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Published: May 24, 2021

Written by: Edward Pearcey

  • Overwatch 2 is far from a mere copy of the original, bringing a host of changes that impact and benefit the gameplay directly
  • Reducing the number of competitors in each team will benefit the game’s competitive and casual ecosystem
  • Blizzard is focusing on creating a new iteration of the original that stands out by merit of how different it is rather than how similar it is to the base first game

Changes coming to Overwatch 2 mean that developers are looking out for the future of the game. The shift to a 5-vs-5 model is a good thing altogether. 

Blizzard and Overwatch Are Shaking Things Up in Sequel

Overwatch 2 has been announced, and more details about the pending release have transpired in recent days. Perhaps most important of all is that the Overwatch League and the game itself will switch to a five-versus-five format, lowering the barrier into competitive gaming. During a developer’s livestream late last week, Blizzard dropped the details on a completely overhauled game that will see a lot of modifications abilities, but it will just the same have a slightly altered competitive ecosystem that should spur participation from more grassroots organizations.

With the Overwatch League operating in a franchised model and one that earned it over $1 billion in less than a year, breaking into the high tiers of the league is not always easy unless you have deep pockets. Well, Blizzard is looking to slightly push away from this model. The new team compositions in Overwatch 2 will consist of two damage dealers, a single tank, and two support heroes, which means that the gameplay will now pivot around a single tanking character.

According to the head of game development Aaron Keller, the decision isn’t taken on a whim but is the result of extensive testing that should allow the game and community to flow better. It should similarly benefit the audiences who can often feel a little lost trying to keep track of 12 characters battling out in the Overwatch world.

To introduce a brand-new five-versus-five setup, though, the developers are rapidly rebalancing abilities to guarantee that the game will retain its fairness in the following iteration. All heroes will now have a completely overhauled skill set, which should excite fans, new and experienced players.

Overwatch 2 is also adding a player-versus-environment format where players will be able to join in four-man missions and try to tackle various objectives.

Are the Changes in Overwatch 2 Going to Stick?

The short answer is yes. Overwatch 2 has long been criticized as a “cash cow,” with Blizzard attempting to replicate a mercantile model. None of this is actually true as the efforts and commitment of the development team have shown so far, and not least the information we have learned about the forthcoming gameplay changes.

Developers are not only keen to rebalance the game but make it an improved version of the original, which means that Blizzard is putting in the development resource to retain and even boost interest for its flagship title. After all, there are billions at stake as a single franchise slot in the Overwatch League reportedly costs up to $40 million.

Overwatch 2’s best qualities don’t have to do with how the game resembles the old game, but how it changes in an ambitious and promising way. Removing the second tank from the equation, for example, should boost the dynamics of the gameplay because Overwatch League has had many stand-offs where players unload numerous abilities and ammo trying to blast through an impregnable tank shield.

Benefiting Audiences and Competitive Players

The shift towards a five-man format is one of the game’s biggest strengths as it will allow casual audiences to be able to follow the game more easily, whether this is a competitive level or casual everyday gameplay.

In fact, everyday players are more important to the long-term survival of the Overwatch franchise, as the ability to convert new players into returning ones is ultimately what drives a hefty chunk of the revenue. By having access to vast audiences, corporations are willing to pay seven figures for their advertisements to show during Overwatch League events.

Overwatch remains a popular game as ever, with the player base keeping steady. Yet, as with every great game, Overwatch needs a fresh look and direction to ensure that long-term player-acquisition process that will underpin its long-term survival.

Some competitive-minded players have objected that dropping the second tanks from the rosters would be bad for the game, drawing parallels with how the Call of Duty League bade farewell to the five-versus-five format, replacing it with a four-versus-four instead.

While this is a fair objection as such, it’s important to remember that Overwatch has skill-driven heroes, meaning that a single-player mastering all eight is not going to be completely possible. Teams will most likely be inclined to keep a reserve tank role and field both players in alternating matches or against certain teams.

Overwatch 2 should be coming in early 2022, bringing with it a host of changes that will boost the game’s competitiveness and hopefully guarantee its longevity and prosperous future.

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