I didn’t think we needed an Overwatch 2. Now that I played it, I’m glad it exists.
Blizzard announced the sequel at BlizzCon on November 1, and I played the multiplayer shooter that same day. I’ve spent a lot of time with the original Overwatch, a game I love for its team-based combat and fun characters.
Overwatch 2 finally gives those characters the stage they deserve.
The original Overwatch has a lot of lore, but the vast majority of it comes from sources outside of the game. If you love these characters, you can only learn more about them and watch them interact with each other in a meaningful way in things like cinematics and comics.
And as nice as all of that media is, it has all focused on Overwatch’s past. In the game’s futuristic world, Overwatch is a peace-keeping group of heroes that disbanded. The earliest Overwatch cinematics focused on former member Winston trying to revive the group. After that, most of the movies and comics have explored character’s origins and backstories.
For years, the story has felt like it’s been stuck in the first chapter. Overwatch 2 finally moves things forward and makes it a part of the actual game.
Caring about characters
Overwatch 2 can manage this because it focuses on cooperative gameplay. Four players work together to fight through evil robots and other dangers. With competition gone, Blizzard is able to do things like add cinematics in the middle of a level, and characters can quip back and forth with much more frequency.
The demo at BlizzCon has Overwatch landing in Rio de Janeiro. Tracer, Mei, and Reinhardt join Lucio as they head toward a giant robot-making airship.
Sure, working together to shoot all of those robots is fun. But as someone who has grown to love these characters, it was great to see them, you know, interacting with each other. And I’m not talking about those exchanges that characters have had in the original Overwatch before a match starts. These aren’t quick, throwaway lines, but actual conversations that move a story along.
The Rio de Janeiro level has a bunch of great character moments. My favorite came at the end, when Mei created an ice ramp for Reinhardt to rocket boost off of and land in the Overwatch drop ship. Once he rockets inside the ship, Winston grabs Reinhardt and uses his own boosters to stop him from crashing. It’s not just about characters talking to each other. It’s nice to see them using their abilities and powers in tandem.
I still enjoy the team-based competition of the original Overwatch, but the game’s expressive, well voice-acted characters almost felt a bit wasted in a game where they didn’t do much but shoot at each other. Overwatch 2’s cooperative action is compelling, but more than anything I’m glad that the actual game is now as charming and character-driven as its cinematics.
I wasn’t sure if a single cooperative mode, no matter how big, could justify a sequel to Overwatch. Now that I know just fun and charming the co-op campaign is, I think it justifies its existence just fine.