear to be part of the map.
- New York is recreated in a 1920s Art Deco style, with sci-fi elements mixed in. The map will start in a version of Village, and it will take you by small businesses, Grand Central Station, and includes a version of the Flatiron Building.
Overwatch 2 – PvP changes
- The new character Sojourn was shown a bit more, and the team revealed that he uses a rail gun, designed to bring back some of the feel of classic shooters. The weapon requires precise use and can “break through” the enemy’s health bars.
- While Overwatch 2’s PvP builds heavily on Overwatch’s existing structure, the team is making experimental changes that make OW2’s PvP a “big departure” from the current version in force.
- The team is currently experimenting with “passive roles,” background skills that affect a whole class of characters.
- Tank passive is currently a reduction in recoil and less ultimate slash for those who shoot at them.
- Passive attack increases movement speed.
- The support passive is a slow, automatic healing effect (similar to Mercy’s existing passive, but less effective).
- Tank characters are being tested to make them better suited for close-up fights than simply absorbing damage.
- An experimental version of Reinhardt gives you two fire attack charges, charge cancellation, and better steering while charging.
- An experimental version of Reinhardt gives you two fire attack charges, charge cancellation, and better handling while charging.
- All of these experiments may not make it to the final version of the game, but their goal is to show how radical the team’s thinking is around PvP.
- A team, the “Combat Feel Group”, has been created specifically to make combat action more connective and immersive. Each character is being evaluated by this group.
- Fast melee attacks have been revised, with better hit reaction animations and more impactful sound effects.
- Gun sounds have also been overhauled, with echo drastically changing gunfire noise based on environment, and guns audibly registering that they are running out of ammo.
- The team doesn’t take existing modes for granted – Jeff Kaplan says it’s possible that Assault mode will be replaced in Overwatch 2 (though this appears to be an experiment, rather than a promise).
Overwatch 2 – New Hero Missions
- Hero Missions are the game’s replayable cooperative PvP mode, which has been designed to attract new players who might be less interested in competitive play.
- Hero Quests are designed as a place to level up your heroes (see the Hero Progression section below for more information).
- The team plans to do “hundreds” of Hero Missions, which can be played “night after night” without feeling like a routine.
- Hero Missions will contain light story elements and can be played with any character on the roster.
- Any existing map can be used for Hero Missions.
- Some maps will have completely new areas in Hero Missions variants. For example, a load on King’s Row may move along a different route than usual, revealing that a normally closed section opens, and a new section of the map behind it.
- The same maps can be played with different objectives and different enemy factions.
- The Hero Missions maps will be playable at different times of the day than usual: each map has day, night, and sunset variants.
- Hero Missions can have dynamic weather conditions, which can change mid-game (we saw sandstorms, snowstorms, and rain).
- The weather conditions will be displayed on a world map before choosing a mission, allowing you to choose suitable heroes; It can be useful to take Widowmaker or Hanzo into a sandstorm, for example, as they can reveal enemies in poor visibility.
- Hero Mission objective types include Collect and Return (where you collect canisters from around the map and safely dispose of them in marked locations). Other internal names for mission types include ‘Wall of Death’, ‘Scavenger Hunt’ and ‘Kill Quest’.
Overwatch 2 – Campaign Details
- The Overwatch 2 campaign is focused on Overwatch members coming together again to find out who is behind a second Omnic uprising.
- Each mission will feature cinematic intros and outros, with perfect cuts to and from the gameplay.
- Music themes have been composed for each playable hero and each location.
- Each story mission is set on a custom built map, and they are described as “absolutely gigantic”.
- The India map features the team escaping from a temple as fire causes some map items to fall, funneling players through corridors and open areas. It is one of the largest Overwatch maps ever created.
- The map of the history of India
- The history of the map of India takes parts of the recent Overwatch comics.
- The Gothenburg map will include a section within Torbjorn’s workshop.
- The Toronto map will take place during a Null Sector siege and will take place during a blizzard, which will cause snow to accumulate steadily as you progress through the level. The images show friendly NPCs running away, implying that it won’t be just Overwatch vs Enemies on these maps.
- Hero lineups are not fully fixed for story missions, which means that players can choose from a selection. Each available hero will have voice lines and different combinations will cause different branching conversations and dialogues during the mission.
Overwatch 2 – Hero Progression
- Hero progression for PvE modes has developed substantially since the first presentation at Blizzcon 2019, and now each hero has separate talent trees.
- Each tree is designed for a different named build (although there seems to be no mixing and matching restrictions). Reinhardt’s three trees are named Crusader, Juggernaut, and Guardian, while Soldier: 76’s trees are Commander, Rifleman, and Vigilante.
- Each tree appears to have 7 levels to progress, unlocked with skill points and with skill choices made along the way.
- Trees have allowed the developers to break their own established rules for characters; We even see Mercy using area-of-effect resurrections, an ability that was removed from the character in 2017.
- New abilities include dual grenade launchers for Junkrat, Mercy’s ability to fire explosive blasts from her staff, and Reinhardt can immobilize multiple enemies at once.
- Weapons can also get elemental effects. We see Reinhardt’s Firestrike turn into a Freezestrike and a version of Junkrat’s traps that add an electric shock effect.
Overwatch 2 – Hero Appearance Changes
- The team showcased more of the changes they have made to established heroes, including improved weaving technology and a more advanced facial platform to allow characters to be more expressive (particularly in cutscenes).
- McCree now sports a full beard, is visibly older, and sports a more armored look.
- Pharah now wears more blue and white colors from the original Overwatch, and has a translucent visor to allow more emotions to show through.
- Reaper now has fuller armor and wears a more metallic suit. His mask has changed color.
- Widowmaker has been given a more cyberpunk aesthetic, and her ponytail is now a massive braid.
Overwatch 2 – Enemigos
- The Overwatch 2 team felt that PvE enemies weren’t interesting enough in the 2019 build – work was done on the Null Sector enemies to make them more attractive to face.
- Enemies now react more to shots, even losing body parts and continuing to fight.
- Larger enemies have weak points that can be exploited.
- Enemy reactions can cause chain reactions – shooting one enemy against another can trip both of you, and entire rooms of enemies can be hit with the right skills.
- The team is experimenting with elite enemies, which not only add additional health or damage to existing enemy types, but also change their weapons, abilities, or behavior. A normal Omnic Guard can fire slowly and collapse upon death, while an Elite Omnic Guard will have a blast of fire and will attempt to crawl towards you and explode when defeated.
- Different types of enemies will be seen in different missions.
- The Breacher is a walking bomb that moves slowly towards its target and must be destroyed before it transforms and detonates.
- The Puller is a creepy, blindfolded foe equipped with three orbs that act like a tractor beam, pulling you in and knocking you down unless you stop.