Overwatch 2: First Impressions – Closed Alpha Test

Overwatch 2’s Beta test is coming up on the 26th and I got to play a couple of hours of Closed Alpha time beforehand. While I didn’t get to play any PvE modes, I did get to experience how the new 5v5 PvP matches feel. There are quite a few hero changes and new maps coming with Overwatch 2 and while the Closed Alpha was very limited in what I could play, I got the general feel for how Overwatch 2 would play out in the PvP mode and got to try the new game mode: Push. Here are my impressions after participating in the Closed Alpha test.

First, Overwatch 2 does look absolutely gorgeous. The environments are clean and sharp and the hero looks are updated and refreshed. Opening Overwatch 2 felt like opening Overwatch at launch for the first time but with better graphics and performance. The new maps looked vibrant and lively which was a nice change of map lineups after having the same ones in Overwatch for so long. There’s also a new ping system that allows you to point out specific enemies alongside the callout system in Overwatch 1. The ping system is pretty intuitive and lets you communicate more accurately with your team, which I always argue modern day FPS games need at least a basic ping system since it’s really just a quality of life adjustment.

Ever since the launch of Overwatch, it’s always been a team based game of 6v6 with the basic composition of two tanks, two DPS, and two healers. But now with Overwatch 2, we’re going to be playing in teams of five with only one tank, two dps, and two healers. Playing through unranked matches, this new composition felt very strange since previously you had two tanks to offset damage the DPS and healers could pressure your team with. With having only one tank on a team, it felt incredibly difficult to make any meaningful progress in a game mode.

In Capture the Point objectives, for example, it would be incredibly difficult to really make a solid push vs a team sitting on the point and even on the opposite end it was equally difficult to defend the point since you had no extra tank efforts to shield important damage. With 5v5, Overwatch 2 felt a lot like it was just a contest on who could do the most damage in the shortest amount of time and that team would win that fight and be able to secure the objective. But even the winning team would have lost significant numbers and would have to wait for the spawn reset to really push forward. So then the cycle of racing to do more damage would start up again and it was just rinse and repeat.

While the original Overwatch also felt like a game of tug of war, it never felt off balance as much as this new composition felt. This is most evident in the new game mode Push where it takes players to a symmetrical map where two teams fight to control a robot that will push a payload into the enemy territory. The team that pushes the robot / payload furthest into their enemy’s side wins. With Push, that tug of war feeling becomes overwhelming where you realize the games take a bit too long to progress since both teams have more damage heroes than tanks which creates a feeling of constantly exchanging kills and hitting a stalemate.

Of course, this was a Closed Alpha test and there were limited amounts of invited players so maybe in the live game the skill based matchmaking may make things feel more even and make the 5v5 balancing feel less skewed. But my immediate reaction to playing matches with the new balancing and changes was not exciting and I’m more concerned with the longevity of Overwatch 2’s PvP than anything else.

Some of the Hero changes included Doomfist being converted from a DPS hero to a tank hero. This was a change I never expected and this felt incredibly strange initially. I wasn’t able to get hands-on time with Doomfist during this Alpha test but I did get time playing against him and he felt much more intimidating to face

His base health has been increased from 250 to 450 and he’s still just as mobile as before when he was a DPS hero. While damage was reduced on his abilities, Doomfist as a tank was incredibly difficult to get used to as he deals a lot of knock back, stun, and slow effects. As a Sombra main, I was still able to deny Doomfist a lot of his abilities that would’ve otherwise given our team debilitating losses in any push we did but it felt like we were constantly having to ensure he was out of the fight at all times.

Orisa also saw a hero change, though she is staying on as a tank, her abilities have been vastly changed. Orisa no longer has her shield and instead her health and armor have been increased to help her new form as a brawler tank. Her primary weapon fire now does more damage the closer she is to enemies and her weapon now does not need to reload but needs to cool down if fired for too long.

Orisa still does have Fortify and it comes with some increased adjustments like giving her more fire time with her weapon before it goes into cool down and giving her 125 more health. Orisa also has a secondary fire that allows her to throw an Energy Javelin at an enemy that requires precision and will do a micro stun and increased damage when there’s a wall behind the enemy. This is actually a really fun ability, especially if you’re good with sniper shots and need to do a little extra damage. Orisa’s kit now includes a Javelin Spin ability where she spins a Javelin that destroys incoming projectiles and damages enemies while pushing them back.

So with her Fortify ability, she becomes a pretty decent force in up close fights and her Ultimate Ability has been reworked to add to this aggressive kit. Terra Lance, the new Ultimate, fortifies Orisa and pulls in nearby enemies while charging up an AOE attack. Enemies aren’t going to be sucked into the Ultimate like Zarya’s but it does allow for her team to quickly coordinate for a focused attack as the Ultimate hits. Honestly Orisa’s changes felt really good and she felt more my kind of Hero since she’s still a tank but can now fight up close and provide a lot of support for her team. Her rework feels fun and makes Orisa feel more viable of a tank even without her shield.

Overwatch 2’s Beta hits April 26 and will include Overwatch 1 maps with four additional new maps, the Hero reworks discussed above, and the playable new hero Sojourn. You can sign up now to opt-in for the beta on the play Overwatch site if you want to try out this peek into Overwatch 2 yourself. Since I participated in the Closed Alpha and things are subject to change, we’ll be playing the beta and keeping an eye on how things progress for the development of Overwatch 2. So, between now and the official launch of Overwatch 2, be sure to stay here at IGN for all of your Overwatch updates and news.

Stella is a Video Producer, Host, and Editor at IGN. Her gameplay focus is on competitive FPS games and she’s previously reviewed Apex Legends, Hyper Scape, Halo Infinite Multiplayer, and Battlefield 2042. She regularly hosts and shoutcasts competitive Apex Legends and Halo Infinite tournaments when she isn’t streaming on her Twitch channel after work outs. You can follow her on Twitter @ParallaxStella.

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