Overwatch 2 has a different approach to this Hero shooter from the original. Instead of a full retail experience at launch, the game is launching as a free-to-play Early Access title with the story campaign and Hero missions rolling out later. There are plenty of differences between Overwatch 1 and Overwatch 2 that you should know, especially since the first game is now unplayable.
There are 15 major differences between Overwatch 1 and Overwatch 2:
- UI And HUD
- Pinging System
- New Heroes
- Hero Changes
- Reducing Hard Counters
- Push Mode
- New Maps
- Limited-Time Events
- Battle Pass
- New Heroes Locked Behind Battle Passes
- Crossplay And Cross-Progression
UI And HUD
The user interface has been revamped from the main menu to the HUD for Heroes. Everything from the health bar to the action icons looks cleaner and sleeker. The kill feed in the top right corner is a bit smaller and the scoreboard has seen a rework as well along with eliminations, assists, deaths, damage, healing, and mitigated damage various Heroes have other stats that are tracked. For example, for Mercy this includes Blaster kills, damage amplified, Valkyrie damage done, and so on.
In Overwatch 1 there were shortcuts to have your hero issue commands like attack or defending the objective etc. OverWatch 2 introduces pinging which lets you press a button and indicate an enemy’s position, an objective, or a possible spot where enemies could attack from.
You could still bring up voice lines for falling back, defending, attacking, and so on by holding down the Ping button and selecting a response from a dialogue wheel. Other players can look at whatever you’ve pinged and press the Ping button in response to acknowledge it.
The last major hero added to Overwatch 1 was Echo in April 2020. In OverWatch 2, three new Heroes will be available Sojourn, Junker Queen and Kiriko.
- Sojourn is a DPS hero with a primary assault rifle, dealing damage with it charges a railgun which fires devastating shots. She can also powerslide and deploy a slowing field while her ultimate, Overclock, allows for firing multiple railgun shots in a short window.
- Junker Queen is the newest tank. She wields an ax, pump action shotgun, and a knife that can be thrown and recovered pulling an enemy stuck with it, and a commanding shout to grant temporary HP and speed to allies. She can also inflict wounds (which stop incoming healing for affected enemies) with her ultimate Rampaging, hitting multiple foes in a straight line and recovering HP from wounded foes.
- Kiriko is the newest support character. She can grant temporary invulnerability and cleanses debuffs, teleports, wall climb, and target allies to heal them. Her ultimate Kitsune Rush will increase the movement attack speed and cooldown of allies that walk its path. She can also throw kunai dealing an insane amount of damage per headshot.
It’s not just the addition of new Heroes, older Heroes have seen some major sweeping changes. Some of these changes are:
- Mercy’s Guardian Angel has seen some significant changes for better or worse.
- Cassidy now throws a sticky bomb instead of a flashbang.
- Reinhardt has two fire strikes and can cancel his charge.
- Zenyatta’s melee now deals 50 damage and knocks enemies back.
- Heroes like Bastion, Sombra, Doomfist (who’s now a tank), and Orisa have also had their kits reworked entirely.
- Supports now have passive health regen.
- DPS retains 30% of all charges when swapping and no longer get bonus movement speed.
- Tanks provide less ultimate charge when taking damage.
Reducing Hard Counters
Over the years Overwatch has been just as much about counter-picking and hard countering certain Heroes as much as abusing a certain meta composition. Blizzard has now reduced hard counters in its future Hero designs.
Instead, Overwatch 2 offers a broader range of effective Hero picks each with clear strengths and weaknesses but that will be viable more often. Some Heroes will still be more effective against others though, so you might want to think twice before running Pharah against Ashe or Sojourn.
The biggest change in Overwatch 2 is that matches are now 5v5 instead of 6v6. Each team only has one tank, two DPS, and 2 supports. For this reason, tanks feel much stronger than their Overwatch 1 renditions, though some like Roadhog and D.Va could use a few adjustments as it stands. The sole tank now has more responsibility and can have a bigger impact on matches than ever before.
Assault mode from Overwatch 1 is gone and a new mode has been added with Push Mode. It’s essentially Overwatch 2’s version of VIP escort, a massive bot sits in the center of the map pushing a barricade. Teams must escort the bot to various checkpoints to complete the map and win. The team with the most progress is the winner. Though it initially feels weird, Push has become a more high octane back and forth affair that supports seemingly impossible comebacks.
Plenty of maps from Overwatch 1 will be featured in Overwatch 2 like Dorado, Route 66, Watchpoint Gibraltar, Hollywood, Kings Row, Nepal, and so on. Some will have different times of day though this doesn’t seem to have too much impact on the gameplay, it is just a visual change.
New maps include:
- Circuit Royal for escort.
- Midtown and Paraiso for hybrid.
- Colosseo, New Queen Street, and Esperanza are the new season one map for Push.
Maps, new Heroes, and events have followed a mostly predictable release window in Overwatch 1 but Overwatch 2 will be packing its content into Seasons for example Season 1 will feature Junkenstein’s Revenge: The Wrath of the Bride from October 25th to November 8th and the launch of the new support hero Kiriko.
Each season also has a specific theme. Season 1 is cyberpunk which is reflected in the seasonal Mythic skin and new Legendary skins. A new hero will release every alternate season while new map launches in the seasons between, season 1 and 2 are the exceptions which means a new hero will launch in season 4 which is currently slated for April 2023.
As stated above, Junkenstein’s Revenge is returning with Wrath of the bride and though its changes haven’t been detailed, Junker Queen, Sojourn, and Kiriko will each get a new Halloween skin. While the development team plans to revisit previous limited-time events. it will also add new ones down the line. Previous seasonal content or Cosmetics may also be made available to purchase from the store with Overwatch coins, the new premium currency.
The loot boxes from Overwatch 1 are dead. The Battle Pass is your means of earning certain new cosmetics. As with every other battle pass in other games, there’s a free track and a premium track. The free track provides 20 tiers of cosmetic rewards from the new epic skins and weapon charms to souvenirs, highlight intros, emotes, name cards, and sprays.
The premium track costs ten dollars or one thousand Overwatch coins and adds 60 tiers of rewards from legendary skins and play of the game intros to a 20% boost to battle pass XP and Mythic skins. Mythic Skins are highly customizable, taking different shaders and having interchangeable accessories as seen in the Season 1 Cyberdemon Genji skin.
Once you’ve hit tier 80 on a battle pass, XP will go towards Prestige tiers which confer unique hero titles for your name card. Certain Prestige titles are only available in their seasons and you won’t get one for every tier hence they are something for the most dedicated players to chase.
New Heroes Locked Behind Battle Passes
Season 1’s new Hero, Kiriko is locked behind the Battle Pass and that’s going to be the trend going forward. If you’re a free player then you need to grind to tier 55 in the battle pass to unlock the newest Heroes aside from Sojourn and Jungle Queen who will be available immediately. Those who upgrade to the Premium Pass or claim the Overwatch 1 Founders Pack will gain instant access to Kiriko.
To provide time for players to unlock new seasonal Heroes and also make balance changes, they’ll be introduced to competitive play two weeks after the season launches. If you don’t unlock a hero during a season, they’ll become unlockable later via hero challenges or by purchasing them in the shop for Overwatch coins.
All heroes are still accessible with no limits. Custom games, practice range, mystery Heroes, mystery deathmatch, and other modes are among the special modes so if you want to try a new hero out before buying or grinding then go for it.
In addition to gaining XP from completing challenges, Overwatch 2 is introducing Daily and Weekly Challenges, the latter includes conditions like winning 10 games, winning 10 games when queued for all roles, winning 7 games in any arcade mode, and so on. Completing a certain number of weekly challenges awards Overwatch coins so you could theoretically earn enough to purchase new heroes or even the Battle Pass over time.
Overwatch 1 didn’t have a store per se, instead, players could purchase loot boxes or Overwatch League tokens through their respective digital storefronts. That’s all changed in Overwatch 2. All premium purchases are organized in a dedicated in-game shop.
Along with rotating bundles that include items from the previous games, there’s a just-for-you section with personalized items based on the Heroes you play and the types of cosmetics equipped. Credits from Overwatch 1 carry into Overwatch 2 and can be used to unlock some new cosmetics including skins for the new Heroes but the store will require Overwatch coins to purchase new skins.
Crossplay And Cross-Progression
It took Blizzard a few years to implement cross-platform play in the first game. Overwatch 2 launches with it already available. Cross-progression is also included allowing you to merge all of your different accounts on each platform into a single profile. All cosmetics will be accessible on each along with the battle pass, Overwatch credits, and Owl tokens. Thankfully any cosmetics unlocked in Overwatch 1 are still carrying over into OverWatch 2.
There is a debate going on about whether Overwatch 2 is even worthy of the sequel status or is it more of a 1.5 update to the game. Although many core aspects of the game do remain similar, the difference we have listed above are substantial enough to give this entry its own identity but it still might not be enough to be considered a numbered sequel. We can all agree its more of a 1.75 update to the game!