Overwatch 2’s visual design leaves fans feeling unsatisfied

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Overwatch 2’s visual design and UI is leaving fans of the latest Blizzard game feeling profoundly unsatisfied. Following multiple bouts of Overwatch 2 server downtime and numerous bugs, including one causing accidental store purchases, players who have actually been able to spend time with the multiplayer game seem to be of largely one mind – it’s fun to play, but its presentation is just… bland.

Blizzard made a wide number of Overwatch 2 changes going into its sequel, which have led to players feeling underwhelmed by its presentation. Gone are medals and player cards at the end of matches, gone is the ‘on fire’ mechanic that would light up player’s portraits when on a hot streak, gone are levels and player borders to show off your veterancy with the game. Blizzard talked prior to launch about its decision to remove these – in many cases because they felt they caused increased player toxicity – but at what cost have these changes come?

Both Twitter and the Overwatch 2 Reddit are flooded with posts lamenting missing features, calling the game’s UI a “stripped version of OW1,” or expressing various issues with its new UI design. One of the most common complaints is the end-of-round screen, which players note feels “low effort” with plain blue and red colours that don’t match the default palette and don’t adjust with your team colour settings the way the first game did.

Others bring up the new scoreboard, which many feel is confusing to read at a glance and awkward to look at mid-match because of its brief opening animation. It also feels somewhat counter to Blizzard’s decision to remove medals and player cards – if there’s concern around players flaming their teammates for ‘underperforming’ then a screen highlighting all your key stats in a match seems like entirely the wrong move. Players also say they miss endorsing the enemy team after a match, and I agree. Sometimes you really do have to hand it to them. One commenter notes, “It’s such a huge morale boost to be recognised by enemies.”

The ‘on fire’ mechanic was a purely cosmetic bonus for performing well – your player portrait would smoulder with flames, and you’d usually get a celebratory voiceline from your character to match. Rather bizarrely, the voice lines are still there, suggesting that the mechanic still exists behind the scenes. Fans say that they’re “hopeful” this means the feature could return – one remarks, “I didn’t expect ‘on fire’ to be one of the things I miss most about OW1.” Even in matches where things aren’t all going your way, it can be nice to have that feedback that you’ve popped off – especially for classes like support where that can often be less immediately obvious.

It’s far from just the UI that is bothering players, as many are expressing disappointment in its character redesigns, especially the new character portraits. The new-look art brings all the characters into somewhat similar format – and does, in many cases, better represent their in-game models – but it’s missing a certain personality and pizzazz. Junkrat in particular stands out: gone are the missing hairs and charred visage in favour of a glamorous steampunk runway model with perfectly preened hair. Also notably missing in-game is Ana’s parrot, which appears to have flown the nest.

As for the in-game models, long-time concept artist and animator Tommy Millar took to Twitter to discuss the new looks for the returning cast, remarking that “The universal direction here appears to have been ‘more busy, more minutiae, more sci-fi.’” Millar points to redesigns such as Junkrat’s and Mei’s that take away from “worn storytelling” by removing visual information from their outfits and remarks that “For me, it only subtracts from the fundamentals.”

Some of the new legendary skins are coming under fire, too – the top post on the subreddit at the time of writing asks why many of the fanciest (and most expensive) skins for the new Overwatch 2 heroes often look less exciting than their defaults. Highlighted are Junker Queen’s legendary skins Wastelander and Circuit Breaker, which both give the Aussie tank a fairly plain black outfit and hair colouring. In comparison, her default look boasts spikes on her gauntlet, a fun graphic design on a ripped crop top, and her full-length faded blue mohawk. This has left players playing a guessing game of “which skin is the legendary,” with many saying they’d have assumed the default skin was the paid-for one by comparison.

Similar remarks are made about support newcomer Kiriko’s Athleisure legendary skin, which gives her a new coat instead of her usual robes but only barely alters the look of her leggings, with no visual changes at all to her shoes or any of her equipment. There’s slightly more difference in her Sukajan skin – currently available through Twitch drops – but still only a minor change. Thankfully, her Hinotori skin does boast a more dramatic look akin to what fans have come to expect from legendary tier cosmetics, but you’ll need the premium battle pass to get your hands on it.

It’s important to stress that it’s not all doom and gloom – several upvoted posts and many of the comments say they are enjoying Overwatch 2 despite the issues. One thread says that the game “is immensely fun and the majority of its problems are correctable,” and that certainly seems fair. If demand is there for these removed features, perhaps they could make a return. Other users have even begun sharing their own fun ideas for how systems such as a new end game screen might look. Players are, however, wary about the future – one comments wryly, “They are correctable, sure, but that doesn’t mean Blizzard will correct them.

If you’re eager to try things out for yourself, our Overwatch 2 tier list and guide to the Overwatch 2 meta at launch should help you find your footing. We’ve also got an explainer for the Overwatch 2 competitive ranks and a complete Overwatch 2 settings guide. It’s not long until the Overwatch 2 Halloween event begins – as one traditionally responsible for some of the best outfits in the first game, hopefully that brings with it new looks that spark more joy.

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