Overwatch 2 Can’t Afford A Season This Mid

Overwatch 2 Can’t Afford A Season This Mid

Overwatch 2 is getting its ass beat online lately and for good reason. With the exception of its Pride event, it’s been nothing but bad news for the hero shooter between Blizzard announcing it was gutting its planned PvE suite of skill trees and replayable hero missions to charging $15 for its story missions. It’s sad, because the latest story trailer still managed to get me welled up on all the promise the sequel had when it was first announced in 2019. If Overwatch 2 is going to recover from this steady stream of bad news, Blizzard needs to come out swinging with something that shows that the game still has a lot to offer. And man, its fifth-season event is exactly the kind of nothing burger offering the game didn’t need right now.

What does Overwatch 2’s fifth season include?

Credit where credit is due, some of Overwatch 2’s fifth season is pretty cool. The battle pass has some of the series’ best highlight intros, the Critical Role reference is super cute, and the lore you unlock through the battle pass that tells the story of Tracer DMing a tabletop campaign is a lot of fun. But in terms of a playable event, the thing you actually get to experience, season five leads with one of Overwatch 2’s most underwhelming modes in a time where the game can’t really weather something so unremarkable. I’m talking about Defeat the Demon Lord, an asymmetrical PvP mode that’s meant to be part of Tracer’s campaign.

In this mode, a team of four faces a beefed-up Reinhardt, the titular Demon Lord. The win state for both sides is Reinhardt must either get 30 kills, or the opposing team must take him down three times. It sounds unbalanced, but Reinhardt is ridiculously beefed up in this mode. With over 6000 health, he can take an onslaught of uninterrupted damage and still stand tall. I played a match as Orisa, and even as I unloaded entire clips into Reinhardt, it felt like I wasn’t even making a dent in his armor. He’s a force of nature as the Demon Lord, and while a coordinated team can overwhelm him, Reinhardt can more than hold his own when outnumbered.

Image: Blizzard Entertainment

On paper, there’s some interesting retooling of established Overwatch mechanics going on here, but in the larger context of the state of the game, something as insubstantial as Defeat the Demon Lord doesn’t feel like Overwatch 2 putting its best foot forward. Blizzard is in a position where the game it promised in 2019 is not the one we have in 2023, and what remnants of it are left have put a bad taste in the mouths of even its most vehement defenders. Mischief and Magic, a 5v5 mode leaning into the fantasy theme, is going up later this season. Hopefully it feels more substantial than this.

Sentiment around Overwatch 2 is at an all-time low

We’re eight months into Overwatch 2’s lifetime, and it feels like with every piece of news, it becomes more clear how mismanaged the game has been. What was once meant to be essentially an add-on to the original game that would finally bring a story to the series and wouldn’t divide its PvP player base, has become a grindy, microtransaction-ridden shell of its original vision. As someone who once defended the game from what felt like some bad faith mischaracterization, I no longer feel like I have the energy to do so, and season five has done nothing to reinvigorate that.

All of these twists and turns in Blizzard’s messaging have no doubt made things harder on the folks making Overwatch 2 as they deal with strife within Activision Blizzard in the midst of its harassment lawsuits, turnover at Blizzard on both a managerial and rank-and-file level, and forcing a once work-from-home staff to move back into the office after establishing their lives elsewhere. I feel for the team because, underneath all the poor planning, there is clearly a lot of talent and love for these characters desperately crawling out of the hole poor business decisions have put them in. I just hope that something, anything comes along that feels like it captures that passion, because I can feel my own dwindling every day Overwatch 2 doesn’t live up to its promise. I guess we’ll see if any of this was worth it when the story missions launch on August 10.

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