Liam and I gave the Overwatch 2 PVP Beta a whirl and it was…interesting. We both walked away with mixed feelings, especially about that big ‘2’. Does it really seem like a sequel? To answer this question, in this article we have teamed up like a miller and his corner to mix our thoughts in word form. Of course, if you’d rather hear us in glorious video form, you can check it out below.
Ed: Okay Liam, let’s start with the obvious question. We’re both lapsed Overwatch fans after playing one indescribable amount in the past. Did your time with Overwatch 2 PVP Beta reignite that interest, if at all?
Liam: I mean… I think so? Like…yes and no? I had a lot of fun playing the Overwatch 2 beta, but not necessarily because of anything special about the new game. There’s a lot of chat online about how this feels more like a major balance patch than a numbered sequel, and it’s hard to disagree. Playing the beta felt like playing the original Overwatch all over again – which was great because this game is just as fun today as it was in 2016 – but apart from some updated UI elements and teams that are now limited to 5 players are limited, it is difficult to see what actually is different this time around. And you?
The fact that Mei can no longer freeze enemies with her primary attack is a bit like your dad telling you to stop putting milk in your water balloons because you’re making the neighbor’s kid cry.
Ed: Yes, I totally agree here. Diving into Overwatch 2 after years of neglecting Overwatch, it felt like not much had changed. And as you say, the game is still fun! It’s just hard not to feel a little daunted when a sequel to a PvP shooter you love doesn’t seem overly sequel. The roster has a new addition, Sojourn, and there are some new maps and a new mode called Push, but the game lacks that earth-shattering “2” tweak. I mean, some heroes have seen big skill changes – for example, Mei’s Ice Blaster no longer freezes enemies when you spray them. Cassidy’s flashbang is now a puny flashbang. But these refinements appear to be competitive, not fun-oriented. What do you think?
Liam: Definitive. It feels like Blizzard has shaved off the edges of some of the game’s more interesting characters in an attempt to streamline things. The fact that Mei can no longer freeze enemies with her primary attack is a bit like your dad telling you to stop putting milk in your water balloons because you’re making the neighbor’s kid cry. I get the reasoning, but where’s the fun in that? The joy of the original game was mastering each hero’s unique move sets and understanding how each ability worked in unison to best support the broader team. I’m sure anyone who played the original can remember a time when they used a certain hero’s ability to save the day at the last second. It’s a little disappointing that those moments are now — it seems — intentionally so rare.
However, what I do want to say is that not all hero changes are net negative. The giant robotic quadruped Orisa, a hero I cared little about in my ranks, has had a major overhaul, essentially making her a different character. Her shields have been swapped for a spear that she launches at enemies, which is tremendous fun, and she just generally feels a lot more resilient. A tank in the truest sense of the word. Speaking of tanks, how do you feel about Blizzard’s decision to limit teams to just one?
Ed: Since the games are 5v5, there’s a lot less of the old impenetrable shield wall that has plagued Overwatch for a dark, dark time. This makes games appear surprisingly open; almost liberating. As a DPS character, there’s a lot more room to maneuver and shuriken to thread. It finally feels like there’s basically a greater chance for individuals to shine. But from a totally selfish point of view, I miss the chaos. To me, Overwatch was built on frenetic tug-of-war that lasted an uncomfortably long time. You know, like the intensity levels of sweat stains on your gamer’s chair. But now that teams have a tank docked, it feels like there’s less carnage as a result. Combat is more measured and, if anything, there is a greater chance that one side will snowball to victory thanks to DPS characters being let loose.
But that’s enough of my grumbling. Would you say you’re excited for the release since your time with the game’s PvP beta?
Liam: Despite my grumpy tone, I’m actually looking forward to seeing how the game progresses towards release. This core foundation may be a little too familiar, but it still reigns supreme. Overwatch was able to generate some phenomenal moments of drama while desperately struggling to move the payload that last inch to ensure victory, and luckily in Overwatch 2 that’s still a big deal. However, I’m more excited to see this PVE mode that Blizzard hatched behind the scenes. I hope that’s where the true sequel lies.
Ed: I’m actually going to continue my grumbling. I still have a soft spot for Overwatch, and I agree that Overwatch 2 captures those special, breathtaking moments. I’m just not sure if the PvP side of things is enough to get me back into the herd. I secretly think part of me was hoping I’d get back into the 3 o’clock ladder grind, but Overwatch 2 doesn’t give me that urge. HOWEVER I agree with you on the PVE side. I also hope that the “2” will appear here.