New Overwatch 2 Maps, Mechanics, Abilities Revealed

Blizzard has talked at length about some of the big additions coming to Overwatch 2.

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Blizzard has shown off an Overwatch 2 behind-the-scenes featurette and, as part of that, given fans a glimpse at new additions and improvements being made for the sequel. During the flurry of BlizzConline 2021 announcements, Blizzard showed a behind-the-scenes featurette video for Overwatch 2, which revealed new details about the game's locations, playable heroes, and enemies.

In the presentation, we get our first look at two locations in the upcoming multiplayer-focused hero shooter: Rome and New York City. The former will be the setting for one of the maps for Push mode, one of the new additions in Overwatch 2. The Overwatch version of Rome was described as being created to reflect a romanticized notion of the location, especially through its architecture. It features the colosseum and the grand hills as a backdrop. New York, meanwhile, was described as being "authentic" but with an Overwatch spin. It has pizza places and small shops that evoke the Village. "It feels like something you haven't seen in other games before because it is uniquely Overwatch," a dev said.

Unlike its predecessor, Overwatch 2 will have both permanent PvP and PvE modes. In PvE, you'll fight computer-controlled enemies, and the new featurette reveals what some of them will look like, such as Null Sector's Stalker and Breacher. The featurette also provides more context for how progression, story and hero missions, and hero customization will work in Overwatch 2's PvE. In this mode, you'll have the flexibility to customize abilities to tweak them to your liking.

Changes To PvP

On the subject of Overwatch 2's PvP, Blizzard said it was upgrading how combat will feel, to the point that the experience should feel like a pretty big departure from what's it's like to currently play in Overwatch. Weapon feel was particularly focused on, with animation and sounds updated to better focus on enhancing the way that combat looks, sounds, and feels.

Role passives are a big new gameplay addition--these are passive attributes based on class. Tanks, for instance, will have resistance to knockback. Tanks, as a whole, will undergo a big shift. The class will now be toe-to-toe brawlers instead of characters that stand back and protect. For example, Reinhardt will be able to use two Firestrikes, steer his charge, and cancel it.

Sojourn, a new hero coming for Overwatch 2, was also briefly shown. She, according to Blizzard, was built around the railgun, a classic weapon in the first-person shooter.

Hero Missions

One big new feature for Overwatch 2 is Hero Missions, which are co-op, PvE experiences where players can level up heroes and progress their development. In Hero Missions, players will be asked to do things like gather resources to keep them safe, while enemy units are trying to take you out.

According to Blizzard, it is aiming to make hundreds of hero missions with a variety of enemy units, bosses, and new spaces that will be added to existing maps. King's Row, for example, now has a gate that opens and lets players move into a new area. This also means the payload can take new routes.

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Weather Effects

On the environmental side, weather effects have been added. Dynamically, sandstorms, blizzards, and other effects can come into play. There are also shifts in time of day. This will have a dramatic improvement in how cinematic an Overwatch PvE experience becomes.

How Progression Will Work

Everything will feed into progression and talents, further developing individual characters. Talents allow heroes to be played in various different ways, depending on the skill tree that a player picks. Different paths will result in noticeable changes in how characters feel and play. Soldier 76 was shown moving his healing field, while Mercy launched missiles from her healing beam. The talent trees add a layer of RPG mechanics to Overwatch.

Talent trees will be a part of PvE, changing up how you fight in order to take on the diverse assortment of enemy types. One of these is the aforementioned Breacher, which is a walking bomb. Slicers, meanwhile are described as deadly chicken-like enemies that quickly move around. The Polar is a tall, elegant, creature that makes things a bit spookier--much like the Witch in Left 4 Dead. Elite units such as the Elite Omnic Grunt is way more powerful than the usual type and will have different behavior, such as crawling towards you when downed.

Enemies also have improved reactions to taking damage, so that they're more readable. You can shoot off parts of Null Sector killing machines, and there are even "chain hit reactions" so enemies that take damage that are positioned close to others will impact them.

Updated Character Models

Additionally, the featurette revealed what McCree, Reaper, Widowmaker, and Pharah would look like in Overwatch 2. The former has a longer beard and has a good balance of the tech-aesthetic and the classic cowboy vibe. Pharah meanwhile, has had her visor updated; it is a little more transparent, which means her emotions are more visible. Reaper's mask is completely silver, instead of bone white. Widowmaker has become more cyberpunk-y, giving her a futuristic femme fatale vibe.

Telling A Story

Story is a major pillar for Overwatch 2. After reuniting the team in Zero Hour, there's a new Omnic uprising. Overwatch 2 explores who is behind the uprising, how widespread it is, and what the threat truly entails. There are in-game cinematic intros and outros for all story missions, and the narrative will be integrated into the overall game (unlike the original Overwatch, where the story was primarily told outside of the game via animated trailers). Heroes will have in-game dialogue, NPCs will be present, there are in-mission events, and more.

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