The State of Overwatch in 2022: Waiting for More


The State of PC Gaming


(Image credit: Blizzard)

To kick off 2022, we’re taking a look at the top games, genres and platforms making PC gaming to see where they stand as we begin a new year.

Overwatch, despite what every weary streamer and exhausted gamer might have you believe, is far from dead. Blizzard’s MOBA-inspired FPS may have lost its relevance against games like Valorant and Apex Legends, but it remains distinct and true to its place as the less traditional shooter.

For much of 2019, the game’s identity faltered, and Blizzard seemed to have forgotten what made the game so exceptional when it launched in 2016. Its intense focus on competitive play and its esports league eliminated games of the game that made it accessible for a variety of players. Heroes have increased in mechanical complexity, and the margin for error in any given match has become smaller. Overwatch felt like it was designed to be watched by casuals for thrilling, “pop off” moments, and played only by the most skilled players.

It was so backward that they finally took a step back at the end of 2020 and moved Overwatch to a game where non-traditional (and more accessible) heroes with hammers and bows are just as crucial as those with guns. Firefights used to end in an instant with well-placed headshots, but now fights break out into brawls and you have time to make tactical decisions. In terms of balance, Overwatch is closer than ever to the chess-like team game it always promised to be, and a game no other shooter has managed to emulate.

With far-reaching balance changes (and, notably, no new heroes released since 2020), the development team was able to restore the game’s team-rich gameplay. But then Blizzard was upset. Shortly after Overwatch’s game director – and the face of its iconic developer update videos – Jeff Kaplan left the company in April 2021, the story of workplace harassment and discrimination from Activision Blizzard has been widely released. Since then, other high-level Blizzard employees have left, the company has been sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, investigated by the SEC, and will be acquired by Microsoft for $68.7 billion in 2023.

2022 was going to be a hugely important year for Overwatch before it all happened with Activision Blizzard. Now, there are even more questions about how the game and its upcoming sequel have withstood not just a global pandemic, but a disaster that’s still unfolding within the company. Not much has been said about the sequel, let alone what will happen to the current game after release.

Pharah from Overwatch being attacked by a Mercy

(Image credit: Tyler C./Blizzard)

So how is Overwatch doing right now?

Overwatch is still great fun. He has his problems; some overpowered meta heroes have remained relatively untouched for years, such as Baptiste’s oppressive hold on the Support category and Sigma’s overwhelming list of abilities. But for most people outside of high-ranking lobbies, the game maintains satisfying hero shootouts and the team play it still excels at. Almost every hero on the game’s roster is not only playable, but useful on a variety of maps and team compositions. There are tons of game modes, whether you’re looking for goofy fun or competitive grudge matches that require an adaptive understanding of the game. The queuing times aren’t bad either. Back in 2019, Overwatch introduced Role Queue (which locks players into their chosen roles) and increased the time it takes to enter a match, but soon after we got the While You Wait option that lets you play a deathmatch or hang out in the practice slot while looking for a match.

There are several questions about how this will all work and how some heroes will need to change to accommodate Overwatch 2.

Outside of balance fixes and cosmetic-filled events, there haven’t been any massive new additions to Overwatch since the damage hero Echo was released in 2020. Blizzard said at the time that it would be the last hero before the release of Overwatch 2, but that was also back when we thought Overwatch would release in 2021. The game has stalled somewhat, but that doesn’t mean the game has lost what made it special . The intricate core of Overwatch, where teams of six compete in colorful whirlwinds of skills, abilities, and ultimate winners, is still intact, and it’s what has inspired so many to reconnect every day. .

Everything is temporary though. As far as we know, Overwatch 2 will change the game from its usual six-on-six format to five-on-five, leaving one tank per team (instead of two) and adjusting all heroes to compensate for less armor on the field. of battle. It will also remove the unpopular Assault (or 2CP) game mode and replace it with a new one called Push. There are several questions about how this will all work and how some heroes will need to change to accommodate the new game. Blizzard teased a few changes in their sequel presentations, but almost none of them has been incorporated into the current game, so we have no idea if these changes are still good. Right now, the balance of the game comes down to trying to read tarot cards to figure out what the future holds.

What happened recently?

  • Annual and limited-time events continue as planned. Regular Overwatch events like Halloween Terror and Lunar New Year have continued to roll out, offering a bunch of new cosmetics and limited-time modes. The developer has also released short stories and comics that come with a skin and other rewards for watching Twitch streams.
  • Content Creator Experimental Patches are a new regular occurrence. As part of an effort to keep the game fresh and to utilize its most public-facing fans, Blizzard has begun letting well-known content creators suggest balance changes to be implemented in Experimental Mode. game limit.
  • Blizzard hosted a meeting with popular content creators to help plan for 2022. At the end of December 2021, Blizzard held several meetings with content creators to inform them of their plans for 2022. critical actors expressed excitement for what’s to come, leading many to believe that more substantial updates and possibly a beta version of Overwatch 2 will arrive this year.
  • Overwatch League is still on track to play Overwatch 2 one way or another. When the Overwatch League’s fifth season begins in April, it will use an “early version of Overwatch 2,” according to a statement made to Dot Esports by a league spokesperson. We know very little about the sequel, and playing at the highest competitive level on an unfinished game seems risky, but we haven’t heard anything different since last year.

Are the players happy?

If you search Overwatch on Reddit or Twitter, you’ll find tons of unhappy people, but if you jump into a game, a lot of people seem happy enough to keep queuing up for more matches. It’s hard to accurately judge Overwatch’s total player base, as many are divided on which direction the game should go. Professional players in the Overwatch League want to see the game in its most competitive form, where skill and consistency are rewarded, and casual players (read: most gamers) want the game to remain spontaneous and asynchronous like the how the game was launched. But even with all the differing opinions, there are plenty of people out there playing.

If there’s anything true about Overwatch players right now, it’s that they all care deeply about the game, and that reinforces criticism of it. We’ve had all this time since the game started. Many other games have taken ideas from it and done it better in some cases, but no game has really been able to capture the reasons why people keep coming back. again and again on Overwatch. And right now, with very few updates, people are desperately continuing to play a game that largely refuses to advance anything until Blizzard can sell us another game.

Long-time players are exhausted, frustrated with the same issues, or exhausted by Blizzard’s refusal to quell much of the game’s text and voice chat toxicity. frequent sales and free play periods enjoy what’s out there, although the game could do a much better job of accommodating them. Each passing day puts more pressure on what Overwatch 2 will be, and it remains to be seen if it can pull it off.

Skin of Mercy Seolbim holding a gun

(Image credit: Tyler C./Blizzard)

When is the next big update?

Recently, Senior Overwatch Community Manager Andy Belford stated that “the current pace of updates is not something we are happy with”, on the official forums. As far as we know, 2022 will have more frequent updates for the game. Whether it’s event skins, content creator patches or a surprise Overwatch 2 beta is not not clear. With Overwatch 2 recently postponed to 2023, the current game is set to do another one last year. The team must have planned enough to justify meeting with the content creators last year, which is the only promising development of 2022 so far.

Overwatch can’t just repeat everything it did last year without losing tons of players, especially those who play for its esports league. This is the year he has to give concrete information about the sequel and hopefully let people play it. The expectations of a modern live service shooter have changed so much since 2016, and Overwatch, in its current form, is unable to meet them. It will be a problem if we come to December and we don’t even know if we will have to pay to play the upcoming game or if it will be free to play in some form and if it will continue to use a box loot system.

It’s Blizzard’s job to make Overwatch relevant again, and to do that, it needs to reestablish what has made all other games draw ideas from it. The game is in a solid place for players to rediscover it and dig into its depths, all it needs are reasons to stick around when so many other games are stealing its attention.


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