Overwatch 2 Early Access Impressions – Is Everything OK?

Ule Lopez
Overwatch 2

The time period in which Overwatch was released was very controversial, to say the least. Some of my best memories and wonderful relationships in gaming have come from Overwatch. On the other hand, some of the worst experiences in my life have also come from Overwatch. From what I've seen, the game’s been just as polarizing for everyone else.

I remember dropping Overwatch when the League was being established and before GOATS was starting to become more relevant. The game basically started to rely heavily on shields and crowd control skills while basically neutering DPS units until they essentially became downright unneeded to progress competitively.

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This shift in focus was essentially a catalyst for the downfall of Overwatch. Not helping things were the myriad of controversies that Activision Blizzard was finding itself in. I feel like this is important to point out because Overwatch 2 aims to be the breath of fresh air the community has been hoping for.

While I majorly believe that the game has succeeded in this regard, some aspects still leave me wondering if ActiBlizz knows where they are headed with the series going forward. As we go through this article, you’ll see what my grievances are.

This is an early impressions article because the game isn’t finished yet. I can’t really review a game without all of its components present and just making a review based on the multiplayer element is a little bit unfair because the experience you get in a multiplayer environment heavily depends on the players you’re paired up with.

With that said, we can talk about how Overwatch 2 has shifted in terms of its meta. The game reduced the number of heroes allowed in the field from 6v6 to 5v5. In competitive rulesets, the composition is now limited to 2 Supports, 2 Offensive Units, and 1 Tank. But don’t worry, you can still access your open Queue and make other compositions.

Now, is taking out one teammate from the game a good idea? Well, some factors contribute toward a positive answer. For one, the game itself changed a lot. In Overwatch 2, crowd control measures have been drastically reduced, and shields are much less prevalent.

It seems like Activision Blizzard opted for making a shooter game with abilities you can happen to have once again. DPS units have become essential once again, with hitscan heroes making a triumphant return as the primary damage dealers. Overall, the game is way more aggressive than before, and confrontations are much faster.

While this means that off-tanks like D.VA are now more prevalent in the game, it doesn’t outright discount the few shield tanks that are still in the game. Reinhardt, for example, became a beefed-up angry man with a hammer that hits like a truck and has a shield to use occasionally to protect his teammates. His shield can be torn to shreds with the right amount of focus, though, so this means that Rein has to put a lot more thought into when he puts his shield up or not.

Support units also got their own buffs thanks to the passive abilities available in all classes. While DPS and Tank units have their own traits, they are more noticeable in the Support units as they pretty much shift the way they play. For example, Lucio doesn’t have to stay in Healing Boost for 90% of the match because he can now regen health passively if he isn’t touched.

In this new and more aggressive meta, other units, such as Moira and Ana, have become way more important than before. While heroes like Baptiste still make an impact (especially with that immortality field), their prevalence has been hindered thanks to this new aggressive meta that has been making its rounds throughout Overwatch 2.

This game is radically different from Overwatch, all in all. This pretty much is a highlight for me as a person who enjoys the abilities that OW provided while also enjoying being competent enough to aim to take down enemy threats. It also can be a very awful turn-off for the players who are now used to the game being more of a first-person MOBA.

Overwatch 2 is going to use a Free to Play model. This means that the game will be available for everyone (who registers their phone number) to play. You'll also need to unlock Heroes as you fight through several matches with them. I am still very mixed in this approach because the game’s roster is quite big, and it can take a while for characters to be unlocked.

Sure, you can buy the characters through the game’s currency. But the problem with that is that you will eventually be hardpressed into buying the base game to access what essentially should’ve been the base roster. Not to mention, you still don’t get access to the latest heroes in the roster, which is the more confusing aspect.

The latest heroes (in this case, Kiriko) are locked behind the game’s Battle Pass. The game makes you progress through each of the 80 tiers so long as you complete the daily challenges. However, I feel like most of the tiers in the BP are filled with stuff for characters I really don’t care about, so I barely have any incentive to pursue the completion of the Pass.

Granted, this is purely related to preference, but there are going to be multiple of these, and the majority of the rewards amount to Voice Lines and profile banners with maybe a skin thrown at some spot or another.  The hero you are trying to unlock is located somewhere in the middle (and you basically need 100 battles to unlock them). Still, even then, you only unlock the ability to select them.

In my case, I suck at using Kiriko. She’s not a hero that I find myself comfortable using, unlike other aggressive supports like Lucio. Because of this, I opted to just allow other players pick her while I assisted on the DPS or the Tank fronts. But in the hypothetical scenario that I had to go through the painful process of unlocking her, I would’ve effectively wasted my time.

For full disclosure’s sake, I was given access to a version of Overwatch 2 that had the premium battle pass enabled alongside the base game roster unlocked. This also meant I had access to the latest hero immediately. However, I also want to point out that while I certainly didn’t have to experience the grind like most of the players would have to, it doesn’t mean that it’s not there.

Overall, I am left with mixed feelings regarding Overwatch's future as a whole. Overwatch 2’s meta seems to have shifted in a positive direction, and that is a hill I’m willing to die on because the game should’ve focused on being a shooter first and an ability-based game second from the beginning.

The issues I have with Overwatch 2 so far stem from how it’s doing its Free to Play model. While I definitely agree with some measures like having to tie your account to a phone number (because we want to prevent a TF2 issue where literally any asshole with some free time can make multiple accounts to be a nuisance), other aspects make me so confused and would only exist to hinder the experience for newer players.

If we go down to the core gameplay aspects, the game is 100% fine by me. I will definitely come back and play it a few times if I don’t have much to do. How will the meta transcend in terms of its competitive scene, or how will the player base treat it once it goes live? Well, we’ll have to see the results once the game goes live.

I won't even go on the subject of graphical details because -let's be honest here- nobody even cares about them. Sure, the game has great performance across the board and the visuals look nice as always, but that doesn't mean much for players who care about how the game plays more than anything. Any game can look pretty, but for a multiplayer-focused experience, the visuals are the last thing on anyone's mind.

But for now, I can only hope for the best. Overwatch 2’s image has already been tarnished to hell as it is, and it will be a long road ahead for the development team to win their popularity back. For now, I’ll just wait for the story mode with PvE, which is what pretty much everyone is also waiting for with expected breaths.

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