The time has finally arrived, and to be honest with you, it is surreal. I never thought the day we would get to play the Overwatch 2 Beta would ever come. After some trials and tribulations on Wednesday night, early into Thursday morning, I was able to access the beta, and at first, I struggled to find ways to describe how playing it felt. I would like to preface this with these are my thoughts: you do not have to agree with them.
Having played for most of Thursday, I have finally found the words to describe the experience of Overwatch 2. First and foremost, this is not like Overwatch 1. Sure, most heroes have stayed the same, but the entire gameplay loop feels different. And I think it is a mistake for people to compare it to Overwatch 1 as you will be disappointed. Had this been the first release of Overwatch, everyone would love what we have, especially with it being a beta. However, with its link to Overwatch 1, it feels underwhelming in comparison. That is why I recommend that if you have played the initial installment of Overwatch, be more open-minded and look at Overwatch 2 as a different game.
But is this beta what I was searching for from Blizzard? With what they have changed, I would say it is a success. The hero reworks we have seen make them a lot more fun. Orisa, for starters, feels way more enjoyable to play. The same for Bastion, Doomfist, and Sombra. The update to the game UI and the scoreboard have been welcome changes, albeit needing some cleaning up to make it the best it possibly can be.
Is 5v5 Overwatch optimal? I would say no so far. It has brought a drastic change to how Overwatch gets played, a lot more than I think most people thought it would be. I was not too surprised at the deathmatch element, especially with everyone needing to find their feet in the new system. I have liked the shift from tanks based around shields and crowd control to a game more focused on mechanics and raw damage output. However, it is too extreme at this point. The lack of shields is not a big deal, but the reduced crowd control has meant DPS heroes are rampant. Speaking as a DPS player, this is a big problem. Support players do not have a fun time against high mobility heroes like Genji, Tracer, and Sombra. Without the presence of crowd control like Brigitte’s shield bash, they become near impossible to stop. And it is not only these heroes that have taken over. Soldier, Cassidy, and Sojourn feel incredibly dominant, with Widomaker and Hanzo showing their prowess. Having the better tank rarely results in wins at this point. Tanks, at the very least compared to supports, are more fun to play. It is a sad day when the most fun supports to play are Moira and Lucio, with more mechanical heroes like Ana and Zenyatta falling by the wayside due to their lack of sustainability and mobility. However, this is the beta, and hopefully, the Blizzard team will take feedback and look to make tweaks in this regard, making the game fun for everyone to play.
The final topic I want to talk about is something which I have discussed quite a bit with my friends. Was the beta worth the wait? Everyone agrees. Not even in the slightest, and I wholeheartedly agree. For one extra hero, a few heroes reworked, and four maps on top of 5v5 Overwatch and a new UI, the beta does not make up for us waiting 900+ days. Making matters worse, most of these elements, such as the UI and Sojourn, we got to see years earlier. I do not deny that it takes a lot of work to create a game on an entirely new engine, but with the amount of time they have had to work on heroes and maps, there has to be more. Just because the game is 5v5 and feels different does not excuse what feels like a lack of attempt to make more changes. The argument made that they do not want to have too many moving parts in a new game is somewhat valid. But quite frankly, there are not that many. Had we waited a year for this, I would be more forgiving, but this is almost three years of waiting; this little content is upsetting, to be completely honest.
Again if you look purely at what has changed and added in the Overwatch 2 beta, I would call it successful. All the reworks and Sojourn feel great to play, and I have enjoyed learning how to play them. The maps also have a pretty good feel to them, specifically the new push maps, which have brought a completely new dynamic to Overwatch, where something like stalling a cart can become a hindrance to your team. If we are to see more changes in the future, with more editions of the beta, I will be more hopeful for Overwatch 2, but at this point, I am still skeptical. Ultimately playing Overwatch that has actual changes to it, something we have not seen for over a year now, is refreshing, and you can bet I will be playing as much as I can over the next couple of weeks until the beta closes.