Let me be very honest with you guys. Shooter games have never been my cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t played FPS games in the past. In fact, I’ve given plenty of them a nice, long try, but from Call of Duty to PUBG to Fortnite, none of them ever really jived with me.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “this is supposed to be a review about Overwatch 2, so why are you talking about Overwatch 1?” These two games are intrinsically linked, as one is a direct iteration of the other; one cannot be reviewed without the other in mind, and so they must be compared.
As such, I think myself particularly well-positioned to review Overwatch 2 because of how much I loved Overwatch 1 (and how many hours I put into it). Thus, without further ado, let’s get into the review!
Bottom Line Up Front
Overwatch 2, which is FREE TO PLAY, saw impactful changes to Overwatch 1, the biggest of them being the following:
- The PvP format switched from six-versus-six (6v6) to five-versus-five (5v5).
- The addition of the new “Push” game mode.
- Individual hero changes, which brought with it the removal of most stun abilities (except for tank heroes, who’ve largely retained theirs).
- New heroes and maps.
- Big aesthetic overhaul.
- Implementation of a battle pass.
Oddly enough, the most significant addition to Overwatch 2 that justifies the creation of a whole new game, the PvE story mode, isn’t even on this list. That is because, as of writing this review, this feature is unreleased and thus will not be addressed (other than the fact that it’s not part of the initial release of the game, of course).
Now, let’s look at the above bullet points more closely, except for the aesthetic overhaul bit, as there’s not much to say about it other than that the new hero models look great. That said, I can understand why some people don’t like them or are completely indifferent toward them, but in the end, it comes down to preference.
A quick disclaimer: it is true that Overwatch 2 feels like a mere DLC to Overwatch 1 in its present state, mainly because the real meat and potatoes of Overwatch 2, the PvE story missions, are unavailable on release. Therefore, it not be reviewed here.
The change from 6v6 to 5v5 in PvP might seem small, but in reality, is one of the most significant changes to hit the game. The main reason is that each team has only one tank now (along with two supports and two DPS), which, by the way, indirectly nerfs Reaper; a tragic occurrence for us Reaper mains indeed.
Anyway, if the support or damage role were the one to get cut in half, and two tanks were left in play, the swap from 6v6 to 5v5 wouldn’t have been so drastic. The reason for this is that tanks are the greatest inhibitors of solo-carry potential due to two factors: shields and stuns.
With the near-complete removal of stuns from the game (more on that in the “Individual Hero Changes” section) and now the maximum presence of only one shield per team (I’m disregarding Brigette here because her shield is a personal one), DPS have a much, much easier time killing people, since there are far fewer obstacles in their way to prevent them from doing so.
As a consequence of this, the game lends itself far more to solo-carrying, which I’m a big fan of (to an extent), rather than team coordination, especially when you’re not queuing up with a full squad. This is far more resemblant to other traditional FPS games and is a hard right turn from what the original Overwatch 1 used to be.
Whether or not this is a good thing is entirely subjective; someone who enjoys playing the likes of Call of Duty or Battlefield will greatly prefer Overwatch 2 to Overwatch 1, but someone who is more of a hero shooter player (or even a MOBA player) will likely miss Overwatch 1 and might be slightly disappointed with how Overwatch 2 plays.
And frankly, I can’t blame them for their disappointment.
When it comes to my own opinion, while I certainly prefer Overwatch 1 to Overwatch 2, I nonetheless thoroughly enjoy Overwatch 2. Yes, the more FPS nature of the game is something to get used to, but it is a welcome challenge, if anything else.
That said, my biggest gripe with Overwatch 2 is that it completely removed Overwatch 1 from existence, as it is no longer playable. As much as I love the new version of the game, there is something to be said about the success of Overwatch 1.
Considering how different the styles of both iterations of the game are, both should be able to exist simultaneously to allow players of all preferences to enjoy the game they love.
But alas, that dream was butchered. This was a huge mistake on Blizzard’s part for sure.
Push Game Mode
The Push game mode is awesome. Both teams fight to take control of a (very adorable and talkative) robot so that it can push one of their barricades to the end of a track.
The robot starts at the middle of the map, with each team’s barricade on either side of it. While the objective is to have it push your team’s barricade to the end, this won’t always happen. As such, there is a time limit in place so that the team that got their barricade pushed the furthest distance is the winner (there is overtime here).
In simple terms, it’s like the escort and control game modes were mashed together. There are tons of flanking angles in all the current Push maps (Colosseo, Esperanca, and New Queen Street), making playing a DPS hero all the more exciting as you try to take your enemies off guard.
Conclusively, I have nothing bad to say about this new game mode. It’s a great addition to the game and is by far the most dynamic game mode Overwatch has seen yet. I wish it were in Overwatch 1 to see how it plays with 2 tanks instead of 1.
Individual Hero Changes
The individual hero changes are the real bread and butter here. As mentioned before, stuns were almost completely removed from all non-tank heroes (Mei’s ultimate and Anna’s Sleep Dart being the exceptions), which changes how the game functions as drastically as the swap from 6v6 to 5v5 PvP did. Let’s look at a brief list of the heroes who lost their stuns:
- Brigitte’s Shield Bash no longer stuns (it knocks back).
- Cassidy’s Flash Bang, now a Magnetic Grenade, no longer stuns (it deals more damage).
- Mei’s Primary Fire no longer freezes (it slows and deals more damage).
- Doomfist didn’t lose any of his stuns, but he was made a tank, so if you ask me, he might as well have lost his stuns because you can’t pick him as DPS anymore, meaning you’re not adding to the overall crowd-control (CC) pool by picking him; you’re just sacrificing the better CC of other tanks instead.
While this may not seem like that big of a deal, these tools were the best ways to deal with overly mobile characters, like Tracer and Genji, and shut them down.
Without these tools, these DPS heroes can run rampant as long as they steer clear of tank heroes (which there’s only one of now!), and with a Mercy pocketing them, a single, skilled person can run over the enemy team with ease.
This can make for some unfortunate game experiences for the more casual player who runs into a really good player in normals and gets absolutely steamrolled.
Definitely not fun, and it has happened to me a few times where a mega-skilled Genji or Sojourn (or even Zarya) gets pocketed by a support and demolishes my team.
People familiar and comfortable with how most FPS games play won’t be strangers to this, but those of us who aren’t and are coming from Overwatch 1 where this wasn’t that big of an issue, are in for a rude awakening.
Moving on to the complete hero overhauls, I generally don’t have a problem with any. Making Bastion more mobile was questionable, but understandable, considering how bad he would be if he had to remain stationary while in Sentry Configuration.
I don’t mind the Doomfist changes either, but as previously stated, I don’t like that he’s a tank now (truthfully, I miss his one-shot punch).
Most of all, I love the Orissa rework, as she now feels far more dynamic, mobile, and far less boring than she used to. So what if she doesn’t have a shield anymore? Twirl that lance and run at people instead like a proper centaur-robot!
The last thing I want to address is Zenyatta getting an enhanced knockback added to his melee kick. Simply put, I love it. It is outrageously satisfying to kick people off the map, and it occurred to me after Spartan-kicking someone into the well on the Well map at Ilios that the developers were influenced by 300.
New Heroes and Maps
The new Heroes are great additions to the game. Junker Queen is of particular interest because she has an anti-heal through her ultimate. That means Ana is no longer the only character on the Overwatch roster to have an anti-heal ability (sorry Roadhog).
Sojourn’s Railgun is a blast to use, and her Power Slide makes her more slippery than I had thought she’d be. Kiriko is also fun, if not slightly overpowered due to her extreme level of mobility. Being able to Wall Climb like Hanzo and Genji, and teleport to an ally through walls seems a bit much, but she’s pretty squishy, so I suppose that makes up for it (not really).
On to the less-than-ideal stuff. With the new heroes and hero reworks (and the swap to 5v5 PvP), some heroes feel underwhelming.
While this isn’t entirely surprising, it remains unfortunate, but I’m hopeful that, as the 5v5, single-tank meta unfolds, the developers will start to recognize who the weaker heroes are (and therefore need buffs), and who the stronger heroes are (and therefore need nerfs).
For example, Doomfist feels outrageously weak when compared to other tanks. So does Roadhog, to be honest, mainly due to his lack of a shield or Defense Matrix equivalent (and his massive hitbox).
Even so, Doomfist is in a much worse spot because, unlike Roadhog, he no longer has one-shot potential with his Rocket Punch (whereas Roadhog can still pop you with his hook-headshot combo). In both cases, these developments hurt me quite a bit as Roadhog and Doomfist were two of my favorite heroes to play in Overwatch 1.
Even Reaper, my (former) main, feels so much worse to play since he gets outranged by every other DPS in the game. His saving grace was the 2 tanks in Overwatch 1, but with half of that gone, he has a much harder time doing his “tank-killer” thing, which sucks.
On the other side of the coin, Genji, the most nimble and mobile hero in the game, feels way too powerful now that there is a severe lack of stuns. After playing him for a few hours myself, I can confidently (and regrettably) confirm this. Something about him needs to be toned down to account for the latter change.
On another note, the new maps are quite refreshing. Between the new assets and lighting of the old maps (some of them that previously existed during the day time now exist during night time, and vice versa), and the wonderful new aesthetics of the new maps, they add some more flavor and diversity to the game.
Most of all, it feels like it’s a living, evolving world (though I imagine those of you who didn’t own or play Overwatch may not feel the same way). Also, is it just me, or does the last stretch of the Paraiso map resemble that of the Dorado map a little too closely?
All in all, there’s nothing overtly amazing (or bad) about any of the new maps. However…
A good chunk of the original maps from Overwatch 1 was left behind and not carried forward into Overwatch 2, some only accessible through the rotating Arcade modes or a custom game in Overwatch 2.
This is an unbelievable letdown, as some of these removed maps, namely Hanamura, Temple of Anubis, and Volskaya Industries, were truly favorites of mine (Horizon Lunar Colony can stay gone though).
What the removed maps hold in common is that they were all 2 control point maps (a.k.a. Assault maps). The mass removal of these can mean that Blizzard doesn’t plan on continuing to make maps for that game mode. I find that idea decently convincing, as Assault maps can be argued to be slightly more geared toward a 2-tank playstyle.
However, if that is the case, then why even keep the single control points on the hybrid maps? Why not just remove those and turn hybrid maps into straight-up Escort maps?
If anything, having single control points in hybrid maps proves that having 2 control point maps can work, so why remove some diversity from the game by scrapping Assault maps?
You could argue that having too many game modes in Quick and Competitive play can be overwhelming. As such, not every map needs to be there, and therefore, confining some to Arcade or custom game modes is a healthy compromise.
When talking about Capture the Flag, Eliminations, or Deathmatch, I can get behind this argument, but not for Assault maps. My reasoning is twofold:
- Escort maps were an integral part of Overwatch 1, so many players will already be familiar with it.
- Hybrid maps already conceptually include Escort maps within them via their single control point, so players (including players who haven’t played Overwatch 1) will already have exposure to how control points work.
Either way, this is yet another reason why Overwatch 1 shouldn’t have been completely removed. If the plan is, indeed, to stop creating 2 control point maps for the game, that’s fine, but no longer being able to access them through Overwatch 1 feels really bad.
At the very least, the aesthetics of the three loved-by-most-of-the-community maps should be kept and changed from Assault maps to something else, like Push or even hybrid (and then put into the Quick and Competitive play rotations). We miss them!
The Battle Pass
Adding the battle pass to Overwatch 2 is a very meta thing to do, considering how many other games also have battle passes. Usually, I’m a fan of how battle passes generally work: play the game a lot and get some rewards.
Granted, most battle passes also have premium tracks that provide more rewards and are completable at a much faster rate. But, these cost actual money. Overwatch 2 is no exception here, but with all that in mind, I still have some issues with its battle pass.
First, the amount of Overwatch 2 you need to play to progress the battle pass to completion without spending money on the premium track is borderline unholy. You need to play a lot of games, and to do so, that likely means sacrificing game time in other games you like to play, which I’m not a fan of.
On the bright side, you can earn the currency required for buying things in the in-game shop (this includes the premium battle pass track) by completing a certain number of weekly quests in the battle pass, so not all is lost on that front.
Secondly, and this is no fault of Overwatch 2 in particular, its battle pass adds to the general feeling of battle pass fatigue. The concept of playing a game and earning in-game rewards for doing so is great and all, but when every game you play has this system, it can be incredibly overwhelming, as you’ll never be able to put enough time into every game’s battle pass.
In fact, it can become very much like a chore to play a game, as you’ll be playing to progress a battle pass, not to have fun, necessarily.
If Overwatch 2 is the only game you play (or one of two games, I suppose), then this battle pass is great news for you!
However, I have a strong feeling that once my honeymoon phase with this game ends, progressing the battle pass, especially those that I’m able to buy with the currency I earn over time, will feel like just another game I need to play to progress a battle pass in, along with SMITE, League of Legends, Hearthstone, Lost Ark—
Actually, I’ll stop listing games there. I can feel myself getting overwhelmed already just thinking about it.
Overall Pros and Cons
- The gameplay is fluid and (mostly) balanced.
- Individual skill has more impact.
- Maps and heroes look super polished.
- The sound design is incredible.
- There is a diverse cast of heroes (in terms of both representation and gameplay) to play for all styles.
- Plenty of other game modes to play via Arcade if you get sick of Quick Play/Competitive Play.
- Even without the PvE story missions, the hero interactions in the PvP game modes are plentiful and frequent, which is nice for us lore nerds.
- There is much less reliance on coordinated team play.
- Old beloved maps were lost (no more 2 control point maps).
- Harder to stop mobile characters with fewer stuns (the alternative is to have impeccable aim).
- ***The queues and disconnects during the game’s first few days were ATROCIOUS. Bad launch experiences are par for the course when it comes to Blizzard (yes, I’m looking at World of Warcraft as the prime example here), but there’s no guarantee that their servers won’t have issues repeatedly in the future. Players beware.
Pro and Con: much more of a shooter-style game (whether or not this is a good thing depends on your preference)
If you enjoy Overwatch 2 because it is a hero shooter (in other words, all the playable characters are unique in some way) and has a large emphasis on objective-based gameplay, then definitely give these games a go:
- Paladins (this is probably the closest you can get to Overwatch without actually playing Overwatch)
- Team Fortress 2
- Gundam Evolution
- Valorant (this is pretty much Overwatch 2 just with far, far more emphasis on the shooter aspect of the game, so if you preferred Overwatch 1 to Overwatch 2, I wouldn’t recommend Valorant)
- Lemnis Gate
- Apex Legends (though this is a battle royal and not an objective-based game, it still is a hero shooter)
To specifically demonstrate the similarities between Overwatch and Team Fortress 2, there is a truly amazing video on YouTube pitting the characters of these two games against one another.
Question: Is Overwatch 2 Free to Play?
Answer: As mentioned in the introduction of this review, Overwatch 2 is most certainly free to play.
Question: Do Cosmetics from Overwatch 1 Transfer Over to Overwatch 2?
Answer: Thankfully, all your skins, highlight intros, emotes, sprays, and more transfer over. With that in mind, it is much harder to earn the in-game currency in Overwatch 2 than it was in Overwatch 1, giving those of us who had a bunch of cosmetics in the original game a clear advantage over others who did not own it.
Question: Do People who Owned Overwatch 1 Get Anything Special in Overwatch 2?
Answer: Yes, but not much. Those of us who owned a copy of Overwatch 1 before June 23rd, 2022, and have logged in to Overwatch 2 by December 5th, 2022 will receive the following: two epic skins (General Doomfist and Jester Sombra), a Founder’s icon, and instant access to Kiriko, who for everyone else can only be unlocked by getting to level 55 on the battle pass.
While this may not seem like that much, considering we had 6ish years of the game and we get to keep all the cosmetics we earned, I’d say it’s a pretty good deal.
Overwatch 2 Review: Conclusion
Verdict: It’s a free game. Give it a try, even if you don’t like shooters! The worst that happens is you don’t like it.
As my verdict states, it is a free game at the end of the day. So, you can give it a try at no cost. If you’ve got friends who play it, all the more reason to give it a go (it is more fun playing with friends, anyway).
The combat feels smooth and looks incredible, and the sound design is a treat to listen to while playing. Overwatch 2 feels far more like an FPS than its predecessor, but don’t let that stop you.
If you’re someone like me who doesn’t really play FPS games, take it from me anyway: Overwatch 2 may surprise you. Even though I’m a little sour that Overwatch 1 was completely removed (as I expressed in the 5v5 PvP section), Overwatch 2 is still great fun. That said, it still isn’t a “new game” per se; it’s pretty much an expansion of one.
The biggest downsides to this game are its lack of new content on release and how buggy the servers were. Getting kicked out of my games only to log back in and be put in a massive queue again did not feel good by any means.
However, with Blizzard getting their act together in this regard (I hope), and with the hope of a story mode and loads of new solo missions to come in the future, I’m excited to see what the future of Overwatch 2 has in store for us.
With a total of 455 hours played between Overwatch 1 (405 hours) and Overwatch 2 (50 hours), I have played every single Arcade game mode and a whole bunch of Unranked Quick Play. I have yet to set foot in the sweaty Competitive atmosphere because I still feel obligated to increase my skill even more, considering how much more influence individuals have in Overwatch 2.
To that end, I have experimented with every hero, and as I’ve found Reaper to be slightly underwhelming in the current state of the game, I’ve taken a liking to Pharah and Genji (I never thought I’d join the Genji-dark side, but here I am). Also, in my 50 hours played, I reached level 33 in the battle pass without buying the premium track.