Overwatch faces a tough task heading into 2022, with fans worried about the state of the game and the delayed sequel. But there are five things the game can do to survive and even thrive next year.
Overwatch’s fans know it best, yet the game is in a serious content drought as developers work hard to ship the highly anticipated sequel, Overwatch 2.
In April of 2022, it will have been two years since the last hero was released to the roster (Echo) and the last non-Deathmatch map was added to the game (Havana).
With such a brutal stretch of thin content, Overwatch is going to have to work hard in 2022 to win players back. We’ve got some ideas…
#5: New seasonal event structure
For those that have been playing since 2016, you know as well as we do that Overwatch’s events tend to run in a very similar way. Even years later, only a handful of events have stood out and very few changes have been made to how they each play out.
When thinking of a seasonal event, what should ideally come to mind? The game needs to feel different, unique, and urge players to log on to earn specific and time-sensitive rewards that are worth playing for. But, maybe more important than that, is the events need to be content-driven just as much as they are cosmetic-driven.
- Read More: Best Overwatch skins of 2021 ranked
Lucioball in the Summer Games is a great example of this kind of idea. A limited-time-only game mode that’s completely unique and can give players rewards all its own. The same can be said of Archives PvE content.
We’d like to see events shaken up in 2022. Give us more to do (other than just winning standard games for rewards) and more to play for. The rotation itself is fine, but even shaking that up to start some fresh new events would likely spark some interest from players that have dropped the game for a while.
#4: Release a new map (Hybrid or Control)
The last two maps that have been added to the game have both been Deathmatch maps, a mode that is hardly even secondary compared to the game’s Quick Play and Competitive modes.
Before that, the last maps added of each type are as follows:
- Escort: Havana – April 2019
- Assault: Paris – January 2019
- Control: Busan – August 2018
- Hybrid: Blizzard World – November 2017
With Assault (2CP) being canned in Overwatch 2, there’s certainly no need for more of those in the game. However, it has been four years since a new Hybrid map was added and over three since we’ve gotten a new Control map. Something’s got to give.
Hybrid maps have been teased in early gameplay of OW 2, so we know more are on the way, but saving them for a release that may be over a year away doesn’t seem like the best course of action at this point.
#3: Take more risks
While this is a general statement rather than a specific charge, it still stands true.
Take the Experimental patch that came through in late-2021 as a prime example. This totally changed the game, despite it being wacky and a bit imbalanced, and had an almost unanimously positive reaction from the community and pros alike.
Most fun I've had playing Overwatch in years. Good stuff by my team and ggs to my streamer friends.
Blizzard, put this on live OR ELSE. LET US HAVE FUN. https://t.co/4X638rmMcG
— Austin Wilmot 🥀 (@Muma) December 13, 2021
Risks like this keep the game feeling fresh and is a great way to use the already-made content to create something semi-new. The Experimental Card was made for this exact kind of reason and devs could do much more to capitalize on it.
But, it doesn’t have to stop there. Get creative. Let us play maps in reverse. Hold community/streamer tournaments. Do things that Overwatch hasn’t done in the past.
If it doesn’t work, well, it’s still better than nothing.
#2: Release a new hero before the Overwatch League returns
The Overwatch League (OWL) typically kicks off its season around April, which is coincidentally also the two-year anniversary of Overwatch’s last hero, Echo. There would be no better way to bring eyes back to the game and to its esports product than to release a new hero before the season starts, or on opening day.
The obvious choice here would be Sojourn, a hero that debuted in November 2019 when OW 2 was first announced. The mysterious DPS hero has sat in the devs vault for over two years, presumably being saved for the sequel.
Scrap that whole idea, especially with the steady stream of delays, and get Sojourn on Overwatch as soon as possible. Save other new heroes for OW 2 and give fans something to get excited about in the interim.
#1: Release an Overwatch 2 beta
While the official release of Overwatch 2 has been pushed time and time again, fans have already seen pros play on the new game. This means that, at least in some capacity, the game is ready and playable.
If fans aren’t able to get their hands on it, after seeing pros play it in tests and presumably in the OWL next year, Blizzard may run into some serious issues with disconnect and disinterest. The easiest way to solve that and keep the official release polished? A beta.
Halo Infinite pulled this off with flying colors, releasing a free-to-play multiplayer beta that sparked a ton of interest before officially launching the game with a campaign. Devs were able to work out a ton of issues, the game got tons of publicity, and the release was spectacular.
Overwatch, as a brand name and identity, needs momentum desperately heading into 2022. And, fine, if devs are going to put most of their energy towards the future and Overwatch 2, at least give players the ability to be a part of that journey.
If they can do that and spice things up a bit, 2022 could be a massive year for Activision Blizzard’s hero shooter.