BlizzConline 2021 Overwatch 2 News: Everything We Know
BlizzConline 2021 premiered, and it jam-packed with all the news we were waiting for. Although this article is about everything related to Overwatch 2, you can check out the rest of our recap here. But, simply put, the nostalgia is real.
In the “behind the scenes” panel, the developers officially revealed two maps, Rome and New York. However, later in the presentation, Blizzard unveiled India and Torbjorn’s Workshop in Gothenburg. Seeing the level of detail the Overwatch team has put into every map so far makes not having an official release date not so bad.
I will go through every part of the new information revealed to us today, including new maps, PvE hero progression, new campaigns, new enemies and much more. Check out everything we know below:
The New Maps
So as I previously stated, New York City and Rome were the two official maps discussed by the Overwatch 2 developers.
New York City is given more of a 1920s Art Deco style, with a science fiction twist. The team wanted the environment to feel familiar with pizzerias and game stores but still have the futuristic flying cars in the sky.
In Rome, they wanted to give a “romantic, powerful feeling of old-world architecture”. They included statement pieces such as the Colosseum, a Roman Temple, and a modern stadium and put the modern technology of Overwatch into other sculptures.
India is shown off, and we see the map we have been reading about in the comics. It features fountains with water lilies and large temples all around the map. It gives off a serene feel. Apparently, it is one of the most significant maps Overwatch has ever made, and I can’t wait to see it in all its glory.
The Gothenburg map features Torbjorn’s Workshop, and the team designed his workshop as if they were Torbjorn themselves. Everything is accessible for his height, there are no big ladders, and he can reach everything he needs.
PvE Hero Progression
Since the first showing of hero progression in the PVE mode back in 2019, every hero has now been upgraded a little more in their separate skill trees.
Each tree has a different name, and each skill is geared to that namesake. Reinhardt’s three trees are called Crusader, Juggernaut, and Guardian, while Mercy’s trees are Field Medic, Valkyrie, and Savior.
So far, each tree has seven tiers to progress down, unlocked with Skill Points (which I assume you get from playing missions) and with choices of different abilities.
“The trees have allowed us to break our own established rules for characters”, the developers say as they show Mercy using an area-of-effect resurrection. The Overwatch team stripped this ability from the character in 2017.
New abilities such as Winston’s Tesla Gun making a chain effect on enemies, double grenade launchers for Junkrat or even Mercy being able to fire explosive blasts from her staff are included.
So far, we have also seen that weapons can gain an elemental effect, such as Reinhardt’s Firestrike turning into a Freezestrike and Junkrat’s traps having an electric shock effect.
The Overwatch 2 trailer shows Winston getting the team back together, and that is what the campaign centres on in the game. The team getting back together and finding out who is behind the second Omnic Uprising.
There will be a seamless cut into an intro or outro with every mission to have consistent gameplay with great cinematics.
There won’t be set hero lineups for every mission, so there will be different conversations and voice lines between each hero during the missions.
India and Gothenburg will be maps included in the campaign, as well as Toronto.
Toronto will take place during a Null sector siege, and a snowstorm will be happening. The team wanted to include snowstorms and sandstorms to make the worlds feel realistic and like there was some real danger, other than from the music. Footage shows friendly NPCs trying to escape, maybe implying that it won’t always be Overwatch heroes vs. enemies all the time on these maps.
New musical themes have been composed for every map, location and every playable hero. I can’t wait for that soundtrack.
When looking back at the 2019 build of Overwatch 2, the developer team felt the enemies weren’t impressive enough, so they worked on the Null Sector enemies to make them a lot more engaging to fight.
When a hero is fighting an enemy, the enemy reacts more to being shot. Even when losing a limb, they continue to fight until their health runs out. Plus, these reactions can also cause chain reactions, so shooting one enemy into another can cause them both to stumble instead of just one.
The team is also experimenting with Elite enemies, which don’t just add extra health, but extra abilities, weaponry, behaviour and extra creepiness. A basic Omnic Guard will shoot slowly and collapse when dead, whereas an Elite Omnic Guard will have a burst fire gun and try to crawl towards you and explode when you think it’s defeated.
They featured a Breacher. The Breacher is a walking bomb that slowly moves towards its objective and must be destroyed before it opens its mouth like a Venus flytrap and swirls the inside, and detonates.
Lastly, the most disturbing of all is the Puller. The Puller is a creepy blindfolded enemy with three orbs that act as a tractor beam, pulling you into your death unless it is stopped. This enemy definitely gives off more of a horror game vibe.
Hero Look Changes
Bringing back the sunshine, the team showed more changes to the established heroes like McCree, Pharah, Reaper and Widowmaker. They improved the fabric tech and used a more advanced face rig to show the heroes being more expressive in the game and cinematics.
McCree now has a full beard, is visibly older and sports a more armoured look. Aging the characters shows the time difference between Overwatch and Overwatch 2 and gives more depth to the storyline; I appreciate it immensely.
Pharah is sporting the more original Overwatch’s blue and white colours and has a translucent visor to show facial expressions instead of her previously completely fully covered one.
Reaper has a more armoured look and has changed to a more metallic silver colour than the bone-white he was sporting previously.
Widowmaker is sporting more of a cyberpunk aesthetic, but they wanted to keep her long ponytail silhouette the same, so they opted for a long braid to keep her still looking sharp and deadly.
The Overwatch 2 gameplay showed Sojourn a little more, and we got to see that she uses a rail gun. Her gun requires accurate use and can apparently “rip through” enemy health bars, so she seems strong even without seeing her ultimate ability.
The team will still be using the existing Overwatch structure but are still experimenting with some features that will make the Overwatch 2 PVP a “big departure” from what is live today.
One of the currently experimented features is “role passives”, background abilities that affect an entire class of heroes.
Tank’s passive is a reduction in knockback and less ult charge generated for those shooting at them. This was because the developers wanted tanks to feel more like they could brawl with the team instead of standing back and having to protect.
The damage role’s passive is a boost in movement speed to encourage more flanking.
The support passive is a slow, automatic healing effect (similar to Mercy’s existing passive, but less useful and less likely to give as much ult charge). This is a perfect passive for healers like Zenyatta or Brigette, as they can’t heal themselves and only replenish shields, not health.
Reinhardt’s experimental change gives him two fire strikes, charge cancelling, and better steering while mid-charge.
There is also a consideration of taking out the Assault mode (2CP) and replacing it with other modes. However, this seems to be experimental and not a promise. Although I know all of you are secretly praying each night for 2CP to get taken out.
The Hero missions are the game’s replayable co-op PvP mode. These are designed specifically for players who aren’t interested in competitive play.
This mode is used to level up your heroes.
The team plans on making hundreds of different missions, so it doesn’t feel like a grind. You can also play any of them at any time.
The missions will come with light story elements, so you will still be getting lore each time.
Hero mission types include Gather and Return. In this mode, you must collect canisters from across the map and safely dispose of them at marked locations. It sounds a bit like “Capture the Flag” to me. Other names include Wall of Death, Scavenger Hunt, and Kill Quest.
The missions will also include pre-existing maps with a different route or another section of the map, like opening a gate up in Kings Row. You can play them at any time of the day as every map will now have daytime, sunset, and nighttime.
As mentioned previously, the weather will be introduced to the game. However, in the hero missions, the weather type is announced before you begin.
All in all, this is amazing news to hear, and I know every Overwatch fan is excited. However, not getting anything in the current game of Overwatch is quite irritating and disappointing. Not knowing the release date of Overwatch 2 doesn’t give much hope for the current state of Overwatch lasting much longer. How long do they expect us all to wait for this?