Since Activision Blizzard had their Developer Livestream, displaying and discussing the changes they have lined up for Overwatch 2, a lot of discussions have arisen. This is mainly regarding the biggest shift, Overwatch 2 becoming 5v5 compared to the 6v6 we have all become accustomed to over the last few years. There were several other changes announced and displayed during this stream, however, none of them compare to how big of a difference this will make not only for the gameplay but for the game as a whole.
The aspect to discuss first is why Overwatch 2 is even something that Activision Blizzard is looking at. Upon releasing a new game, there will always be hype around it and thus an influx of players will follow. The number of players that will stay will become dependant on how well the game performs on release. That is one of the aims that the developers have, they want more players to play Overwatch 2. Also, a new game allows for them to make a complete overhaul of the graphics system, add numerous PvE game modes as well as make big alterations to gameplay like we are seeing with their 5v5 change. A lot of what they are doing with Overwatch 2 feels similar to the direction the Starcraft developers took with Starcraft II and its expansions. Starcraft II was a big overhaul in terms of graphics much to what Overwatch 2 seems to be. 5v5 in Overwatch 2 gives me similar feelings to what they did with the Expansion of Legacy of the Void, which saw the multiplayer games with twelve workers versus six which increased the pace of the game tenfold. While it is not as dramatic of a change as moving from 6v6 to 5v5 I see a lot of similarities in their thinking. Ultimately they want the game to look different in a big way and that is what Overwatch 2 is going to become, not just for multiplayer balance, but for overall gameplay and an increase in lore.
Before we get into how 5v5 is going to impact Overwatch 2, first I would like to talk about why they have decided to take this approach. Something regarding Overwatch that I have always heard from newer players as well experienced myself when I first started watching and playing the game is that there is a lot to take in from a visual perspective. With most fights taking place with all twelve players present there becomes a lot to follow and quite frankly even for experienced players it becomes difficult to follow oftentimes needing all players to communicate a lot of information during a fight. When you look at a game like Counter: Strike you rarely get 5v5 fights over a single site. Reducing the number of players by two may make it a little easier for everyone to keep track of what is happening in Overwatch 2 team fights. Yes, it is still going to be a lot more cluttered than other games but will make Overwatch 2 more appealing in this sense.
Another reason for this change could very well be that for players in other competitive scenes, 6v6 is a foreign concept as every other competitive team title is 5v5. CS:GO, League of Legends, Dota 2, Valorant, and Rainbow Six Siege are all games played 5v5. For anyone of these players, seeing Overwatch being 6v6 may be unappealing since now you have to play with one extra person on your team, especially in solo queue, and dealing with five unknown variables versus four is a big jump. While this may not be why they chose to make Overwatch 2 5v5 it would make a lot of sense.
Now that I’ve gone into why Overwatch 2 is 5v5, we can discuss what effect this will have. On the surface, the obvious change is that each team is going to lose one tank. Choosing the tank role was probably the best since cutting this role will allow for a cut down on queue times, with there being fewer spots to contest with for a lower population of tank players. Another thing is that a lot of people I know, do not want to queue tank solo since there is a good chance you will either choose a Main tank hero or be stuck with two Off tanks, and that leads to a lot of complaints from players. With Overwatch 2 you will not have to fight over who gets to play Main or Off Tank, with the role becoming one you can play whatever tank you want. Of course, there will still be complaints regarding which tank you pick but that will happen in any game.
From a coach’s point of view, Overwatch 2 is going to be interesting. Since the announcement of Overwatch 2 being 5v5 I have been excited to see the changes it will make to gameplay and how I approach the game from a coaching point of view. The fundamentals of Overwatch that I always coach of Brawl, Dive, and Spam comps will probably still exist in some way for Overwatch 2 but most certainly not in the same way that it is now. The variety in comps upon release will be numerous with a potential of different styles when you look at a comp built around a Reinhardt vs a D.Va. These tanks may have a completely different look when Overwatch 2 is released but one thing I can say is that the playstyles and the way the game is analysed and coached will be drastically affected. When it comes to individual coaching, for each role I’m going to have to learn and teach something different compared to what I’m used to. For anyone that knows me, I love learning about different ways of playing games, learning new heroes etc. As such learning 5v5 Overwatch 2 is incredibly exciting as both a player and a coach.
In terms of the growth of players and teams for Overwatch 2, there is no doubt that there will be growth at the beginning of the game with an influx of players. Also, the fact that the game is 5v5 will mean that on average there are going to be fewer players needing to fill teams. As such in 10 teams you will be looking at around 80 players in Overwatch 2 versus around 100 players in the current version of Overwatch. From ten teams alone that’s 20 players and considering more players are bound to join with it being a new game, I know for sure that the South African Overwatch scene will grow, and hopefully with it comes more tournaments.
The final point I want to bring up is that while there is a lot of speculations regarding what Overwatch 2 will be like upon release, good or bad there is no way for us to say now how well it is going to perform and what exactly the gameplay will be like. At this point we do not have a set date for the release of Overwatch 2, the heroes in the current iteration I can say will never work for 5v5 Overwatch but I’m pretty sure they have a lot in store for each hero. Regardless of your opinions, positive or negative, or even neutral I encourage everyone to give Overwatch 2 a try when it is released, and then you can decide for yourself if Overwatch 2 is for you. For me, I will likely even give it a few weeks after release to make my final judgments since I’m expecting the game to even look different after the release with everyone realizing what needs balancing since it is a different game to what any of us will be used to.