Overwatch 2: what to expect from a potential sequel

overwatch 2
Blizzard

Recent speculation points to an Overwatch 2 in development at Blizzard. The information comes from a recent report published by Kotaku, in which anonymous sources from within Blizzard spoke about the cancellation of a new Starcraft game. Apparently, a “Battlefield in Starcraft” project was scrapped in order to increase the amount of people working on Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4. 

However, even if this is true - that Overwatch 2 is in development - it’s difficult to imagine how Blizzard will approach a sequel to their illustrious shooter. Generally speaking, esports tend to revolve around a single title, and Overwatch is no different. Players are regularly treated to new maps and heroes for free, and with Overwatch getting two brand new features recently - the Workshop and Replays - the path to Overwatch 2 is shrouded in mystery. However, some details are a little more concrete than others.

An Overwatch 2 campaign is apparently being worked on

Overwatch 2 campaign

In the leaked report, multiple sources from Blizzard mentioned that Overwatch 2 has a heavy emphasis on PVE (player-versus-environment) modes, which could be likened to the seasonal cooperative events made playable during Archives. Several of these anonymous developers compared Overwatch 2 to Left 4 Dead, which hopefully implies that a campaign could support up to four people - something lent credence by the fact the current PVE modes feature four heroes. 

Players have longed for a sequel to Overwatch precisely for this reason. Although the multiplayer-only game is still widely played all over the world, fans have wanted a true campaign mode ever since Overwatch’s initial launch. The short films, combined with the PVE modes we’ve already seen, seem to be paving the way toward a cohesive story - something that could finally become a reality with the release of Overwatch 2.

Overwatch 2 new characters are almost certain

Overwatch 2 new characters

Although there are currently 30 heroes on Overwatch’s active roster, the Overwatch universe extends far past the game. Blizzard semi-regularly releases new material in the form of comics, short stories, and the aforementioned short films, all of which expand on the lore connecting Overwatch’s diverse web of characters to one another. 

If Overwatch 2 is announced at Blizzcon this year, and is in fact PVE-centric, it’s incredibly likely that we’ll meet a plethora of characters from other forms of Overwatch media. For example, although Maximilien - the omnic who runs the Casino Monaco - was introduced in the Storm Rising PVE event earlier this year, his character is developed far further in the Masquerade comic, where we can clearly see his devious machinations in action.

There are myriad characters who have been mentioned in some capacity in the extended universe but have yet to make an in-game appearance, such as Liao, one of the founding members of Overwatch, and Lynx Seventeen, an omnic who accompanies Zarya in her search for Sombra after the events of the Infiltration short film. For a cohesive Overwatch story to work, most of these characters would need to be assimilated into the narrative, which is why it’s helpful that supplementary material already exists.

Overwatch 2 new game modes could offer new ways to play

Overwatch 2 new game modes

Although Overwatch’s current oeuvre of Payload, Escort, Hybrid, and Control modes has aged well - as well as its rotational Arcade modes that are intended to be a little more lighthearted - Blizzard’s shooter could take a leaf out of its contemporaries’ books ahead of Overwatch 2.

With the popularity of the Battle Royale genre continuing to gain momentum, and the fact that Apex Legends successfully implemented ability-based “Legends” into its roster, perhaps Blizzard could decide that it’s time to add a BR mode to Overwatch - something we actually mused on not so long ago

On top of a prospective Battle Royale mode, players have already been toying with custom game modes using Overwatch’s new Workshop feature. For example, one Reddit user managed to create a MOBAesque mode on Route 66, which even has its own custom-built UI and in-game levelling system. Although Overwatch 2 is supposedly PVE-centric, there is a possibility that it could incorporate a range of new online modes like these. However, that’s assuming Overwatch 2 is intended to replace its predecessor, which might not be the case at all.

Overwatch 2 could be an overhaul as opposed to a full replacement

Overwatch 2 overhaul

Due to how regularly Overwatch is still updated, it’s unlikely that Blizzard intends to leave it dead in the water. As a result, Overwatch 2 could simply be a massive expansion designed to add new material to the original game - for example, consider World of Warcraft’s Battle for Azeroth. If this was the case, Overwatch 2 would be more like Overwatch 2.0 than a true sequel. It would be a drastic revamp of what we know and love, as opposed to a detached entity intended to be a replacement for it. 

If Overwatch 2 is just an overhaul, it will likely add the Left 4 Dead-esque PVE elements to the game as a mode of their own. That way players will be able to jump between campaign and multiplayer modes with relative ease, making Overwatch comparable to traditional shooter setups like those of Halo and Call of Duty. Players could still group up and play competitively online, but would have the option to play cooperatively through PVE missions too, affording the game an entire new quality of online play. However, even if Overwatch 2 is its own unique game, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a true sequel. 

Overwatch 2 could be a standalone game in the same world as Overwatch

Overwatch 2 standalone game

If Overwatch 2 is entirely PVE-based, as the Kotaku report suggests, then it’s likely Blizzard will still support Overwatch as the franchise’s primary multiplayer experience. This implies that the two games could coexist with one another, as opposed to Overwatch 2 being designed to update or replace Overwatch. 

This isn’t uncharted waters for Blizzard either. Consider the ways in which World of Warcraft and Hearthstone are linked: Perhaps Overwatch 2 could offer a different experience in the same world as its predecessor without one of the two outshining the other. It’s easy to enjoy World of Warcraft and Hearthstone simultaneously and separately as two distinct experiences, which means that Overwatch 2 could just be another part of Blizzard’s overall world building process, designed to hold its own in a universe that’s already extensive. This seems like the most likely course of action for Blizzard, although we won’t know anything for sure until Blizzcon kicks off later this year on November 1. At this point, we’ll probably get some concrete insights into the mysterious Overwatch 2, as well as some information about Diablo 4 and a plethora of less major updates on what Blizzard has been up to over the last year.