Overwatch 2 Needs To Overhaul How It Does Seasonal Events

There was a time only a few short years ago when Overwatch was untouchable. Blizzard’s hero shooter was a fresh, energetic entry in a genre that was slowly but surely growing stale. The beloved developer saw this gap in the market and pounced upon it, delivering a diverse multiplayer experience that would hold our attention for years to come. Fast forward to 2021, and the picture appears infinitely more bleak.

Seasonal events in Overwatch became major occasions to look forward to. Christmas, Halloween, Chinese New Year, and several others were transformed into virtual celebrations that had our favourite characters donning gorgeous new outfits and performing charming emotes and victory poses that I couldn’t wait to unlock. It was a game I spent hours upon hours with in university, playing alongside my housemates to earn loot boxes and praying we got the skins we wished for. Spoilers: We never did.

As the years moved on and seasonal events began to repeat, I fell out of love with Overwatch. I returned following the surprise debut of Archives, which promised a more intricate delving into the lore behind my favourite operatives, but it was a surface level exploration of narrative elements that simply didn’t do enough. A few skins caught my eye, tempting me to indulge in free loot boxes and to grind for a couple alongside friends who returned for similar reasons.

We’d hop on Discord and inevitably talk about the state of Overwatch, sharing timid excitement for the sequel and how we’d hope it might shake up the subdued nature its progenitor had adopted in the years since its release. The world and heroes have so much potential, taking the foundations first established here and building them into showcases that aren’t afraid to grow this universe in bold, meaningful ways.

On the other hand, they could merely be small expansions of the Archives seasonal events where you traverse across bland environments doing battle with generic robots until the objective is reached. These events are… fine, but they aren’t that exciting, lacking the competitive edge of multiplayer that makes Overwatch so wonderfully thrilling to play. If a sequel does anything, it needs to overhaul how we engage with it over a long period of time.

Seasonal events still have a place in Overwatch 2, but they simply can’t exist in their current form. In the years since 2016, we’ve seen the emergence of Fortnite, virtual metaverses and the battle pass, with the latter point going on to define all of the biggest multiplayer games on the market. Blizzard needs to take these inspirations into account when crafting the upcoming hero shooter to ensure it can stand alongside the big hitters in the modern landscape. Since right now, it feels downright archaic in comparison.

Implement multiple seasonal events into a single battle pass, rewarding players for completing activities and levelling up their favourite heroes across both casual and competitive playlists. You could ensure that the most beloved skins are making a return on a frequent basis, much like seasonal events provided us with multiple chances to earn distinct skins on a yearly basis. Skins, sprays, emotes, voice lines, and other cosmetics could be brought into fray at will.

Paladins, a free-to-play shooter which took a lot of inspiration from Overwatch, has a battle pass, and it functions brilliantly. Now imagine this with Blizzard’s budget. I used to be filled with excitement when Overwatch introduced new seasonal events, hoping that my favourite trio of heroes would receive skins I could flaunt on the battlefield. Now, I’m just indifferent, rolling my eyes as the same optional modes, the same skins, and the same aesthetic are rolled out again and again to keep us happy.

Overwatch is capable of so much more, and I hope the sequel realises that. Characters and narrative are clearly the sequel’s focus, which is excellent, but the multiplayer foundation that defines it shouldn’t be neglected, especially when a few small changes could help it shine brighter than ever.

Next: Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan Has Left Blizzard

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Jade King is one of the Features Editors for TheGamer. Previously Gaming Editor over at Trusted Reviews, she can be found talking about games, anime and retweeting Catradora fanart @KonaYMA6.

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