‘Overwatch 2’ is great, but could be better with missing features

On Oct. 4, Blizzard Entertainment finally released “Overwatch 2,” a highly anticipated sequel for the fast-paced, first-person shooter franchise. However, the release came with controversy.

Nearly three years ago, Blizzard announced “Overwatch 2” at Blizzcon 2019 with a focus on a new cooperative experience where players team up in a more story-driven PvE (player versus environment) mode. That was a stark contrast to the existing game, which was completely focused on competitive PvP (player versus player) gameplay.

Yet on release day last month, there was no PvE. While Blizzard promises that this expansive game mode will be coming sometime within the next year, its absence made the game feel empty in a way.

It just does not feel like “Overwatch 2” is a sequel — yet. What we got was a new, highly polished version of the PvP mode from the prior game. It feels like it is more accurate to say that “Overwatch 2” is just a big update.

However, it is a very good update. As a long-time player with over 2,000 hours logged in the original “Overwatch,” it was easy to tell the game needed something fresh, and that is what was delivered.

For years, the game was dominated by shields and sustainability, slowing the game down and dragging out matches. But now, in “Overwatch 2,” the game feels faster. With the transition from six players on each team to just five — by removing one tank – “Overwatch 2” feels faster, less boring and, most importantly, less repetitive.

The release came with three all new heroes, a new game mode and six fresh, new maps that all help in making the game feel as innovative as possible.

The gameplay is great and players new and old are booting up the game in record numbers: 25 million players logged on in just the first ten days. This also has a lot to do with the game going free-to-play. You no longer have to pay to play “Overwatch,” bringing in a plethora of new players. However, there still has to be some sort of monetization in the game, which is where more controversy takes place.

“Overwatch 2” offers an in-game battle pass and cosmetic shop, similar to popular games such as Fortnite, Valorant and Apex Legends, in an effort to continue to make money while offering the game free.

One source of controversy with this method of monetization is unlocking of the newest support hero, Kiriko, at level 55 of the battle pass, which equates to about 50 in-game hours of play.

Players can buy the premium battle pass for $10, unlocking the new hero immediately, but not everyone would like to spend money on a free game, or have 50 hours to spare in unlocking a hero.

Another area of controversy is the in-game cosmetic shop. New skin bundles, including a new Halloween-themed Kiriko skin, have been around $25. Old skins, which were unlockable for free in the old game, have been available for purchase for around $15.

There’s no gameplay advantage to these items, but there is a large population that loves the skins and the art of “Overwatch.” They feel these prices are steep and unaffordable.

“Overwatch 2,” at its core, is very good. A free- to-play game with this level of polish definitely deserves recognition.

I have spent countless hours over the last few weeks grinding ranked games and completing my battle pass levels.

At the same time, in the back of my mind, I know something is missing, and there could be more. The promised sequel of a PvE story mode is still absent and the aggressive monetization makes players feel like they are missing out on what makes it “Overwatch.”

Only time will tell if this game gets the care it deserves. As for now, the game is fun to play and draws you back in each day. I hope that feeling lasts a while.