Overwatch 2’s winter event feels like an afterthought

Mei hero
(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Here we are again, another year, another Yeti on the loose. You’d think someone more qualified would turn up to deal with this abominable snowman, but here I am, a Mei armed with a freezing gun. 

As we enter the arena, I hear the distant howl of the Yeti-shaped Winston reverberating over the snowy cliffs and wooden buildings. In his role as a Yeti, Winston has to jump around the frosty map collecting slabs of meat without being killed by the pursuing Meis. Once he collects all four, Winston can finally fight back and take out every single opposing Mei in a flurry of rage. 

From the moment the match starts, the ape begins sprinting around the map to evade capture, with a gaggle of Mei’s slowly following behind in pursuit. This doesn’t seem like the best plan of attack. I, for one, don’t want to be here long. I’m sticking around for the XP, a skin, and maybe a spray. So if I can’t get to the peanut butter-loving primate, I’ll just get him to come to me. 

I stand next to the last slab of meat and prepare for a sneak attack. While all my teammates are being tossed aside and trampled on, I’ve been sitting alone, thinking up a master plan that can clutch the win. I place the trap and see Winston get closer and closer, preparing to attack and get the last piece of meat. Finally, I jump in front of the raging Yeti. I get knocked back like a bowling pin and die shortly after that but, on the bright side, my valiant sacrifice meant Winston got trapped and we won the game. So I’ll gladly jump on that knife. 

Scrooge season  

Season homepage

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Overall, Overwatch 2’s winter event has been a lot like that Yeti match, slightly underwhelming and with little reward. 

Seasonal events used to be something I really enjoyed and looked forward to every year. The creativity behind some of the skins and designs for Overwatch heroes has always been impressive, and the seasonal events were where they really got to shine. Who doesn’t love the Nutcracker Zenyatta skin or the D.Va sleigh skin? 

Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to enjoy a host of fantastic skins this seasonal – well, not without paying. This year the only free skin you can get by simply playing during the event is Ice Queen Brigitte. There are still great skins to be had, but rather than being able to earn them through play, you’ll find them in the shop with a hefty price tag strapped to them. In previous years, events would include weekly challenges in which you could earn a skin, icon, and spray. This wasn’t only a great way to earn cool skins but it was rewarding content that encouraged players to make the most of the entire season. Compared to this, the Overwatch 2 winter seasonal feels slightly rushed.

Winter challenges

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

With 23 days in the Winter Wonderland event, you’d expect Blizzard would have included enough obstacles and rewards to keep fans satisfied over the holiday period. Unfortunately, only nine challenges are available, with one rewarding you with the aforementioned Brigitte skin and the others giving you a pitiful amount of XP and a spray. I actually completed half of these after just three hours of playtime.

The lack of available rewards, be it skins or sprays, doesn’t help me get in the Christmas mood. In reality, this feels like a weekend patch rather than a seasonal event. No matter how you slice it, this isn’t the Winter Wonderland event we know and love from the original Overwatch.

Nostalgia ghost  

Winter wonderland game

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

After playing the first two seasons of Overwatch 2, and experiencing all the seasonal events that have occurred since, I’ve found that Blizzard has a hard time living up to expectations but also shaking the past. 

In my eyes, Overwatch 2 signalled the start of a new game. Some expected a ton of new updates, heroes, and maps, so while Blizzard has done a fantastic job in making the game enjoyable again, to many, Overwatch 2 feels like a DLC rather than a separate game. In this sense, Overwatch 2 has fallen short of living up to expectations. 

On the other hand, I find it incredibly difficult to look at Overwatch 2 and Overwatch as separate entities. No matter what happens in the sequel, I always think about how it holds up to the original. For example, the lack of skins and rewards in Overwatch 2 is made more apparent when you compare it to the first game, which had a great number of free skins that could be easily accessible.

We should continue to hold Blizzard and Overwatch 2 to the standards that we came to expect from the first game, but it seems the playing field has changed. While Overwatch had a focus on seasonal events, with new skins and sprays, it seems as if its successor is instead honing in on regular updates to new heroes, maps, and the PVE game mode.

Overwatch 2 is prioritizing something entirely different from what we have come to know – at least for now. So the seasonal events may seem slightly lacking for the time being, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t effort going into the game behind the scenes. It’s still early days, and Blizzard is preoccupied with getting the fundamentals of Overwatch 2 right. Hopefully, in the future, we’ll see a greater focus on seasonal events.

Elie Gould
Features Writer

Elie is a Features Writer for TechRadar Gaming, here to write about anything new or slightly weird. Before writing for TRG, Elie studied for a Masters at Cardiff University JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs or editing the gaming section for their student publications. 

Elie’s first step into gaming was through Pokémon but they've taken the natural next step in the horror genre. Any and every game that would keep you up at night is on their list to play - despite the fact that one of Elie’s biggest fears is being chased.