Players vs player combat will undergo a big change for the upcoming Overwatch 2, as Blizzard revealed during today's livestream that PvP will change to 5v5 for the new game. The reduction from 6v6 PvP as it currently stands in Overwatch will also bring about changes in team composition, which will be limited to one tank, two DPS, and two support.
"We feel like this is the next step in the way that Overwatch ought to be played," game director Aaron Keller said. "If you think about it, there is a lot going on in an Overwatch map. It is incredibly fast paced. We have always tried to make our combat easy to read and very understandable, and even with all of the work that we've put into that, sometimes it's just hard to track what 11 other players are doing on the battlefield. Removing two of those simplifies everything, and it allows players to understand everything that's happening around them, and to be able to make better choices."
Predictably, the reduction in team size has influenced Blizzard's approach to new map design, but there's an even greater impact on the role of tanks, which will be locked to one per team.
"Tanks can be problematic," Keller said. "A DPS hero is simple—they're shooting. But a tank has abilities that can be noisy, or when stacked with other tanks can cause problems for other teams to try to overcome and counter."
By going to five players on a team and limiting them to one tank, he continued, there's a better chance of individual players being able to carry teams, because each player "has the opportunity to have a larger individual impact on their own team."
Further experimentation required.All new abilities updates for Winston’s Tesla Cannon and Mei’s Endothermic Blaster coming to Overwatch 2. pic.twitter.com/adGLsGYLD2May 20, 2021
Tanks will also undergo some individual changes for Overwatch 2 aimed at making them "a lot more aggressive," lead hero designer Geoff Goodman said. "They'll be a little more hybrid-y on the gameplay side, and less just wall protection." We saw a few examples of this in the streamed gameplay. Zarya now has two bubble charges that she can freely use on herself or teammates (you can now double bubble yourself, for example) and Winston has a new ranged alt-fire on his lightning gun.
Reaction to the changes is decidedly mixed at this point: Some players are eager to try a more structured take on Overwatch PvP, while others predict the end of tank relevance: As redditor kooog put it, "OWL tanks just got Thanos snapped." We'll have a closer look at those reactions, and some thoughts of our own on the future of the Overwatch meta, very soon.