Overwatch 2 is an upcoming sequel to Blizzard’s popular 2015 shooter, albeit an unconventional one. The follow-up will introduce new modes, maps, heroes, and most importantly, story, to the world of Overwatch. And IGN was able to try both the new PvE and PvP mode at Blizzcon this year.Before diving into the story focused PvE mode and the new “Push” PvP mode from IGN’s Overwatch 2 demo at Blizzcon, it’s important to clarify Overwatch 2’s deal. Overwatch 2 is a sequel that will push the world of Overwatch forward through the story, and that's exclusive to Overwatch 2. But other updates like new modes, maps, and heroes will also be coming to Overwatch 1 for free.
While details like pricing and release date are still a little murky, it sounds like Overwatch 2’s exclusives will primarily revolve around its PvE modes. And that’s where we’ll start.One of the main complaints about Overwatch currently is a lack of in-game storytelling. For the past four years, Blizzard has delivered a story through cinematic trailers, canon comics, and other external materials. But there’s surprisingly very little of that lore in the game itself.
The PvE mode aims to change that. Blizzard teased the PvE content will have new hero abilities, co-op attacks, and a level progression system. But the big focus is on the story and that’s immediately apparent from the get-go thanks to the lengthy opening cinematic that prefaces the gameplay.
The cutscene begins with Rio de Janeiro under attack from the robotic Omnic threat of Null Sector. Four players can then choose one of the few Overwatch team members, in this case, Tracer, Mei, Reinhardt, and Lucio. Each of the characters has a new look, something Blizzard says will be coming to all 31 characters.
If you played limited-time PvE game modes like Retribution, the combat loop will feel fairly similar. You have access to each character’s standard attack kit, and you can build up your Ultimate with successful kills.
The difference is in scope. Firefights are longer and the missions are interspersed with cutscenes and other story beats. There’s greater enemy diversity too, from low-powered goons to stronger tank enemies that require teamwork to take down. Each character also has attack modifiers that shake-up their usual attacks. Tracer, for example, can choose from either a skill that lets her auto-reload her guns after successful special attacks or a skill that gives her pulse bombs a secondary explosion.
I also asked coworkers at Blizzcon if Blizzard changed some of the voice actors for the characters, but I realized the reason they sound different is that they’re talking more. Familiar characters like Tracer and Lucio take on new dimensions when they’re constantly talking back-and-forth with one another instead of offering the one-off quip.
Ideally, the demo is just a taste of what’s to come in terms of PvE content for Overwatch 2. While the core combat is solid and mission objectives have been expanded, the mode still feels a bit shallow. Something that will likely be remedied with a deeper playable roster and mission types.The other new mode in the Overwatch 2 demo is a new PvP mode called “Push.” This is one of the modes that will be coming to the first Overwatch, most likely due to how this mode feels like it’s made specifically for the Overwatch League.
Push is a 6v6 competitive mode where players race to the middle and fight to control a robot who pushes a goal marker towards one side of the map or the other depending on which team is more dominant. The goal is to have the robot push the marker towards your enemy’s base, and the team that gets the marker closest to their enemy camp is declared the winner.
The match is fast-paced, easy to pick up, and feels like a tug-of-war between two teams. The Push mode could serve as a fantastic tiebreaker during Overwatch League matches.
The most impressive part of Push is the new Toronto map in which it’s set. The map showcases some of the graphical improvements that are also coming to Overwatch 2, and there’s a noticeable improvement in the visuals just based on the map alone.
As an icy map, Toronto has a reflective sheen over the entire city, but there are vibrant bursts of color from the red maple trees that populate some of the areas. Overwatch was already a “shiny” game aesthetically, but now there’s a crispness to the visuals that does a much better job of making the designs pop. All-in-all, the visual improvements for Overwatch 2 may be one of the secret reasons to check out Blizzard’s sequel.There’s still no release date for Overwatch 2, and it remains to be seen if PvE modes with emphasis on the story will be enough for players who are only interested in the PvP modes to double-dip for the sequel. Especially since the competitive elements seem poised to come to Overwatch 1 for free. But if you’re looking for a new look and those sweet story bits for lore-hungry fans, Overwatch 2 seems especially geared for you.
For more from IGN's Blizzcon coverage, including previews of Diablo 4, Hong Kong protests, and more, check out our Blizzcon hub.
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