Laptop Mag Verdict
Overwatch 2 is barely held together by its exciting new heroes and welcome gameplay changes. Beyond that, this nightmarish sequel is tainted by predatory microtransactions, an overpriced in-game shop, terrible progression systems, and a bare-bones Battle Pass.
Overwatch is still fun
Solid gameplay changes
Great new heroes
No reasonable way to earn stuff in-game
An assortment of launch issues
Locking heroes behind Battle Pass
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Overwatch 2 is a shadow of the game I once loved. Returning after three years of radio silence, Blizzard Entertainment has brought my favorite competitive shooter back to life. But the monkey’s paw curls, and as a result, this resurrection has gone awry. The Overwatch we knew is no longer recognizable. Worst of all, the original game is not accessible, and in its place is an abhorrent monstrosity.
Blizzard Entertainment has committed every manner of sin with this sequel. There’s minimal additional content, and while the balance changes make the game feel a little better, there's nothing here I wouldn’t expect from a patch. Most unbearable though are the predatory microtransactions. Sure, these are expected of any free-to-play game, but they’re awful evolutions on how the original Overwatch handled things. And finally, this sequel tops off with a slew of ridiculous progression and quality of life changes that make it hard to hold out hope for its future.
Some fans will come to this sequel’s defense claiming that Overwatch 2’s new systems are typical for free-to-play games. But there’s a reason why Overwatch was the best multiplayer shooter out there, and why I championed it as my favorite competitive game in general: it respected the player and their time. Loot boxes were always predatory, but what Overwatch 2 has done is exponentially worse and isn’t remotely comparable.
Overwatch 2 is still fun
Before I get into all of the game’s issues, Overwatch 2 is fundamentally still fun. The gameplay changes Blizzard Entertainment made with this sequel are welcome, allowing for tighter, faster, and more exciting matches.
One of its biggest changes is the shift from 6v6 to 5v5. In the original Overwatch, teams were made up of two Tanks, two DPS, and two Healers. In Overwatch 2, Blizzard has removed one Tank, which significantly tightens up the gameplay. In the original, it often felt disjointed when the group had to gather around two separate Tanks who could perform their own tasks separate to their squad. It’s comparable to having two leaders in a small group, and on reflection, that was pretty strange.
When everyone gathers around a single leader, there is a greater sense of synergy. It actually feels like you’re part of the team, and it’s far clearer who the party is meant to follow. It has also resulted in every tank becoming more powerful, which is a welcome change to put more priority on their strengths
Blizzard Entertainment has also put less of a focus on abilities that stun or immobilize other players to keep the action rolling. While this change is a little controversial, it is great to know that you’re a lot less likely to find yourself stopped in the middle of the action and can just keep fighting until your last breath.
These changes help make the action tighter, but the fundamental game is still the same elsewhere. If you were expecting a sequel’s worth of gameplay changes, this isn’t that. Many in the community have compared it to a large patch, and that is a more apt comparison from what I’ve played.
Overwatch 2’s new heroes are great
I expected Overwatch 2’s launch to feature more than three new heroes. After all, it has been three years since the original Overwatch stopped receiving fresh content. Regardless, every new hero is great.
Kiriko is a Japanese ninja with the ability to use talismans as a method of healing teammates, all while accompanied by an adorable kitsune (fox) spirit that allows her to create a series of torii (traditional Japanese gates) in front of her to increase speed of movement, cooldowns, and attacks.
She can also toss kunai to demolish enemies with critical headshots and can teleport to allies within a specific range, even if their body isn’t technically visible to her. This is a great mobility addition, although I’ve found myself foolishly teleporting into the middle of a massacre and dying shortly thereafter.
Her most challenging ability allows her to toss an invincibility grenade that protects whoever is in its radius from damage for a second. I’m not exaggerating when I say a second, so it needs to be timed perfectly. It can also cleanse allies of negative effects, so even if you’re not great at timing the invincibility part, you can use it to remove debuffs.
Junker Queen is an Australian tank with gigantic muscles holding a powerful shotgun that can shoot pellets at foes. Although they do scatter, it has a surprisingly tight spread and can deal solid damage at a moderate range (unlike Roadhog’s shotgun).
She can toss a knife that will manually return to her at the press of a button, and if she embeds it within an enemy, they will be pulled towards her, dealing a little bit of extra damage to other enemies in its path. She also has a shout that gives her a temporary health increase while increasing movement speed for allies.
But one of my favorite moves is when she pulls out her giant axe and absolutely obliterates someone in front of her. Her ultimate also involves her axe, making her charge forward while it spins wildly, although it’s easy to accidentally kill yourself with it due to how far it pushes you. Those hit with the ultimate are denied healing and take a bit of damage over time.
Sojourn is a Canadian soldier with a sci-fi assault rifle that fires blasts of energy in quick succession. And after a certain number of shots, she can use that same gun to shoot a supercharged bolt that does tons of damage.
She’s all about mobility, with one of her abilities allowing her to perform a long-distance slide before jumping two-to-three times higher than normal. She can also fire an energy ball that takes up a considerable area and deals damage over time to those within the range.
Her ultimate causes her supercharged bolts to regenerate passively at a blistering pace, allowing her to fire it over and over in quick succession. It also pierces enemies in this state, making it perfect for landing multiple kills at once.
All three of these heroes feel fantastic to play and add a lot to the dynamic of each match. While I have plenty of criticisms of the game elsewhere, I’m glad to see the Hero designs haven’t lost their edge. Kiriko in particular has quickly become a personal favorite, and I expect she’ll be one of my top played characters throughout Overwatch 2.
Overwatch 2’s monetization is garbage
The Overwatch 2 shop refreshes its stock every week, and the limited assortment of available goods features a majority of cosmetics that were available in the original Overwatch. From my time playing the original Overwatch, I accumulated a total of 107 Legendary Skins. Outside of a single instance, I never purchased loot boxes to unlock these skins. I did it once during Christmas in 2016, but I was so disappointed by my earnings (I probably only got one or two Legendary Skins) that I never did it again. Regardless, over a hundred of these skins were earned entirely in-game.
In Overwatch 2, a single Legendary Skin costs around $20. By calculating the value of my Legendary Skins alone, getting everything I’ve unlocked in Overwatch 2 with real money (as there’s no other reliable way to do so) would cost someone a total of $2,000. Keep in mind, I spent $40 on Overwatch at launch and never had to pay anything extra to unlock what I have gotten throughout the years.
The expectation to spend $20 on a single Legendary Skin, when these things were easily unlocked in the original game without having to spend a single cent, is one of the many reasons why this game’s launch is hard to swallow. Keep in my mind, that value calculation only includes Legendary Skins.
There’s also Epic Skins ($10), Rare Skins ($3), Emotes ($5), Victory Poses ($3), Voice Lines ($1), Sprays ($1), and Highlight Intros ($7). I’m not going to add up everything I own to see its total cumulative value, but I predict that it would cost far more than $5,000 for a new account to catch up to the number of cosmetics I have on my account, all of which I unlocked for free. The shop does occasionally feature bundled discounts, but you’ll still be paying something like $44 for four skins, which is, once again, still more money than I had to pay to unlock everything I got through the first Overwatch.
Overwatch’s loot boxes were totally valid to criticize, but somehow, Overwatch 2’s progression system (or lack thereof) has made its predecessor look utopian. It feels like Blizzard Entertainment relaunched Overwatch just to force a significantly more expensive and predatory monetization system on the player, one that is somehow worse than most other free-to-play games on the market.
How can players progress?
But surely there’s a way to progress in Overwatch 2 without spending money, right? Yes! There is a progression system in the form of a Battle Pass, but it’s borderline meaningless. The Battle Pass features 80 tiers, but rather than have two tracks like some free-to-play games do, everything is dotted across a single track that primarily offers loot to those who purchased it for $10.
Out of 80 Battle Pass tiers, only 26 of them offer rewards to those on the free tier. It’s not front-loaded either, which means you’ll be leveling up frequently without getting anything. Additionally, these rewards are incredibly lackluster. There’s only two Epic Skins on the track, and everything else offered is either a Spray, Voice Line, Emote, Highlight Intro, or name card (to be honest, it’s mostly just Sprays).
With every level in the original Overwatch, you were guaranteed four items of varying rarity. Sure, you wouldn’t always get Legendary items, but it would happen often enough. And if you acquired duplicate items, you’d get currency to spend on the items you did want. Yes, this was a little wonky at launch, but after the duplicate update made gold returns go up significantly, the system was pretty great.
We’ve gone from progression that offered four rewards every level to a system that only offers a single reward every three levels, and it isn’t even possible to acquire some of the coolest items in the game because they’re locked behind the shop. Yup, this completely sucks!
But an even better question is: can you earn gold without spending money? Of course you can! What kind of free-to-play game wouldn’t let you earn currency in-game. Yes, in Overwatch, you can earn an astounding 60 coins per week by completing weekly challenges. 60 coins translates into 60 cents, which means to unlock a single Legendary Skin, you would need to complete every Weekly Challenge for 32 weeks straight. That is eight months of constant gameplay to unlock a single Legendary Skin. Remember, I unlocked 107 Legendary Skins just by playing Overwatch 1, and I guarantee I spent nowhere near as much time within that period to unlock it.
Heroes locked behind the Battle Pass
Things don’t get any better from here. If you’re the type of person who strongly believes that it’s OK for cosmetics to be expensive because “it doesn’t impact the gameplay,” I have some news for you! New heroes introduced to Overwatch 2 will be locked behind a certain tier of the Battle Pass.
Currently, Kiriko can be unlocked at Tier 55 of the Battle Pass, or you could spend $10 to unlock her immediately and forgo all that work just to add her to your roster. Yup, Blizzard Entertainment has not only made an awful Battle Pass with terrible progression accompanying an absurdly overpriced shop, but entire characters will be fully unplayable to those who haven’t worked their way up to Tier 55 (or spent $10).
An assortment of launch issues
Launch issues are expected from any big multiplayer game going live for the first time, but it’s a little surprising how some of these bugs came to be when they weren’t present in the original. For the first week, many players were unable to access the game at all. This is both due to Blizzard Entertainment suffering from DDoS attacks and due to a high number of players trying to get in at once. This issue seems fixed by now, and most players are able to get in without much of an issue.
But the bugs far exceed a collection of overwhelmed servers. One of the worst causes a majority of a player’s heroes to disappear due to a system called Hero Challenges. This system is intended to only impact new players and put them on a progression track to play up to 150 games, slowly unlocking each hero every few games. If you win a game, that progression is doubled, so it could be anywhere between 75 to 150 matches played before unlocking everything.
This isn’t designed to impact those who purchased and played the original Overwatch, but due to a bug, it is doing just that. I spent my first day playing Overwatch without most of my heroes, including all three of my mains. Worst of all, these Hero Challenges can be completely skipped if you purchase the $40 Watchpoint Pack. If Blizzard Entertainment truly intended for this system to be a quality of life change designed to help new players adapt to the game, there shouldn’t be a method of bypassing that system by spending money.
I’ve also faced a bug where my entire screen becomes blurry, making it incredibly difficult to see what’s going on in the match. The only way to fix this was to restart my game. Some players were also missing currency, skins, and other cosmetic items. There’s also been reports of people with incorrect playtimes on their profile, players falling to their death over and over when spawning into a game, and certain heroes being entirely broken to the point where they had to be removed from play. However, I haven’t experienced these personally.
I loved Overwatch once. It was my favorite competitive game ever, but now it’s gone, and its sequel has done nothing but spit on its grave. This is some of the most egregious free-to-play monetization I’ve seen, overwhelmed with predatory microtransactions, worthless progression, grindy challenges, and an awful Battle Pass system.
The gameplay features clever improvements that still makes it fun and the new heroes are lovely. But beyond that, Overwatch 2 is an overwhelmingly disappointing sequel and an affront to its fantastic predecessor.
Self-described art critic and unabashedly pretentious, Momo finds joy in impassioned ramblings about her closeness to video games. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Media Studies from Brooklyn College and five years of experience in entertainment journalism. Momo is a stalwart defender of the importance found in subjectivity and spends most days overwhelmed with excitement for the past, present and future of gaming. When she isn't writing or playing Dark Souls, she can be found eating chicken fettuccine alfredo and watching anime.