Overwatch 2’s long-awaited beta is available from 26th April to 17th May, and I was lucky enough to get myself a beta key and get into the action. Overwatch 2 has been talked about, we’ve had a few character showcases, but finally, we got the chance to jump in and check out the game itself. Today I am going to dive into my first impressions of the Overwatch 2 beta.
Overwatch 2 is taking a new approach to the sequel. First of all, we were getting a new PVE mode, then we learned that heroes would be getting tweaks and changes, but finally getting my hands on it certainly builds the hype. We don’t have access to the PVE in the beta, this is just the PVP, but there’s enough in here to be excited. When you first boot up the game you notice the graphical enhancements. The original Overwatch was released back in 2016, so it’s a 6-year-old game at this point, so you can really notice the difference. The environments pop, the character models and animations have been updated and the textures look good too.
As for the other major changes in the beta, there are new maps, which will come as welcome relief to Overwatch players who’ve been playing the same maps for a couple of years now. Whatever multiplayer game you play, whether it’s Fortnite, Destiny 2, Call of Duty, Valorant etc… if your game hasn’t been updated for TWO YEARS, then you are going to feel it when even the tiniest update comes along. Also, there’s a new ping system in the game, one of the hygiene-factor features introduced by Apex Legends a few years ago. It’s a great addition, but really should be in every FPS game by default these days to help out with comms.
One big change for Overwatch 2 PVP is the game composition. For years Overwatch players have been playing 6v6, but now this is 5v5. This has the potential to upset the apple cart in terms of teams, given teams have been playing together for years and team composition has been set. For example, previously you would have a pair of each tank, healers and DPS. But now with 5, and only one tank per team, it’s going to take a little while to get used to the new set-up.
There is a couple of objective-based game modes in the Overwatch 2 PVP Beta; Capture the Point and Push. Capture the Point is made slightly more difficult with the new team composition, given one team can sit back and defend hard, while the other team pushes onto the point. With only one Tank, it’s tough to defend plus you cannot shield the team from the incoming offence. Often the matches felt like a race to do the most amount of damage in the shortest amount of time. As with any major meta shift in the game, it’s going to take time to get used to and it’s hard to make a judgement over the course of a few hours of matches… these things take time to settle in.
Push is where players face off on a symmetrical map and there are two teams fighting for control of a robot who is pushing a payload towards an enemy objective. The team that pushes the payload the furthest into the enemy territory wins. Team composition comes into effect here too given the game mode is based around a tug of war. The games are a little sluggish at times, with teams exchanging damage phases and working themselves into a stalemate. This is of course, what the beta is for, to find out what these game modes feel like in the real world. No doubt there has been extensive playtesting, but seeing what happens out there with a beta like this is going to be invaluable for the development of Overwatch 2’s PVP. I would imagine some big changes off the back of what I have played so far.
There are hero changes too. Doomfist has been converted from a DPS hero to a Tank. This was a surprising change, and he certainly feels more formidable in-game. His health has increased from 250 to 450, but he’s just as mobile as he ever was. Damage has been impacted by Doomfist’s class change, but he still manages to dish out plenty of stun, knockback and slow effects.
Orisa has also been changed. She’s not changed class like Doomfist, although her abilities have seen a significant rework. Orisa doesn’t have a shield anymore, and her health and amour have been bolstered to cater for this. Her weapons now do more damage the closer she is, and she doesn’t need to reload, but there is a cooldown if her weapons are fired for too long. Orisa still has her Fortify ability, which gives her 125 more health and also more time before her weapon goes into cooldown mode. She has a secondary fire mode which allows her to throw an Energy Javelin, which can be very effective although you have to be very precise, similar to a sniper shot.
Orisa also has a Javelin Spin ability where she spins a Javelin that destroys incoming projectiles and pushes back enemies at the same time. She also has a new Ultimate ability called Terra Lance, which fortifies Orisa and pulls in nearby enemies while charging up an AOE attack. Overall, Orisa’s changes feel very good and feel like a complete overhaul, something which I’d come to expect from a sequel.
As well as the changes we’ve spoken about already, there are four new maps, plus a new hero called Sojourn. In summary, the changes are definitely there, but they are subtle and you would have to be an existing Overwatch player and fan to really notice. The 5v5 team composition has thrown up some interesting challenges for Blizzard as this has changed up the way games play, and it’s going to take some time to find the meta. The hero changes are decent, with some feeling like complete reworks compared to others which are small tweaks. I am looking forward to the introduction of the PVE mode too, although I have a feeling they are going to introduce the PVP first and then the PVE later. It’s great to get into the beta and try things out, but as to whether this is going to sustain Overwatch for the long term, I think the game’s place in the current set of multiplayer PVP games is yet to be decided.