Overwatch 2: 55 New Details Revealed at BlizzCon 2021

Overwatch 2 didn’t get a release date, or word on a beta at Blizzcon 2021 – but a behind-the-scenes panel revealed a huge number of new details, expanded information, and in-progress experiments from the game’s team.

We know the game won’t arrive in 2021, but director Jeff Kaplan and his team made clear just how much work had gone into the game so far, revealing that “Right now we can sit down and have a night of Overwatch 2.”

The new details included brand new maps, a huge upgrade to PvE hero progression, new campaign and story details, major overhaul experiements for PvP, and much, much more. Check out everything new we learned below:

Overwatch 2 – New Maps

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  • Two new Overwatch maps were revealed as part of the panel: Rome and New York City (although it’s not clear what PvP mission types they’ll be).
  • Rome was shown as concept art and in-engine, and is meant to offer the “romantic, powerful feeling of old-world architecture”. The Colosseum, a Roman temple, and a modern stadium all appear to be part of the map.
  • New York City is recreated in a 1920s art deco style, with sci-fi elements woven in. The map will start you in a version of the Village, and take you past small businesses, Grand Central Station, and includes a version of the Flatiron Building.

Overwatch 2 – PvP Changes

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  • New character Sojourn was shown off a little more, with the team revealing that she uses a rail gun, designed to bring back some of the feeling of classic shooters. The gun requires accurate use and can “rip through” enemy health bars.
  • While Overwatch 2’s PvP leans heavily on the existing Overwatch’s structure, the team is making experimental changes that make OW2’s PvP a “big departure” from the current live version.
  • The team is currently experimenting with “role passives”, background abilities that effect an entire class of characters.
  • The tank passive is currently a reduction in knockback, and less ult charge generated for those shooting them.
  • The damage passive is a boost in movement speed.
  • The support passive is a slow, automatic healing effect (similar to Mercy’s existing passive, but less effective).
  • Tank characters are being evaluated, in order to make them more suitable for close-up brawling than simply absorbing damage.
  • An experiemental build of Reinhardt gives him two firestrike charges, charge cancelling, and better steering while charging.
  • All of these experiments may not make it to the final version of the game, but aim to show how radical the team’s thinking is around PvP.
  • A team, the “Combat Feel Group” has been put together specifically to make combat action a more connective, immersive thing. Every character is being evaluated by this group.
  • Quick melee attacks have been revisited, with better reaction animations upon hits, and more impactful sound effects.
  • Weapon sounds have also been revisted, with convolution reverb drastically changing the noise of firing depending on the environment, and guns audibly registering that they’re running low on ammo.
  • The team’s not taking existing modes for granted – Jeff Kaplan says it’s possible that the Assault mode will be replaced in Overwatch 2 (although this seems to be an experiment, rather than a promise).

Overwatch 2 – Hero Missions Mode

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  • Hero Missions are the game’s replayable co-op PvP mode, which have been designed to entice new players who might be less interested competitive play.
  • Hero Missions have been designed as a place to level up your heroes (see the Hero Progression section below for more on that).
  • The team plans to make “hundreds” of Hero Missions, which can be played “night after night” without it feeling like a grind.
  • Hero Missions will contain light story elements, and can be played with any character in the roster.
  • Every existing map will be used for Hero Missions.
  • Some maps will have brand new areas in Hero Mission variants. For example, a payload in King’s Row may move along a different route to usual, revealing that a normally gated-off section opens, revealing a new section of map behind it.
  • The same maps can be played with different objectives, and different enemy factions.
  • Hero Mission maps will be playable at different times of day to usual – every map has daytime, sunset, and night variants.
  • Hero Missions can also see dynamic weather conditions, which can change mid-match – we’re shown sandstorms, snowstorms, and rain.
  • Weather conditions will be shown on a world map before picking a mission, allowing yo uto pick suitable heroes – it may be useful to take a Widowmaker or Hanzo player into a sandstorm, for example, as they can reveal enemies in poor visbility.
  • Hero Mission objective types include Gather and Return (where you collect canisters from across the map and safely dispose of them at marked locations). Other internal names for mission types include ‘Wall of Death’, ‘Scavenger Hunt’, and ‘Kill Quest’.

Overwatch 2 – Campaign Details

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  • Overwatch 2’s campaign centres on the members of Overwatch being brought back together to work out who’s behind a 2nd Omnic Uprising.
  • Every mission will feature cinematic intros and outros, with seamless cuts to and from gameplay.
  • Musical themes have been composed for every playable hero, and every location.
  • Every story mission is set in a custom-built map, and are described as “absolutely gigantic”.
  • The India map features the team escaping from a temple as a fire causes elements of the map to fall apart, funnelling players through corridors and into wide open areas. It’s one the biggest Overwatch maps yet made.
  • The India map’s story takes beats from recent Overwatch comics.
  • The Gothenburg map will include a section set inside Torbjorn’s workshop.
  • The Toronto map will place during a Null Sector siege, and takes place during a snowstorm, which will see snow build up steadily as you progress thorugh the level. Footage shows escaping friendly NPCs, implying it won’t just be Overwatch vs. Enemies on these maps.
  • Hero line-ups aren’t completely set for story missions, meaning players can choose from a selection. Every available hero will have voice lines, and different combinations will cause different conversations and branching dialogue during the mission.

Overwatch 2 – Hero Progression

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  • Hero progression for PvE modes has been substantially built up since the first showing at Blizzcon 2019, with every hero now given separate talent trees to work down.
  • Each tree is geared towards a different named build (although there appear to be no restrictions to mixing and matching). Reinhardt’s three trees are called Crusader, Juggernaut, and Guardian, while Soldier: 76’s trees are Commander, Rifleman, and Vigilante.
  • Each tree seems to have 7 tiers to progress down, unlocked with Skill Points, and with choices of abilties made on the way down the tree.
  • Trees have allowed the developers to break their own established rules for characters – we even see Mercy using are-of-effect resurrections, an ability stripped from the character in 2017.
  • New abilities include double grenade launchers for Junkrat, the ability for Mercy to fire explosive blasts from her staff, and Reinhardt being able to pin multiple enemies at once.
  • Weapons can also gain elemental effects. We see Reinhardt’s Firestrike become a Freezestrike, and a version of Junkrat’s traps that add an electrical shock effect.

Overwatch 2 – Hero Look Changes

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  • The team showed more of the changes they’ve made to established heroes, including improved fabric tech, and a more advanced face rig to allow characters to be more expressive (particularly in cinematics).
  • McCree now sports a full beard, is visibly older, and sports a more armoured look.
  • Pharah now wears more of the original Overwatch’s blue and white colours, and has a translucent visor to allow for more emotions to show.
  • Reaper is now more fully armoured, and wears more metallic costume. His mask has altered colour.
  • Widowmaker has been given more of a cyberpunk aesthetic, and her ponytail is now a huge braid.

Overwatch 2 – Enemies

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  • The Overwatch 2 team felt PvE enemies weren’t interesting enough in the 2019 build – Null Sector enemies were worked on to make them more engaging to fight.
  • Enemies now react more to being shot, even losing body parts and continuing to fight.
  • Larger enemies have weak spots that can be exploited.
  • Enemy reactions can cause chain reactions – shooting one enemy into another can cause them both to stumble, and entire rooms of enemies can be affected with the right abilities.
  • The team is experimenting with Elite enemies, which don’t just add extra health or damage output to existing enemy types, but change their weaponry, abilities, or behaviour. A normal Omnic Guard might shoot slowly and collapse on death, where an Elite Omnic Guard will have a burst fire gun, and try to crawl towards you and explode when defeated.
  • Different missions will see entirely different enemy types appear.
  • The Breacher is a walking bomb that slowly moves towards its objective and must be destroyed before it transforms and  detonates.
  • The Puller is a creepy blindfolded enemy equipped with three orbs that act as a tractor beam, pulling you in and downing you unless stopped.

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Joe Skrebels is IGN’s Executive Editor of News. Follow him on Twitter. Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Please send an email to newstips@ign.com.

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