After Overwatch fans heard that Overwatch 2 was being delayed, it left a lot of players frustrated. But BlizzCon's Overwatch 2 panel may renew people's passion for the vibrant, lore-driven game. The panel went over a lot of the game's new elements and technologies, giving fans a sneak peek at what's currently being worked on.
Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan stated that they have assembled "one of the best teams" he's ever worked with "and I'm so proud of the progress that we have made together." Check out everything we learned about Overwatch 2 at BlizzConline.
BlizzCon reveals new Overwatch 2 maps
Art director Bill Petras was excited to show fans a preview of a map inspired by Italy and its one-of-a-kind architecture. He said the team thought of moments he wanted players to have, like seeing a "grand view of the hills of Rome in the backdrop" when coming up with the distinct environment.
Another new map is New York City. Audio director Scott Lawlor explained that it will have an art deco style, neon lights, and small pizza shops that will feel "uniquely Overwatch" while still taking inspiration from The Village.
According to Kaplan, there are even more maps being worked on right now.
Overwatch PvP mode update includes change to tank role
Overwatch 2's developers were excited to announce "philosophical changes" to their approach to PvP. It should feel "different and new" to players, with all new maps and a chance to explore new roles and playstyles.
There will also be passive abilities for each particular role, said lead hero designer Geoff Goodman. Tanks will have less knockback. DPS will have a movement and speed bonus for flanking. And support heroes will have auto-healing that kicks in if they aren't damaged for a while.
Kaplan noted that the tank role will actually feel entirely different. Every single tank will be more like a "toe-to-toe brawler" instead of a character that stands back and protects other people. As an example, developers pointed to Reinhardt. He will be able to go after key targets now that he can steer his charge more aggressively. He can also use his Fire Strike more often.
(Looks like developers agree with Aaron. But I am still going to stand by my argument for no particular reason.)
Overwatch 2 technology leads to combat upgrades
Blizzard developers are hoping players will feel more immersed in Overwatch 2. One way to do this is to give weapons a "visceral" feel. There will be all-new weapon sounds and even varying sounds for quick melee attacks. The audio will even allow players to "feel the ammo running out."
The weapons will also feel like they are in their current environment using a technology called convolution reverb. This will capture the acoustics of the environment and make the weapons sound different depending on where a player is, whether it's a tight tunnel, an urban landscape, or an open space.
Developers actually visited different locations to get a true feel for how each weapon would sound in a variety of environments. They showed off some of those real-world experiments during the BlizzConline presentation.
Programmer Timothy Ford noted that heroes like Soldier: 76 will especially feel a lot different due to these upgrades. Ford said that players will "feel like the gun is almost outside your control," with the weapon "running through your entire body" every time you shoot.
Overwatch 2's Sojourn will have a rail gun
Kaplan revealed that Sojourn has become one of the team's "favorite" heroes. While Widowmaker revolves around her sniper rifle and Pharah's kit is inspired by her rocket launcher, Sojourn will have a rail gun.
With the right mechanical skills and aim, Sojourn will become quite powerful. Her nail gun can "rip through enemies" if you are accurate with your shots.
Overwatch developers are thinking up new game modes
The Overwatch team is still exploring new game modes for the sequel's competitive play. They are simultaneously evaluating older game modes. Some of them might even be replaced, said Kaplan.
"We want it to feel like the next evolution — a true sequel to the first game. Not an add-on. Not a small part. Not an extension. This is an evolution and a replacement to the original game. I think it's exciting," Kaplan noted.
There will be hundreds of hero missions in Overwatch 2
The hero missions are "hard to wrap your head around," Kaplan said. That's probably because there are hundreds of them. And there are even varying types of hero missions. A lot of the hero missions will also take place on new parts of the map that were created just for the mission itself.
Even more insane is that each map will have snowstorms and other weather-related elements. And they will even affect how people pick their hero compositions. For example, you might want to pick Widowmaker or Hanzo during a sandstorm since they have abilities that reveal opponents. Each map will also have a day and night made specifically for each location.
This way, hero missions won't feel like a "grind to get to the top." It will hopefully feel really fresh to players, with new special enemies and other aspects that require a lot of cooperation.
The hero missions will allow heroes to level up. There's a progression system for each hero that's been overhauled since the last showcase. Each hero will have three skill trees, allowing players to experiment with how a hero is played.
Soldier:76 has a healing tree that lets players have a healing beacon that travels with them. The beacon can also push enemies away from him, letting him act like a snowplow in a way. Junkrat can duel wield grenade launchers. And Mercy can resurrect multiple allies through walls.
Overwatch 2 revealed new hero looks at BlizzCon
Each hero will have a new look that "preserves the essence of the hero" while also showing an evolution, said Arnold Tsang. This includes a lot of "tech fabrics" and "functional straps" that are aesthetically pleasing while also making the heroes feel futuristic and battle-ready.
Here are a few of the new hero looks that were shared during the panel:
Overwatch 2 will have more lore than ever before
"Overwatch 2 is the largest opportunity we've had since the inception of the franchise to really expand what Overwatch means to our players," Kaplan said. "In Zero Hour, we saw that some of the heroes got back together. But there seems to be a second huge omnic uprising. We're gonna learn who is behind it, why that's happening, how globally spread it is..."
Each story mission in the co-op campaign will have an in-game cinematic intro and outro. Stories will be more integrated into missions "than ever before." Every hero will have special dialogue and interactions. There will be NPCs. There will be all sorts of events that drive players to interact with each other or parts of the map.
The heroes are dealing with more than they ever have before and the campaign will explore these tough situations and epic moments. The world is in trouble and it needs heroes once again. But the heroes might be in trouble, too.
"How dark can the world of Overwatch go?" Jeff Chamberlain added.
The developers explained the extensive process to create such an immersive campaign that takes place "all over the world." But with new technologies and new abilities, the team c ould push the storytelling further than previously possible.
There are custom maps for each mission and they are all "absolutely giant." They all have a "lived-in" feel thanks to the extensive history behind each location. Torbjorn's workshop will even have everything custom-built for his height.
"In Overwatch 2, we want to give players a lot of choice," Kaplan said. "There's a cast of many characters, all on screen, all at the same time. You see them all interacting and working together in ways we've never seen — things we thought about and hoped for. Telling a story like this comes from a group. A talented and fun group that works together."
Continued Kaplan: "You all love the game and its universe so much. We are excited about that moment when we hand the game over to the players. We are creating this game because we want it to become part of your life and for you to experience it."