Nearly six years ago, Blizzard Entertainment released a revolutionary new hero shooter game called Overwatch. The initial beta garnered a massive response, to the tune of nearly 10 million users in their beta. That attention transitioned to high marks from both fans and media outlets alike. It even crossed into the sports news world with athletes such as Roger Saffold and Xavier Woods. Basketball star Gordon Hayward also mentioned how much of a fan he was in a Rolling Stone interview.
Despite winning Game of the Year at The Game Awards 2016, Overwatch would seemingly always be in some sort of turmoil. Many of the early days were spent criticizing hero skins and body types, oversexualization and cultural stereotypes.
A game based around teamwork quickly created a culture of toxicity that drove a lot of the player base away.
Things like role lock, an absence of PvE game modes and lack of new content and updates made the game go stagnant for the last couple years.
But, it’s a new dawn and a new day. After many delays and disappointments, Overwatch 2 finally released their first beta in late April. Many fans have been waiting for this since the announcement of the game itself at Blizzcon 2019. All that waiting culminated in massive numbers on the day of the beta, with Twitch reporting there was a million and a half concurrent viewers on April 27th. That’s the highest viewership Overwatch has ever seen.
Along with the beta came fresh reskins to old maps, new maps, new game modes and even a new hero in Sojourn.
The move to go to a 5 versus 5 format has been a bright spot as well, making maps less clustered. Removing one of the tanks has opened up the game to new strategies and gameplay. Without double shields, heroes like Widowmaker, Soldier 76 and Echo are even more deadly.
On the flip side though, the lack of a second tank to peel for the team’s healers has been an issue so far in the beta. This is where we see Blizzard’s new commitment to improvement and transparency.
The first big patch for the beta came out on May 5th, and the main focus was on buffing the supports to make up for the aforementioned lack of a dive tank to help peel. Starting off, Zenyatta got a major new ability, a swift kick of sorts that is very similar to Lucio’s boop.
Zen was one of the heroes fans were most worried about, but the kick not only gives the chance for fun montage clips but easily lets Zen players disengage from attacks and line players up for headshots.
Next, they implemented Mercy’s exploit that people have been using for a while, the “super jump” as an actual ability in her kit now. Baptiste is the last hero that got an official buff. His regenerative boost now gives an immediate 50 health, as well as 50 health over time rather than just 100 health over time.
More updates are on the way as well, per the Overwatch Community manager. Among them, may be a buff for another healer, Moira, as well.
The beta has been fun and fresh for Overwatch fans who have been waiting for it for many years now, but there’s more work to do.
Balancing all the heroes now that we’re away from a two tank meta has seen heroes like Junkrat and Symmetra fall off in value and usage.
Again, Blizzard has been transparent about these concerns. The developers have already stated that due to the communities’ feedback, they’re looking into new ways to “better reward” Junkrat’s direct hits as well as a possible rework to Sym’s Photon Projector.
There’s a long way to go, and Blizzard has some trust to still work on gaining back. Fan favorite director Jeff Kaplan left the game, giving fans further doubt that Overwatch 2 would happen at all. But, were here now and Overwatch 2 looks like it could be just what the community needs to launch Overwatch back into relevancy.