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Overwatch 2 Review

Heroes never die… for a price

Overwatch 2 is fun. If you stop reading my review right this second, that is what I want you to take away from it. The landscape of gaming journalism has picked the carcass of this game clean, and I feel it is incredibly hard to pontificate meaningfully and generate something wholly unique that hasn’t already been said. But if you want a statement – a fact – about what Overwatch 2 IS, that is my conclusion. So, game fun, so what?

Scientist ala monkey fist

Still with me? Well, I appreciate that. Let’s talk about what Overwatch 2 isn’t, and that is a standard example of a sequel. I actually admire with great respect what Blizzard has attempted – effectively trying to revisit the example of a generous content patch that manages to foster and encourage the existing player base, without separating the old and the new. In hushed tones, many would want to slap the term EXPANSION on this kind of title update, and even point with great enthusiasm at Blizzard’s past releases and its established history of doing so. But once you look closely at the scope of changes present within Overwatch 2, you realise it can’t easily be labelled as an expansion either. It’s in a void – more than a content patch, not quite a sequel. Parts of both, but at the same time neither. A lot of the anger may have been avoided if they just avoided slapping that naughty little ‘2’ at the end of the game. Maybe Overwatch: Overcharged? Engorged? Extended?

Either way, the growth spurt of Overwatch 2 has absolutely catapulted the game from its initial awkward teenage years into something a little more finessed – for better or for worse. My time playing the original was blissful because there was an undercurrent of silliness always present – seriously, this is the game that introduced both a scientist gorilla and a murderous hamster as characters – so even in the most intensely serious of contests, I felt the calming presence of levity. Overwatch 2 may maintain these characters and foster new stories, but the systems that support them now feel tightened to an extreme degree.

The tighter team format means I can read a situation easier than ever before, even while soaring through the air

The biggest change has to be the format shift to a 5v5 player match, dropping two players from the lobby. At first, I was saddened by the news because it was always something that separated the game from other only multiplayer fares – 5v5 is a near constant when dealing with character-based games. After playing for an extended period however, I have come to understand that some of the chaos that I both loved and loathed in Overwatch can be squarely attributed to the amount of people with their boots on the ground (or rockets in the air). In a 6v6 format, you can easily spare two people as dedicated flankers, harassers, whatever you need – and remain with a girthy core of four to hold an objective. With the switch to 5v5, I immediately saw a much greater risk-and-reward style of gameplay from teams that would invest more people into the backline, as their front line would suddenly only be three people – genuinely a huge change to the landscape. Sending one of your core damage dealers to slink in corridors, perhaps with a supporty/healy type of friend in tow, means your main bastion (not the tank-man) of objective defence is now relying heavily on a single source of healing and just the one damage dealer, while a chonky tank man stands in the way of bullets. It becomes a great deal more manageable as a player, because the number of threats in the game has significantly reduced – not just from players present, but from possible strategies that may be coming to slap your omnic booty. Like pruning a plant to help it thrive.

This is somewhat elevated by having a more structured expectation of classes in some game modes. The holy pentagon of double damage, double support and solo tank seems to have some proper synergy in team battles, and you can rest easy when you know a flanking Genji means that there is one less person on the front lines actively shooting at you. 

Kiriko is a super inspired character, and a clear contender for most fun support ever

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Matches are still quite rapid affairs, and a comeback is still a rare thing – the real tragedy within Overwatch 2 is the loss of the endgame accolades and votes for who was considered to be the powerhouse of the match. There was something uniquely excellent about receiving votes from the enemy team as they begrudgingly accept that you really are that good, or at least that lucky for a time. Instead, a game now ends with an opportunity to simply endorse members of your own team, and any acknowledgement of your enemy needs to be rapidly sent via chat. I sincerely hope this is revised in future.

While the game is visually gorgeous, I can’t say it is any noteworthy improvement on the Overwatch of yore. Overwatch: Part Deux is every bit as stunning as its predecessor, smooth as butter and polished to a brilliant shine. The range of options to tweak and supercharge your experience are absolutely as modern as you would need, and you can really squeeze some truly spectacular eye candy out of the game. Within the experience there is actually a bit more in the way of creamy filling if you are so inclined to notice, with HUD elements having more unique visual graphics for indicators and even a healthy smattering of unique character animations to further cradle the real baby of Overwatch’s legacy: its cast.

Second best Aussie character and possibly the next Prime Minister

The world of Overwatch does a fantastic job of communicating an implied narrative alongside its more ironclad story. Every character present in Overwatch 2 has a new unique base skin to clue you in on how their personal story may be progressing. As a Junkrat fiend, I must admit I spent a solid 30 seconds in spawn (much to the chagrin of my team) as I came to realise that he has lost a finger since we last met. I did my classic ‘Hello’ voice command, which comes resplendent with an onscreen gesture and G’DAY from my favourite psychopathic bomb gremlin, only to realise that one of the digits on his remaining fleshy hand is now robotic in nature. Deep within me stirred that familiar love of what Overwatch brought to the realm of gaming as I started wondering what the mad idiot had done this time – considering he’d already lost both an arm and a leg when I first met him. Cue me digging deep into every character’s new skin, to see how all my children were growing up.

This world – this story – is still treated with a great deal of care and respect within Overwatch 2. Newer characters seamlessly integrate alongside the established cast, and the interactions between them all in-game continue to paint this living picture of a world where heroes were forgotten. This is the warmth that I felt when I first stepped foot into this game so many years ago, a warmth I cherished and have been relieved to find intact in the metamorphosis of original Overwatch into sequel. It’s easy to forget that the biggest drawcard for Overwatch 2: Judgement Day is the promise of proper narrative, solo content – and while it is not yet present, what has been presented to me independently of those systems is full of promise.

Taunting while riding the Payload may be considered toxic, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t super fun

While the F2P nature of the game of course facilitates the necessity for financial support, after having dealt with both the in-game shop and the battle pass I can safely say I am not overly impressed. As a very frugal gamer I found it hard to relate to many of the newer premium prices within the store – they irked on the side of ‘not very micro’ transactions. Dropping $19AUD on a skin that gives Junker Queen a more battle-ready aesthetic is not something that appeals to me, even as someone that appreciates the detailed work put into the skin from a lore perspective. It even becomes harder to swallow when you realise that the earning of premium currency is currently forecast to occur at a truly glacial pace given the in-game options. Completing the specific weekly challenges within the game that reward premium Overbux will net you a colossal 60 credits – meaning it will take roughly EIGHT MONTHS to unlock a premium skin if you have your wallet on lockdown. A sour taste to process – particularly when you realise that there is no option to even earn premium currency via the battle pass.

The appeal of the wheel is keeping it real – especially when there are kills to steal

Speaking of the battle pass – this fella looms with an impressive $10AUD cost of entry to jump on the premium bandwagon, with a plethora of skins, cosmetics and even characters to whet your appetite. Only this also seems to progress at a snail’s pace; I dove deeply into many modes to chase down challenge-based rewards and still only unlocked a meagre handful of progression steps. This was a huge blow to my enthusiasm, because I actually managed to complete the much maligned Diablo Immortal battle pass through daily squirts of activity, just targeting the things I truly enjoyed in the game. Here in Overwatch: Boogaloo I am concerned I will not gain any of the cooler rewards unless I play the game a great deal more than I can afford to.

But I digress – these are not systems beyond repair. Everything I have mentioned above has an impressive array of knobs and levers that can be tweaked should Blizzard cater to the feedback of its players – we who wish to return to the age of heroes in a triumphant manner, and not feel the needly stare of cash-hungry systems that want to murky our puddles of fun.

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When all else fails, apply bullets to your problems

Final Thoughts

Many will say that this game is a shadow of its former self, an imposter wearing the flayed skin of its predecessor, but I have to speak to its strengths. The Overwatch experience I came to love has been tidied and developed to try and make an experience that is as challenging as it is rewarding, without the underlying streak of unfettered chaos that permeated and poisoned it. What makes Overwatch great is still here, with great attention being taken to make sure it can thrive. The only concerning element is the sticky factors that come from being a F2P experience, which I can only hope will be considered by the team at Blizzard.

After all, the world could always use more heroes.

Reviewed on PC // Review code supplied by publisher

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Overwatch 2 Review
Overwatch: First Blood Part Two
With a revitalised gameplay experience and tighter combat, the actual moment-to-moment gameplay of Overwatch has never been better. Let’s hope the monetisation strategy relaxes a little.
The Good
It is Overwatch, just not quite as you remember it
Visually and auditorily splendiferous
A tight and exciting PvP shooter experience
New map types and heroes are exceptionally fun and well realised
An exciting new chapter to explore
The Bad
It is Overwatch, just not quite as you remember it
Store prices feel steep and uninviting
Battle pass progress could be faster
8
GET AROUND IT
  • Blizzard Entertainment
  • Blizzard Entertainment
  • PS5 / PS4 / Xbox Series X|S / Xbox One / Switch / PC
  • October 4, 2022

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.
Overwatch 2 Review
Overwatch: First Blood Part Two
With a revitalised gameplay experience and tighter combat, the actual moment-to-moment gameplay of Overwatch has never been better. Let’s hope the monetisation strategy relaxes a little.
The Good
It is Overwatch, just not quite as you remember it
Visually and auditorily splendiferous
A tight and exciting PvP shooter experience
New map types and heroes are exceptionally fun and well realised
An exciting new chapter to explore
The Bad
It is Overwatch, just not quite as you remember it
Store prices feel steep and uninviting
Battle pass progress could be faster
8
GET AROUND IT
Written By Ash Wayling

Known throughout the interwebs simply as M0D3Rn, Ash is bad at video games. An old guard gamer who suffers from being generally opinionated, it comes as no surprise that he is both brutally loyal and yet, fiercely whimsical about all things electronic. On occasion will make a youtube video that actually gets views. Follow him on YouTube @Bad at Video Games

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