The series feels like it lost its heart
Overwatch is by far my most-played game of all time, clocking in somewhere in the 1,000+ hours mark over multiple accounts. I used to play with a team every night in college, and I got so close with those guys, I even went to one of their weddings. It was a huge part of my life for a long time, and then it just… wasn’t. The game started to change, my life got busier, and I simply moved on to other things. Every few months I would log back in for a match or two to reminisce, but I had to admit to myself that the best of my Overwatch career was behind me.
Then, of course, there was the announcement of Overwatch 2. I was skeptical that we needed a sequel in the first place, but I was at Blizzcon in 2019. My apprehension was immediately overridden by shiny-new-toy syndrome as I played the demos on the convention floor. I was already a fan, but after being swept up in the hype of an exclusive preview, I was fully drinking the Kool Aid.
Fast forward to October 2022, and Overwatch 2 is finally out. I hadn’t seriously touched the game since maybe early 2018, so I was beyond pumped to see all the new maps, the new heroes, and all of the upgrades that were supposed to come along with the new release. I was expecting to dive right back into the series all over again.
This time, though, it just didn’t stick. All the changes Blizzard made felt heartless and cash-grabby, and I can’t bring myself to sink any more time into the series. What was initially one of my most anticipated releases of the year turned out to be the biggest let down of all, and I honestly don’t know why I bother getting my hopes up at all anymore.
It was death by a thousand cuts
I was off to a rocky start along with the rest of the playerbase as we all waited hours to load into the main menu at all. Once we were in, we then had to contend with a random lagging, drop outs, or getting kicked from the server altogether. I crashed so hard once in that first week, it completely shut my console off. Another time I was playing on my friend’s PC and it locked up his whole computer to the point we had to manually reset it. I’ve never seen a game do that in my life.
Then there were the bugs. The ones in gameplay didn’t really bother me all that much — I’m a pretty boring player in terms of never really trying anything new or outside of the box, so I didn’t encounter any of the crazy exploits that caused Blizzard to completely pull some of the heroes from the roster for a brief time. The bugs that did really bother me, however, were the ones that messed with my profile.
Like I said, I’m a legacy player, and actually owned the Origins Edition of the game, meaning I had it since the very beginning. The news that they were going to transfer all of our old profiles over provided some temporary relief after hearing they were shutting down OG Overwatch for good, but it didn’t last for long. Upon loading into the Overwatch 2 menu, it said I had only played the game for 20 hours. What?
I worked hard for those skins!
But it gets worse. I perused the Hero Gallery to see what was new, and to my horror found that a vast majority of my skins were missing, including some of my favorites like Crusier D.va and Grillmaster: 76. This goes for the other cosmetics as well, like victory poses, sprays, and voice lines. Is a lack of cosmetics going to keep me from playing the game? Not really, but anyone who was around for Overwatch back in the day knows how magical the cosmetics used to feel. Because everything was randomly acquired in loot boxes, it was a huge win to get the skin you liked, and putting it on right away to show it off for bragging rights was something you’d look forward to.
You’d also get cool skins for heroes you’d never played, but because you wanted to flaunt it to your teammates, you’d often end up trying out those characters that were outside of your normal rotation. Then, if there was a skin or victory pose or whatever that you really wanted, you could save up for it with the coins you’d get in your loot boxes, and then get this sense of pride when you could finally add it to your collection. At the very start, they didn’t even charge for the loot boxes — you’d simply earn them from playing the game.
Everything felt balanced, and it had this organic sense of magic as you and your friends compared items, and maybe teased them after you got their most sought-after skin before they did just by chance.
Firstly, they monetized the loot boxes, which most everybody pushed back against, but at least there was still that element of randomness to keep the fun alive. I knew that initial spark would finally go out for good when they announced that Overwatch 2 would have a free-to-play model, but we all know how that song goes by now. I’m not going to waste any more of my time, or yours, harping on about how soul-sucking battle passes are, but I will say that it feels especially egregious when I remember where Overwatch started.
Another element of Overwatch 2 that’s gotten a lot of complaints is that pretty much everybody got placed way too low. I was usually a high Gold/low Plat player back in the day, but I got dropped onto the ladder in low Bronze and had to climb my way back up. I think I hit high Silver before I decided the pain wasn’t worth it anymore.
When the gameplay goes, so do I
Then there’s the gameplay itself. I felt like the gameplay started to go on the decline years ago when Blizzard started catering to what the pro players wanted over the other 99.9% of the player base (but that’s a whole other feature for another day), but of course things have snowballed to a point of no return, if you ask me. I don’t care what argument they have about why it’s okay — they’re locking the new heroes behind a paywall and that’s not cool with me.
I don’t particularly enjoy playing as the new heroes, anyway, because I find their kits to be too busy and full of convoluted status effects to be worth my attention at this point. From the start, Overwatch‘s strength was that it had a manageably-sized roster of simple yet effective heroes that just about anyone could pick up and play. All of that is gone now, and I don’t have interest in a game that feels like it’s shooting to be League of Legends levels of complicated.
I get that there are a lot of new players to Overwatch, and I try to give people the benefit of the doubt as they learn the game, but it feels like no one is even bothering to try to play like a team. That’s the thing about Overwatch — you absolutely have to coordinate with your teammates if you’re going to get anywhere. Instead, people will just trickle in to get killed one by one, don’t synergize their ultimate abilities at all, and generally will play simply to score the most kills, which isn’t always the strategy that’s gonna get you the win in Overwatch.
I’m sure part of this is playing in lower ranks, but clearly, I’ve had issues climbing out of the pit.
There’s no real metric for this, but I also feel as if the general player base has somehow become much more toxic after Overwatch 2‘s release. I don’t know if everyone is more jaded now, or if the sequel brought an influx of new players who have worse attitudes than usual or what, but I miss the days when you could jump into coms, everyone would be chatting, and you could make friends with total strangers over the course of a match.
A fitting end to a troubled return
I was willing to put up with all of this for a few weeks, though, because even after everything, I really do love playing Overwatch. But then something happened that was entirely out of my control, and it was the final nail in the coffin for me: I got banned for the entirety of Season 1. Don’t worry, I didn’t let my “Gamer Rage” get the best of me or use hacks or anything like that. It’s that the wifi in my room where I have my PS4 doesn’t always cooperate with my console, and since the servers were clearly already having trouble, I kept getting kicked from competitive games. I tried my best to resolve the issue, but usually I just had to hope for the best. Clearly, that didn’t work out for me.
So I was hit with a ban that lasted for about a month, and in that time, I started playing more Call of Duty because I love Modern Warfare II that game doesn’t require me to try and herd cats to have any semblance of fun. After my ban finally lifted, I had barely thought about Overwatch in weeks, and I didn’t pick it up again, even to play the winter event. That told me everything I needed to know.
I didn’t sit down with the intention of writing this feature to complain about the game, but it turns out I have many more issues with Overwatch 2 than I realized. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a fun game, and I’m glad others have been able to find the fun in it. It’s clear that my passion for the first game has gone some way to color my thoughts on the second.
This time around it turned out to let me down big time, and while being disappointed by a video game sequel isn’t even close to the end of the world, I’m mad I didn’t learn from my past mistakes and let sleeping dogs lie. In a year of absolutely incredible games, this series got pushed to the side pretty quickly, and I think that’s for the best. Someone let me know if Blizzard somehow salvages things in the new year, but otherwise, I hope you guys enjoy Overwatch 2 without me.