Over the past two years, Overwatch 2 has been a Schrödinger’s game, existing somewhere between hardcore development and dropping off the face of the Earth.
COVID-19 derailed the game’s original development schedule, but details about the title’s progress have been sparse for over a year. The developers, however, have promised an update during the BlizzCon 2021 virtual event, which kicks off on Feb. 19.
The birth, life, and eventual stasis of Overwatch 2 has been dramatic, but how did we get here? From leaks to demos, we’re taking a look back at the timeline of Overwatch 2 before BlizzCon 2021.
Overwatch 2 “reveal”
Fans first got wind of the Overwatch sequel in June 2019 when a report by Kotaku revealed that Blizzard had scrapped a Starcraft game to put more focus on the company’s other titles. Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2 were listed as Blizzard’s next big projects. Little was known about Overwatch 2 and Blizzard wouldn’t confirm the game’s development.
More hints of the sequel’s existence came in September from financial publication Barrons, which reported on comments from a Blizzard employee.
Though Overwatch 2 existed only as an internet rumor for most of 2019, the game was officially revealed at Blizzard’s biggest annual event, BlizzCon. On Nov. 1, convention attendees and a virtual audience saw the cinematic short “Zero Hour,” which introduced Overwatch 2 to the world.
Game director Jeff Kaplan confirmed after the short that Overwatch 2 would have PvP elements that crossed over with the original game. A gameplay trailer was introduced shortly after, which showed new looks for existing heroes as well as a tier-based talent system for the game’s new PvE missions.
BlizzCon attendees were able to play two demos of Overwatch 2. One demo was a story mission that took players through Lúcio’s hometown of Rio de Janeiro. The four-player PvE mode included Lúcio, Tracer, Reinhardt, and Mei as playable heroes, each with new talents and tiers to unlock and use during the mission. Our full review goes into greater detail, but the story mission felt fluid, fun, and engaging.
The second demo explored Overwatch 2’s contribution to the PvP scene, a new mode called “Push.” Two standard six-player teams enter into a symmetrical map and fight to gain control of a robot in the middle of the map, which will push the payload into the enemy’s space. The goal is to move the payload all the way to the other side of the enemy’s map. This demo also took place on a new map, Toronto.
Despite the amount of Overwatch 2 content available at BlizzCon 2019, there was no solid release date set for the game.
Shortly after BlizzCon, Kaplan said the existence of Overwatch 2 would slow down updates for the original game. But neither Kaplan nor fans knew what was coming in 2020.
COVID-19 and a quiet 2020
In January 2020, two large “leaks” hinted at a late 2020 release date for Overwatch 2. PlayStation’s Brazilian Twitter account said Overwatch 2 would hit all systems, including PS4 and Xbox One, at some point in 2020. A German GameStop listing also hinted at a physical release in 2020. Fans expected more news of the game to drop in the spring.
By March, COVID-19 had shuttered the Blizzard campus and employees were forced to work from home. Overwatch developers focused on quicker, more meaningful updates to the base game and a new hero, Echo, was introduced in May. News of Overwatch 2, however, completely stopped amid the pandemic.
BlizzCon 2020 was canceled in May. Many Overwatch fans expected a solid release date if the event had gone on in November as planned. The company made plans for a virtual version of the event, though, to take place in February 2021.
Disappointment and hype heading into BlizzCon 2021
In early February, Overwatch and Diablo fans were hit with bad news. Blizzard revealed that Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 wouldn’t be released in 2021, dealing a huge blow to players who were expecting new Overwatch content during the latter part of the year. Since the developers confirmed that there would be no new heroes introduced to the game until Overwatch 2, fans worried about stagnation in the base game and its community.
News about Overwatch 2 has been confirmed for BlizzCon’s 2021 virtual event, which takes place on Feb. 19 and 20. While the updates may not be exactly what fans are hoping for, any Overwatch 2 news is good news at this point.