Liam and I gave the Overwatch 2 PVP beta a shot and it was… interesting. We both came away with mixed feelings, especially around that big “2”. Does it really look like a sequel? To answer that question, in this article we collaborated as a Müller and his angle to mingle our thoughts in word form. Of course, if you’d rather hear us grumbling to each other in glorious video form, you can watch that below.
Ed: Okay Liam, let’s start with the obvious question. We are both lapsed Overwatch fans, who a indescribable amount in the past. So, has your time with Overwatch 2 PVP beta rekindled that interest, or not at all?
liam: I mean… I think so? Like… yes and no? I’ve had a lot of fun playing the Overwatch 2 beta, but not necessarily because of anything specific to the new game. There’s a lot of talk online about how this feels more like a substantial balance patch rather than a numbered sequel, and it’s hard to disagree with that sentiment. Playing the beta just felt like replaying the original Overwatch – which was great because that game is just as fun today as it was in 2016 – but aside from some updated UI elements and teams that are now limited to 5 players, it’s hard to notice what’s actually there different This time. And you?
The fact that Mei is no longer able to freeze enemies with her primary attack is kind of like your dad telling you to stop putting milk in your water balloons because you’re making the neighbor’s kid cry.
Ed: Yes, I totally agree with this. After years of Overwatch neglect diving into Overwatch 2, it felt like not much had changed. And as you say, the game is still fun! It’s just hard not to feel a little deflated when a sequel to a PVP shooter you love doesn’t seem like a sequel. The roster has a new addition, Sojourn, and there are some new maps and a new mode called Push, but the game lacks that earth-shattering “2” tweak. I mean, some heroes have seen a big stir, for example Mei’s ice blaster no longer freezes enemies when you spray them. Cassidy’s tranquilizer grenade is now a measly flash. But these refinements seem competitive, not fun-oriented. What do you think?
liam: definitive. It feels like Blizzard, in an effort to tighten things up, has shaved the edges off some of the game’s more interesting characters. The fact that Mei is no longer able to freeze enemies with her primary attack is kind of like your dad telling you to stop putting milk in your water balloons because you’re making the neighbor’s kid cry. I understand the reasoning, but where’s the fun in that? The fun of the original game was mastering each hero’s unique movesets, and understanding how each skill worked together to best help the wider team. I’m sure anyone who’s played the original can relate to a time when they used a specific hero’s ability to save the day at the last minute. It’s a little disappointing that those moments are now – it seems – rare.
What I will say, however, is that not all hero changes are a net negative. The hulking four-legged robot Orisa, a hero I cared little about in my ranked days, has gotten a massive overhaul that basically makes her a different character. Her shields have been swapped for a spear that she aims at enemies, which is great fun, and overall she just feels a lot more robust. A tank in the literal sense of the word. Speaking of tanks, what do you think of Blizzard’s decision to limit teams to just one?
Ed: With games being 5 vs 5, there’s a lot less of the old impenetrable shield wall that plagued Overwatch before a dark, dark time. This makes games seem surprisingly open; almost liberating. As a DPS character, there’s a lot more room to maneuver and shurikens to string. It finally feels like there are more opportunities for individuals to shine, actually. But from a totally selfish standpoint, I miss the chaos. For me, Overwatch was built on frenetic tug-of-war that lasted an inconvenient amount of time. You know, like sweat-patch-on-your-gamer-chair levels of intensity. But now that teams have docked one tank, it feels like there’s less carnage as a result. Combat is more measured and, if anything, one side is more likely to snowball to victory thanks to the fact that DPS characters are let off the line.
That’s enough of me grumbling though. Out of your time with the game’s PVP beta, would you say you’re looking forward to its release?
liam: Despite my stern tone, I’m actually looking forward to seeing how the game develops between now and launch. That core base may be a little too familiar, but it still absolutely rules. Overwatch was able to generate some phenomenal moments of drama as you desperately fought to move the charge that last inch to secure victory, and thankfully that’s still a thing in Overwatch 2. For me, I am. however, more excited to see this PVE mode, Blizzard has been cooking behind the scenes. I hope that’s where the real sequel lies.
Ed: I’ll get on with my grumbling, actually. I still have a soft spot for Overwatch, and I agree that Overwatch 2 captures those special, heartbreaking moments. I’m just not sure if the PVP side of things is doing enough to get me back in the fold. Secretly, I think part of me was hoping to get back on the 3am-ranked grind, but Overwatch 2 isn’t giving me that urge. HOWEVER, I agree with you on the PVE side. I also have hope that this is where the “2” comes out.