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The original Overwatch’s days are numbered. Last week, Blizzard revealed in a Reddit AMA that when Overwatch 2 launches on October 4th, it will overwrite Overwatch prime, effectively ending the six-year-old game.
“When OW2 launches on October 4th it will be a replacement for the current live service,” wrote game director Aaron Keller.
While the changeover will add a wealth of new content — new heroes, new maps, and more — classic Overwatch will cease to be, ending the 6v6 format and banishing the assault game type to the relative obscurity of the custom game corner. The news came as a bit of a surprise since, originally, Overwatch prime and Overwatch 2 were supposed to coexist. During the Overwatch 2 panel at BlizzCon 2019, Aaron Keller, the game’s current director, and Jeff Kaplan, the former game director who left Blizzard over a year ago, described a scenario in which players who upgraded to OW2 would still be able to play with those who didn’t.
With players’ unlocked skins and other cosmetics transferring over, and with Overwatch 2 switching to a free-to-play model, it seems then there was no longer a reason to keep the two games siloed. In a comment to The Verge, the Overwatch development team said:
“Our goal is to not divide our player base and to make the transition to Overwatch 2 as seamless as possible. To that end, when Overwatch 2 launches as a free-to-play live service game on October 4th, it will replace the current Overwatch build. Content players have unlocked in Overwatch will automatically carry over to players in Overwatch 2.”
For players worried about the Overwatch prime features being sunset with the arrival of Overwatch 2 (i.e., loot boxes), the AMA revealed that any unopened loot boxes will have their contents automatically added to your inventory and any unused coins (a currency you earn via loot boxes) will also transfer over. However, Blizzard intends to create a new currency with OW2, and the old coins won’t be able to buy everything on offer.
There also won’t be a matchmaking rating reset with the arrival of Overwatch 2. For fans hoping OW2 would bring with it a mass competitive ladder equalization, Scott Mercer, principal system designer, wrote that “A complete reset would mean that games would be completely imbalanced for weeks or longer across the entire service, and we don’t think that will be a great experience for everyone.” Mercer did, however, reveal that OW2 will feature a new decay system that will lower the MMR of accounts that haven’t played in a while to ensure matches at all levels of the ladder are as equal as they can be.
While I’m excited for Overwatch 2, I’m a little sad that all the new comes at the expense of the old. I’m one of the exceedingly rare Assault fans, and relegating the game mode to custom matches essentially means that I’ll no longer play it, not to mention the many minute adjustments, like changes to the UI and sound design, that will fundamentally change how I play the game.
Overwatch 2 launches on October 4th, so, Assault fans (yes, all 10 of us), it’s time for us to get in our last licks.