When I was younger, I wasn’t a typical FPS gamer. I much preferred games like Ace Attorney and various Wii games. That was until Overwatch came out. It quickly became the game I had the most hours on by far and was my gateway to becoming a full console player. It had an intriguing story, distinctive characters, and a simple game format which meant people who were unfamiliar with FPS games could get into it. Much like the game, it was shiny and futuristic. Then in 2019 came the announcement of it’s sequel, Overwatch 2.
Overwatch 2, was promised to include a full story mode with cutscenes, PVE combat (Player vs Environment) combat, as well as the traditional PVP combat (Player vs Player). With my excitement in mind, I got access to the beta early and got everything up and running. After playing it for a couple of hours here’s my review on the Overwatch 2 beta so far.
The first thing I want to say is that the game runs well. I spent four hours gaining access to the beta through Twitch drop keys. I had no problems logging on after the initial overload of people crowding the servers. This is good news for gamers who don’t own a gaming laptop but still want to join in on the fun.
The first thing that I noticed was the visual update. While most of the maps are from the first game they’ve gotten a shiny new upgrade. Illois was originally a generic sun light map but now it’s bathed in warm sunset colours. The same goes for the character models, though they haven’t receieved their Overwatch 2 models yet if their placeholders give any indication of the level of graphic work the players are in for a treat.
One of the original big draws of the game was the characters. They include several new voice lines for the characters and the voice actors do a great job as usual. As a fan of the Overwatch lore, it’s nice to see these characters getting something new and exciting after so going so long without anything. Out of all the characters, it seems Junkrat, Ashe, Cassidy and Orisa have the most voice lines so far but I’m holding out for more Hanzo interactions in the future.
As well as the old favourites there’s the addition of the newest hero, Sojourn. She’s existed for years in canon but it’s only now in this beta she’s become a fully playable character. So far she plays well and is an effective DPS. Sojourn’s gun has 2 rates of fire, her primary and her secondary. The more damage you with her primary attack charges more damage you do with her secondary attack. Her second attack acts as a mini sniper, like Ashe or Soldier 76. She’s very powerful once you get the hang of her.
The thing that stops her from being too powerful is that you need to have a decent aim to play her effectively which balances her fairly. Her Powerslide ability gives her good mobility and her Disruptor Shot is good for dealing damage to tanks or low health enemies and her ultimate ability is pretty powerful.
For all the good parts of the beta it suffers from one huge, unmissable problem. It’s far too similar to the original Overwatch. There was no sight of any big, noticeable changes to the game overall. It’s like a fancier reskin of the first game, which given Blizzard’s history of selling reskins at an extortionate rate isn’t a surprise. It honestly feels a little lazy on their part. Overwatch hasn’t had a big update in about two years so they had lots of time to make this a truly worthwhile beta but considering how similar everything is it makes you wonder what they spent the time on.
This beta only has one game mode so far the 5v5 PVP. Overwatch 2 was promised to be a story driven game yet in this beta there’s minimal signs of that. I would appreciate it if they’d included at least one PVE mode for players to playtest. Even including a single story based mission would have given something new and exciting. The original Overwatch has 3 story missions that run during the year called Uprising, Storm Rising and Retribution. These are easily the most popular events of the year, all of them being based on a PVE story so the choice not to include feels like a wasted opportunity.
Another problem it suffers is from the reworks of a few of the characters. Most of the new reworks are fine like Doomfist and Orisa however some of the reworks need improving. The main offender in this category is Sombra. Sombra’s rework is ridiculously strong. Her abilities allow her to deal large quantities of damage with little effort. Fun if you play her but it’s not fun for everyone else, especially if you play support like myself. These players are absolute menaces at this point. Going forward I severely hope they readjust her kit to balance her out.
I think it’s a great Overwatch update but it’s not quite at a point where it feels like a different game. It suffers from not including the right material. Despite the cons listed I still have hope for Overwatch 2. I hope they’ll take the feedback from this beta and include the appropriate updates. Until then it’s just a waiting game. If I can wait years for this game I can wait a little longer for another update. The game is coming out next year so we’ll get to see more of what was promised.