BlizzCon 2019 is well underway and one of the biggest announcements that came with it was that Overwatch was indeed getting a sequel aptly named Overwatch 2. This didn’t really come as a surprise due to the recent leaks (all of which turned out to be true) but we got a brand new cinematic as well as a gameplay trailer and a demo that attendants of the convention got the opportunity to play through. While the gameplay trailer doesn’t actually show a huge amount of gameplay, it seems like a good place to start with a shot for shot analysis to see what information we can garner about the upcoming title.
So as Lucio would say, let’s break it down!
The Omnics Are Coming
The trailer starts with Lucio speaking to the rest of the Overwatch team through comms to say that he is being overrun by Null Sector, the omnic threat that ignited the war between humans and omnics within the lore of the game. He says he will hold them as long as he can as we see him looking out at a huge aerial ship later said to be the omnic command centre. Lucio’s home country of Rio de Janerio is one of the new maps being introduced to the game and we get a pretty clear look at it here. We also see some of Lucio’s new look, but more on the character updates later.
Next we see Ironclad Industries, sure to be associated with Torbjörn and Brigitte due to their affiliation with The Ironclad Guild. Ironclad Industries looks like it will be a part of the new map based in Gothenburg, Sweden, the home land of Torbjörn and his daughter. We hear Torbjörn ask Reinhardt why he is there and Reinhardt responds with, “It’s happening again” in reference to the Null Sector attacks.
Brigitte narrates that Null Sector threat was clearly not just a one off occurrence, but instead a fully fledged invasion on a global scale.
The best look at some of the new character designs comes in the next moment of the trailer when Lucio and Tracer share a few words whilst on the battlefield. There is certainly a crisper feel to their new look. More on that later when we see some of the other heroes.
The next element of Overwatch 2 that we get to see is the incorporation of story missions. These look to be similar to the Archives events from the current Overwatch but on a larger scale. A feature often asked for in Overwatch was a story mode of sorts. The lore of Overwatch is vast but very little of it is actually included in the game, so this may well be the narrative element that we have been waiting for. We also get a look at Reinhardt, Mei and Tracer as they prepare to take on a mission.
There is also another look at the mission set in Gothenburg. Two more heroes make an appearance here, Bastion and Torbjörn, as they fight alongside Brigitte and Reinhardt. The story missions are going to be introducing an item system which allows for certain items to be equipped for the duration of the mission such as barriers, grenades and healing systems.
Student and Teacher
One of the characters who is spectacularly lacking in narrative involvement is Zenyatta. There is a little bit that can be gathered about his background as a Shambali monk who acted as Genji’s mentor but not much else is known. We get a shot of Genji and Zenyatta here, suggesting that Genji will get a story mission involving his former mentor. Here’s hoping that Zenyatta finally gets the attention and lore that he deserves.
Terrorist organisation Talon has had a major role in Overwatch history, with several of the games playable characters being current or former members. In the “Retribution” Overwatch event, the player must fight against several elite Talon soldiers and we see them here in the trailer (including that damn irritating sniper). We then see Doomfist declaring that “Nobody will stop us”. Doomfist is the leader of Talon and is sure to be a viable threat to Overwatch. On the official Play Overwatch website, Talon is described as an “enemy faction” alongside the omnics of Null Sector so they may have multiple missions based around them that include the Talon characters (Widowmaker, Reaper etc) in interesting ways.
A quick look at some kind of base for the Overwatch team and some of the new designs for the members. We see Mei, Lucio, Genji, Reinhardt, Winston, Mercy, and the newest addition, Sojourn. As I previously said, their designs definitely look a little more polished than their Overwatch designs.
The team gather around a world map with several key areas highlighted. Overwatch fans will already be familiar with most of the pinpointed areas as they already have maps in game. There are only two locations that are new but they will be getting new maps in Overwatch 2: Toronto and Rio De Janeiro.
Another feature in the sequel will be Hero Missions. These will be more specific missions set for certain characters. The trailer boasts that Hero Missions will have “highly replayable co-op” as we see another father and daughter team up with Torbjörn and Brigitte. There is then a shot of Winston and Mercy in the well known Route 66 map (I think I spotted Ashe in the background too) fighting against Null Sector. This is followed by a mission between Tracer, Lucio and Hanzo and this is where we see one of the more interesting additions to the sequel .
The Hero Missions will include a level up system and a range of new abilities for the heroes. The example we get is Tracer. We see the two abilities that she has at level one — Adaptive Reload and Hindsight — and the player gets to choose between one that will be usable in the mission. As the character becomes a higher level, more abilities become available to choose from. It is an RPG element at its most basic, which is a little disappointing to me as I would assume that a whole new game could warrant a vaster skill tree. However, during the Overwatch 2 panel at Blizzcon, Jeff Kaplan stated that this was a feature in early development and could be changed during production. It is still an interesting addition to the formula that separates hero missions from story missions.
Abilities and Combos
Customisable abilities are shown off further in the next few shots which show Genji throwing his blade into a group of enemies to take out several at once.
The next hero whose new ability we see is Mei as she encases herself within her ice block and then releases a blast which freezes those around her. It looks similar to her current ultimate ability but looks a little less cumbersome in that she doesn’t have to throw Snowball out first.
An example of a combination of abilities is shown next as Reinhardt smashes the enemies that Mei had frozen with an ability called “Hammer Strike”. Combinations of ultimates is possible now so it is no surprise that combining abilities would be introduced in the new system.
Push It Real Good
A new PVP game mode is the next feature to be shown in the trailer: Push. The game mode will feature teams fighting to escort a giant robot into enemy territories. The team that pushes the robot furthest wins. This does sound like a fun new addition, but it seems like a game mode that could have been added to the current Overwatch. I do worry that there won’t be enough new material to actually warrant a full sequel but hopefully these worries will be alleviated. The Push robot, however, is one of the best parts of the whole trailer. I would die for him and I probably will repeatedly.
A few new maps have been announced for Overwatch 2 as well: Toronto, Rio de Janerio and Gothenburg. Again, I do wonder whether this material warrants a full game rather than just an expansion of the original. Perhaps a whole new host of maps will be announced closer to the release date. The maps, new characters and the Push PVP mode will also be available to play on the original Overwatch with both Overwatch and Overwatch 2 players able to join in and play together. This is just one of the few crossover features from the original game. Players will also be able to access their skins and all the characters from Overwatch in Overwatch 2.
The trailer then shows the new looks of the core characters being used in the marketing for Overwatch 2: Tracer, Reinhardt, Mei, Lucio and Mercy. Reinhardt’s man bun is magnificent. Lucio’s green locks are glorious. Mercy has had a haircut, possibly to avoid desperate players yanking her ponytail while screaming for healing. Mei has a cool new outfit and hair style (see what I did there?) and Tracer looks a little more hi-tech than she originally did. She also seems to have had a change in body shape, looking more realistic and curvier than she did before. As a woman who constantly struggles with body image issues (who doesn’t in this day and age?) it is nice to see a design change to make a female character look more real.
Artwork from development also shows a new style for Torbjörn and Bastion. Bastion has a hat and that makes me so very happy.
The trailer then announces new heroes for the game but the only one currently confirmed is Soujorn, a cybernetically enhanced Canadian member of the original Overwatch team who has been teased since the very first animated short. Sojourn clearly has a strong link to the main narrative of Overwatch so her involvement is no surprise. Another character that we saw in the new “Zero Hour” cinematic is Echo, a robot who was introduced in the “Reunion” animated short and whose concept art is used in the original trailer for Overwatch. It is possible that she could be introduced as a hero at some point, though there is no confirmation yet.
The last few shots of the trailer seem to be the actual gameplay. You can tell that the HUD has been changed somewhat, more so for the story and hero missions than PVP. There is some Lucio, Widowmaker, Reaper, Reinhardt and Tracer gameplay.
The story/hero gameplay shows an extra ability icon on the bottom right hand side for each character that takes longer to refresh than normal. This is likely the ability that the player gets to choose in the hero missions.
There isn’t a huge amount changed in terms of gameplay that can be seen in this small segment but again everything looks a little crisper, clearer and more fluid.
Shoot Em Up
We get a small glimpse of Sojourn’s weapon in the next shot as we see what looks a highlight intro for her. She has a rather large gun but the best part is when she leaps into the air and her other arm turns into a different gun. A hero with cybernetic abilities — such as the whole turning limbs into weaponry things — could be really fun to play and could combine with other heroes quite well.
As I said, I’m not sure as to whether a full game is entirely necessary for the additional features that will be included. The story and the hero missions all look very similar to the events in Overwatch but it is possible that they could have more substance. I should certainly hope so for the price tag of a full game. The crossover between Overwatch and Overwatch 2 is also promising but it makes me wonder as to whether the original Overwatch will eventually be rendered redundant by the sequel. I am a massive Overwatch fan (if you couldn’t already tell) so I was super excited when I saw the announcement. I try to be realistic though, hence the skepticism. I am really hoping that Overwatch 2 will offer a strong narrative experience that will be worth the price of admission.
Overwatch 2 does not yet have a release date. Stay tuned for more info. Check out the latest animated short “Zero Hour” below.