Hands-on: Overwatch 2 includes a refreshing PvE experience

In the past year, Blizzard has faced criticism over how they’ve handled Overwatch. People have clamored for more PvE events like Retribution and Junkenstein’s revenge, and pros are constantly complaining about the balance of the game, with good reason. Overall, Blizzard has been slow to deliver on both fronts leaving very few people happy.

With Overwatch 2, Blizzard has finally delivered on the promise of a PvE experience that we have clamored for. Not only will it bring various story missions to the player, but it will help build out the lore of the world of Overwatch, something this fan is very excited about.

Rio is in trouble

The demo that was available to play during Blizzcon 2019 had the team tasked with protecting Lúcio’s hometown of Rio de Janeiro. In true Blizzard fashion, there are numerous in-game cinematics that accompany the mission that help tell the full story. It’s hard not to become attached to these characters as we see their personalities shine more and more through this type of storytelling.

For the mission, four heroes were available for the 4-player co-op demo: Mei, Lúcio, Reinhardt, and Tracer. Expect each story mission to have specific heroes available to play, so it may be time to get familiar with the heroes that you’ve ignored until now… or just find some friends that will always give you first pick.

In the mission, you go up against legions of robots from Null Sector, the new enemy, in a fast-paced, almost frenetic, fights. You will face off against numerous types of robots from your standard foot soldier to artillery style units to the final boss.

There were about five set pieces where the major combat took place throughout the mission. Enemies will come at you in waves, but they give you little time to rest between each wave and you can fall behind. Don’t expect any time to AFK during these missions.

Each type of enemy provides a challenge for the heroes that you’re allowed to play. For example, the flying artillery enemies make Reinhardt and Lúcio pretty useless when it comes to taking them down so it’s up to whoever is playing Mei and Tracer to take care of them.

After each section of the mission, your team is rewarded with a loot chest that has different activatable items for your squad. You’ll be able to pick up things like a deployable turret, shield, or healing circle. These items also have different rarity levels that dictate how powerful they are and are on lengthy cooldowns.

At the end of the mission you’re tasked with destroying the generator on the Null Sector ship. This fight is done in phases with waves of enemies spawning from different points in the room until the reactor core is exposed. You’ll then have a short amount of time to deal as much damage to it as possible. Once the core becomes untargetable, you repeat the process until it’s destroyed.

A boss will appear once you’re around two-thirds through the reactor core. The giant Null Sector Omnic featured multiple abilities, such as a Reinhardt charge and a massive electrical discharge, that need to be avoided. The boss also has multiple health bars, much like many of the larger Omnics throughout the missions, so you’re in for an extended fight.

Once you’ve completed this section, you race to get off the ship as it exploded. This is more of a formality than an actual challenge.

If you happen to die sometime during the mission, your teammates can revive you through a short channel. There doesn’t seem to be any limit on how many times you can be revived, but you can easily be killed yourself while doing it.

If everyone manages to die, you restart the mission at the last checkpoint. It should be noted that you will have a limited number of attempts for story missions. For Rio De Janeiro, we were given a total of five attempts for the final boss.

Customized Abilities

Everyone started out at level one for the demo, so only one ability upgrade was available. On Mei, you have the choice between upgrading your Ice Block to create a Frost Nova when it ends or to have enemies shatter when they die after being frozen.

Ability customization comes at levels one, 10, and 20.

Is it Replayable?

While I had a lot of fun playing the PvE mission, it remains to be seen how replayable the modes will be. As Mei, I often found myself getting to enemies too late to effectively do anything to them since Tracer could dash around and finish them off without me.

If story mode is to really deliver, we need a system like Diablo IIIs Rifts where you can continue to increase the difficulty of the mission. Having enemies deal more damage and having increased health will allow players to be continually challenged by the same content as it requires more coordination. Add leaderboards on top of that and you’ve got yourself a really great PvE experience.

No word yet on when Overwatch 2 will release, but don’t expect it soon.