- Overwatch 2 faced overwhelming negative response due to the cancellation of promised PvE content and the removal of the free cosmetic loot box system.
- The game’s monetization methods, including expensive in-game purchases and limited ways to earn currency, have been a major point of criticism.
- Activision Blizzard, the company behind Overwatch 2, has faced controversy and lawsuits regarding sexual harassment and discrimination.
- The game has balancing issues and struggles to properly balance its large roster of characters.
- Overwatch 2 is not currently available on Xbox Game Pass, and players may want to wait for its release on the platform for discounts and convenience.
In 2016, Blizzard released one of the most influential and successful multiplayer shooters to date: Overwatch. Fast-forward six years, and Blizzard has attempted to re-launch the game under the name Overwatch 2.
Alongside the new name, Overwatch 2 was released promising new balancing, large PvE (player vs. environment) content, and new monetization. Overwatch 2 was also made free-to-play, whereas the original Overwatch required payment to play the game.
Despite the game being free and the new content promised by Blizzard, the response to Overwatch 2 was overwhelmingly negative. In fact, Overwatch 2 is one of the lowest-rated games on the entire Steam storefront. The reason for this negative reaction was multifold. Some players felt the changes weren’t enough to warrant the re-release.
Players were also upset over the removal of the free cosmetic loot box system, in favor of in-game purchases. Some players also did not like the balance changes. Most of all, Blizzard later backtracked on promised PvE content, removing much of the rationale for Overwatch 2‘s existence.
Considering the overwhelming backlash of Overwatch 2, this article is going to talk about some of the reasons why you should avoid playing the game. We will also mention some alternatives that offer similar experiences but vary in other ways.
#1: Overwatch 2 PvE Hero Mode Was Cancelled
One of the largest points of contention between Blizzard and the Overwatch 2 community is the cancellation of the promised PvE content. Since it was first created, Overwatch has largely only offered player vs. player (PvP) content, with the exception of a few PvE events for holidays.
Despite this, the Overwatch 2 world is full of content and characters that many players want more of. PvE was one of the most promising ways of exploring the Overwatch 2 world and cast.
As previously mentioned, when Blizzard announced Overwatch 2, they were promising large-scale PvE content. The promises included a main story, character skill trees and upgrades, and large-scale team content. However, this Hero Mode, as it was named, was canceled shortly after the launch of the game.
Game director Aaron Keller explained that Hero Mode has been in development since 2016, but the scope was ultimately too big for the team. Despite this, he acknowledges that the mode was announced and players had high expectations for it.
Overwatch 2: Invasion
Despite the cancelation of Hero Mode, game director Aaron Keller wanted to make sure that people knew PvE wasn’t canceled entirely. In his blog post linked above, he continued to promise story missions. These story missions would feature PvE co-op gameplay and cutscenes and would be released in Season 6 of the game.
Season 6 of Overwatch 2 came out in August of 2023, and as promised, players got the very first story mission. The story mission is called Overwatch 2: Invasion and features players going head-to-head with Null Sector forces. However, despite the game being free, Overwatch 2: Invasion is not.
The story mode, which was an advertisement for Overwatch 2, is not actually included in the game. Overwatch 2: Invasion will cost players $15 if they want to experience the story mode, and future story content will also likely need to be bought.
As you can imagine, players were even more unhappy when not only was promised content canceled but what was released cost extra money. The reputation of Overwatch 2 continues to fall to this day due to these monetization decisions. However, it doesn’t stop there.
#2: Overwatch 2 Prices Are Very High
Many people saw Overwatch 2: Invasion costing money as an insult, as many people had already paid money for Overwatch before it became free. That isn’t where the monetization issues end, however. Another issue that a lot of players have with Overwatch 2 is that, even when compared to other free-to-play game monetization methods, the in-game purchases are quite expensive.
Before going into the details of the monetization of Overwatch 2 cosmetics, we are going to briefly touch on how they used to work. Prior to the release of Overwatch 2, players would earn “lootboxes” when leveling up and getting exp. These lootboxes could then be opened and reward the player with a free cosmetic at random. For players who wanted a lot of lootboxes, there was the ability to pay for more directly.
With the release of Overwatch 2, however, lootboxes were completely removed. Instead of lootboxes, in-game purchases are now in the form of a currency. Players need to buy currency and that currency can be used to buy cosmetics from the shop, as well as a battle pass system that rotates every 9 weeks. A battle pass system is a collection of cosmetics that you buy access to but must grind for. New characters are also restricted to the battle pass or months of grinding.
You only have 9 weeks to grind for the cosmetics, and if you don’t get them all, they are gone forever. Occasionally, players can also purchase bundles of cosmetics directly for real-world cash. Finally, there are very few ways to grind the purchasable currency in the game, and the battle pass doesn’t refund itself as many others do.
#3: Activision Blizzard is an Extremely Controversial Company
In 2021, Activision Blizzard was sued by the State of California. The lawsuit alleged that Activision Blizzard created a culture of sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination. The lawsuit also alleged that top executives of the company were aware or were even involved in this harassment. Many former employees of the company came forward to corroborate these claims afterward. This was only the beginning of claims against the company that created and published Overwatch 2.
After the news of the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard came out, The Wall Street Journal published their own report about the company. In their report, The Wall Street Journal accuses the CEO, Bobby Kotick, of knowing about and engaging in harassment of employees. Kotick later apologized for some allegations while denying others. One of the accusations that Bobby Kotick apologized for was threatening to have his assistant killed. In later interviews, Kotick would blame labor organizers for the company’s problems.
Finally, in the problematic saga of Activision Blizzard, the company had to pay both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The former was paid $35 million due to Activision Blizzard’s lack of a structure to report issues. The latter was paid $18 million upon Activision Blizzard settling a lawsuit.
For a long time, there was a unified effort on social media to get people to avoid games published by Activision Blizzard, like Overwatch 2. Due to Microsoft purchasing the company in a deal that is set to end very soon, many of these calls to avoid the games have stopped. However, it is not clear how much Microsoft will be able to clear up the cultural issues of Activision Blizzard.
#4: Overwatch 2 Has Balancing Issues
Overwatch 2 has always been infamous in gaming communities for frequently rebalancing characters. The game has a large roster and struggles to balance the characters properly. The balancing issues of the game have always been a very vocal part of the community’s anger towards the game. Unfortunately, these issues are only exacerbated by the frequent additions of new characters to the game roster.
One of the largest issues that the community points out in regards to Overwatch 2 balancing is that Blizzard focuses on fixing issues after they’ve been reported, as opposed to avoiding issues altogether. However, avoiding issues is much easier in theory than in practice, so it’s hard to know if this can be avoided.
The fact that balancing has been an issue in the community for as long as Overwatch has existed is something that should be kept in mind and considered.
Whether or not the audience will ever be appeased by Overwatch 2 balancing is unknown. Perhaps the large roster is too difficult to ever balance correctly. Regardless, it’s enough to make some players leave and not want to play.
#5: Overwatch 2 isn’t on Xbox Game Pass (Yet)
As previously mentioned in the section about the Activision Blizzard controversy, Microsoft has purchased the company. The deal has been in a lengthy court battle for many months, but it seems like the deal is finally about to close. Despite this, Overwatch 2 has not been made available on Game Pass as of yet, and might not be until 2024 at the earliest.
You might be wondering why something like this would matter given the free-to-play nature of Overwatch 2, but there are a few reasons people might want to wait for the Game Pass release. For one, Game Pass provides members with a discount on in-game purchases. We’ve already covered the bad prices of Overwatch 2, and the discount would be quite helpful to alleviate this.
Another reason people may want the Game Pass release is to have all their games in one place. Gamers who play on PC complain frequently about the large number of PC game storefronts that exist, fracturing their game collection. Those who are already subscribed to Game Pass on PC have the bulk of their games on that storefront, and Overwatch 2 will likely soon be there too.
The final reason to want to wait for the Game Pass release is due to Activision Blizzard. There is genuine hope from workers that Microsoft will fix the negative work culture of the company. Xbox CEO Phil Spencer has already expressed support for unionizing in gaming, for example. This is something that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has actively worked against in the past.
Alternatives to Overwatch 2
Now that we have covered 5 reasons to avoid playing Overwatch 2, we are going to discuss some alternatives. These alternatives range from free to premium titles. Some of these games may have some of the same issues as Overwatch 2, but to a lesser extent.
Team Fortress 2
One of the most comparable games to Overwatch 2 is Team Fortress 2. The classic game by Valve is often considered to be one of the biggest inspirations for Overwatch 2. Team Fortress 2 offers a similar aesthetic, hero-based gameplay, and a lootbox system similar to the original Overwatch. Team Fortress 2 has a healthy community of players including private servers.
Important things to keep in mind with this recommendation is that it will not fulfill the desire for PvE that some Overwatch 2 players have. Team Fortress 2 also infamously has its own issues, with some claiming that Valve has abandoned the game. Furthermore, the lootbox system utilized by Team Fortress 2 is not free.
Valorant is another free-to-play 5v5 game in which two teams compete to complete objectives. The characters in Valorant also host their own unique powers like Overwatch 2 characters, and are well-liked by the community. This game is actively developed and published by Riot Games.
Important things to keep in mind when considering Valorant is that Riot Games is another studio that is steeped in controversy. Riot Games themselves have paid $100 million to settle sex discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits in California. The company has since replaced its CEO.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
The Halo: MCC, as it is called by fans, is more of a standard shooter. It lacks the hero-based structure that Overwatch 2 provides, and characters do not have special abilities. However, this collection of older Halo titles is one of the fullest packages you can get when it comes to shooting games. Within Halo: MCC, players will find entire co-op story campaigns, and a massive PvP game mode full of historical maps and iconic Halo weaponry.
The primary thing to keep in mind about Halo: The Master Chief Collection is that it is not a free-to-play game. It is also only available on Xbox and PC, so PlayStation and Nintendo players will be left out.
Apex Legends is a bit unlike the rest of the games here. This game is a battle royale, putting it in a slightly different genre entirely than Overwatch 2. Instead of two teams going head-to-head, there are many teams who are all competing to be the last team alive. Apex Legends is a highly-rated shooter that boasts good gunplay, teamwork, and communication.
Important to keep in mind about Apex Legends is that the game is free-to-play and offers in-game purchases, just like Overwatch 2. Apex Legends is published by Electronic Arts, which has had its own reputational struggles in gaming spaces.
The final game we recommend in lieu of Overwatch 2 is Warframe. Warframe is a free-to-play hero-based shooter much like Overwatch 2. Unlike Overwatch 2 though, Warframe is a primarily co-op PvE experience, with only light PvP. In this regard, it is almost the exact opposite of Overwatch 2. Digital Extremes, the company that makes and publishes Warframe, also holds a spotless reputation in the gaming community.
The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to Warframe is that the focus of the game is PvE, not PvP. PvP players should check out the other options on this list. The game is also free-to-play and has in-game purchases, so keep that in mind.
Overwatch is and has been a very successful game since 2016. Some players love it and some players hate it. Despite recent changes causing a lot of controversy, the game still retains its position as a very popular game. Further, it remains to be seen whether or not Microsoft can fix the broken culture of Activision Blizzard.
We hope that this article was helpful in informing players of the various situations involving Overwatch 2, and assists you in determining if you want to play the game. If you choose to avoid Overwatch 2, we hope that the alternatives we provided can entertain you instead.
Whether or not you choose to play Overwatch 2 is entirely your choice, and we will not judge you for it! We just believe that players should be informed about all things that may affect their enjoyment of a video game.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©History-Computer.com/Skye Gallo.