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Overwatch 2 doesn't yet have a release date but Blizzard is already revealing major changes to how the first game played. If you've played Overwatch recently, you'll know that the basic format of a match is split between three roles - tank, DPS, and support. There are two players to each role and then many heroes to choose from. Overwatch 2, however, will change this and, instead of the 6v6 composition the original game launched with, introduce a 5v5 format. One of the tank roles will be removed from the game.
Now, this is a big change, a huge change in terms of the way the game will be played. There will be no more arguments about what tanks work together well, and similarly, less frustration on an attacking team's part as they try to break through both an Orisa and Reinhardt shield. It must be said that a change like this is intimidating for players that know the game so well, not to mention that the Overwatch League is built around the current composition, so of course this is dividing fans.
Blizzard gave us a taste of how Overwatch 2 is shaping up with this gameplay trailer from BlizzCon 2021...
Aaron Keller, Overwatch 2's game director after the beloved Jeff Kaplan left last month, talked about this major change at the very beginning of the PVP Overwatch stream on May 20, and here is what he said:
"There are a lot of reasons for why we wanted to make this change. As I said earlier, Overwatch has changed over time. We've gone from having no hero limits at all in the game before launch - you could pick six Winstons if you wanted to for your team composition - to having a hero limit, we introduced a role lock over the course of the game and we feel like this is the next step in the way Overwatch ought to be played.
"If you think about it, there is a lot going on in an Overwatch map. It is incredibly fast-paced and we have always tried to make combat easy to read and very understandable, and even with all of the work we put into that, sometimes it's just hard to track what eleven other players are doing on the battlefield. Removing two of those simplifies everything and it allows players to understand everything that's happening around them and to be able to make better choices.
"This change obviously has a really big impact on tanks. And we will get into some of the changes that we're making to tanks and to some of the other roles in a bit, but tanks can be problematic. A DPS hero is simple. They're shooting. But a tank has abilities that can be noisy, or when stacked with other tanks can cause problems for other teams to try to overcome and counter. And a great example of that is two 'main' [Orisa, Reinhardt, Winston, Wrecking Ball] tanks on the field, sometimes that can be very oppressive to another team."
The developer goes on to say that removing a tank also gives players a better opportunity to "carry" and have a bigger impact on the game they're playing. Additionally, the team at Blizzard has apparently tried out many different variations on team compositions to see how they work - if you're an Overwatch player you may remember the 3-2-1 experiment Blizzard ran in-game a year and a half ago - but this five-member comp is what they're going with.
There are also other changes coming to heroes and maps in Overwatch 2. Mei's Endothermic Blaster will do additional damage but not freeze enemies completely, and Winston's Tesla Cannon will get an alternate fire that hits targets at a longer range. Bastion is getting a full rework of his abilities. All healers will now have passive healing effects on themselves when out of combat.
Additionally, maps will be changing and a new mode is getting added. There is the 'Push' format that Blizzard has been working on, where each team has to encourage a robot to walk from one side of the map to the other with an objective, but another mode is on the way. 'Assault' maps, commonly known as 2CP (two capture point), are leaving competitive play because, well, no one really enjoyed playing them. They had massive issues where teams could steamroll the match if they gained just the right amount of momentum. Even with changes to the maps, the team has decided to remove them from competitive play - though they will still be available in some capacity to enjoy.
Other additions include the arrival of new hero Sojourn, new character designs to modernise heroes, and of course a bunch of new maps. It's safe to say I'm personally very excited about Overwatch 2 even though it will alter a lot of the game we know and love. It'll be a journey to see how people come back to the FPS over five years after its original release; and to see how gamers, on the whole, like the new experience. You can read more about all the changes the Overwatch 2 team are making here.
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