Sorry, the old Overwatch can’t come to the phone right now. She’s dead. Today, October 4 at 3 p.m. EST, Overwatch 2 will come to replace her, and the sun has long set on days of 6v6 and free-range characters not cloistered behind a battle pass.
You probably have some questions. It’s a natural response to finding out that one of your games has been replaced by a body double with a nerfed butt. Your trepidation is understandable, and you should know what you’re getting into in case you need to start working on this year’s “Top 5 Butts In Overwatch” YouTube video as soon as possible. To ease you through this difficult (but, relatively to a real problem, still very fun) transition, I put together a list of seven gameplay changes to be aware of before you pick up Overwatch 2 for the first time.
Read More: The Internet’s Biggest Overwatch 2 Questions, Answered
Have your phone number ready
Before you get a chance to discover any of Overwatch 2’s facelifted gameplay, you’ll need to have a working phone number handy. In a blog posted on September 27, developer Blizzard announced that, in interest of eliminating “disruptive play,” all players will be required to link a non-VOIP, non-pre-paid phone number to their battle.net account. And when Blizzard says all players, it means all—even those who owned a physical Overwatch copy and those playing on consoles.
Be aware, too, that Blizzard will be planning on recording players in order to create a “temporary voice chat recording of a reported player and automatically transcribe it through speech to text programs.”
“Once the audio recording has been transcribed to text, it’s quickly deleted as the file’s sole purpose is to identify potentially disruptive behavior,” Blizzard wrote. “The text file is then deleted no later than 30 days after the audio transcription. This system relies on players reporting disruptive behavior as soon as they encounter it in game because we do not store voice chat data long term.”
First-timers get coddled (unless they give Blizzard money)
In that same September 27 blog, Blizzard shared that it was testing a new way to soften the initial Overwatch 2 experience and discourage cheating: any account made on or after October 4 will be subject to the First Time User Experience (FTUE).
The FTUE will limit budding accounts by:
- Enforcing initial account restrictions, including limited game modes and heroes. FTUE players will not be able to access Competitive mode until they complete 50 Quick Play matches.
- Putting players through two phases—the first of which unlocks all game modes and in-game chat, the second of which requires completing 100 or so matches and unlocks all old Overwatch heroes
Even though Overwatch 2 is an allegedly free-to-play game, anyone who purchased the Watchpoint Pack, a $39.99 content cluster with a Premium Battle Pass for Season 1, legendary hero skins, virtual currency, and more, will mysteriously avoid FTUE. With similar esotericism, Blizzard seems to have removed the Pack from its store (but console sites are still selling it).
Anyway, welcome to Overwatch’s 5v5
You’ve probably been expecting Overwatch 2’s core gameplay overhaul, yoinking the shooter out of its 6v6 set up and into more traditional 5v5 territory, ever since the beta launched this summer. Consider this your reminder that it’s completely here and happening.
5v5 will mow one tank off of teams, meaning they’ll have only one instead of their previous two. As a result, teams will become more vulnerable to damage, players will need to become more strategically active, and tanks will need to play as thick and faithful as ever.
Goodbye, portrait levels
Portrait levels, borders that indicated players’ rank and skill, are gone. Experience will instead go into leveling up your Battle Pass, Blizzard wrote in a September 28 blog, a themed, seasonal floodgate for 80+ cosmetic unlockables.
Also being replaced, removed, or altered are:
- “SR,” or skill rating: will be replaced by Skill Tier Divisions. “Tier Divisions represent the same skill levels as SR, but they give players a higher-level view of where they’re placed in Competitive,” Blizzard wrote in that September 28 blog. “Each division represents approximately a 100 SR range. Players will receive a competitive update every seven wins, or 20 losses, instead of every single game.” Competitive mode will retain its tiers, Bronze, Silver, Gold, etc. “Each tier will have five divisions ranking from 5 (lowest) to 1 (highest),” Blizzard wrote. “As you progress through each tier, your division will count down until you rank up to the next tier. Top 500 will not have tier divisions.”
- Competitive skill tiers: while competitive tiers remain, they will not be shown before matches. Instead, players will see a scoreboard. Unlike the scoreboard that frustrated players during Overwatch 2’s beta period, this completed scoreboard will not display medals.
- Placement: your Competitive rank is something of a blank slate in Overwatch 2. You won’t be ranked until “your first competitive update after the first seven wins or 20 losses,” Blizzard wrote on September 28. Returning player ranks will be altered “post-launch,” and Blizzard warns that they might “find their rank is slightly lower when they start out, as they will be learning new concepts and metas.” But, opaquely, Blizzard also writes that “players who got to learn more about the game in our betas, or who follow the Overwatch League, may find themselves ranked higher than ever.”
- Competitive rewards: the Top 500 Leaderboards and Competitive Points remain in, but prizes like animated sprays and icons are out. You’ll find “limited Competitive titles for your name card,” Blizzard wrote, in their place. In addition, Competitive Points will be capped “to the highest skill tier you reach in any of your roles.” 3,000 CP earn you a Golden Weapon for any of Overwatch 2’s latest or existing heroes.
Go ahead and “ping” someone
To take some of the heat off of voice chat, Blizzard is adding a “ping” system. To “ping” someone or something, you’ll need to press your device’s “ping” button, which you can find in Overwatch 2’s settings (on a keyboard, it’s “G”; on a controller, it’s left on the D-pad). You can use this to point out locations or enemies to teammates, and different types of pings will trigger different acknowledging dialogue from heroes, lines like “attacking,” “defending,” or “need help.”
Try out new game modes, “push” and more
Including those found within its Competitive and more casual Quick Play categories, Overwatch was host to seven different game modes, all of which offered variation and unique fun in gameplay.
Overwatch 2 scraps Assault, a mode where teams needed to capture or defend points on a map, and introduces fresh game modes that will release in waves, with the pull of its now-seasonal model. The first released new game mode is Push, which the Overwatch website describes as a “symmetrical map type” in which “teams will battle to take control of a robot that begins in a central location, then push it toward the enemy base.”
Familiar characters are made new in key ways
Overwatch 2 will seasonally carry out a series of balance changes to its heroes, both broadly and individually. In the game’s first season, you’ll find that:
- Temporary health gives 50% reduced ultimate charge, not zero ultimate charge like before
- Eliminations give 25% increased reload and movement speed for 2.5 seconds. This effect doesn’t stack, though its duration refreshes with subsequent eliminations.
- You receive an up-to-30% ultimate power refund when you swap any type of hero, not only DPS heroes
- However, DPS heroes alone will receive a 25% increase to movement and reload speed after an elimination
- Junker Queen’s “Commanding Shout” has been weakened. Its allied health bonus got halved, from 100 to 50 HP, allied duration dropped from 5 to 3 seconds, and its cooldown went from 11 to 15 seconds.
- Orisa’s base health increased from 250 to 275, her base armor made the same jump, and her Energy Javelin cooldown falls from 8 to 6 seconds
- D.Va’s boosters impact damage has been hiked, from 10 to 25, her Micro Missiles cooldown got squashed by one second, and her Call Mech ultimate cost was reduced by 12%
- Brigitte’s healing ability Inspire got a one second reduction in duration
- Baptiste’s Biotic Launcher primary fire damage was increased by one point, and its minimum falloff range got bumped from 20 to 25 meters
- The Pressing Crouch Mercy can perform during her Guardian Angel movement launches you vertically, and you can start a safe Angelic Descent by holding Crouch in the air
- Bastion’s Ironclad passive has been reinstated
- A point was chipped off of Reaper’s Hellfire Shotguns spread
- Sojourn’s Railgun environmental energy gain was reduced by 50%
- Sombra’s Hack ability lockout duration got an itsy bitsy lift, from 1 to 1.75 seconds
Only tanks can stun
Did you download Overwatch 2 yet? Let us know in the comments any gameplay changes you notice.