Everything shown at BlizzConline for Overwatch 2 – New maps, gameplay changes, story updates, and more

After being announced at BlizzCon 2019, Overwatch 2 seemed like an easy step for the series. At the time, it looked like some PvP elements would be added and some small PvE modes would be added in the future. After 2019, fans could easily understand it, thinking it was a minimal update to what we already had in the first game. Heading into BlizzConline 2021, Jeff Kaplan and the rest of the Overwatch team finally gave us a taste of what to expect from Overwatch 2 when it comes out.

The team has revealed a lot of aspects that will be different from the game you know now. Starting with changes to PvP that might appeal to fans of the beloved movie scenarios, there are many things that will change the world of Overwatch in the future. The second part of Overwatch may be a little more advanced than we would like, but in the meantime, we can take a look at the exciting features that were revealed at BlizzCon 2021.

New Maps

One of the most exciting things people look forward to when Overwatch 2 comes out is the new maps we’ll be fighting over. In 2019, we had Toronto and a new mode called Push. This year we had two brand new PvP locations, Rome and New York.

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Beeld via Blizzard Entertainment

Rome is beautiful and was inspired by many photos taken by the team’s environmental designer on vacation. Even the destroyed parts of the city were rebuilt to give an impression of preservation.

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The design of New York City is designed to give a “one-watch” feel, while still preserving many aspects of the city that one would expect, such as neon lights and pizza parlors.

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We don’t know at this point how these maps will play, but more will come when Overwatch 2 comes out.

PvP changes

While we expected new maps and characters to come to Overwatch with the release of the new game, it was a little more surprising to hear Jeff Kaplan say that the development team’s philosophy on PvP games is changing. There have been a few changes since Overwatch was released in 2016, but if you look at how the characters interact, it’s largely the same.

The development team revealed new passive abilities not only for individual characters, but also for role-playing classes in general. For example, DPS characters have a small acceleration. At this point in the game, the constant movement speed of all characters is the same, before they use any skill. Tanks could also have a smaller range and all support characters could benefit from automatic healing instead of using only grace.

We can expect some general changes for the heroes when Overwatch 2 comes out, and from what we can hear, there will be more of them than the usual patches the first game sees now. For example, Reinhardt can now use Fire Blast twice and check or cancel his charge whenever he wants. During the interview, Kaplan said that the team is scrutinizing the characters in the tanks, especially in terms of how they play the game. While not all players will benefit from significant changes, there will be some differences in how the characters are used in the PvP portion of the second part of Surveillance.

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History Update

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Everyone loves the story and loves Overwatch, so a sequel that brings the story mode is no surprise. Kaplan says we’re going to discover who started the second Omnic rebellion (which we already hinted at when Doomfist spoke to the Omnic resistance leader in the archives), and we’re going to see all these characters interact in ways they couldn’t before. Each mission in the story has cinematic intros and outros, many characters to choose from (all with their own dialogue), an NPC (surprisingly the first in Overwatch outside of an Omnic servant), and special events that begin during the missions.

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Jeff Chamberlain, creative director of Overwatch 2, was heard several times during BlizzCon talking about how the dark story of Overwatch can become clear. They try to strike that balance by not making things too dark and giving the right amount of conflict to make victory meaningful.

We see how Widowmaker and Sombra attack Zenyatta and Genji, how Reinhardt runs to Bastion before Torbjorn stops them from fighting, and we see some of the first sketches of characters on the flying transport ship that gets knocked over.

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Chances are, certain places are exclusive to this style of storytelling. These places are built specifically to tell a story in this area, and from our first glimpses of them, they don’t seem to lend themselves to PvP design unless they have a different shape on every map they work on. Some places, such as Torbjorn’s workshop in Gothenburg and India, are designed with history in mind and focus primarily on what is happening there at any given time.

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As you play through Story Mode, you can choose from specific characters in each level. Choose a character that has unique dialogue with the other characters fighting by their side, just like in the first Overwatch.

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Heroes Assignments

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Hero missions are a kind of parallel mode that accompanies the main story of Overwatch 2. We first saw them at BlizzCon 2019, but at the time they seemed like a minor addition. Through today’s feed, however, they seem much more significant in their scope, with hundreds of hero missions promised for the game when it comes out.

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Hero Missions are a PvE cooperative experience where players work together to achieve a goal on different maps in the Overwatch scenario. They are more involved than archival missions in the first Overwatch, where it is more of a Left 4 Dead experience where players just try to reach the end of a level. Here, players must complete tasks such as collecting the canisters and transporting them to the goal, as well as activating the energy cells.

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While Hero Missions are not the main story mode, they bring aspects of the Overwatch story that relate to how the characters interact and the environment that we enjoyed in the first game. New expansions will be added to the maps that are currently in the game that will change what you know about the levels that have been in Overwatch since the beginning. If you go to those old places where we have been playing for years, you will find something new that you didn’t expect.

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Dynamic weather

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What started as a small sandstorm prototype on the Anubis Temple map has evolved into a brand new dynamic weather system that makes its appearance on the second eve. Dynamic weather seems to have been confirmed only for hero missions, as it would not be easy to balance something like this in PvP on a competitive basis.

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When you start a mission, the whole map will probably look different when you leave it. If you are in a winter location, a snowstorm may break out or the time of day may change. We have seen the rain in Paris and the sunsets in Numbani are different from those in Hollywood.

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It seems that you get a good estimate of the weather conditions for each hero mission before you start, so you can change the composition of your team depending on the conditions. An example of this utility is that Hanzo and Widowmaker have a skill that makes enemies visible through sandstorms, so all teammates can see better.

Progress and talent

The talent system unveiled in 2019 has been expanded to include a detailed skill tree that allows you to customize your character’s performance in PvE. Each character has its own skill tree, which means you’ll have a lot of fun finding new skills for each character.

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In 2019, we saw Mei turn into a rolling ball of ice if she sticks, and the Tracer Bomb sticks to multiple enemies. This time, we took a look at the Soldier: 76 Healing Fields with upgrades that make it run after everything after use and emit a shockwave to keep enemies in range.

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We also saw how Mercy fired some kind of projectile from his Caduceus and revived some of his teammates from a distance, just like his old Ultimatum used to do. We also learned about the Junkrat two-arm grenade launcher and the position of the electric trap. A brief look at Reinhardt firing an ice charge was also shown.

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We will have to verify if they really ended up in the final Overwatch 2 product, but it seems that the developers were happy to break all previous Overwatch rules to turn these characters into PvE missions.

New character images

One of the most interesting changes in Overwatch 2 is the way the team has updated the appearance of each Overwatch character compared to the way we know them now. We’ve already seen some updates for 2019, but more have been suggested during the “Behind the Scenes” feed. Our first look is at McCree, who will retain his usual cowboy look, but will have a slightly longer beard and a new serum. Overall, he looks the same, but updated. That’s what the team is trying to do.

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The appearance of the lighthouse has changed slightly: only the color of the armor has changed, and the visor has become more transparent than before.

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The armor of the Grim Reaper is more visible than in the first Watcher. If you’ve ever seen him, you’ve only seen a silhouette with a hooded skull mask. You now see his armor underneath, and little touches of silver and red to match his black design, which is essentially generic.

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Widowmaker has also received new armor in her costume, but the overall look is very similar to the armor she currently has in Overwatch. The main change for her is that her hair is now braided instead of wearing a long ponytail.

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No more enemies.

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Jeff Kaplan said in the thread that the PvE combat in Overwatch 2 in 2019 was not as exciting as they wanted, so they set out to bring more enemies to the table. During the annual archive event, they started adding enemies to the zero sector, but none of them were really memorable and they were pretty easy.

Since then, the Overwatch team has added many different enemies that interact with players in very different ways. Kaplan says much of 2020 has been dedicated to making these villains more exciting and varied than what we’ve seen in the game so far.

Hand over his 2.0 weapon

One small announcement during the show was that the surveillance team is closely monitoring how the guns sound in the suite. As it stands, the guns look good, but don’t stand out during the game. The team is trying to make this aspect of the game more dynamic and bring it out during the game. This means that the sound of your weapon will be different if you are inside, outside, in winter or in a tunnel.

More 2CP?

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In a brief note quoted by Jeff Kaplan, 2CP or Dual Control Point maps should not exist in Overwatch 2. Overwatch fans have criticized maps like Horizon of the Lunar Colony, Paris, and the Temple of Anubis a lot over the years. The criticism has gone so far that Horizon and Paris are the only two maps removed from all games. While Kaplan is not sure if this is true if these maps do not return, there is a chance. If someone likes these maps, they will likely still be available in Arcade or Quick Play mode, just as they have been in Overwatch from the beginning.

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