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BlizzCon > OverwatchFeb 19, 2021 7:59 pm CT

Overwatch 2 BlizzConline panel offered peeks at new modes, weather effects, and progression systems

Overwatch players didn’t have the big reveals they were hoping for in the BlizzConline schedule, but there was some insightful information shared by a few of the game’s leaders during the virtual event. They provided the latest on gameplay approach for both the standard PVP and some of the new content that will appear in the sequel. Here’s the round-up of gameplay updates the Overwatch 2 team discussed during their behind-the-scenes look at the game during BlizzConline.

Testing hero and role updates in PVP

Even the PVP experience could be seeing some changes. Right now, they’re exploring a concept of role passives. These background traits would apply to every character within the class. Lead hero designed Geoff Goodman explained that they are currently testing the following setup in their internal builds:

  • Tank: Knockback reduction and slower ultimate charge for heroes that are damaging them.
  • DPS: Movement speed bonus
  • Support: Gradual automatic healing after taking damage.

This isn’t necessarily what the final version of role passives will be, but it is a glimpse at the sweeping ways even the classic six-on-six Overwatch team matches could feel in the new game.

The team went into some other specifics about how the whole tanking role could be updated in Overwatch 2. They want tanks to feel more aggressive, leading the charge rather than hanging back to protect teammates. In practice, they’re trying a very different set of traits for Reinhardt, giving him two charges of Firestrike and more precise controls over his Charge, including the option to stop him short rather than just crashing into a wall — or off a ledge. Jeff Kaplan suggested that this kind of aggro playstyle would be a better match for the hero fantasy for Reinhardt players. Again, who knows whether any or all of those tests will wind up in the final game.

There was also a very brief but meaningful note about PVP game modes, with the team suggesting that they are open to any possible changes to what makes the cut for Overwatch 2. Unpopular modes from the original may disappear into the ether, or brand new concepts might appear.

More glimpses at the Hero Missions

One of the big shifts happening with Overwatch 2 is the addition of both single-player and PVE content. The team expanded on their plan for Hero Missions, where you level up each hero with an RPG-style talent tree. Their goal is to have hundreds of different iterations so that players, even the most hardcore, won’t get bored or see lots of repetition.

They’ll get that huge amount of content by changing up the game modes, the enemy types, and even the appearance of the maps. Hero Missions can be impacted by dynamic weather, such as a sandstorm hitting the Temple of Anubis or a snowstorm falling on Hanamura. The maps are also going to reflect the time of day, with different moods set by a sunset or wind or rain. The team hopes that the dynamic weather might even influence choices in team composition, such as Hanzo’s Sonic Arrow turning into a more valuable tool to find enemies during low visibility.

One of the Hero Mission modes in development is called “Gather and Return,” where the heroes are tasked with collecting canisters of gas before they explore and possibly injure civilians while enemies try to block your progress. Some of the other modes they’re trying internally are “Wall of Death,” “Scavenger Hunt,” and “Kill Quest,” but they didn’t elaborate on what any of those rulesets were.

The presentation also shared a few of the latest efforts for progression systems. At the last BlizzCon in 2019, there was a small-scale version with three different tiers of abilities. Now, there are full skill trees that wouldn’t look out of place in an old-world RPG. This should mean that different players wind up with very different feel for the same character. And the high-level unlocks could be pretty ridiculous: Junkrat with dual-wielding grenades and a multi-character rez for Mercy got mentioned. Again, everything is still up for development, but the attitude from Blizzard is definitely that the heroes will feel extremely powerful and probably pretty bonkers by the later levels.

Story Missions will expand the lore of Overwatch 2

This was the lightest section in terms of actual content. The team mostly talked about their process for how story integrates into the gameplay. But the insightful banter between heroes pre-match will be expanded in the sequel’s lore. There will still be snippets of dialogue that helps the relationships unfold depending on who has been picked in your team composition, and there will also be cinematic introductions to the story missions to give more hints about the broader narrative of the Overwatch world.

The team said that there will be more of those character-driven and story moments appearing in the sequel.

TL;DR: there’s a lot happening — and it won’t be done soon

The way the team spoke about the game made it clear why we won’t be getting the sequel this year. They have a whole lot left to work out. There was no hint of a release date, and the M.O. for the time being seems to be in the “it’s done when it’s done” line rather than the “Blizzard Soon” line. So patience will remain the watchword.

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