In all honesty, Overwatch was a game that I probably should have played more than I actually did. I was on the hype train early on, but like a lot of multiplayer-focused games, I just couldn’t find the time to stick with it. When I heard Overwatch 2 was going free-to-play, I wanted to see how Blizzard would handle the approach. Unfortunately for them, the first week has been extremely rough. Fortunately for me, when I’ve managed to play I’m having a lot of fun.
Not quite a newbie
Considering I owned Overwatch on both PC and PlayStation 4, I don’t qualify as a new player. But, it’s been years since I last played, and I don’t know most of the characters. This is especially true with nearly all ones that have been added over the last few years. Although I’ve got them all unlocked, I’ve been spending a lot of time learning or re-learning as many as I can.
I’ve already established a few that I like and a few that I don’t. Although I’m at my best in Support, I’ve been able to be successful in Tank and Damage classes. It also helps that in most cases I’m playing Support, so I’ve learned how to play well with characters like Lucio, Mercy, and Kiriko.
On the flip side, because Overwatch 2 is a F2P experience, there is a huge influx of new players who don’t understand the best ways to play Overwatch. This is a team-based shooter and far too often players are going it all solo, and it hurts the rest of the team. I’m hopeful new and lapsed players will want to learn the right and wrong way to play. I know I’m still learning, but I feel I’ve quickly grasped how each Hero type should be used in each match.
A lack of community
I can admit that I don’t really communicate when playing multiplayer games. For me, I just want to play the game, do my best then move on. Team-based shooters like Overwatch don’t necessarily need constant communication but it’s nice to show appreciation when someone on your team does well. It also helps to learn what you’re doing right or wrong and to improve your play.
After each match in Overwatch, you’d get the now-famous “Play of the Game” and then a set of highlight cards. These would let you and the rest of the players know who did what of significance. In Overwatch 2, they’ve completely removed this. Instead, we can simply endorse up to two other players on your team.
The problem with this is that you don’t have an easy way to endorse. Why would I endorse a stranger if I don’t know what they did? You have to choose the scoreboard, look at what everyone did and then issue my endorsements. It’s not an easy process. Thankfully though, the scoreboard is well laid out and shows what exactly everyone did. It shows who carried your team. It also highlights who dragged it.
My issue with the “endorsement” system is that it feels undercooked. Apparently, you earn extra XP when you acknowledge teammates. But you don’t get anything at the moment for having a higher endorsement level. Your endorsement also changes, which isn’t clear. Meaning your level changes all the time. I’m not sure why you wouldn’t want to encourage and reward people to grow their endorsement level.
Battle Pass woes
When it comes to Live Services and seasonal content, my main experience is with FIFA Ultimate Team. In the past, I’ve considered doing it in Fortnite, but I was unsure if I’d have the time to make it worth my while. For Overwatch 2, I bought the “Watchpoint Pack” and have been playing as much as possible since the game’s “official” launch about a week ago.
Personally, I’m torn about how to feel. For starters, I do like that the daily challenges don’t require you to do all of them each day. You only need to complete three of the six available to get the maximum 9,000 XP. There is enough variety that most people should get the necessary XP. On top of that, I think the level system is fair. It’s 10,000 XP per level. After a week of playing, I was already past level 25. So, reaching the max level feels achievable.
What I don’t like is the rewards for the weekly challenges. Yes, you earn XP, but you can only earn a maximum of 60 battle coins a week. That means in an eight-week season, you can only really earn at most 480 coins, which isn’t even half the price of the season pass. In comparison to Fortnite, you can theoretically earn 1300 V-bucks in a season, which would be more than enough to buy the next season’s Battle Pass.
I understand the need to be different, they should reconsider how they dish out rewards. The level rewards are underwhelming, with the best ones coming at every 10 levels (character skins). The rewards need to feel more meaningful. At the moment, they just aren’t
A very rough first week
You would think that for a company with the pedigree and experience of Blizzard, there would be a smooth launch for such a marquee game. Unfortunately, the first week of Overwatch 2 was rough. For starters, there were long queues just to start the game. For the first few days, I was honestly waiting for over an hour just to get to the main menu.
Then there were the joining issues. I would be waiting for 20-50 minutes to find and get into a match. I even went the route of choosing ‘all classes’ just so I could try to get into any match sooner. But, I would still wait for such a long time. Thankfully, these have greatly improved since launch but those first 72 hours were rough.
But the glitch I most commonly faced and still encounter is the disconnect from the server any time I get an achievement. I’m playing on Xbox. Because it’s my first time there, I’m earning achievements, and every time I do I’m thrown from the match I’m playing. This has happened ten times. Getting booted mid-game is the most frustrating because I lose the progress I would have earned for the challenges.
In-game stats also seem off. It keeps saying I’ve only played a few hours, which is clearly false (Xbox says I’ve spent more than a day). The stats also seem to flip-flop. One time it said I had played for four hours, the next day it says three. It’s definitely a problem, and I’m not sure why it’s happening.
They’ll need to work hard to win the audience
Launch week was rough, no doubt about it. Blizzard has a lot of work to do to earn even a fraction of the trust back from the community. Communication is a sore point, with details around the server updates and patches not being made clear in-game. Meanwhile, on social, they post only once a day and the tweets don’t really share a lot of helpful information.
On top of that, the longtime users have not been shy to vent their frustrations on Reddit. You have people complaining about stuff like account merging delays, locked items/characters on older accounts, and many more problems of varying degrees. There are also a lot of people who feel that Overwatch 2 is a step back in a lot of areas.
We’ve all had issues with the game. The weekend was smooth until Monday when a new set of problems took shape. Like a lot of people, I also encountered locked-out characters. They also had to disable Bastion and Torbjörn because there was an issue with their Ultimate. I like using Bastion, so this forced me to try different damage characters.
Time to grow
I am confident that Blizzard will address the issues and make things better in most areas. At the moment, I’m having fun. I’ve put in a ton of hours, I’m getting a lot better, and I still have a lot more to learn. For new and lapsed players like myself, the fun factor is high, and it will only get better as more content is added and improvements to other areas take place.
At the same time, I completely understand the frustration of the community. That’s the biggest problem for free-to-play games like PUBG, Destiny 2, and even Fortnite and Apex Legends. The need to juggle trying to satisfy both the existing player base and encouraging new players is not easy. I guess the removal of stuff was done to help ease in new players, which just annoys older ones. If they try to keep everything in, then it only overwhelms new players who will quickly leave. Connection and queue issues don’t help that either.
I suspect there is a long-term content plan for Overwatch 2 which will make both sides happy. It won’t happen overnight. Instead, it will take place across the next 3, 6, and 12 months. It’s just important that the devs get ahead of things. They don’t have to explain every detail. However, they do need to give old and new players some reassurance that things are only going to get better.
I like Overwatch 2
Despite all the problems with Overwatch 2, I am having a lot of fun. I want the game to thrive because there are some really good things here, and it will only get better. As we get more new content, I will try my best to try to share my thoughts because I want to stick with Overwatch 2 for a bit longer.