The recent Overwatch 2 pro playtest gave fans their first glimpse of the highly anticipated sequel. Between the new hero reworks, a new map, the new Push game mode, and some thundering new weapon sounds, the first look definitely delivered.
Those tuning in to the 2021 OWL Grand Finals were gifted with an incentive for their viewership, with information regarding Bastion and Sombra’s reworks for OW2 and a look at some pros playing the new game for the first time.
This playtest took place on a new map, featured a totally new mode, and, perhaps most notably, was a 5v5 match rather than the 6v6 that is played in the prequel.
Here is a full breakdown of what viewers saw in the playtest, what players have to look forward to, and a bit more of what we can expect in Overwatch 2.
Overwatch 2: Hero reworks
In the pro exhibition match, the reworks to several of the heroes currently in Overwatch were immediately showcased. The public had already been made aware of these adjustments, but seeing them in action in a live match was much more telling than simply reading about it, and helped make up for the fact that no new heroes were revealed.
The following reworked heroes were played at length during the match, with notable adjustments that were displayed listed alongside them.
- Fire Strike now has two charges
- Charge now much more controllable
- Now has two charges on her Barrier to use for allies or for herself
- Changes to EMP causing it to do damage
- Now does increased damage to hacked enemies
- Hack now primarily shows teammates where the hacked enemy is located, ability lock only lasts 1 second
- Now can enter turret mode on a cooldown, and can move while in it (renamed Configuration: Sentry)
- Now has a grenade on cooldown
- Primary fire is now much slower, but without any spread
- Ultimate is now a long-distance artillery strike (renamed Configuration: Artillery)
- No longer has self-heal
Other heroes received significant playtime as well, many of which had either received cosmetic changes or were not adjusted on this build.
Author’s impressions: These changes were interesting to watch play out. Bastion played a much more frontline role, staying amidst the action, while Sombra tended to stay locked on her hacked targets due to the increased damage. Tanks played, as the casters noted, much like larger DPS characters, and the round felt all-around much faster-paced with the updates.
Overwatch 2: Rome map and Push game mode
The team’s played on Rome, a never-before-seen map that features Overwatch 2’s new game mode, Push.
In this mode, each side competes to push a large robot, which is done by keeping allies near him while keeping the enemy team away. Functioning much like a payload, the robot will become stationary if contested. This game mode was seen on the new Toronto map back in Blizzcon of 2019 when the game was first announced.
Author’s impressions: Rome, and perhaps Push in general, lent itself to a much more open playstyle, with fights breaking out in all areas of the map. Because the objective moves dynamically in both directions, there were no set areas or chokes where fights broke out. The map seemed to fly by, as idle time seemed to be decreased.
Overwatch 2: Weapon sounds and UI updates
One part of the playtest that may have flown under the radar for some was the updates to many of the weapon sounds and some of the UI updates that are new to OW2.
Viewers could hear a distinct difference in these weapon sounds, especially for heroes like Zarya or Reaper. Casters noted that these sounded more realistic and made several comments about the booming sounds of the shots.
Many of the visual updates can be seen in the image above. Key changes come in how Mercy’s healing and damage increase are shown, adjustments to the kill feed, ultimate meter, as well as a different view of the objective tracker at the top of the screen.
Author’s impressions: These changes help contribute to Overwatch 2 not only feeling like a new game in terms of gameplay and map changes but also in terms of how the game sounds and the details of how a player takes in information throughout a round. It’s still clearly an early build, so the UI changes seen here may not be final, but the changes are good nonetheless.
Overwatch 2: Change from 6v6 to 5v5
Perhaps the most sweeping and all-encompassing change to OW2 is the move from 6-player teams to 5-player teams.
This reduction removes one Tank hero from each team, making compositions now only feature a single Tank alongside two DPS and two Support heroes. This change has been known for some time, but this was the first time seeing it in action.
Tanks will be tuned and adjusted to account for the change, with some of those changes on display during the playtest.
Author’s impressions: It’s hard to say exactly how this affected gameplay due to the many variables at play, but the match certainly felt fast-paced and Tanks felt very offensive. For the most part, though, it still felt like Overwatch. Teams were rewarded for synergizing abilities, staying together, and hitting skill shots. All of those elements worked to make the match flow naturally on the new map and game mode.