Feb 9 2016 - 7:32 pm

The Overwatch beta is back with big changes, including a progression system

The Overwatch beta is finally back after going offline for two months
Dot Esports
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 The Overwatch beta is finally back after going offline for two months. And it's bringing with it a plethora of new features, including a progression system with cosmetic rewards, balance changes, and new gameplay features with big ramifications for competitive play.

For the average player, the biggest new changes are cosmetic: Blizzard has implemented a progression system complete with novel variety of in-game rewards. Plenty of games feature new character skins, skin tints, and even sometimes in-game sprays, allowing players to plaster images around the map as the play, and Overwatch includes those features. But the game will also have new voice-overs and victory poses, giving players a ton of ability to show off their own unique style in-game. Players will have an account level and earn a loot crate every time they level up, awarding them with four different cosmetic items.

Tracer spray on a Hollywood wall.

Tracer spray on a Hollywood wall. Blizzard

That’s a big change for Overwatch and speaks to the game's potential future with microtransactions, allowing players to access that custom content more quickly by shelling out cash.

But those weren’t the only big changes for today’s release.

Plenty of balance changes accompanied the new game systems. The long-awaited reworks for Bastion and Torbjörn, two scourges of pub games but punching bags in competitive ones, promise to make each character less frustrating for new players and more viable for veteran ones.

Heroes like D.Va, Soldier: 76, and Mercy also received important updates, including a big nerf to the range of Mercy’s powerful ressurrection ultimate.

Plus, Blizzard added a lot of new features with big implications for competitive play. A new sandbox mode that should allow players to test abilities using custom settings, like turning off cooldowns, and the first of many planned updates to the game’s spectator mode. Overwatch now has an option to enable a kill feed, which should allow players to better grasp the flow of the a match at a glance—though make sure to enable it, it's off by default.

Pharah ults with a new skin from the progression system.

Pharah ults with a new skin from the progression system. Blizzard

Blizzard also changed ultimate charge time, removing the ability to charge them from taking damage. In competitive matches, that often led to a wonky gameplay dynamic where a team was punished for actually dealing damage to the enemy team, allowing them to charge their ultimates faster by healing up that damage.

Those are just a sample of the many changes Blizzard managed to implement during the two-month break from their closed beta. Clearly, the company didn't waste its time away. But for more players, they're just eager to get back in the servers again.

Images via Blizzard

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