There are dozens of Overwatch 2 changes that are shaking things up for Blizzard’s FPS game, ranging from hero rework to totally new match formats. So, if you haven’t played Overwatch in a while but you’re thinking of jumping back in, then you may want to do some homework to get up to speed.
There are new heroes in the game, shiny new maps, fresh monetisation plans, new cosmetic options, and overhauls to how all the roles work.
Join us as we break down all of the Overwatch 2 changes, from the structure and mechanics of the game itself to all the major hero reworks.
All Overwatch 2 hero changes at launch
We’ll start with new heroes, who have all been designed from the ground up to suit the new 5v5 format.
Sojourn has been available throughout the Overwatch 2 betas and is a versatile DPS hero (check out our Overwatch 2 Sojourn guide for a breakdown of their kit), while Junker Queen is a damage-dealing tank who can help out with eliminations but might struggle to provide much cover – we’ve got an Overwatch 2 Junker Queen guide that explains her abilities, too.
Lastly, there’s Kiriko, the first Overwatch 2 support hero designed specifically for OW2 – here’s our Kiriko guide for a detailed ability breakdown.
As for the returning cast of Overwatch 2 characters, here are all the major reworks:
Tank hero changes
All Overwatch 2 tank heroes have the following passives: 30% knockback resist and -30% ult generation from damage and healing.
- +50HP in her white health bar
- Tighter spread with primary fire
- Defense Matrix duration improved to 3 seconds
- Boosters deal +15 damage and meleeing won’t cancel it
- Reduced Micro Missle cooldown to 7 seconds
- Ult cost reduced by 12%
Doomfist has been reworked to join the Tank roster for Overwatch 2. The new ability that shifts his kit from damage-focused to a more tanky role is Power Block.
Doomfist uses his gauntlet to block incoming damage and charge up a barrage of Rocket Punches. Power Block reduces damage taken by 80% damage, and increases the damage output, distance, and speed of the next Rocket Punch if you soak up 90 damage with it – this subsequent strike also applies a 1-second stun.
- HP increased to 450
- Hand Cannon damage nerfed but reload time buffed significantly
- Rocket Punch has had big damage nerfs
- Impact damage range is 15-30
- Wall impact damage range is 20-40
- Rocket Punch can hit multiple targets and reloads faster
- Seismic Slam can be aimed up to make Doomfist jump higher
- Slam’s damage has been nerfed to a flat 50
- Seismic can also be cancelled
- Meteor Strike Ult is faster to cast but outer ring damage is reduced
- Knockback effect has been replaced with a 2 second slow
- +100 HP
- Take a Breather healing buffed by 50 points
- Ult no longer channels so Roadhog can stop firing and use other abilities while his Ult is active
- Crucially, this means he can’t be stunned during his Ult
- Steadfast has been removed, although is effectively replaced by the tank passive
- HP increased by 125 to a total of 625
- Barrier Field HP reduced by 400 to 1,200 and regenerates slower
- Charge is easier to steer and can be cancelled with the left shift key
- Cooldown is 2 seconds shorter
- Damage reduced by 75
- Firestrike damage nerfed slightly, but you get two charges now
Shield haters will be pleased to know that Orisa no longer has a shield ability. Her shield has been replaced with an Energy Javelin which can skewer enemies to walls, stunning them.
She can also spin the javelin in front of her to protect herself and her teammates, increasing her movement speed and destroying incoming projectiles.
Orisa’s bongo has also been replaced with her new Ultimate, Terra Surge, which pulls in enemies and deals a large amount of damage, depending on how long the ability is charged. She’s much more of a damage-focused tank, and currently sits near the top of our Overwatch 2 tier list thanks to her ability to put out near-constant damage and evade enemies.
- HP increased from 450 to 550, with an even health and armour split
- Primary fire relies on an overheating mechanic rather than reloading
- No movement penalty while firing
- Energy Javelin deals 60 damage, knockback, and very short stun
- +40 damage and stun duration if you skewer your target to a wall
- Fortify lasts half a second longer with +125 overhealth
- Primary fire takes longer to overheat while Fortify is active
- Javelin Spin buffs movement speed, deals up to 90 damage with a constant connection, neutralises incoming projectiles, and knocks enemies back
- Terra Surge Ult also grants all of the Fortify buffs while active
While he’s got a few buffs and nerfs, the main change is that Winston has a charged ranged shot in addition to his gradual zapping.
- +50 HP
- Tesla Cannon secondary fire can be charged to shoot a long-range bolt of energy
- Deals 50 damage and costs 12 ammo
- Barrier Projector cools down slightly faster but lasts for slightly less time
- Ult cost increased significantly
- +150 HP
- Experimental Barrier’s health regens 20 more HP per second
- Accretion deals 30 more points of damage
- +100 HP
- Ball knockback has been buffed massively
- Adaptive Shield’s overhealth has been increased to 100 per enemy
- +75 HP
- Some slightly complicated barrier changes
- Both barriers now share a cooldown and pool of 2 charges
- Projected Barrier cannot be used twice on the same ally immediately
- The duration of the barrier is half a second longer
- Energy decay increased
- Half a second reduction to Graviton Surge duration
DPS hero changes
Role passive grants +25% movement speed and reload speed for 2.5 seconds after eliminating an enemy.
The biggest change to Bastion’s playstyle is that he can now move in his turret form using his ability Configuration: Assault. This ability turns Bastion into a moving turret with infinite ammo for a limited amount of time, compared to his static turret form in Overwatch.
His new kit also features a sticky grenade that can bounce off walls, and a new Ultimate, Configuration: Artillery which rains explosives down on up to three locations that you pick.
- Recon mode damage increased to 25 per shot and spread removed
- Fire rate is slower now and there are 10 fewer rounds per mag
- Assault mode moves 35% movement speed slower and lasts for 6 seconds
- Each bullet does 12 damage and there’s a constant spread of 2
- You have infinite ammo in this form
- Self-repair replaced with a grenade that does 130 damage
- Can bounce the grenade off walls or stick to targets
- Can use it to ‘rocket jump’ to rooftops
- Ult now lets you select three areas to blast with artillery
- Direct hits can do 600 damage
- Ammo count increased by 30, but can’t regen from barriers
- Secondary fire reduced by 30 for direct hits and 15 for splash damage
- Sentry Turret’s slow is slightly decreased, but they can be thrown faster
- Teleporter loses 100 HP so is easier to destroy
- Duration is now just 20 seconds
- Twice as fast to deploy
- Cooldown starts as soon as you place it, not when it’s destroyed
- B.O.B.’s HP reduced by 200
- Rate of fire buffed
- Overload has been changed to grant overhealth instead of armour
- Huge damage nerf to her per shot pistol damage
You no longer have flashbangs, but you do get a magnetic grenade that sticks to enemies, homing in on them and chasing them if they’re close by.
- 50% damage reduction while using Combat Roll
- Faster fire rate with Fan the Hammer
- New magnetic grenade deals up to 130 damage if you stick a target
- Deadeye duration increased by over one second, but costs more
- You take 40% less damage while it’s active
- Frag projectile size is slightly bigger, so it’s easier to score direct hits
- Throw speed of Steel Trap is faster, which actually means it’s thrown range is increased
No direct changes here.
- Sprint movement and rifle damage nerfed slightly
- You can now get critical hits when using Tac Visor
- Shots are now affected by damage falloff, which is a small nerf
- Hellfire Shotguns have been nerfed by about half a damage point per pellet and their spread has been slightly increased
- Storm Arrow damage reduced by 5
- DPS reduced slightly on Focusing Beam
- Duplicating tanks is no longer a game-changer as the dupe’s HP is capped at 300
Our resident hacker has had several changes. Her machine pistol does less damage per shot but is more accurate, which is pretty good, but more importantly, her hacking ability can be used faster and more often, especially when it comes to interrupting enemies – it only takes a second to cast now, not five, so expect to see it a lot more often.
She can also hack while in stealth, and will be able to deal an additional 40% damage against hacked targets. However, she can’t get anywhere near as close without being detected, so keep your distance.
- Machine Pistol damage is now 7 per shot
- Hack cooldown halved to 4 seconds
- Cooldown no longer reduced when hacking health packs
- You can hack health packs quicker
- Cast time increased slightly
- Ability lockout duration is much shorter
- Hacked targets are revealed to the whole team through walls
- Hack destroys Baptiste’s immortality field
- Hack can lock B.O.B. out for 2 seconds (down from 5)
- Passive now grants +40% damage to hacked targets
- Stealth fades in half a second faster
- Detection radius is 2 metres bigger
- You can hack enemies while in stealth
- Ult now strips a flat 40% of enemy health instead of all shield health
- Primary fire no longer turns enemies into ice cubes
- DPS almost doubled, and slow rate is now a flat debuff
- Slight ammo increase
- Pillar health of Ice Wall almost halved, range shortened
- Blizzard is more expensive
- Faster rocket reloads when ammo is empty
- Concussive does 30 impact damage and knockback has been buffed
Support hero changes
Support heroes are now better at supporting themselves, with a passive that grants 15 HP per second after going 1.5 seconds without taking damage.
- Self-heal ability halved
- Cost of Sound barrier reduced
- Grants overhealth instead of temp shields
- Rifle mag capacity increased to 15
- Sleep part cooldown increased by 3 seconds
- Biotic Grenade duration reduced by 1 second
- Guardian Angel now charges up, allowing you to fling around faster and in more directions
- Primary passive merges with the support passive to grant over 20 HP per second after not taking damage for 1.2 seconds
- Secondary passive allows Mercy to slow her ascent speed as well as her descent speed
- Big buff to primary fire damage, with falloff kicking in at 25 metres, rather than 20
- Ammo for Biotic Launcher increased by 3
- Regen Burst now delivers an instant 50 HP then grants 10 HP per second for 5 seconds
- If you use it on a friendly who’s half health then the flat health increase doubles to 100 HP
- Inspire’s duration has been reduced by 1 second, so the total healing it offers is a little bit lower
- Rally gives overhealth instead of armour
- Shield Bash no longer stuns, but it got a ton of buffs
- The cooldown is 2 seconds faster
- It does +45 damage
- Max bash distance is almost doubled
- Knockback is doubled
- It triggers the Inspire passive
- Can go through barriers
No changes here.
- Discord Orb linger duration reduced by 1 second
- New Snap Kick passive which deals up to 45 damage and knocks back
Other Overwatch 2 changes
It’s free to play
The most important thing that you need to know about Overwatch 2 is that it’s a free-to-play live service game. This should lower the barrier to entry for loads of new and returning players, so if you had trouble convincing friends to buy the original then they’ll be out of excuses for this one.
The Overwatch team said in an update on their website that moving to a free-to-play model was “a natural step forward for our game and our players.” The game will also move to a seasonal update model like many live service games, refreshing every nine weeks with new Overwatch 2 heroes, maps, cosmetics, and game modes. Oh, and check out how the Overwatch 2 competitive ranks work if you’re looking to go pro (or just scrape gold).
Plus, as an extra bonus incentive, anyone who already owns Overwatch can redeem an Overwatch 2 Founder’s Pack by logging into the sequel before the 5th December 2022. The Founder’s Pack includes two epic skins, an exclusive icon, and a surprise yet-to-be-announced gift.
Overwatch 2 is 5v5, not 6v6
Another major change in Overwatch 2 is the switch from 6v6 gameplay to 5v5. The switch to five players per team also comes with a new comp, with Competitive and Role Queue Quick Play restricting teams to two Support heroes, two DPS heroes, and one Tank hero.
After testing various team comps from 4v4 to 7v7, the Overwatch team decided that this was the best move for the game’s sequel. According to the patch notes, “with one less player on each side, individual contribution means more to the overall success of the team.” Fewer players per team and more room to move around mean that, overall, there is less visual clutter and players can better focus on what is happening in the match.
Clearly, Tank players are the most affected by this change. However, the Overwatch team have reworked all of the tanks to fit the new team comp, making them “even more impactful and fun to play.” In general, they’re all much harder to take down and they benefit from more focused support players.
Goodbye loot boxes, hello battle pass
Overwatch 2 has completely done away with the old loot box system, replacing it with a battle pass and “an all-new and consistently updated in-game shop.” This means that players can directly acquire the items they want rather than rolling the virtual die for the chance of getting it in a loot box.
The battle pass will refresh in line with the seasons, bringing us new skins and voice lines, plus all-new types of rewards such as banners, weapon charms, and mythic rarity skins.
Mythic skins are Overwatch 2’s rarest form of character skin, overtaking Legendary skins from the first game. Mythic skins bring an element of customisation to the design, allowing players to pick and choose which parts of the design they want to equip, creating a little more space for individuality.
New core game mode: Push
There are some big changes to game modes in Overwatch 2. Assault maps, commonly known as 2CP, are a thing of the past, and an all-new map type, called Push, has entered the rotation in their place.
In a Push match, both teams are fighting for control of the Treadweather TS-1 Large Utility Robot, which starts in the middle of the map. When teams take control of TS-1, their barricade will be pushed along the map, and if they make it to the end they win. If neither team reaches the endpoint in eight minutes, the team who has pushed the farthest distance and has control of TS-1 at the end of the map wins.
And there you have it, all of the biggest Overwatch 2 changes to get you back on track come release day. Every hero has been tweaked in some way, and each beta has also introduced fresh balancing tweaks, but these are all the big revisions in case you’re booting up for the first time since uninstalling the first game.
Additional reporting by Daz Skubich