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Overwatch 2 Aims to Fix the First Game’s Biggest Flaw

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Overwatch 2 Aims to Fix the First Game’s Biggest Flaw

What’s happening

Overwatch 2 is shifting to a free-to-play model with battle passes and new content every season. Players will get a new hero or map every nine weeks, with the developers committing to updates in perpetuity.

Why it matters

Though the changes in Overwatch 2 might seem small on the surface, they fix the original game’s biggest flaw: an inability to support long-term updates. The changes are also powered by substantial under-the-hood upgrades that should mean fans don’t have to suffer a content drought ever again.

What’s next

Sign-ups for the second Overwatch 2 beta are now open for PC and console players, and the game is scheduled to launch in early access on Oct. 4.

Overwatch 2 was announced with a bang (and some controversy) at BlizzCon in 2019, but that announcement was followed by two years of virtual silence. Overwatch players were given the hope of a new game but waited for months with no news about how the game was progressing. The original game stopped releasing new heroes and competitive maps, making Overwatch 2 feel more and more like a false promise — something that would get infinitely delayed, whether that was due to a global pandemic, a workplace allegedly drowning in harassment or churn in the executive ranks.

But now we’re finally getting a steady stream of information about Overwatch 2 and how it compares to its predecessor. In a reveal event on June 16, we got the most detailed look ever at the future of Overwatch, and fans should be hopeful about the shooter’s return to glory. The devs spoke about the game’s transition to a live-service model, detailing how that’ll allow them to continue delivering new content to the game for years to come.

Do I wish those changes had happened sooner and without a multiyear content drought? Yes, absolutely. But the changes also seem like exactly the right direction for the game — fixes to the problems that so plagued Overwatch in its later years.

Here’s why fans should finally be hopeful about Overwatch 2, including plans for the first two PvP seasons, the end of loot boxes and the introduction of a new tank hero that I’ll be one-tricking for the foreseeable future: Junker Queen.

Overwatch 2 release date

Overwatch 2 is scheduled to release in early access on Oct. 4. It’ll be available on PC, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. Players who buy the game before 11 a.m. PT on June 23 will also get the Founders Pack, which includes skins for Sombra and Doomfist, as well as an exclusive player icon and an as-yet-unannounced gift. 

Can’t wait that long? Overwatch 2 is getting a second beta on Tuesday, June 28, at 11 a.m. PT. The beta is scheduled to run through July 18 at 11: 59 p.m. PT. Players will be able to play as Junker Queen and play on the new map, Rio — home to the support hero Lucio. You can sign up on the Overwatch 2 beta site. If you really want guaranteed access to the beta and don’t mind putting down some money, you can purchase the Watchpoint Pack for $40 and unlock exclusive skins for Cassidy and Soldier 76 as well as the premium battle pass for season 1, another exclusive player icon and some in-game currency.

Overwatch 2 content roadmap

The Overwatch 2 developers announced a slew of changes to the game at Thursday’s event. Outside of the move to 5v5, which majorly shakes up the pace of the game, no individual change feels like a titanic shift. However, the sum of the changes should make for a gaming experience that blends familiar free-to-play structures with Overwatch’s unique, vibrant gameplay.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • PvP will get new seasons every nine weeks, with a new hero or map added at the start of each season. The devs said the goal is to give each season its own distinct feel, which may include major balance patches. They’re aiming for 3-4 new heroes per year.
  • No more loot boxes: Each season will have its own battle pass, which will include various cosmetics, including new skins for characters.
  • The ranked system is changing. The skill rating, or SR, system is being replaced with a new system designed to give players a better sense of progression, including multiple tiers within each rank. 
  • Players will get new tools to help them improve, including a new post-match report designed to tell you more about how you’re performing.
  • The game is adding mythic skins — a tier above legendary skins that’ll allow players to customize each skin. Mythic skins also come with unique in-game cosmetic effects.
Genji mythic skin concept art

Mythic skins allow players to customize their colors.


Blizzard

The new details about season plans might stealthily be the biggest news from Thursday’s event. In the live game, seasons start and end pretty arbitrarily, with nothing to distinguish one from the next. Getting a new hero or map (or both) along with major balance changes every nine weeks will finally give each season of Overwatch its own identity and, most importantly, will give players a reason to keep playing season after season. 

Ahead of the reveal event, I asked Overwatch 2’s game director, Aaron Keller, what will help the game stand out from other free-to-play titles that follow similar seasonal releases. His answer: Overwatch is special. “I think what made the original game stand out — I think that magic is still a part of Overwatch 2,” he said. Keller also thinks the game will continue to draw fans in with its fast-paced gameplay, unique heroes and a long line of exciting releases once the game launches.

As someone who’s been playing the game for five years now, I can’t help but agree.

Game overview and content roadmap for the first two seasons of Overwatch 2

Players will see four new heroes and seven new maps across the first two seasons.


Blizzard

Overwatch VP and Commercial Lead Jon Spector added that the biggest opportunity for Overwatch has been that players want more: “They want more heroes and they want more maps and they want to try new game modes and they want to see the story continue and progress.” The free-to-play model will allow the team to continually add new content to the game in a way that the original game couldn’t sustain over the years. A one-time purchase doesn’t do that anymore, which is why games like Destiny 2, Apex Legends, Valorant and many others have embraced the free-to-play, pay-for-cosmetics structure. 

Getting rid of loot boxes is also a welcome change and helps separate Overwatch from the more maligned aspects of the recent Diablo Immortal launch. But we’ll still have to wait for details about the overall business model for Overwatch 2. 

Overwatch 2 new hero: Junker Queen

Almost five years after she first appeared on posters in the Junkertown escort map, the queen of Junkertown will be a playable character in Overwatch 2. The newest tank hero is ready to rush into battle and deal some damage. Her abilities will allow her to speed forward, wound enemies, and even drag them near her. Everything we’ve seen so far screams aggressive, in-your-face playstyle. 

Blizzard also debuted the game’s first cinematic since 2019’s Overwatch 2 announcement trailer. The new cinematic focused on the Junker Queen and her rise to power.

Junker Queen rests a shotgun on her shoulder

Mohawk? Check. Weapons? Check. Abs? Check. 


Blizzard

We’ve also seen hints at another hero in the works, likely a support hero. The release date trailer showed a brief flash of a blue fox spirit leading a team forward toward spectral gates. 

Overwatch 2 desperately needs more supports. When Junker Queen arrives in the next beta, tank players will have 10 heroes to choose from, both damage players will pick from a roster of 17 heroes, and two supports will split themselves between just seven heroes — about half as many hero options per player as the other roles.

I asked Geoff Goodman, lead hero designer for Overwatch 2, about that imbalance. He said the team was aware of the issue, that Overwatch had trended toward tanks and supports over time in new hero releases but that the team is now discussing the possibility of speeding up that process. That could potentially mean back-to-back support hero releases. “We want to add more supports,” he said, “and we have some coming post-release.”

Overwatch 2 PvE

The announcement video didn’t say much about the PvE side of Overwatch 2, but the devs did say that the PvE events will start in 2023 as part of the live service. That’s as much as we know right now, but the developers said they’ll reveal more information ahead of launch. 

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USB logos finally make sense, thanks to a redesign

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USB logos finally make sense, thanks to a redesign


Author: Mark Hachman
, Senior Editor

As PCWorld’s senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.

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Cheaper OLED monitors might be coming soon

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Author: Michael Crider
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New Pixel Watch leak reveals watch faces, strap styles and more

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New Pixel Watch leak reveals watch faces, strap styles and more
Google Pixel watch



The Google Pixel Watch is incoming
(Image credit: Google)

We’re expecting the Google Pixel Watch to make its full debut on Thursday, October 6 – alongside the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro – but in the meantime a major leak has revealed much more about the upcoming smartwatch.

Seasoned tipster @OnLeaks (opens in new tab) has posted the haul, which shows off some of the color options and band styles that we can look forward to next week. We also get a few shots of the watch interface and a picture of it being synced with a smartphone.

Watch faces are included in the leak too, covering a variety of different approaches to displaying the time – both in analog and digital formats. Another image shows the watch being used to take an ECG reading to assess heartbeat rate.

Just got my hands on a bunch of #Google #PixelWatch promo material showing all color options and Watch Bands for the first time. Some details revealed as well…@Slashleaks 👉🏻 https://t.co/HzbWeGGSKP pic.twitter.com/N0uiKaKXo0October 1, 2022

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Full colors

If the leak is accurate, then we’ve got four silicone straps on the way: black, gray, white, and what seems to be a very pale green. Leather straps look to cover black, orange, green and white, while there’s also a fabric option in red, black and green.

We already know that the Pixel Watch is going to work in tandem with the Fitbit app for logging all your vital statistics, and included in the leaked pictures is an image of the Pixel Watch alongside the Fitbit app running on an Android phone.

There’s plenty of material to look through here if you can’t wait until the big day – and we will of course be bringing you all the news and announcements as the Google event unfolds. It gets underway at 7am PT / 10am ET / 3pm BST / 12am AEDT (October 7).


Analysis: a big moment for Google

It’s been a fair while since Google launched itself into a new hardware category, and you could argue that there’s more riding on the Pixel Watch than there is on the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro – as Google has been making phones for years at this point.

While Wear OS has been around for a considerable amount of time, Google has been leaving it to third-party manufacturers and partners to make the actual hardware. Samsung recently made the switch back to Wear OS for the Galaxy Watch 5 and the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, for example.

Deciding to go through with its own smartwatch is therefore a big step, and it’s clear that Google is envious of the success of the Apple Watch. It’s the obvious choice for a wearable for anyone who owns an iPhone, and Google will be hoping that Pixel phones and Pixel Watches will have a similar sort of relationship.

What’s intriguing is how Fitbit fits in – the company is now run by Google, but so far we haven’t seen many signs of the Fitbit and the Pixel lines merging, even if the Pixel Watch is going to come with support for the Fitbit app.

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you’ll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.

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