Overwatch 2 Hands-On Preview: Welcome, Heroes New and Old

Come one, come all.

by Noah Nelson

Overwatch-2-Hands-On-Preview

Here’s the thing: I never played Overwatch 1. Yes, I watched the gorgeous narrative cinematics and I imagined what Hero I would main from afar, but I never played a single match of the original Overwatch. To be frank, I was kinda scared. I was scared of the infamously toxic community, scared of not knowing how to play my role and letting my team down, and scared to play with randoms in a game that requires team coordination. And honestly, I was scared I would love it.

Overwatch 1, a 7-year-old game, is dying on October 4, 2022. The game that has enraptured gamers from across the globe, propelled esports to new heights, and influenced all of the hero-based games you love today, will die. And from its ashes, Overwatch 2 will rise. So whether you’re new to Overwatch or you’re a die-hard day-one fan, be scared of loving it. Overwatch 2 is not that inaccessible, frightening game, it is a warm invitation. Overwatch 2 is a successful revitalization of that ever-intriguing hero-based FPS I once feared to love.

Heroes with the Homies

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After playing nightly during the open beta, my worst fear has become realized: I now like Overwatch. But, that doesn’t mean I didn’t have the new player jitters. As a brand new Overwatch player, there is a near endless list of things to be anxious about. What if I hold my team back? What if I pick the wrong Hero? What if I don’t perform well in my role?

My advice is to play with friends. Whether you have friends who have played Overwatch 1 or you all jump into the game green, Overwatch 2 is forgiving and fun with friends.

One or two friends is great, but if you have a full team of five friends, you’ll have an absolute blast. Instead of worrying about what the best counter is for the enemy team’s Junker Queen, you can experiment with a handful of Heroes throughout the match, risk-free.

Depending on the game mode, you can freely swap roles with your friends mid-game and find which role and Heroes you like best. The pressures, anxieties, stress, and sweatiness of this competitive game all fade away when you are figuring out how to play alongside your homies.

My First Picks

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I’m the type of player who doesn’t need to be doing the most damage and getting the most kills. That said, every character class has a handful of Heroes that worked for me. Though the class system is split up into three categories (Tank, Damage, and Support), there are plenty of fluid characters that blur the lines.

The first two characters that really clicked for me were Bastion and Mei. Bastion is a huge robot that has a Gatling gun and a grenade. As a Damage Hero, Bastion has a ton of health, so he plays somewhat like a Tank. On the other hand, Mei uses frost abilities to slow her opponents and take control of the battlefield. Mei is also a Damage Hero, but she has a lot of Support capabilities like her Ice Wall and Blizzard abilities that block enemy teams.

Each Hero has one or two weapon damage dealing options, one or two passive abilities, two or three main abilities, and an ultimate. It sounds a bit complicated on paper, but when playing, it couldn’t be simpler. Picking and playing any character in the Overwatch 2 roster feels easy and different at the same time. Sure, you won’t know the deep strategies of the Hero right away, but you will immediately start having fun with each character. And discovering your favorite Hero’s deeper strategies is just another layer of fun.

With team compositions mainly consisting of one Tank, two Damage, and two Support, Damage is arguably the easiest and friendliest place to start for Overwatch newcomers. The reason why Damage Heroes are best for Overwatch beginners is the team’s one Tank needs to be on their A-game and the Supports have an important role in constantly healing their squad.

Once you feel comfortable with a few characters, try new ones. Try Kiriko the new healer, try Roadhog the chain hooking menace, try Moira the healer damage dealer. Experimentation is one of the most fun things about Overwatch 2.

Never Over Overwatch

So I lied. I don’t just like Overwatch 2, I really like Overwatch 2. And the main thing that I really like about it is how easy it is to play and how hard it is to master. There are 35 Heroes in this game—35 and growing! And somehow, they all feel extremely well-balanced, unique, and fun, both individually and because of the class system.

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Let’s start with the balancing. Since I never played Overwatch 1, I can only compare the balancing in Overwatch 2 with other live-service FPS games where I’ve noticed balancing issues: Destiny 2 and Apex Legends. Not to put these games on blast, because I love them both dearly, but the individual character balancing in Overwatch 2 puts the balancing in Destiny 2 and Apex Legends to shame. 

The second you think you’ve found a “broken” character in Overwatch 2, the enemy team will switch to your character’s counter and start crushing you. Thanks to this, Overwatch 2 has a well-balanced ecosystem of Heroes that work in harmony to promote strategic and diverse gameplay.

If you are familiar with Destiny 2 or Apex Legends, what I’m saying is that there are no must-picks like “Gibraltar” or “Well of Radiance,” and that feels really refreshing. Though the balancing will never be perfect, it nears perfection in Overwatch 2, and we have the class system to thank for adding an element of order and flow to the game that creates a balance others don’t have.

My first impressions of Overwatch 2 is that it is a great game. If you played Overwatch 1, you’ll love this game. If you’ve never played Overwatch but enjoy competitive FPS titles, you’ll love this game. While it does have its flaws, namely it being a confusing sequel and it being a bit one-note, Overwatch 2 is a real treat. Especially now that it is a live-service, free-to-play game with Battle Pass bonuses to earn, weekly challenges to complete, and possibly rotating limited-time modes, you should give Overwatch 2 a try. Just, by all means, try it with friends.

Overwatch 2 will be available on October 4, 2022, on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

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