Publisher Activision Blizzard, responsible for the game this article refers to, is currently embroiled in ongoing litigation in regards to claims reporting a workplace culture that allegedly enabled acts of sexual harassment, abuse and discrimination. Read our Activision Blizzard lawsuit timeline of events for ongoing coverage of the events.
After seemingly endless speculation, Overwatch 2 was announced at BlizzCon 2019 and it's now one of the most hotly-anticipated games around.
With new PvP modes, new maps, cosmetic items and characters, Overwatch 2 seems set to push the series forwards as a "true sequel". Even more excitingly, we can expect the addition of story and hero missions which will allow for “highly-repayable” cooperative play with friends – a first for the Overwatch series and likely to bring a feeling of freshness to proceedings.
We don’t know exactly when Overwatch 2 will release—2021 seems to be off the cards but 2022 is looking more likely. We’re hoping that 2021 will at least be the year we find out a lot more about the game. In the meantime we’ve gathered together everything we know about Overwatch 2 so far below for your perusal.
[Update: The 2022 season of the Overwatch League will begin using an early build of Overwatch 2. Read on to find out more.]
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The sequel to Blizzard's team-based shooter
- When is it out? TBC but likely to be 2022 at the earliest
- What can I play it on? Probably PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One (PS5 and Xbox Series X versions also seem inevitable).
Overwatch 2 release date
Blizzard officially unveiled Overwatch 2 at BlizzCon 2019. Apparently the sequel is still in early development and Blizzard doesn't know exactly when it will release, though it's looking like it'll be 2022 at the earliest.
In a February 2021 financial call Activision Blizzard CFO, Dennis Durkin, said the company’s outlook "does not include" Overwatch 2 releasing in 2021.
Raising hopes that 2022 will be the year, in the same call COO, Daniel Alegre, said that “The pipeline is progressing really well, and we anticipate that 2022 will be a great year for Blizzard.” Even more promisingly, Blizzard’s Jay Allen Brack said that a “major internal milestone” had been passed in the development of Overwatch 2 in November.
In December 2020 Kaplan added in an update that the team is working "extremely hard" but there's still "a ways to go" in terms of the game's development. Expanding on this during a behind the scenes video during BlizzCon 2021, Kaplan and his team said that they “need some more time till we can say it’s perfectly polished in the way that we want it", adding that “in order to make a game great it takes time, energy, collaboration…Our goal is for Overwatch 2 to be the worthy successor to the first game, to be the next evolution and to be a true sequel.”
Amid Activision Blizzard's ongoing litigation, the company has said (via IGN) that the game has "passed an important internal milestone" but there's no official release date yet and there are conflicting reports. While Overwatch streamer Metro has recently tweeted (via NME) that they have heard from "multiple people" that the game's development is taking longer than expected and a 2022 release could be optimistic, an even more recent report from Dexterto points to a mid-2022 release.
Dexerto's report has been given extra weight by the confirmation that the 2022 season of the Overwatch League will begin with an "early build of Overwatch 2" which does suggest Blizzard still has its sights set on a 2022 release.
Overwatch 2 trailers
During BlizzCon 2021, there was no new Overwatch 2 trailer but a behind the scenes video did contain some glimpses into the progress on the game, with looks at new maps and in-progress gameplay. You can watch the video for yourself below:
Overwatch 2 was officially revealed by Jeff Kaplan at BlizzCon 2019, alongside an eight-minute cinematic trailer titled "Zero Hour".
Check it out below (but have some tissues at the ready):
During BlizzCon 2019, Blizzard also dropped a three-minute gameplay trailer for Overwatch 2 which showcases the sequel's new look.
Watch it below:
Overwatch 2 news, rumors and confirmed features
We've gathered together all the news and rumors surrounding Overwatch 2 below, alongside the confirmed features so far:
An "early build" will be used in Overwatch League's 2022 season
The 2022 season of Overwatch League will kick off using an early build of Overwatch 2, Blizzard has confirmed.
Vice president of the Overwatch League at Blizzard, Jon Spector, tweeted about the company’s plans for the league’s next season, confirming that it is currently slated to begin sometime in April 2022.
In a second tweet, Spector quoted DotEsports reporter Liz Richardson, who had received confirmation that the 2022 season will “begin on an early build of Overwatch 2” from an Overwatch spokesperson. Spector didn’t elaborate on this but did say that Blizzard will “share more details about 2022 roster construction timelines soon and more info generally on our 2022 season as we get closer to April.”
Oh yeah also this https://t.co/9SdBXXSyzzSeptember 3, 2021
Despite recent rumors (more on that below) that the game might miss 2022, this announcement actually bodes well for a 2022 Overwatch 2 release. It also aligns quite well with a recent report from Dexerto which dismisses 2023 claims and says that, according to sources, the Overwatch 2 team "is looking to get it out before the Summer of 2022".
Rumors of 2023
Despite Activision saying recently that Overwatch 2 is making “great progress”, there are rumors that the game is facing a delay which could see it release in 2023. Overwatch streamer Metro recently tweeted (via NME) that the have heard from “multiple people” that development of Overwatch 2 is taking “longer than expected” and as a result a 2022 release “does not seem likely anymore.”
Metro does add that they hope this information is false and will be proven wrong. It’s worth noting that Overwatch 2 doesn’t actually have an official release date or window that can be delayed yet and we won’t know for sure when to expect the game until it’s confirmed by Activision Blizzard.
OW2 NewsI've heard from multiple people close to my original source with OW2 that the development is taking longer than expected. From what I can gather a release in 2022 does not seem likely anymore. I hope this is false and I'm proven wrong.August 7, 2021
Making “great progress”
Amid Activision Blizzard’s ongoing litigation, the company has provided an update on the progress of some of its games, Overwatch 2 included. According to Activision Blizzard (via IGN) said, “Overwatch 2 development passed an important internal milestone in recent weeks,” adding, “After a great response to the recent community update, the team is looking forward to revealing more of the game in the coming months as they approach the later stages of production.”
Further to this, during a recent earnings call, new co-leader Jen Oneal told investors that since joining the company he has seen “great progress” on Overwatch 2.
Nintendo Switch compromises
Overwatch 2 is definitely still coming to Nintendo Switch consoles but Blizzard has revealed that the game will need to make “some compromises" on the system.
This was revealed in a recent AMA for the game on Reddit, in which fans were able to ask the developers questions. One fan who described themselves “as a solely Switch player” noted the graphical improvements that are being made in Overwatch 2 and asked what compromises might have to be made for Nintendo’s console version and Technical Director John Lafleur responded.
According to Lafleur, the team is “working hard to make sure all of our platforms get the best experience, even in PvE” but added that the Nintendo Switch “is a little more challenging than some, and we'll have to make some compromises there.”
As a result, players should expect that “some of the higher end visual enhancements might not be visible, there. We'll focus on making sure all of the gameplay-related features get in, first, and then accentuate with additional features as much as possible.” Lafleur wasn’t forthcoming with specifics so it’s likely we’ll find out more about these closer to the game’s release.
Though there is no release date yet, Blizzard also revealed in the AMA that the plan is to release the game on all platforms at the same time if possible, with Lead Software Engineer, Bill Warnecke, saying, "As a live ops engineer I loved shipping Overwatch on all platforms and in all regions at the same time, it was a huge challenge and was very exciting. It's definitely our goal to do the same for Overwatch 2, but of course I can't promise that we wont' hit any blockers that prevent us from doing that."
Sombra and Baptiste get new looks
Blizzard Entertainment showed up briefly during the Summer Game Fest 2021 kickoff event to share a new look at two of the iconic characters from the first Overwatch and how their appearance is changing in Overwatch 2.
Specifically, Sombra and Baptiste have new and improved looks that stay true to their prior designs, which you can check out in the gallery below.
BlizzCon 2021 cancelled
We shouldn't expect to see any updates on Overwatch 2 at a physical version of BlizzCon 2021 as Blizzard has announced that the show is cancelled.
“The ongoing complexities and uncertainties of the pandemic have impacted our ability to properly move forward on many of these fronts, and ultimately we’re now past the point where we’d be able to develop the kind of event we’d want to create for you in November,” writes Saralyn Smith, Executive Producer of BlizzCon.
An online event with “smaller in-person gatherings” will apparently be held in early 2022, much like BlizzConline 2021. More details on this are expected at a later date.
Overwatch 2 is to include a new feature known as Environment States. Writing in a technical blog post on the Overwatch site, software engineer Marco Alamia and developers Bruce Wilkie and Fabien Christin went over the feature. It will, in essence, make it possible for the team to make all of the environmental properties of a particular game map (its weather, its lighting, its time of day) a single thing that can be applied easily to other levels.
“Let’s take the fast-paced deathmatch map of Necropolis,” writes Christin. “You’ve probably played it in its night scenario, which marries the contrast of the cold blue colors of the night-time with the bright orange of the torches lit around the buildings.”
“But let’s say we want to experiment with a different scenario, and we decide to try the hot desert colors of Temple of Anubis. With the new Environment States system, all we need to do is take the Environment State from the Temple of Anubis and apply it to Necropolis.”
Crossplay, Ping and beta possibilities?
Members of the Overwatch 2 development team have recently been spotted on Reddit, answering questions about the game that touch on everything from plans for a beta, to cross-play, to the possibility of a ping system.
Although nothing was confirmed as being in Overwatch 2, when it comes to introducing cross-play and cross-progression in Overwatch 2, Blizzard technical director, John Lafleur said that the team is “pretty excited about the possibilities of cross-play and cross-progression,” adding, “if we go this route” then the team would tackle cross-play first, “given the additional complexities of cross-progression”.
As far as a beta is concerned, Lafleur said “almost certainly, yes.” However, he wasn’t open to giving rough date for when it could be expected to take place, adding, “If I knew when, I couldn’t tell you. If I told you, I’d have to kill you.”
As for a Ping system, popularised by Apex Legends, Game director Aaron Keller said the team has “definitely considered” one. Not only that, he admitted there’s a “prototype of it running internally right now”.
As for whether Overwatch 2 will actually have a ping system on release, Keller couldn’t say: “We don’t make a habit of promising things to players until they are actually announced and I’m not going to break that tradition right now…but it is something we are excited about as a team and are working through issues currently.”
Jeff Kaplan quits but more news is coming soon
Jeff Kaplan, director of Overwatch 2 and Vice President at Blizzard Entertainment, has revealed he is leaving the company after 19 years there. It’s been confirmed that leadership on Overwatch 2 will pass over to Aaron Keller, another long-standing member of the team at Blizzard working on the game.
Following Kaplan’s announcement, Keller posted a letter to the Overwatch community on the official site, informing fans that “development is continuing at a good pace” and that there are “exciting reveals planned for this year and beyond as we ramp to launch. We’ll be sharing more frequent updates about Overwatch 2 progress and new features in the live game with you all very soon. “
BlizzConline may not have brought us a release date for Overwatch 2, but a 40-minute behind the scenes video certainly gave an insight into the improvements and additions the game’s development team is looking to make. It also offered an insight into why we might have to wait a little big longer for the game’s release date.
Game director Jeff Kaplan and other members of the development team said that while “right now, we can sit down and have a night of Overwatch 2 and have it be a really fun experience” they “need some more time till we can say it’s perfectly polished in the way that we want it.” Kaplan himself said that “in order to make a game great it takes time, energy, collaboration…Our goal is for Overwatch 2 to be the worthy successor to the first game, to be the next evolution and to be a true sequel.”
Over the course of the 40 minute video, the development team touched on the things that they’re developing and improving in the game, from its PvP, Hero Missions and Hero Progression to the Campaign and the appearance of existing characters.
Two new maps were revealed during the video: New York and Rome. Both maps have completely different looks, with Rome leaning into Romance and ancient architecture while New York puts a sci-fi spin on Art Deco.
As far as PvP is concerned, it seems that the development team isn’t afraid to experiment with it for Overwatch 2 with the intention of making something that feels like a “big departure” from what’s currently there. Tank characters, for example, are being re-evaluated in a way that will make them “toe-to-toe brawlers” rather than protectors. And it seems that no mode is safe, as Kaplan suggested that some modes could be replaced for new ones.
When it comes to the new Hero Missions, every existing map will apparently be usable, with mentions of brand new areas in some specifically for the Hero Missions. We should expect dynamic weather and different times of day as well as different objective types.
Since 2019, the team has been making efforts to make PvE combat more interesting, so Null Sector enemies are now more engaging to fight. Hero Progression has also developed and deepened since 2019 and every hero now has their own talent tree.
For Overwatch 2’s campaign, the story will focus on Overwatch heroes coming together to find out the who and why of a second Omnic Uprising. The aim is to have the story be “a little more integrated” into the game’s missions than before, with seamless cuts between gameplay and cinematic cutscenes, as well as developing character relationships and branching dialogue. Each story mission is going to have its own “gigantic” custom map, and some of those shown include India, Gothenburg and Toronto.
We also got a look at the new hero Sojourn, initially revealed alongside the game. Sojourn is going to carry a railgun and is apparently a play-tester favorite, though good aim is required to make the most of her. In the spirit of leaving no stone unturned, even existing characters will have updates to their appearance. The video revealed four of those: Widowmaker, Phara, Reaper and McCree.
It’s hard to say that the Overwatch 2 development team was close-lipped for BlizzCon 2021 so it looks like we’ll just have to wait a little bit longer for that release date.
No 2021 release date
Activision Blizzard has confirmed that it doesn’t expect Overwatch 2 to launch in 2021. This comes from Activision Blizzard’s CFO, Dennis Durkin, who, speaking during a financial call in February 2021, said the company’s outlook doesn’t involve Overwatch 2 or Diablo 4 releasing in 2021.
According to Durkin, the company expects “Blizzard’s net bookings to grow given the momentum in World of Warcraft and the other growth initiatives we have in the business,” but added, “Our outlook does not include Diablo 4 or Overwatch 2 launching in 2021. And while Diablo Immortal is progressing well, and we anticipate its launch later this year we don’t have any material contribution from the title in our outlook presently.”
It’s possible that while 2021 isn’t on the cards for Overwatch 2, 2022 is, as in the same call, COO, Daniel Alegre said that “The pipeline is progressing really well, and we anticipate that 2022 will be a great year for Blizzard.” Even more promisingly, Blizzard’s Jay Allen Brack said that a “major internal milestone” had been passed in the development of Overwatch 2 in November.
Developer update and BlizzConline
In an end-of-year developer update posted in December 2020, former Overwatch 2 director, Jeff Kaplan, has confirmed that after much silence there would be an update on Overwatch 2 during BlizzCon 2021, Blizzard’s annual developer conference where announcements, trailers and previews are usually shared.
Entirely online for 2021, BlizzCon took place between February 19 and February 20.
Kaplan also tried to manage expectations about the game in the update, saying that while the team is focused on developing Overwatch 2, it still has "a ways to go”.
This makes it seem unlikely, then, that previous rumors (via GamesRadar) that the game will be launched in February alongside Blizzcon are accurate. In 2020, prominent leaker Metro said that the game’s full release could come as soon as February 2021 but Kaplan’s cautious update suggests that won’t be the case. Metro also floated the idea that a beta could be launched around this time. This seems more likely but we won’t know for sure until BlizzCon itself.
We’ll update this page with more Overwatch 2 news from the event as it’s announced.
Larger more complex maps
Blizzard is looking to do more with co-op missions in Overwatch 2 by increasing the size of the game’s maps and populating them with a wider variety of enemies.
In a July 2020 blog post which touches on development tools and engine being used for the game, Blizzard said that “Overwatch 2’s PvE maps are larger and more complex than Overwatch maps like Retribution and Storm Rising. That doesn’t just mean more distance to cover, but also longer missions involving more kinds of foes and more elaborate encounters. Adding enemy types leads to complex ability interactions between enemies and heroes–but also between the enemies themselves,
Echo comes to Overwatch
Blizzard has announced a brand new Overwatch hero called Echo and has said that it's "very likely" going to be the last hero added to the base game before Overwatch 2.
Talking to Polygon, Jeff Kaplan said that the development team has “a number of new heroes in development. We have multiple tanks, and we have multiple supports in development. But after Echo, the team is going to be heavily focused on Overwatch 2 development.”
At the moment, though Kaplan doesn't have any release date details to give, adding that “development is going great. The team’s having tons of fun making the game, I feel like we’re starting to understand it even more.” It seems that Overwatch 2 is still a way off yet.
Michael Chu leaves Blizzard
Overwatch's lead writer Michael Chu has announced his departure from Blizzard after 20 years of working there. Chu, responsible for much of the game's lore and character back stories, posted the news to his blog and on Twitter. Chu hasn't revealed what his next steps are but has said he hopes "to continue to tell these stories and build worlds that unite people through games."
Overwatch fans, naturally, will want to know how this departure might impact the development of Overwatch 2, especially since it seems to be putting an emphasis on Story and Hero missions. According to Blizzard in a statement (via PCGamer), the game shouldn't be affected.
"We’re incredibly grateful to Michael for his contributions, and his presence at Blizzard will be missed. We’re not anticipating an impact to our plans for Overwatch 2. The game’s development is a massive collaborative effort involving talented people across multiple teams, all with a shared commitment to the values of Overwatch and the vision for Overwatch 2. We’re working hard to create an epic, story-driven experience for players, and we can’t wait to share more."
Teasing another hero?
Blizzard has been fairly tight-lipped when it comes to the hero roster for Overwatch 2 but fans who tuned into Jeff Kaplan's Yule Log livestream have been left wondering if the director was teasing a new hero for the next release (via ComicBook). During the course of Kaplan's livestream, while building an Overwatch Lego set at around the 6 hour and 11 minute mark, he mentions established Overwatch character Junker Queen and threw out some questions on whether or not she's "ever going to be a hero" and what role she might take if she was one. It was far from a confirmation of anything but it's been enough in an otherwise quiet livestream to grab the attention of Overwatch fans. We imagine if Junker Queen is going to be a hero in Overwatch 2 we'll get a confirmation closer to the game's release whenever that may be.
Larger maps and more heroes
In a recent interview, Overwatch 2's assistant director, Aaron Keller, and lead writer, Michael Chu have expanded a little on the team's ambitions for PvE play. According to Keller, there are "lots of heroes" in the work for the game and that its PvE maps are "2x larger than regular Overwatch maps."
This increased scale is all in the service of telling more story in the Overwatch world and that the new co-op story missions will allow for “a more traditional way to tell a story in the Overwatch universe.”. A story which, Chu said, will have a "beginning, middle, and end".
Naturally, as stated before, PvP is still a focus for the team and progression in PvP will be "entirely separate" from PvE.
According to Keller, “we don’t want gameplay changing talents and abilities to give an unfair advantage in PvP. We’re still exploring what players can earn in PvE and building out the progression system for that. Our goal is to make a robust meaningful progression system that feeds into our Hero Missions where players can play and replay for many hours or as their main mode of play after they complete the Overwatch 2 story.”
“With Overwatch 2, we’re building the cooperative, narrative-driven game experience that players have been asking for since the original—and that we’ve wanted to make for a long time,” said J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard Entertainment. “We’re looking forward to telling the next chapter of this epic story in-game, and we’re excited to give players a whole-new kind of co-op experience built around progressing and customizing their favorite heroes – all while providing even more of everything they love about Overwatch today.”
PvP is still a focus
Despite a heavy emphasis on the new co-operative modes, Kaplan took time to dispel the myth that Overwatch 2 would lose out on the multiplayer modes that made 50 million people play the game in the first place.
In fact, according to Kaplan, a huge focus for the Overwatch 2 team is making PvP as good as it possibly can be – which includes new maps, new modes and new characters further down the line.
Cosmetic items will cross over
According to Kaplan, all the cosmetic items earned in the original Overwatch will be ported over to Overwatch 2 – a move that will help expedite the transition to the new game.
Hero Missions see the Overwatch team traveling the globe, defending cities against robot invasions, taking on elite Talon agents, and battling the villainous forces laying siege to the world. This "highly-replayable mode" will allow players to level up their favorite heroes and earn powerful customization options that supercharge their abilities in co-op play – such as altering Reinhardt’s Fire Strike to ignite nearby enemies or modifying Tracer’s Pulse Bomb to cause a devastating chain reaction – granting the extra edge they need against the overwhelming odds.
Overwatch and Overwatch 2 are compatible
Current Overwatch players can play alongside Overwatch 2 players in PvP multiplayer. In addition, current Overwatch players will be able to play Overwatch 2 heroes and maps.
Co-operative missions see players teaming up to "stand together against an overwhelming outbreak of threats around the globe".
Overwatch 2 Play
Similar to what we seen with its predecessor, Overwatch Play carries forward existing players’ accomplishments and loot collections and features the current complete Overwatch roster, a new generation of heroes, new maps that "widen the scope of the world" and a new Push map type – plus more to be revealed.
Story missions sees Winston, Tracer, and other members of the original Overwatch, join forces with a new generation of heroes. Players will take an active role in the Overwatch saga as a new global crisis unfolds through a series of intense, high-stakes four-player missions. As the story progresses, players will team up as different sets of heroes and fight to defend the world from the omnic forces of Null Sector, uncover the motives behind the robotic armies’ attacks, and come face-to-face with rising new threats around the globe.
New engine upgrades
Overwatch 2 introduces significant engine upgrades that support larger maps for co-op (PvE) play, as well as the wide variety of new enemies and factions that players will encounter on their missions. The game also introduces visual enhancements.
Overwatch 2 was officially revealed at BlizzCon 2019, alongside an eight-minute cinematic trailer. We also got a three-minute gameplay trailer which showcased the sequel's new look, alongside new hero abilities.
Overwatch 2 will feature new PvP modes, with tug-of-war Push being the staple of competitive play, as well as new maps, cosmetic items and characters, including Sojourn. While the new PVP modes are expected, new for the series is the addition of story and hero missions that allow for cooperative play – a first for the series.
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