Blizzard Entertainment has officially announced that the sequel to its hero-based multiplayer shooter, Overwatch 2, will be launching in early access on 4 October 2022. But what’s more interesting from this announcement is the unexpected reveal that the game will support a new free-to-play (F2P) model – unlike its predecessor, which launched as a paid title back in 2016.
According to the company’s press statement, early access for Overwatch 2 will be available on all supported platforms come October, including Windows, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5 and 4, as well as Nintendo Switch. Blizzard also confirms that there will be cross-platform play and cross-platform progression, which basically allows you to play the game across different devices, so long as you use the same Battlenet account.
As most are aware by now, Overwatch 2 retains its predecessor’s five-versus-five multiplayer format – a mode that will be immediately accessible during early access. Blizzard touts it to “offer incredible and fresh competitive gameplay,” which likely references the numerous improvements and added gameplay over the first game. On that note, fans can expect new heroes, maps, game modes, and rework on past characters.
Speaking of new characters, joining the recently unveiled railgun-toting Sojourn is the game’s 34th hero, Junker Queen – leader of the Junkers, a faction which fellow playable characters Junkrat and Roadhog belong to lore-wise. Not much information about her has been revealed just yet, aside from being shown to be equipped with a shotgun and a great axe in the accompanying reveal trailer.
Similarly, Blizzard did not detail further regarding Overwatch 2’s free-to-play mode, though it did mention “premium cosmetics” as part of the game’s features. It’s not clear whether these are offered as rare rewards from its predecessor’s iconic yet controversial loot box system, or are directly purchasable with real money or premium in-game currency. Either way, all of these approaches are often considered to be the typical way for developers to earn profit from otherwise a free game.
This is especially with the infamous loot box system, which are earnable in-game but will require players to purchase additional boxes – usually with real money – in order to increase their chances of obtaining a rare or desirable item. Though deemed controversial by certain authorities due to the gambling-like outcomes, loot box openings and gacha rolls are one of the popular go-tos in the live streaming community due to their high watchability – something that our writer Ian Chee has extensively discussed in his feature article that was published last week.
Also absent from the announcement is the promised story oriented player-versus-environment (PVE) mode in Overwatch 2, which lets gamers cooperate together or go solo to fight against AI enemies and complete objectives. Back in March, Blizzard said this portion of the game will be available separately and much later than the PVP mode, though it’s not certain whether it will also be offered for free.
Nevertheless, more details regarding the upcoming early access will be showcased by the developer this Friday via the Overwatch 2 Reveal Event live stream that is happening this Friday on 17 June at 1:00am local time. Those interested can catch it through Blizzard’s official Overwatch channel on Youtube and on Twitch.
(Source: Blizzard press release)