BlizzConline — the delayed, virtual version of BlizzCon 2020 — is done and dusted. There was a lot more news about Overwatch (specifically Overwatch 2) than many players expected. Although Friday’s presentation was ostensibly about Overwatch 2, remember that all of the changes and updates for the player vs. player modes will be reflected in the original game.
Here’s a breakdown of everything Blizzard announced for the franchise at the event.
Blizzard is continuing to focus on maps named after real-world locations. Rome has been confirmed as one of the locations for the new map type, Push, while New York City is a Hybrid map. India, meanwhile, is a map for the campaign mode that centers around players escaping from a burning temple.
Game director Jeff Kaplan has confirmed that Blizzard will remove the Assault maps from Competitive and professional play (and probably Quick Play) when Overwatch 2 arrives.
There were a few glimpses of gameplay for the first confirmed new hero for Overwatch 2, Sojourn. She is a DPS character who wields a rail gun. While Blizzard didn’t explain her abilities, YouTuber Blame the Controller posted a great analysis of what those and her ultimate likely will be.
Blizzard is currently testing some big changes for current heroes, including possible role-based passive abilities for every character. Tanks could be much brawlier when Overwatch 2 arrives with updated abilities that could enable them to be much more aggressive. Possible changes in the works for Reinhardt include two uses of his Firestrike before the cooldown kicks in and greater control over his Charge.
All of the current Overwatch heroes are getting makeovers for Overwatch 2. Blizzard showed off refreshed looks for a few more characters: Reaper, Widowmaker, Pharah and McCree. It also teased the redesigns for some other heroes, including Solder 76 and Winston.
Team 4 is updating almost every aspect of the Overwatch experience to make it more visceral. One of the areas that’s getting a revamp is the sound design. Weapons, abilities and other audio effects will be freshened up. They’ll also sound different in various scenarios, such as whether you’re in a tunnel, an open space or you’re surrounded by buildings.
There was a deeper look at the Hero Missions, the co-op, player vs. environment challenges that are designed to be replayable. Blizzard is aiming to make literally hundreds of these levels, which will have weather effects and time of day variants.
The team also provided a more in-depth peek at the progression system for Hero Missions. This will allow you to customize heroes as you see fit through skill trees. Some of the abilities are centered around stat changes, but others are perhaps more impactful, like Junkrat being able to wield two grenade launchers at once or Mercy getting her old ultimate back so she can resurrect multiple teammates at the same time.
New Enemy Types
This is one aspect of the presentation that I haven’t covered until now. The developers felt the public PVE demo they showed off at BlizzCon 2019 wasn’t quite engaging enough, so they went back to the drawing board and created more types of enemies for you to battle. Here’s a look at a few of them:
I’m definitely getting Lady Dmittrescu vibes from The Puller.
The San Francisco Shock have one more Grand Finals Championship skin designed in their honor: Midas Roadhog. It should be available by the start of the 2021 Overwatch League season. On that note…
Blizzard has announced more details for the this year’s Overwatch League season, including the format, schedule, prize money and start date. There’s less than eight weeks to go. I can’t wait.
This was something that Blizzard didn’t say much about, even though it’s the key question on every fan’s mind. Barring a minor miracle, Overwatch 2 won’t arrive this year. The publisher hasn’t narrowed down the timeframe on when to expect it.
While this might change in the coming months, Team 4 didn’t discuss any content updates that are coming to Overwatch before the sequel arrives. I’m still hopeful of getting new heroes and maps in the interim, but that feels less likely by the day.
Blizzard doesn’t plan to stick its head back in the sand and stay quiet about Overwatch 2 again. Kaplan said in an interview that the team plans to be more transparent from now on. More news might be forthcoming as soon as next month.
This wasn’t an actual announcement, but, reading between the lines, Elon Musk appears to exist in the realm of Overwatch. Given his resources, he’ll perhaps still be alive by the time the game’s set too, even though he’d be over 100 by then.