Overwatch 2 is officially happening, will be a "shared multiplayer environment" with original game

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Update: Our initial story suggests Overatch 2 is a prequel, but it's clear now that Overwatch 2 is a direct sequel to Overwatch, taking place immediately after Winston tries to get the band back together (you know, the intro video from the original game). Initially it seems like the events of Overwatch 2 might take place before the original game, as the heroes are back together in the OG title and fighting in PvP matches. But Overwatch battles are not based in any sort of plot or lore, so as confusing as it might be when Tracer introduces Mei to Reinhardt in the Overwatch 2 trailer (since they've definitely fought together in matches before), the game is indeed a sequel. I was confused at first myself, as you'll see below.

Original Story: Overwatch 2 is definitely happening, and it's looking to redefine the video game sequel, according to game director Jeff Kaplan. Kaplan officially announced the game at BlizzCon alongside a cinematic trailer and a gameplay trailer. Check out the cinematic trailer for Overwatch 2 below:

Based on the trailer, Overwatch 2 takes place before the events of Overwatch, as Winston, Mei, and Tracer are heading into a battle against Null Sector, wondering if any of the other members of Overwatch will show up. The original game begins with Winston calling the former Overwatch heroes to arms, to rally against the omnics even though the movement had been previously shut down. It looks like Overwatch 2 is filling the gaps between when Winston calls the team together, and when they become the full cast of characters that they are in the series' original. 

While Winston, Tracer, and Mei struggle to battle a massive Null Sector boss, things initially seem bleak - until the rest of the heroes show up, including Mercy, Genji, Reinhardt, and Brigitte. The trailer also gives us a sneak peek at Echo, a character we've seen in McCree's Overwatch animated short 'Reunion.' 

The gameplay trailer highlights what makes Overwatch 2 stand-out from the original game: story missions played out through a cooperative PvE mode. It looks like heroes can combine ultimates while they work together to complete story missions. There are also hero-specific missions, which Kaplan likened to Diablo's Adventure mode. Each hero is also getting a complete visual upgrade, and there's a new core PvP mode called 'Push' that will be playable in both Quick Play and Competitive modes as well as by the Overwatch League.

Also, you'll be able to fully customize and level up each member of Overwatch - in the trailer Reinhardt jumps into the middle of some enemies and screams "Hammer strike", which is clearly not his "Hammer down" ultimate from the original game. A screen grab shows us Tracer's talent tree: Level 1 offers Adaptive Reload and Hindsight, while Level 10 has Flash and Chain Reaction. 

What is perhaps the most important part of the Overwatch 2 announcement is the reveal that both games will exist in a shared multiplayer environment. That means all of the maps, heroes, and PvP game types from Overwatch 2 will be playable in Overwatch 1, and all of the progress you've made and skins you've unlocked in Overwatch 1 will follow you through to the sequel. As Kaplan said "Nothing gets left behind." Oh and OG Overwatch players will play against those on Overwatch 2, the official BlizzCon post states: "Current Overwatch players will battle side-by-side with Overwatch 2 players in PvP multiplayer; they’ll also be able to play Overwatch 2 heroes and maps." Cue the sigh of relief.

There's no Overwatch 2 release date yet, but considering there are playable features available for BlizzCon attendees, it's safe to say it's closer than we'd expect. 

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Alyssa Mercante

Alyssa Mercante is an editor and features writer at GamesRadar based out of Brooklyn, NY. Prior to entering the industry, she got her Masters's degree in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Newcastle University with a dissertation focusing on contemporary indie games. She spends most of her time playing competitive shooters and in-depth RPGs and was recently on a PAX Panel about the best bars in video games. In her spare time Alyssa rescues cats, practices her Italian, and plays soccer.