The community is going to enter purgatory once more until a third test for Overwatch 2 that has been announced but has not yet been scheduled launches before the game’s official October release date. Overwatch 2’s second beta will finish next week.
We may reflect on the second Overwatch 2 beta’s experience and all the modifications made while it is in its downtime. To its credit, Blizzard routinely updated after a two-year hiatus, testing new concepts and skills even in the middle of these testing sessions.
That happened just this week, in the last days of the beta. Both Moira and Mercy saw their powers reworked, allowing for higher skill and impact. Moira’s change was the largest, as she gained a new ability that has a devastating effect.
Her Orbs, which used to modulate between healing and damage on a shared cooldown, are now split – and her damaging orb is gone completely. In its place is Necrotic Orb. Now Moira can shoot out a fast-moving projectile that, when it hits another player, nerfs their damage by a devastating 75% for four seconds.
This ability is a nice idea, but I believe the statistics need to be adjusted. Perhaps the enormous debuff could be reduced in exchange for a shorter cooldown. It excels at neutralizing damage-dealing ultimates, including Genji blades, Cassidy High Noons, Ashe’s BOB, D.VA bombs, and really any ultimate. By preventing damage from an ult that was about to wipe the team, it enables Moira to take on the very particular task of stopping dives or clutching situations. She will now, however, need a fair amount of planning, a little aim, and perfect time.
Now, I don’t consider this to be at all overpowering. It roughly compares to Baptiste’s Immortality Field or Ana’s Sleep Dart. It’s a fantastic change that will make Moira a more compelling character for experienced players and enable her to significantly influence a fight. She becomes more technical after previously being one of the simpler supports to play.
Which has developed into an odd pattern for Overwatch 2 across a number of characters. For instance, Bastion can’t stay in a turret forever and he no longer has a self-heal. Additionally, Symmetra’s new adjustments have prompted players to move her teleporter around more frequently, allowing her squad to move more in unison. In general, playing Overwatch 2 heroes is getting more difficult.
Raising the roof
There are two ideas at play in this situation: skill ceilings and floors. A skill ceiling is the utmost possible influence a hero can have, whereas a skill floor describes how simple it is to be effective with a hero. The heroes in Overwatch often have a low floor and a low ceiling, a high floor and a high ceiling, or a combination of the two.
For example, just about anyone could do well with Bastion in Overwatch 1 by sitting in one spot outputting damage, but he’s also easily outplayed due to his lack of mobility. This becomes truer the higher in competitive play you go. On the other hand, Genji is essentially useless to a novice player but has the potential to take over games in the hands of a master.
One of the things that made Overwatch so great when it was first released in 2016 was that it felt like there was a hero for everyone, no matter your playstyle, or indeed your skill level. The game was wonderfully approachable, and there was always a hero you could jump onto and feel like you weren’t useless. There was also no scoreboard, so players couldn’t check on their teammates and flame them if they were struggling. A feeling of ‘safeness’ defined the early experience. That’s not the case anymore.
In Overwatch 2, the changes we’ve seen so far suggest Blizzard is moving towards raising the skill ceiling for all of its heroes. In terms of support roles, Moira was certainly one of the lowest floor heroes, able to heal a lot and do a fair amount of damage but with limited range and diversity. However, this update – which takes away an orb that automatically did the damage, and replaces it with a shot you have to aim, at the right time, on the right target – certainly raises both her floor and her ceiling.
This is fantastic to see for experienced players who want to have those higher ceilings across more heroes, with significant moments where they can use an ability that changes the course of the game. But I can’t help but think that part of that enchantment of pick-up-and-play has vanished in favor of the devoted. It’s crucial to be aware that the approachable approachability Blizzard originally provided may be gone, even while it could make Overwatch 2 better for those who desire to invest thousands of hours in it. That feature truly set the first Overwatch apart, so it’s disappointing to see it wane in the follow-up.