Signs of Life in Overwatch 2

A late April closed beta for Overwatch 2 is coming!

In a video to the community, Game Director Aaron Keller opened with a thank you for continued support and an acknowledgment for failing on their commitment of more communication about Overwatch 2. Then he added a new commitment about more communication, though this time it felt like there was some teeth to it because over the course of the video he outlined what that communication would look like.

“Starting right now we will be communicating much more frequently about our plans. During and after each beta we’ll share updates about what we’re learning, changes we’re considering, and what we’ll look to test next.”

Keller continued, talking about how they are taking a new approach with releasing content for Overwatch. After receiving few updates in 2 years, the Overwatch team has “decoupled” the PvP aspect of OW2 so they can release it as new content to make Overwatch feel like a living game again. Unless he’s counting the existence of betas as content, it kind of sounds to me like as things feel “ready” they might release it to the live servers: “…enables us to deliver frequent PvP content to the live game, with the goal of far exceeding Overwatch’s previous rate of content release, and making the live game the most vibrant and dynamic PvP experience anywhere.” I’ve asked the Blizzard team for clarification on my speculation but they did not reply as of press time. I will update if or when they do.

He then went on to describe the upcoming beta and outlines the communication from the team to the community.

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April Closed Beta

Other than “late April,” there isn’t an exact date for the closed beta yet. PC players may opt-in for a chance to participate in beta tests throughout the year by signing up on the PlayOverwatch website.

This beta will include the new mode, Push, the hero reworks for Orisa, Doomfist, Bastion, and Sombra, and the new ping system. We’ll finally learn if Doomfist is actually going to be a tank or if it’s the community taking a few off-hand comments about trying Doomfist as a tank and running with them. Sojourn will also be available for play.

With regard to the new ping system, Overwatch engineer @ingoodjesst said, “I love using Overwatch 2’s new ping system and its potential to make comms better and easier for people who don’t feel comfy using voice.” As for me I love the idea of it, but I also fear it will be about as useful as me hitting the “I need help!” callout and am ignored.

PvP betas will occur over the course the year, and with Keller’s wording in the video, it sounds like they might not all be closed betas.

OWL Community Update

Today’s Overwatch League Community update video answered some questions about the upcoming season that begins in just under 2 months.

Players now have access to the Overwatch 2 PvP alpha build. Matt Morello said that he thinks 2 months is a lot of time to prepare and it aligns with “a lot of games” and their “release to first tournament window.” He added that teams of course will fall on a spectrum between thinking it’s nowhere near enough to plenty of time.

Sojourn will be available to OWL players on opening day of the 2022 season.

Four of the new maps will be in the map pool this season, mixed in with old maps. The new ones are the hybrid map Midtown (New York City), the escort map Circuit Royale (Monte Carlo), and two push maps, New Queen Street (Toronto) and Colosseo (Rome).

It wasn’t in the video but added in a later tweet, there are currently no plans to have hero pools this season. (Mr. X on Twitter)

Being that Overwatch 2 development will be active during the course of the season, Head of the Overwatch League Sean Miller said they are working with Blizzard so that “major content drops” would happen between tournaments. That wording makes it sounds less like they’d update the OWL client between tournaments, and instead that Overwatch 2 itself would be updated between tournaments. If this is the case, it’s counter to what was done in the past where when a patch dropped during the League, the live servers would get it and it wouldn’t get added to the league for a stage or tournament was completed.

Finally, the full 2022 season schedule is live on the OWL website.

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OWL Fails to Communicate with Its Talent

Multiple OWL casters have been reporting that this far into the year, it’s been virtually radio silence from the Overwatch League as to if they will be asked to come back. Last week this happened with ZP, and this week VikiKitty said this had happened to her, and Pixie who had been contracted to work on Korean homestands previously, has heard nothing.

When called out, Head of the Overwatch League Sean Miller said on Twitter that they should have been more proactive about getting talent involved about this coming season, including people where we plan to go a different direction.

Former talent came out strong, with Wolf calling it disheartening that it wasn’t until these individuals tweeted out that they’ve heard nothing did OWL do or say anything, and they did so publicly instead of privately. Uber and ZP acknowledged that they know it wasn’t Sean’s fault specifically, with Uber saying he hoped the people Sean is taking the bullets for is appreciating, and ZP said on Reddit he wouldn’t put the blame on Sean.

Miscellaneous

  • IGN covered The Wall Street Journal’s report that 3 Activision Blizzard investors were being investigated for insider trading after investing $108 million days before the Microsoft deal was announced. One of the investors, Barry Diller, a self-described “long-term friend” of Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said it was just a lucky bet. (IGN)
  • Earlier in the year, President of Blizzard said there would be Overwatch news “in the coming weeks” but that never came to fruition. He said on Twitter that, “We ran into some complications. :)” (Twitter)
  • The Esports Observer reported that their sources said production for OWL 2022 has been outsourced to Dome Productions. Previously Dome worked with the NBA 2K League, but admittedly there isn’t much for an indication as to what this means for OWL. In fact it’s becoming quite common for esports to use third-party companies for such work, so it sounds as if it were inevitable this would happen with OWL. (Esports Observer)