Video Games

Overwatch 2 Beta

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MISHAWAKA – This past week has seen the Overwatch 2 beta released via Twitch drops, giving over one million viewers access to this build of the game. I got to play a few games thanks to the access of a friend of mine, and there are a few changes I noticed in my short time.
It is worth noting that I was, at best, an Overwatch fan when I first tried the original game. I started playing on the PlayStation 4 in 2017, a year after its release, and I was immediately hooked. The characters, world-building, gameplay, visual polish, and active development made it one of the most fun multiplayer experiences I have had.
However, over time, I grew out of touch with the game. Sure, there was a spell where there was still new content coming out, but very little of it was actually new; most of it was recycled seasonal events from previous years. Every Overwatch player could tell that the game was starting to get stale, but it was still fun enough to keep the players that had spent so much time on it invested. This did not include myself; my last time spent with the game was at the end of 2018, right before Super Smash Bros. Ultimate came out. Then, in 2019, the trailer for Overwatch 2 was released, and players flocked back to the game out of nostalgia and anticipation.
Though updates were given on the game’s development, it was often to mention that it was being pushed back. Luckily for those starved for content – and I mean seriously starved, to the point where a tweak to the elevator speed on some maps in the first game was the hottest news for a while – an open beta was announced a month ago, and players are finally getting their hands on the game, however unfinished it might currently be.
I apologize for taking so long to get to the comparisons between the first and second games (i.e., the point of this piece), but I figure Overwatch players are used to waiting for the good stuff. So, from the outset, Overwatch 2 looks almost identical to its predecessor in terms of art style. The obvious changes include changes to the time of day on some previous maps, lighting tweaks, character design updates, and new maps. From what I experienced, most of the movement feels the same, and the gunplay does not differ too much.
My first game was the new Push game mode, which sees two teams start on opposite ends of a map with a large track in the center. The fail state of this game mode is letting the payload be pushed all the way into your base. This game type necessitates the ability to switch between offensive and defensive playstyles at the drop of a hat, not least because team fights get remarkably hectic right around the robot, who will not move until the opposing presence is eliminated; there were plenty of times where I could not tell who had control of the robot.
Most of my time spent with the beta was occupied by playing healers, much like my time with the original Overwatch. However, playing healers in this game feels much more rewarding than before. Due to the change from teams of six to teams of five, healers are more important than ever to increase the longevity of their teammates. To say the healers are the lifeblood of the team sounds obvious, but it did not always work that way in the previous games. Tanks were the main enemies to overcome in Overwatch, but in Overwatch 2, if the support players die, the team will follow shortly after.
One change I appreciated is how most characters can reasonably engage in solo combat without being terribly outmatched. Healers automatically regenerate health over time, tanks take less damage, and DPS characters move more quickly. I was playing as Ana, a support character, and found myself facing off against Sojourn, the new DPS character, and neither of our teams were around. In Overwatch, I would have had to alternate between trying to heal myself and eliminate her at the same time, but now, if she does not immediately focus me down, my health would come back on its own, slowly. Fun fact, despite being three years out of practice, I still managed to beat that player one-on-one, so go me.
Something I thought was a minor change when they revealed it but has since become a huge blessing is the revamped sound design. Each weapon, and almost every ability, already has its own, new sound profile, and they all have multiple variants depending on the environment they are used in. Playing on Watchpoint: Gibraltar, I heard three distinct variants: open, outdoor area; large, indoor area; and echoic, narrow, outdoor area. My first thought when I fired Ana’s biotic rifle was that it sounded chunkier, if that makes any sense.
Finally, and this is the most important part, the game is just as fun as the original, if not more so. Nothing feels out of place, even with all the character reworks and new content; as far as the beta is concerned: so far, so Overwatch. I have every confidence that the game will be worth the years-long wait for all Overwatch fans, and I cannot wait for all of them to experience it.

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