After much speculation, we know that Overwatch 2 is officially a real game. We don't know when it's coming, but we know it's in development and we can look forward to several months of news, hints, and leaks about all the new content that will be included in this sequel to Blizzard's hit hero shooter.
One of the most highly touted features about Overwatch 2 is the fact that players of the original Overwatch aren't being left behind. Game director Jeff Kaplan has declared that this will be the future of sequels, as both games will receive all future multiplayer content as well as gameplay and graphical improvements.
Which begs the question, if everything is going to be added into the first game, why do we even need a sequel? From the sound of things, it seems like Overwatch 2 should have been DLC instead of a separate full-price release.
Shiny And New
After the fancy new animated trailer was shown off at Blizzcon, Kaplan started listing off all the goodies players would get with Overwatch 2. Echo and Sojourn, along with possibly four more unannounced heroes would join the roster, new maps based in Toronto, Gothenburg, Monte Carlo, and Rio De Janeiro would be available, and there would be a new game mode called Push. Perhaps the most important new addition is the co-op story mode, which will finally allow fans of the series' lore to play through narrative PVE missions with their favorite characters.
That all sounds pretty good and worthy of a second installment in the franchise. But looking at this infographic, it suddenly becomes apparent that an entirely new $60 game is probably unnecessary.
As you can see, the only thing that won't be patched into the first Overwatch is the story missions. Every multiplayer aspect of Overwatch 2 will be in vanilla Overwatch. For most players the online component is the only reason they play the game, so if everything is coming to the title they already own, then what value does the sequel have? If anything, Overwatch 2 sounds less like a fully-realized follow-up, and more like an iterative release in the series.
An Annual Case Of Deja Vu
Iterative releases are something that fans of sports games are more accustomed to. Every year a new NBA, Madden, NHL, MLB or WWE game is released and they're rarely significant departures from the previous installment. These games are usually expected to release annually, so they typically feature nothing more than roster updates with maybe the occasional new mode or gameplay tweak. Yet, despite being essentially the same game – or in some cases being much worse than the game that came before – they'll still cost you the price of a triple-A release.
This is what Overwatch 2 sounds like, a slight iteration that adds improvements and features while not altering the core gameplay. Releasing a sequel that's mostly the same game but with a new coat of paint is frowned upon by most gamers who aren't into sports. This kind of behavior from Blizzard would be surprising except for one thing: they're owned by Activision, the publishers of the Call Of Duty franchise.
Bobby Kotick Hungers For Sequels
COD is one of the few game series left that get away with an annual release schedule. Every fall like clockwork a new COD comes out and sells like hotcakes. Activision likely loves the profits it makes from this FPS franchise, and it wouldn't be shocking if it thinks they can do the same thing with Overwatch.
After all, Activision has a reputation as the company that likes to drive its games into the ground with constant releases. It released so many Guitar Hero games that it practically salted the Earth when it comes to the rhythm genre. It's also easy to remember that Bungie was originally said to have a ten-year plan for Destiny until Destiny 2 went into production. Considering their public break-up with Activision earlier this year, it's plausible that Activision had a hand in pushing the former Halo developer into coming up with a sequel to drive fans over to the next game.
And that brings us back to the question of whether Overwatch 2 needs to exist, or if it's just one giant Activision-endorsed cash grab. While the story mode is enticing, these missions could have easily been added into the base game as DLC. Many players would have gladly paid $20 or $30 to play through a cinematic adventure with Tracer and company, but instead, we're getting a new game that will likely be priced at the same level as other triple-A releases. This means if you want to see the journey of Overwatch's revival you're going to have to pony up $60, and that doesn't feel justifiable.
Should Have Been Overwatch: Chapter 2
Overwatch 2 comes across as something that could have been a massive patch for Overwatch 1. It's fantastic that players will get every multiplayer add-on from the new game, but releasing a sequel that's pretty much the same with a few new bells and whistles seems more like a mandate from Activision than an artistic choice from Blizzard.
Kaplan does seem to have big plans for Overwatch 2, and the story mode may end being phenomenal. If there's a good number of missions, new skills, and a high level of replayability, then it might turn out to be a game deserving of your hard-earned dollars. But right now, Overwatch 2 seems like the same old Overwatch, only now everyone has a fancy new hairstyle.