4th October was a great day for fans of Overwatch, as the new and (hopefully) improved Overwatch 2 was launched! The game was initially announced at the 2019 Blizzcon with Jeff Kaplan promising a “shared multiplayer environment where no on gets left behind.” So, in other words, he meant that multiplayer PvP will be possible across the two titles.
The promise was that the game will feature new story missions, hero missions, replayable co-op modes, hero leveling up and hero customization. Overwatch 2 was also announced to have a new PvP mode called Push, new maps, and multiple new heroes, including Sojourn, which was seen in the trailer.
And, to be fair, the game did score quite high on Metacritic, with a value of 81. Pretty good, eh? That is up until your eyes shift slightly to the right to find the user score that is at a not-so-optimistic 1.3! How did that happen?
Seems like big reviewers, such as IGN and Game Informer, have a different opinion than the majority of you guys, who clearly aren’t satisfied with the new Overwatch. So let’s dive into it and see what the problem is! Welcome to All Patch Notes!
“Overwatch 2 is a sequel that, intentionally or not, is trying to bury its predecessor alive. The original Overwatch is still in there, bruised and broken, but the weight of Blizzard’s commercial and competitive expectations keeps piling up.” Tyler Colp of PC Gamer writes in a review of the new Overwatch. Other reviewers have even gone as far as calling the new Blizzard game a marketing gimmick!
So what’s the deal with the game? What is so different from the original Overwatch that made you guys review the game so harshly?
Well, to begin with, Overwatch 2 has been made a free-to-play game, following Fortnite’s model of making money from in-game transactions, rather than making money from people buying the actual game. While this might be a plus for some of you, keep in mind that Overwatch 2 remains quite similar to its predecessor…maybe a bit too similar!
It’s the same gameplay, with 95% of the same characters – although a few got some work done to them in order to accommodate the smaller team sizes. It’s the same basic art, with a few small tweaks. It’s the same highs and lows, that feeling of disparate abilities coming together to achieve something all-powerful, or the sense of getting stomped because you and the randomers you got teamed up with could never make it click. The characters remain brightly drawn, with power-sets that are still some of the most thoughtful in the entire class-based gaming sphere. Even the battle pass is same-y as heck, filled with the same old cosmetics, and a whole host of original Overwatch heroes for new players to resurrect from the dust. Overall, this all seems disappointing at best!
So what are the differences then, you may ask? Well, the first and most noticeable one is the change in teams, dropping the sizes from 6 to 5 members per team.
And since Overwatch 2 is now a free-to-play game, they have to make money somehow, right? So they’ve added a battle pass, therefore removing the loot boxes. Now if you want loot, you need to pay for it. It has daily and weekly challenges too, don’t worry, but in order for you to get the same value out of these challenges to equate to the battle pass you’d have to grind for over four months! Four months in order to get the Premium Battle Pass without spending the $10! Does that really warrant investing all that time? Blizzard is heavily betting that people will not feel incentivised to try and grind their way to a battle pass, and instead chose to spend their hard-earned money for some extra skins and cosmetics. After all, that’s how Fortnite made their millions, so why shouldn’t this work for Activision Blizzard too? (sarcasm)
But wait, there’s more! If you want to unlock 1 (one!) legendary skin from the Overwatch 2 shop you have to grind for 8 months! Another classic example of Blizzard hoping that you seeing this will discourage you from ever trying to get something the organic way, and instead reach for your wallet.
As we have discussed in a previous video, fans are quite annoyed at Blizzard’s greediness and have been complaining about the gaming company for quite some time. This new game, that is free-to-play-but-not-really just comes to show the lengths to which Blizzard is willing to go through just to get more money out of you.
Oooh, but wait, this doesn’t stop here! On launch day, fans got even more reasons to be pissed off! Overwatch 2 instated a new, two-factor authentication process, which, in theory, sounds good and makes you feel like your login data is safe and your account can’t be that easily accessed by others, right? Wrong! Every single Overwatch 2 player, including those who had previously purchased Overwatch, need to provide a phone number that fits certain requirements in order to start the game. As part of those requirements, numbers can’t be attached to a prepaid phone plan, landline, or use VOIP. So basically, unless you fork out even more money to go on a bill-pay plan, you can’t even login!
As you probably are aware by now, pre-paid phones are cheaper than bill-pay, with plans in the US ranging from $10 to $50 per month, making it the main option for low-income individuals. If you don’t pay the phone one month while on a pre-paid plan, nothing happens. It doesn’t affect your credit score, the service provider doesn’t go after you or take legal action, so it’s a safe option for people who don’t necessarily have a steady or high income. And Blizzard not allowing pre-pay phone users to sign in is just another kick below the belt for fans of the Overwatch franchise!
“It feels like being punished for being poor,” Overwatch player Richard Meunster told Kotaku over email. And this sentiment has been shared by other 19 million players who, due to different reasons, opted for a Pre-pay phone plan, rather than bill-pay.
Blizzard’s phone number restrictions seemed to have affected only US users though. That is probably because in other parts of the world, such as Europe, for example, identification is still needed to purchase a pre-pay phone, so the identity of the individual can be verified.
But, at least this problem got solved (somewhat) the next day after release! Blizzard announced on the 5th October that it is no longer asking for a phone number for a majority of existing players. But there’s a catch: all players who have played since June 9, 2021, will not have to provide a phone number to play, while accounts that were not connected to Battle.net as well as new accounts will still have to meet SMS Protect requirements. So if you’re brand new to the game, you still need to authenticate using your phone, and if it’s a US prepaid one, then you’re out of luck!
Overall, the game has been off to a rocky start. And to make matters worse, the launch day was heavily affected by a massive DDoS attack on the game servers. While the first days of major multiplayer releases are often known for being rough for players and those behind the scenes, Overwatch 2 players were having difficulty getting onto servers, hitting a strange “0 Players Ahead” error and waiting in long queues if they were able to get in at all.
Mike Ybarra, the president of Blizzard Entertainment had acknowledge the issue on the company’s Twitter account, and stated that the teams over at Blizzard were working hard to fix the server issues. There was no hint as to who was behind the DDoS attack, but the motivation behind it seems quite simple and straightforward: hackers most likely wanted to spoil the launch of the game, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. This isn’t the first time this is happening, and Overwatch 2 will probably not be the last game to go through this hell on launch day.
On top of the mess the DDoS attack caused, players have also reported on launch day issues like missing cosmetics and complications with players that have had to merge their Overwatch 2 Battenet accounts. Blizzard responded to those complaints the next day as well, in the same blog post in which they addressed the SMS authentication issue, and this should be solved by now (fingers crossed!)
But despite the fast response of the company, fans all over the world are still left with a bitter taste in their mouths. Overwatch 2 had a rough start, but it doesn’t seem that the troubles end there! Several players have taken to Reddit to complain about the in-game transactions and the amount of time you’d have to grind for items if you chose not to open your wallet for Blizzard.
Once again, the greediness of gaming companies have the potential to ruin games and franchises for fans! Don’t they know that we would be more likely to buy the stuff if they wouldn’t be so aggressive about purchases? If they wouldn’t try to make profits by making us feel like we’re missing out on something?
Probably the most notable question that seems to slowly creep in the minds of fans all over the world is: Wouldn’t it have been better if Blizzard had just decided to stick with making a game that you need to purchase, instead of this disastrous free-to-play model