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A few weeks ago, the Overwatch community was at a tipping point. It had been years since the game saw a new hero, seasonal events were more sparse with each iteration, and some of the last content creators still focused on it were on the verge of giving up. Fans had been told all of this deprivation was in the name of one thing: making Overwatch 2.
Since then, most of the news coming out of Blizzard hasn't been good. Not only did iconic Overwatch team lead Jeff Kaplan depart, but also Blizzard was in the midst of numerous attempts to clean up a toxic and hostile workplace culture. Rumors claim Overwatch 2's development was heavily impacted.
Overwatch 2's first beta had propped up hopes for the game, but that goodwill was running out by the time Blizzard announced an Overwatch 2 Reveal Event for June 16. Suddenly, there was hope for real, concrete news on new in-game heroes, new cosmetic content, and a firm release date. Players eagerly awaited the coming of this date.
And then Microsoft came along a couple of days before it and drank Blizzard's milkshake by revealing not only the first new hero seen in years, but also an October 4 release date for Overwatch 2 during its Xbox + Bethesda showcase.
Of course, Overwatch 2 was just one of the many games shown off. Despite the fact that Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard remains in progress, the inclusion of it alongside another major segment on Diablo IV showed the company's depth of commitment to showing off Blizzard's IPs alongside the likes of Bethesda's Starfield or its own Forza series. Still, there wasn't nearly enough time to slake the thirsts of Overwatch fans who had been in that aforementioned drought for so very long. That's where today's Reveal Event comes in.
What's coming at launch?
Though the event video ran just a bit over 30 minutes, Blizzard managed to pack in more Overwatch news than it had released over the past several years. First, and most important of it all, was what players could expect at launch.
Overwatch 2 will be a "free to play live-service game" -- a phrase uttered more frequently than any other during the presentation. Likely, it was music to the ears of beleaguered fans of the franchise. While the original Overwatch grew stagnant, games like Fortnite and Apex Legends had seen constant and plentiful updates that adding new characters, maps, skins, and more. Blizzard wanted to make it very clear that any Overwatch fan envious of those other titles' bounty could finally breathe a sigh of relief.
Of course, this means that all of Overwatch 2's content won't be available at launch but will be released over time, using a new season system (more on that later). So, what will be available at launch?
Three new heroes
Three new heroes include Sojourn, a Damage hero from the first beta; Junker Queen (AKA: Odessa "Dez" Stone), a new Tank that will be playable during the second beta on June 28; and an unnamed Support character that will almost certainly be the long-rumored "Kanezaka fox girl." The community has been theorizing about the character since hints of her existence appeared in the Kanezaka map. Those theories exploded when a spirit fox could be seen seemingly buffing a team in the trailer for this event.
Six new maps
Blizzard hadn't revealed the full slate of maps that would be included at the time of writing, but some quick math suggests this list includes the four maps from the first beta -- New York, Rome, Toronto, and Monte Carlo -- as well as the Rio map teased for the second beta and likely the new map set in Portugal that also was hinted at being playable soon.
New "Push" game mode
This mode was already available in the first beta. It focuses on controlling a single, large robot (Omnic?) that pushes a pair of barriers along pre-determined routes. The first team that manages to push its barrier to the end wins. If neither reaches the end before time's up, the team that went farthest takes victory instead.
30+ Skins, including the first "Mythic" quality skin
More than 30 new skins for the game's heroes will be available October 4, including the game's first "Mythic" skin, a cyberpunk-inspired, demonic-looking cosmetic that heavily changes the look of the game's resident cyborg ninja, Genji. Apparently all Mythic skins will be customizable, allowing players to change the included colors using swappable palettes.
Other new cosmetics
Several completely new classes of cosmetic unlocks will join the existing roster. Alongside new highlight intros, sprays, and emotes, players also will now be able to unlock weapon charms and banners their hero can plant in game.
What about after launch?
As mentioned, Blizzard clearly wanted to communicate that this new launch will be the start of a long-term commitment to keeping Overwatch 2 content flowing. To that end, it revealed two more phases of new content coming to the game. The first will be the launch of Season 2 on December 6. This will be the first of the nine-week seasons that will define the game's release schedule after October 4. Blizzard promised that every other new season will include a new hero, with new maps being released between them. Each season will also come with at least one new Mythic skin, along with a slew of other lower-tier skins and cosmetics.
A new tank hero: We know basically nothing about who this might be. Will it be Mauga from Baptiste's backstory? The beefy-looking Omnic from the end of the "Storm Rising" cinematic? Another member of Meka Squad? Your guess is as good as mine.
A new map: This one's also a mystery. If the newly-revealed Portugal map does drop with the initial release, this might be one of the other maps we've seen teased or a completely new locale.
30+ new skinswith another Mythic skin: Another batch of more than 30 skins including an unknown Mythic skin will drop with this season as well.
A new Battle Pass system: As just about everyone in the know expected, Overwatch 2 will ditch the first game's loot boxes in favor of a classic live-service game Battle Pass system. Overwatch's take on the season-long, progression-based unlocks will include its full range of cosmetics. Blizzard also noted that this system will support "cross-progression," meaning players can contribute to the same account's seasonal progress via console or PC for the first time. Additional details on what's included in the the first battle pass can be seen below in the "When can I play?" section of our coverage of the just-revealed Overwatch 2: Watchpoint Pack.
Following Season 2, Overwatch 2 will move into 2023 with plans for additional new heroes, new game modes, new maps, and over 100 skins to be released during the calendar year. Most important, 2023 will also see the debut of Overwatch 2's first PVE missions.
These missions will see members of Overwatch and its evil counterpart Talon taking on AI-controlled opponents in scenarios similar to previous PVE seasonal events like Retribution and Storm Rising. Blizzard confirmed during the presentation that these new missions would "move the overall story forward."
Early entries look poised to focus on the new battle against Null Sector, an ascendant faction of Omnics looking to start a second uprising. The team behind the PVE missions ultimately expects to "close off existing stories" and "ask new questions" leading to completely new storylines over time.
What else was revealed?
Aside from the flood of new info on PVP, new heroes, and the introduction of cross-progression, Blizzard also teased its long-promised Competitive mode revamp.
During a section titled "Competitive 2.0," the company showed off the revamped in-game scoreboard that was seen in the first beta. It revealed that it will soon dovetail with a new "after-action report," which details the player's performance during the match on a more granular level than anything previously available. Blizzard hopes this will help players improve their game by showing where their strengths and weaknesses are.
Alongside this, Overwatch 2 also will see its competitive ranking systems revamped. New tiers will be introduced to further break down a player's accomplishments. This means those at the top of the Master tier, for instance, will be differentiated from those on the verge of dropping down into the Diamond tier below. Numerical SR ratings also appear to be going away, although the details remain somewhat fuzzy.
When can I play?
The next beta kicks off on June 28. Sign-ups are open for it right now on the Overwatch 2 website; you'll be asked to choose just one platform you'd like to play on during the second beta. Unlike the first, this one is also open to console players on Xbox and Playstation. The Switch version of Overwatch is not supported at this time.
Unfortunately, having gotten into the first beta does not guarantee you access to the second. It also remains to be seen if Blizzard will have an event on Twitch where players can earn their way in by watching streams, as they did the first time around.
The company did say it will select "a small group of players when the beta goes live on June 28 at 11 a.m. PDT and will steadily add more players over time as we ramp up capacity." Additional waves of access grants will follow beginning July 5.
Apparently, players will also be able to buy their way into the beta this time around. The sign-up page's FAQ section notes: "Players who purchase the Overwatch 2: Watchpoint Pack on a platform on which the beta is available will be granted immediate beta access as soon as the Overwatch 2 Beta launches on June 28 at 11 a.m. PT, or whenever the Watchpoint Pack is purchased after the Beta kicks off."
The Overwatch 2: Watchpoint Pack wasn't mentioned during the presentation, but it was posted on Blizzard's website afterwards. The pack contains the aforementioned beta access, two legendary skins (Space Raider Soldier 76 and Space Raider Cassidy), a Premium Battle Pass for Season 1 (confirming there will be some form of paid tier for each season's battle pass), 2,000 of Overwatch 2's new virtual currency (used for purchasing in-game cosmetics), an exclusive Overwatch 2 player icon, and the Legendary Edition of Overwatch, which is playable immediately.