With Overwatch 2 (opens in new tab) pivoting to free-to-play, it's shaken up a lot of what long-time fans have been used to. One of those is the way new hero goodies are earned. Loot boxes stuffed with random voice lines, sprays and skins are gone, with battle passes where everybody gets the same thing becoming the new normal. But the new reward system hasn't proved the most popular, and it's a problem Blizzard is aware of.
In a developer blog (opens in new tab), new executive producer Jared Neuss addressed the poor reception of how the game currently handles rewards and its sense of progression since its "big shift" to free-to-play. "I could say a lot here, but I think a good place to start is saying that we aren't completely satisfied with how everything feels right now," Neuss said. "There's a lot we like about it—knocking out a bunch of daily/weekly challenges or getting something new for a hero you love can feel great! But we also recognise that today's experience has opportunity for improvement that we need to focus on."
Neuss said the team wants players "to feel more rewarded," with "new accomplishments to chase outside of your competitive rank and battle pass level." That means some changes are coming, though they're still relatively minor in the short term. The biggest news is that earnable event skins will be returning. When Overwatch 2 debuted its Halloween event, many were disappointed that Blizzard seemed to have removed its tradition of including at least one skin earnable through completing event challenges. Neuss says that from season 2 onwards, "each event has a skin you can earn by playing, in addition to the other cosmetic rewards we already offer."
Slightly less exciting is that Neuss says Blizzard will carry on feeding things through Twitch drops. I'm not exactly a fan of gating cosmetics through a third-party platform, but for those who can remember to stick a random stream on low volume for several hours, it's an easy way to access in-game rewards.
Long-term plans are looking at making more significant changes. Neuss says that for season 3 and beyond, Blizzard is looking at "a mix of battle pass changes, more interesting challenges, and more exciting play-focused progression systems" to explore. "We'll be able to talk about some of these changes soon," he said. "But other changes may take more time to lock in."
The unfortunate reality is that many of these changes will still revolve around a costly cosmetics store and battle pass progression, two things I'm not exactly a fan of. But any attempt to rework what we currently have is appreciated. I've plugged away at Overwatch 2's battle pass (opens in new tab), and have found its reward system incredibly dissatisfying. It's a sense of progression so dire that it's had players wishing loot boxes were back in the game. Replacing one predatory monetisation system with another isn't the answer, but even a bit of currency in the battle pass or ways to earn smaller rewards in-game wouldn't go amiss.