Overwatch

Overwatch 2 devs promise "far more complex" maps for single-player sequel

by Isaac McIntyre

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Blizzard’s developers have promised Overwatch 2 will have “far more complex” maps than the franchise’s 2015 release, with plenty of “elaborate” Left 4 Dead 2 inspired encounters planned for the single-player sequel’s campaign.

Overwatch 2 will build on the blocks laid down by its predecessor in more ways than one. As well as finally giving fans what they’ve longed for ⁠— a spotlight on the series’ characters ⁠— it will also “push the limits” of the original’s game engine.

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The engine itself, ‘TED,’ has been in development since early 2013, when Blizzard first hit the green light for Overwatch. Since then, the development team has been non-stop tinkering to take it to another level for the sequel.

As the Overwatch 2 release date looms on the horizon, the dev team has lifted the lid on their plans to make the sequel "much larger, and far more complex" than old co-op levels in the first title like Retribution and Storm Rising.

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“That doesn’t just mean more distance covered,” the devs explained in a blog post on July 20, “but also longer missions involving more foes, and more elaborate encounters,” à la any good single-player story mode.

Paris in the Overwatch 2 Zero Hour teaser trailer.
Blizzard Entertainment
Blizzard has promised huge new Overwatch 2 maps for the sequel.

The dev team also revealed the kinds of battles players can expect when Overwatch 2 finally hits shelves. Think Valve’s cult co-op zombie title Left 4 Dead in both scope and style; expect multi-wave fights and extended combat situations.

“Adding enemy types [just like L4D2’s zombie classes] leads to complex ability interactions between enemies and heroes, and also between the enemies themselves. There will be both short-range and long-range units that coordinate attacks,” the devs revealed.

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Left 4 Dead 2 hero kills zombie.
Valve
Left 4 Dead's trademark RNG enemies shot Valve's title to cult success.

These classes won’t just pop up once or twice in the bold new Overwatch 2 maps either; enemies will pour in through "multi-wave encounters". That meant the maps needed to be “far more complex” than anything Overwatch had done before.

In Valve’s Left 4 Dead 2 title, campaign levels would sometimes take up to an hour to finish. The story levels were cut into multi-part chunks; each usually had a cutscene and breather between each set piece.

Overwatch 2 sounds like it will be going in a similar direction, which is certainly good news for fans of the franchise, as well as L4D2 fans that have been left adrift since Valve canceled the series’ third installment. 

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Left 4 Dead 3 was reportedly in development at Valve, once upon a time. Issues with the Source 2 code rendered the title “unworkable,” however. It would have been an open-world title set in the ruined cities of Morocco, Valve later revealed.

Winston faces down Omnic robot in Overwatch 2 trailer.
Blizzard Entertainment
The main Overwatch 2 enemies will likely be Omnic warriors.

Blizzard software engineer Phil Teschner admitted he “couldn’t wait” to show off everything the devs had achieved with Overwatch 2. The dev, who has also worked on the Halo franchise, said there’s “nothing quite like” how fans embrace Overwatch.

“I’ve worked on a ton of different games. The way the community has responded to the world of Overwatch has been the highlight of my career,” he said. “The excitement around the whole game — it’s a totally new experience for me.”

Teschner, and the entire Overwatch 2 writing and engine dev teams, are currently at home working. The new situation due to the global pandemic may delay the sequel’s original planned 2020 release date, but “not by much,” they said.