Today, Blizzard announced that Overwatch 2, the long-awaited sequel to its team-based hero shooter, isn’t dead and has a closed PvP beta out in late April.
Although Overwatch 2 was hyped up for its inclusion of PvE gameplay–a game mode only playable in the first game during seasonal events like Junkenstein’s Revenge–its closed beta will only feature PvP. Overwatch 2’s game director, Aaron Keller, explained in an update video that Overwatch 2’s “decoupling” of PvE and PvP content was to provide the team more time to work on PvE, while getting new PvP content into players’ hands sooner.
“Today’s change and approach enables us to deliver frequent PvP content to the live game, with the goal of far-exceeding Overwatch’s previous rate of content release, and making the live game the most vibrant and dynamic PvP experience anywhere,” Keller said.
Overwatch 2’s alpha test, which will primarily involve Overwatch League players and Blizzard employees, comes out today. Everyone else will be able to play Overwatch 2 and provide feedback by opting into the closed beta, due to arrive in late April. Here’s a rundown of what the closed beta will feature:
- Reduced team size from 6v6 to 5v5
- Four new maps
- Circuit Royal (Escort Map)Midtown (Hybrid Map)New Queen Street (New Push Map)Colosseo (New Push Map)
- New ping system
- The long-awaited debut of the 31 hero Sojourn
- Hero reworks (something Overwatch has overindulged with in the past) to Bastion, Doomfist, Orisa, and Sombra.
Overwatch 2 was first announced way back in 2019 at Blizzcon, alongside a cinematic and gameplay trailer. The trailers not only showcased new character models, but teased the game’s focus on having an in-game storyline, something the series often retconned in its previous game. Its announcement suggested very promising additions to the series, but at that time the Overwatch team didn’t provide information on the game’s release date.
Fans began to worry that the game would never come out, something exacerbated by the company’s radio silence over the matter, while its lead writer Michael Chu and beloved game director Jeff Kaplan left the company in 2020 and 2021 respectively. On top of all that, there was Activision Blizzard’s ongoing lawsuit, where the company has been accused of fostering a “frat boy” work culture, where women across multiple studios are alleged to have been sexually harassed, assaulted, and psychologically traumatized.
Last year’s BlizzConline did feature an Overwatch 2 panel showing its updated character models, but the game went concerningly unmentioned during the event’s opening keynotes. This caused increased concern among fans, who were getting very wary. This lack of information, and the stretches of silence, are something Keller acknowledged in his recent video.
“I want to thank our players for your continued support,’’ Keller said. “We recognize we haven’t communicated well, haven’t kept you up to date, and honestly, we’ve let you down when it comes to delivering Overwatch content. We hear you and we’re committed to more continual updates on all things Overwatch 2.”
Overwatch 2 is slated to release sometime in 2023.