Overwatch 2

Overwatch 2

I know that the games company Blizzard has had its ups and downs over the last few years. Well, more like a rollercoaster that plummets downwards and then realises the electricity has shut off and there is no way of making it back up.

Blizzard had its fair share of fans, too, before light was shone on the many scandals, and, from what  people on the internet tell me, some very well-made games. Well, there was at least Overwatch, the online multiplayer shooter game full of colourful characters, each their own ridiculously broad stereotype. It was the only one I played, mostly because it was a communal experience that only just beat poking at roadkill, but with the release of Overwatch 2 – something eagerly awaited by maybe six people in the world – I noticed that every bimonthly update seemed tailor-made to break the “constant corporate bad decisions” speed-record.

Blizzard stood there at BlizzCon 2019 and basically spewed a lot of garbage into a microphone for forty minutes. They promised potential ways to upgrade the abilities of your favourite characters, and an expanse of cooperative missions against hordes of AI enemies, the catch? None of that could be done on the current Overwatch, oh no. We didn’t get anything but an animated teaser, which should have set off the first alarm bell, but nevertheless we sat for years at the dinner table, eagerly awaiting our sumptuous trifle like the good little cash cows that we were. Then Blizzard marched in with a fresh handful of said garbage, dumped it on our plates, and said “right, that’ll cost you to play with, give us cash!”

*Sigh*. So, the game came out in late 2022, conspicuously PvE-less, to an overwhelming response of “What, is that it?” Everything was basically the same, give or take a rather blatantly obvious new extortion scheme. After all, a loot box system in the previous game that rewarded casual play and let you earn things randomly, ensuring there was no bias – Who the hell ordered that kind of extravagance? Bin it and break out the pay-to-earn eighteen-pound-a-season battle pass!

I’m in no way suggesting that the loot box system in the first game was a prime direction to go in. It was the flashing light on the casino machine; the dim lure of a deep-sea angler fish, tempting you in and then keeping you clamped in its jaws forever. In that specific regard, the first Overwatch fostered addiction in a way that upon seeing it, even the slimiest owners of those impossible-to-win carnival booths would feel an urgent need to shower, but at least it was free.

Now I hear you asking, what about the gameplay? Well, it’s basically unchanged except for the occasional tweaks that these live-service titles like to do. Play competitive mode and get criticised for not following the meta or play casual mode (in which there are no consequences for losing) and get  every insult under the sun thrown at you for not following the meta; clearly, the spirit of variety lives on through thee .

The thankfully negative reception for the game was something that gave me a glimmer of hope for our failing society. It was simply astounding; the fall so meteoric it could have killed the dinosaurs. The Steam release was bombarded with so many negative reviews, you’d be forgiven for assuming Blizzard had just personally insulted half the player-base.

Then some bold visionary at Blizzard HQ saw that within the last six seconds, no-one had made a decision capable of plunging them all into financial ruin. Thus, he bravely stood up, and suggested they kill the PvE, upon which the last creative person in the building could be heard weeping as they ran to their office, tears soaking the photo of the family they’d left behind in order to take this job. In its place, we were promised a handful of missions that played exactly like the base game, minus the sprawling, open-ended upgrades or anything differentiating them from the free events we had been receiving in the previous game. But naturally, they would still be charging us money. So, since we have been waiting years for this, and it just eventually dissipated to nothing like a wet fart in a locked sauna, is there any possibility that we’ll be charged less for this? Or, heaven forbid, we receive it in a patch for free?

“Oh ho-ho-ho! Well, it’s good we can still have fun together! But don’t worry, there’s no end to the plethora of alternative entertainment that we obstinately do not have! Look, here’s our very own rendition of prop hunt! Amazing, right?”

I look at Overwatch 2, then at the game mode, then back at Overwatch 2 again.

Prop hunt? That is the hot new addition, is it, Blizzard? Garry’s Mod managed to bring an equivalent out roughly seventeen years ago, but your own copy was just so breathtakingly new, that it couldn’t possibly hack it on anything other than something made almost two decades afterwards?

And I know what some of you out there are going to blubber, at least at some point when you can get a word in edgeways past your juice boxes: “It’s not meant to be taken so seriously, Morgan, it’s a bit of irreverent fun to promote a medieval-style event they had on a for a few months!.”

I am genuinely cross out about this. I’m not saying that everything must be grounded in cold, hard reality, where any day could bring about the climate disaster capable of finally ending all our lives. But exercise some consistency, guys. It is unfair on all the infinitely better games out there that make a conscious effort to maintain a style, tone, or aesthetic.

Now, I have a mild confession to make. As of writing, I have only played a single game of prop hunt. I never really got the chance, and there were about a million other things I would rather be doing, like counting ceiling tiles or pulling my own teeth out with the back end of a hammer.

No worries: I have been assured that I’ll have a chance to do so since they’re bringing it back again for the upcoming summer event. “Summer fun”, I believe it’s called, or something else resoundingly generic. The same summer event which acts as a showcase of their greatest moments, thus carrying an air of tacit approval. If that’s something that Blizzard unequivocally considers “good,” then I don’t even want to think about what got rejected.

Let’s hear it from the lion’s mouth. What was the goal of this exercise, Blizzard?

“It’s a lot less accessible, rewarding, and fun than the first, but the good news is that it makes us a hell of a lot more money. Now, say thank you.”

Overwatch 2 has done absolutely nothing in the last year to convince me that it was in any way a necessary release. Yes, it’s more bearable if you have friends around, but the same can be said of having your life support unplugged. Maybe in the coming year we can all look forward to an update where Blizzard charges us to launch the executable. Or perhaps those of us who haven’t bought a battle pass in a few months will be made to stare at a blank screen for twenty minutes and imagine the matches we could be having. I am not suggesting more extreme possibilities purely because of hardware limitations; they’ll only stop there because most PCs can’t support ritualistic fingertip removal.

Graphic Credits: Morgan Seed