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Blizzard shows off Overwatch 2’s new 5 vs. 5 multiplayer and a trio of maps

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Still no word on a release date

Blizzard’s two-hour Overwatch 2 stream showed off the best look yet at the much-anticipated sequel to the competitive team shooter. And while there’s still no release date, the studio did show off plenty of new information about the game.

Chief among those is one of the biggest changes to Overwatch in the game’s history: the sequel will be shifting the default PvP multiplayer mode from six-on-six matches to five-on-five games. Within the current role queuing system, that translates to cutting out a tank character on each team, which will now consist of two support, two DPS, and just a single tank character.

The explanation behind the changes is to both simplify and shake up Overwatch’s combat and meta, which tends to calcify toward tank-centric plays, specifically based on utilizing shielding mechanics from characters like Reinhardt or Orisa. In Overwatch 2, tank characters are getting some big buffs to make them more powerful (and to help compensate for the lack of a second tank). Reinhardt, for example, is getting a second Firestrike attack, while Winston’s Tesla coil cannon is getting a ranged alt-fire mode.

The goal is to help shift Overwatch’s combat away from hiding behind / healing tanks and to give the rest of the team more room to spread out, flank, and focus on objectives (instead of just trying to keep the tanks alive). One less tank also means that players have to be smarter about the maps, utilizing cover and creative flanking angles instead of just rolling down the main path in a shield fortress. It’s a big change to the game, one that exemplifies the approach that Blizzard is taking here in terms of trying to keep things fresh.

The stream also showed off other new aspects in the upcoming sequel, including a better look at the cleaner UI for Overwatch 2 (which, among other changes, makes it easier for support characters to track teammates they’re healing), new character designs, and other tweaks that are planned for character abilities (like Mei, who won’t be able to fully freeze opponents anymore).

The development team also showcased several new maps. There was a better look at the upcoming Toronto map, which had been announced alongside Overwatch 2 back in 2019, but also a trio of new maps: New York, featuring a futuristic Grand Central station; Rio, which has a nightclub for the EDM hero Lúcio; and Monte Carlo, set on a winding racetrack.

There’s still no firm release date for Overwatch 2, but Blizzard has already confirmed that it won’t be launching until at least 2022.