On this day Overwatch 2 will not only replace the original game (After nearly 48 hours of downtime as Overwatch 1 will shut down on October 3rd, it will also bypass many of the gameplay features and aspects that made the game so special and special. Although it could be a symptom for the continuation of each game, and for some perhaps an exciting change (Blizzard’s Jon Spector said in a recent roundtable interview that the team “consistently received really positive feedback” on all the changes), it’s not ideal for many Overwatch fans. Only a few days left, so it’s time to give Overwatch 1 appropriate praise.
Remember when Observation 1 was first released on May 24, 2016. She captivated so many of us with her heart energy, vivid graphics and unique heroes. The drastically different climates and personalities of the heroes gave birth to fan fiction both in the established (and colorful) canon of the game and beyond. Its solid gameplay seemed to get better and better with each patch, and while the new heroes may have upset its delicate balance, Blizzard was always there working on repairing the ship.
Gamers would look forward to announcing new heroes that each of us can play for free, wondering how they would fit into the current meta or if they would fit our own playstyles and squad lineups. The collective glee when Jeff Kaplan (affectionately dubbed Overwatch by veterinarians) unveiled the new healer Moira at Blizzcon 2017 seems unrepeatable today.
I’ve said this so many times I’m afraid I will be considered redundant, but: Overwatch 1 is a game about measures and countermeasures, picking wisely from your champion roster in a way that both suits your team and harass enemy squad. Hence, it plays like a chess match if you drop a little LSD before sitting at the table, and even the most innocuous decisions in the game have far-reaching consequences in the match. It would be hard to find any other modern game that resembles Overwatch 1, and that is why removing any chance to play it again is so disturbing for die-hard gamers.
Turn around and face the strange
Blizzard was not ashamed to say Overwatch 2 did very a different game than Overwatch 1, which doesn’t help soften the sting of the original game’s departure. Game director Aaron Keller repeatedly referred to Overwatch as “fundamentally changed” in an interview in June about Free Overwatch 2 model. Keller was referring not only to the new Battle Pass model (which the team says is essential to deliver the stream of content that players have been asking for over the years), but to the gameplay as a whole. Many, including myself, fear that this change takes Overwatch 2 more towards FPS banality and deviates from the approach that made it so endearing some six years ago.
It’s hard not to feel that Blizzard’s fundamental changes are a sign of his ignorance of what made Overwatch 1 so special. Whether this is deliberate or accidental ignorance cannot be said, but the last few months have been full of conflicting positions and bold statements from the studio that seem to go against the essence of the original game.
When asked about blocking champions behind the Battle Pass and how that would affect the natural flow and flow of Overwatch matches, Blizzard was quick to find that he had data to suggest players are often failing to switch between champions.
“If you look at the data on how often people switch heroes and how many heroes usually play simultaneously, most of our players are playing with a relatively small number of heroes,” emphasized Keller in a September 13 roundtable interview. “And as players reach higher and higher skill levels, the group of heroes they play is actually narrowing down because it really takes a long time to get a good hero at that level.” Jon Spector doubled that, saying that “Most Overwatch 1 players have the most time playing with two or fewer heroes. And you can get 99.9% of the game time for most of our players with 12 or less heroes. ” I have contacted and asked to view the data in question but have not received a reply at the time of publication.
Just one week after the team uniformly dismissed the notion that the average player swaps heroes, Overwatch 2 announced its hero swap awards. Developer blog revealed (opens in a new tab) that each hero will get a passive that provides 30% Ultimate charge for character swapping. This is after the beta has only granted DPS characters this buff. But it’s hard not to feel a little lit up (or at least confused), after all, we’re told the data suggests players don’t trade heroes in Overwatch 1, so why would Blizzard give a bonus to those who do in Overwatch 1 Overwatch 2? If you want to encourage a swap that you say isn’t happening, why block some heroes behind Battle Pass levels – or, for new players, block most of them behind game time?
New player problem
Blizzard is genuinely eager to attract new players with drastic changes to Overwatch 2. Looking at the remakes of existing characters and their new character sets, it is obvious that the team is leaning more towards the FPS aspect of Overwatch as it tries to court players of the popular FPS shooters of the moment. Swapping Overwatch 2 for a 5v5 model and removing a single tank makes matches much more dependent on high damage per second. After the first beta I wrote that being a supporter of Overwatch 2 sucksbecause the faster, more deadly matches and the lack of a second containment tank made my job much more difficult.
Keller’s recent remarks make it clear that the days of tactics and counterattacks on Overwatch 1 are long gone: “We’ve made changes to reduce the amount of hard counters Overwatch has, we want the game to be a little more organic, we want people to have more influence. But we also want them to have more freedom to choose a hero in a given situation. ” And yet, new Overwatch 2 players will need to play 100 matches to unlock each character. Once again, the sequel’s messages are confusing at best and intentionally blunt at worst.
None of this changes the fact that Overwatch 1 will be buried on October 2, and those of us looking to continue the game will have to play its sequel. And while I did enjoy my time with the Overwatch 2 beta, and I’m sure I’ll be able to enjoy the full game to some extent, I can’t help but mourn the loss of the original title. After all, Overwatch was a live game before the live gaming boom, a hero shooter that treated its heroes as weapons, rather than focusing on the bits and pieces of flipping weapons and building gunsmiths. Now these heroes are stuck behind the Battle Pass and their talents are locked until you play more of a newer, faster game – or pay.
Let Overwatch 1 live in our hearts forever. After all, heroes never die.
You might as well check them all Overwatch 2 Battle Pass details in advance.