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Every new Overwatch 2 change, explained

Is Overwatch 2 a total overhaul? Or is it the most glorified patch in gaming history?

Ana, a sniper, stands on a rooftop and snipes down at a shielded Orisa robot. A variety of other heroes do battle on the colorful streets of Overwatch 2 Image: Blizzard Entertainment
Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

After years of waiting — not to mention an update cadence that’s slower than usual — Overwatch 2 is finally here to replace the 2016 original. But what was all that waiting for? What changes has Blizzard made to help the series make the leap from Overwatch to Overwatch 2?

In this guide, we’ve listed out all of the most important changes in Overwatch 2 to help you jump back in without missing a beat.

The free-to-play model

The biggest and most notable change in Overwatch 2 is that it’s free-to-play. All you need to do if you want to jump in is go to your console store (or the app on PC) and download the game. No more convincing your friends to buy Overwatch just so you can play together.

However, as you might expect, that free-to-play tag comes stronger monetization tactics from Blizzard — like locking new heroes behind the new battle pass system — which we’ll get to below.

The battle pass

The Mythic Cyber Demon Genji skin dashes toward the camera and chucks throwing stars. The skin has pink accents, green hair, and a demon mask and is set against a cyberpunk city Image: Blizzard Entertainment

Blizzard has completely changed Overwatch’s economy in Overwatch 2. Instead of loot boxes, you’ll be able to complete special Challenges to level up a battle pass — like many other modern shooters. New cosmetics come from the battle pass, as do new heroes — like Kiriko. Once you complete the battle pass, you unlock a new type of skin called a Mythic (Genji is getting the first one), which is fully customizable and looks incredible.

The battle pass also only lasts for a couple of months, and then Blizzard will replace it with a new one (making the previous rewards inaccessible). So ideally Overwatch 2 should see updates far more frequently than the original did.

5v5 multiplayer

One of the biggest changes Blizzard is making with Overwatch 2 is how many players will be in a given match. Where the original Overwatch offered multiplayer matches with two teams of six players, Overwatch 2 instead pits two teams of five against each other. This breaks up teams into one tank, two damage dealers, and two support characters.

New heroes

A roadmap for season 1 of Overwatch 2, including all the major content updates as well as previews for the game’s new cosmetics and characters, like Kiriko Image: Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch 2 adds three new heroes to the series. Sojourn is a Soldier 76-style damage hero, who plays more like a traditional shooter character than other Overwatch heroes. Junker Queen is a tank who’s all about bleeding enemies to help you heal more. And Kiriko is a new support who can summon a fox to help increase her allies’ attack speed.

New maps

Overwatch 2 launches with six new maps. Some of these are mode-specific; others are hybrids. In typical Overwatch fashion, these maps take are set in various locations in the real world. Here’s the complete list of new maps coming on Oct. 4:

  • New Queen Street
  • Circuit Royale
  • Colosseo
  • Midtown
  • Paraiso
  • Esperanca

A new mode

Push is the new mode in Overwatch 2, and it works kind of like a two-sided Payload match. The idea is that there are two barricades that spawn in the middle of the map — one for each team. In the middle of the barricades is a robot who players can command by standing next to. The robot will push the barricade toward the enemy of whichever team is controlling it, and the goal is to push your enemy’s barricade all the way into their home base.

The catch here is that the barricades stay put even if another team takes control of the robot. So while the goal is to get it all the way into enemy territory, all you really need to do to win is to get the robot to push the barricade a little further than your enemy did. It’s a hectic mode that’s very momentum based, and often goes to time.

An old mode removed

The original Overwatch had a mode called Assault, or two-point capture. This mode has been removed with Overwatch 2.

If you don’t remember Assault, it was the game mode where there were multiple capture points. Attackers would need to assault these points, while defenders would need to defend. It appeared on the Hanamura, Volskaya Industries, and Temple of Anubis maps.

Hero reworks and new role traits

Orisa, a robot mech, throws a javelin spear toward the camera, showcasing her new abilities in Overwatch 2 Image: Blizzard Entertainment

Tons of heroes in Overwatch 2 got some minor changes, while a handful got complete reworks. Bastion no longer has a stationary turret mode, Orisa can throw javelins, Doomfist is a tank, and more. Depending on when you stopped playing the original Overwatch, you may notice some serious changes throughout the entire roster, like Mercy’s ability to resurrect allies without using her ultimate.

On top of the individual hero updates, all heroes now have a role-specific perk that they all share. Damage characters get increased movement and reload speed after killing an enemy, tanks are harder to knock back, and supports now heal over time.

Even more cosmetics

There are a ton of new cosmetics in Overwatch 2, and you’ll get them in new ways (as we mentioned above). But there are also new types of cosmetics this time around. There are weapon charms that you can attach to your guns (or to your character’s hand, if they don’t use weapons), souvenir objects you can make your characters hold in an emote-like fashion, and the brand new Mythic skin we mentioned above.

Each new battle pass will feature these kinds of items — as well as regular skins, banners, and more — each season.