EVERYTHING HERE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE

Everything showed to us during the livestream is subject to change. There may be some things that are currently in the, “This is probably 99% going to be in Overwatch 2,” but just keep in mind that things could change. I don’t want to hear anyone going to Reddit saying, “That lady at Overbuff said X thing is 100%, totally, completely, without question, going to be in Overwatch 2.”

The Quick Recap

  • The primary PvP experience will become 5v5 instead of 6v6: 2 support, 2 damage, 1 tank. (clip)
  • There is a new game mode coming that has not yet been announced.
  • Overwatch 2 development is a way for Blizzard to test some actual, large changes to the game itself. In other words, nothing is safe from the philosophy, “Kill your darlings.” Everything is being re-examined.
  • Actual matches from five new maps aired: New York City (Hybrid), Toronto (Push), Rio (Hybrid), Rome (Hybrid), Monte Carlo (Escort)
  • We saw few new hero abilities, but we did see and hear a lot of the visual and audio changes. This includes UI design changes, new weapon sounds, weapon sound changes based on location, and music changes.
  • Role passives we saw at BlizzConline still exist. Tanks all have some knockback resistance and provide less ultimate charge for enemies, DPS can move faster, and supports all self-heal.
  • We got a look at Torbjorn’s new look.

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5v5 Teams & Tanking

You read correctly, Overwatch PvP is moving to be a 5v5 game.

Overwatch has changed a lot in the five years since it came out. From no hero limits where six Winstons per team was acceptable, to one hero limits, triple tank comps, role queue and 2-2-2, and Blizzard feels reducing down to one tank is the next step on that journey.

Reducing teams to five players isn’t only about balance or changing things for the sake of change. Aaron Keller, Game Director of Overwatch said, *“There is a lot going on in an Overwatch map. It is incredibly fast-paced, and we have always tried to make our combat easy to read and understandable. Even with all of the work we’ve put into that, sometimes it’s just hard to track what 11 other players are doing on the battlefield. Removing two of those simplifies everything and allows players to understand everything that’s happening around them and to make better choices.”*

With fewer players on a team, they’ve discovered that it can allow for an individual player to have a bigger impact on the match. Gameplay is reported to feel more fluid, and there’s less damage incoming. Chokes aren’t as difficult to get through. The game is said to feel just as strategic as it does now on live, and to remember that when you’re flanking on your own, you’re a larger percent of the team you’re leaving behind than you are now.

“Tanks can be Problematic”

Aaron described how tank heroes can be “noisy,” and how crushing it can be to stack two tank abilities with each other. One example given is just how facing oppressive two main tanks can feel to enemy teams. San Francisco Shock player, super, noticed that heroes were charging their ultimates a little slower. The devs said they hadn’t lowered ultimate charge, but that shooting tanks are the cause of a LOT of ultimate generation in live right now.

The change to 5v5 means all of the tanks will have to be adjusted. A handful of tanks were played in the livestream games, but not all had their new abilities in this build. In general, tanks are now meant to be a bit more offensive than defensive overall.

  • D.Va can use Defense Matrix more.
  • Reinhardt: Can stop his Charge when he wants and has two charges of Firestrike
  • Zarya: Has two Barrier changes she can either give to herself or allies. This is exactly what we saw during the April Fools Experimental Card if you played it.
  • Winston: Can charge lightning with alternate fire to launch it at ranged enemies.

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How it Feels

“Love or hate 5v5, we are dedicated to keeping the PvP of Overwatch as competitive as possible.”

Lead Hero Designer Geoff Goodman mentioned that nerves regarding solo tanking can be a bit stronger at first because you feel you have so much responsibility, but wind up feeling they actually have more tools available to help control the match.

To off-tanks, Aaron wanted to add for current players concerned about what all the changes mean for them, especially off-tanks: “I know it’s probably jarring to look at Overwatch change like [the tank changes]. Any time a big change like this happens and you start settling into a pattern of uncertainty or fear, you really translate it in your current context. The game will continue to evolve and shift. Role queue changed things, and people now look at all of the roles a little different.

You can still be a D.Va player or Zarya player, and what we’re hoping is when you get in the game and actually feel what it’s like to play as Zarya or D.Va, you’ll come away really enjoying the experience.”

Crowd Control

Just how much crowd control effects such as stuns, knockbacks, slows, and others, are being looked at for how they can be toned down, mostly DPS and support. Goodman went on to say how tanks should probably have CC because they’re all about control, but should as many DPS heroes get CC?

He gave an example, mentioning that Sleep from Ana generally feels OK to be hit by because it takes a bit of skill, but being hit by Flashbang by McCree feels terrible. Removing CC also has effects elsewhere so that also has to be looked at, like how much freedom is gives heroes such as Wrecking Ball, who was designed assuming the enemy team has CC options.

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New Maps

One change mentioned that over time, especially with Overwatch 2, more cover has been added for players to use. On King’s Row, there’s one piece of cover in the streets section of the map

New York City (Hybrid)

  • The payload is an old fire truck, driven by an omnic named Chacko
  • There are lots of easter eggs for those who know NYC, but also one that commemorates Jeff Kaplan and the “Jeph” coffee incident. (Twitter)
  • Once captured, the payload is moved through the streets of New York for the first section, and drives through Grand Central Station for the final part.

Toronto (Push)

  • Largely the same as the BlizzCon 2019 build but with more polish.
  • The robot who is pushing the Push barrier is named T.W.O.

Rio (Hybrid)

  • Defenders begin in Lucio’s Clube Sinestesia.
  • The payload is a Lucio-themed Carnival float that plays music as you escort it through town.
  • After capturing the payload, you escort it through the streets of Rio before completing the parade route inside Lucio’s club.

Rome (Push)

  • Battle your way through the Colosseum, and then through narrow streets.
  • The map corkscrews around itself for each team on their side of the map, something new for Overwatch. It’s something they tried to get to work throughout the game’s history and they finally were able to get it feel right on the Rome map.

Monte Carlo (Escort)

  • “Beautiful and opulent. A.I. F1 races.”
  • The payload is an F1 car, pushing it around the streets of Monte Carlo, similar to the real life Monaco Grand Prix.
  • Has a steep incline for the payload to traverse in the streets phase.

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Random Developer Comments

  • It’s still being debated, but on the build of the game in the livestream, developers slowed the Movement Acceleration to try to allow players to predict enemies a bit easier.
  • Push mode games can lean towards being very flanky.
  • Push is made so that the robot is moved back and forth a lot between teams, being more important in design.
  • When asked if older maps would be reworked to fit modern map design, like improved choke points, the response was, “I don’t know yet.”
  • Snipers haven’t been looked at yet, but the developers are keeping a close eye on them due to how much space they gain by having only one tank in the game.
  • Orisa gameplay was not present because she’s still very much a work in progress.
  • They’re playing with old ideas from Overwatch, like Roadhog having a much shorter cooldown in the old days.
  • Probably not ever going to make a sniper tank because there are damage heroes who could do that role better.
  • Some of the new hero designs we’ve seen are based on the fact that within the story, some heroes like Pharah have access to Overwatch tech to improve their armor or look.
  • We’ll have to “wait and see” if we’ll get more customization on hero looks, such as changing colors on skins based on things like achievements and such. Mixing and matching skins and weapons will unlikely be implemented.
  • The Winston ranged shot idea came from changes they added to him in PvE content.
  • Devs played around with a “PvPvE” mode where abilities and talents from the PvE mode were used with PvP rules. They said the experience left them feeling it was fun, but an awful lot of work to balance. It may appear at some point in the future as something like the arcade, but don’t expect it anytime soon as a normal mode.
  • The Push game mode came out of work on a different test where Devs were seeing if they could make a variation on capture the flag to work.
  • The Overwatch team has increased from about 60-70 people at game launch, to almost 200 now.

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Hero and Gameplay Changes I Caught

These may not be all of the changes that were in the livestream, but they are ones I caught.

General

  • Any ability that grants “overhealth,” extra armor or shields represented by darker shades of yellow or blue respectively in the live came, now appears collectively as green on the Overwatch 2 health bar. If you play World of Warcraft it’s similar to the extra white “health” that will appear on your HP bar when someone bubbles you, or if you play Dungeons & Dragons, it may help to think of the green bar as temporary hit points.

Ana

  • The splash from Biotic Grenade hitting a target looks more gooey. More “Splatooney?”

D.Va

  • Defense Matrix lasts longer.

Hanzo

  • Visual of Sonic Arrow pulses to let allies and enemies know where it’s affecting.

  • Ultimate is more “solid” looking.

Mei

  • Her primary fire no longer freezes enemies solid, but does slow them down and do more damage.

Mercy

  • Personal UI shows a portrait of who your beam is targeting and if you’re healing or boosting them instead of just the heal or boost icon near your sight.

  • For heroes that are not Mercy, the indicator that Mercy is healing or boosting you has been moved closer to your health bar and her portrait appears over your health bar.

Reinhardt

  • Two charges of Firestrike.

  • May cancel his own Charge when he wants.

Winston

  • Can charge up his alternate fire to launch lightning at ranged targets.
  • Barrier health has two meters: one for bubble health, and another for bubble duration.

Zarya

  • Two charges of bubbles that can be placed either on herself or allies.

Zenyatta

  • Transcendence is more vibrant and it’s easier to see the zone where it covers.

  • Orb targets now have a portrait icon near the ultimate icon indicating who the orbs are attached to.

  • Orb of Discord stands out more on targets.