It's 11:48 am on Monday, October 3, and I can't play Overwatch 1 anymore. Bizarrely, the chat is still going, ticking away in the bottom left corner even though I can't navigate past the main menu. "I hope you have a nice Christmas," reads one message. "When do they shut the servers?" a chatter asks. "I want to see the Easter egg." Several players start spamming "good game" messages in the chat, while many more attempt to sneak curses past Blizzard's filter. "**** this ******* game" is the last message I read.
At 12:01 pm, I'm booted to the start screen, where I'm informed that the servers are offline to prepare for the launch of Overwatch 2. And thus ends the legacy of Overwatch 1, littered with curse words, a mix of sarcastic and serious "gg" spam, and confusion - but no Easter egg. What a weird, fitting ending for the game.
The end of an era
I spent most of the last weekend of Overwatch 1 playing competitive mode, joining squads looking for healers or queueing up as a flex player with one of my friends. A few of my teammates were shocked to learn that the game was shutting down, while others were aware of its mortality but not of its time of death. "Wait, I only have a day left?" one asked incredulously over voice chat. "What the hell, that sucks!"
Overwatch 1 competitive mode has always been an interesting experience. Although I love to play high-stakes games and prefer it over quick play mode, it can get incredibly toxic. Naturally, the last few days of Overwatch 1 comp had its fair share of quitters who were unbothered by the hit their ranks would take by dropping out of matches early. Several of my matches ended with my team waving at one or two remaining enemy players, their teammates having left them mid-match, a chorus of different greetings from Moira, Reinhardt, D.Va, and other iconic heroes ringing in my ears.
Other games were populated by players refusing to switch off of heroes or throwing blame at everyone else in the text and voice chat - a typical Overwatch comp experience, albeit an exhausting one. I encountered a few players openly throwing games, including a Mei who consistently blocked me from leaving our spawn area while asking over voice chat why I was getting angry. "Mei is mean," a silent teammate wrote in the text chat. At one point, after a player started spamming the text chat with hate speech, I jokingly said, "Maybe this game needs to die." My teammates laughed, while my co-healer quipped, "A fitting end, isn't it?"
About twenty minutes before I'm locked to the main menu, I finish a competitive match and a message appears in the chat. "Even the best journeys end, but a new one is right around the corner. Thank you, heroes! See you October 4th," it reads. We had lost that last match, thanks in large part to a player refusing to use a shield tank to combat the enemy squad's high damage output. The toxicity that has sadly become synonymous with Overwatch 1 wasn't unexpected in its waning hours, but it was disappointing - although I did encounter some bright, shining lights of kindness in the last few days of the beloved game.
I’m not crying you are #Overwatch2 #SeeYouOnTheOtherSide pic.twitter.com/OES5UL0gQQOctober 3, 2022
Bizarrely, Overwatch 1 competitive mode was locked out before quick play became unavailable, so after my final comp match, I jumped into the other mode to try and squeeze a few more games in before the 12 pm server shut down. The mood was silly and lighthearted, with myself and a Mercy player exchanging jokes about other characters and lamenting our future as healer mains in the faster, deadlier Overwatch 2. "Well, I don't know when this is going to end, but I've enjoyed playing with you," they said. "See you on the other side!" I couldn't play another match after that.
Overwatch 1 died as it lived: periodically toxic and occasionally chaotic, but full of bursts of love and laughter. It was as unhinged an ending as I'd expect from the game, but it doesn't make its loss hurt any less.
Overwatch 2 debuts in Early Access – completely replacing the original game – for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC on October 4.