It’s early days, but I’m a big fan of Overwatch 2. The gameplay is as good as ever, and most changes are for the better. Tuesday was supposed to be a big coming-out party for the game, but launch day bugs and not one but two DDoS attacks marred a big day for the Overwatch team. Beyond the brutal launch day difficulties, though, the transition to Overwatch 2 hasn’t gone as smoothly as everyone hoped.
Is It Really Early Access?
For one thing, the messaging hasn’t been on point. Calling this an “early access” launch for Overwatch 2 caused confusion.
I understand the idea was to convey that what we have right now is a significant overhaul of PVP, which is only one half of the overall equation. PVE will arrive next year. Only then will we understand Team 4’s true vision for the game. As I’ve been saying for a while, the version of Overwatch 2 we have right now is the foundation for much larger ambitions.
Still, I don’t think it made much sense to go with that descriptor. It’s not like the current version of Overwatch 2 is an alpha or beta. It’s the full product, a title that has completely replaced a wildly popular game on the market for over six years. Calling it, Early Access needlessly complicates matters.
Second, Blizzard didn’t hit the point enough that Overwatch 2 is a free-to-play game. You do not need to spend a penny on it. But many folks were confused about that too.
A bunch of readers have been DMing me about this. Some readers asked if they needed to buy the $40 Watchpoint Pack to access the game. You do not need to do that.
And yet, in the weeks leading up to launch, the Watchpoint Pack was front and center on digital storefronts where Overwatch 2 is available. Before the game launched, I couldn’t see a way to add the free-to-play SKU to my libraries on PlayStation, Xbox or Nintendo Switch. That didn’t help folks realize they don’t have to pay anything.
SMS Protect Saga
Then there’s the SMS Protect issue. I’m totally on board with Blizzard doing almost everything possible to minimize trolls, toxicity and cheaters. Ostensibly making it harder for bad actors to create a new account after getting suspended or banned is a welcome move.
However, the requirement to attach a valid phone number to an account is locking legitimate players with pre-paid devices out of the game. I’ve heard that the system has accepted numbers from some pre-paid phones. But reports suggest the system doesn’t play nice with Metro by T-Mobile or Cricket Wireless, a barrier in the way of millions of potential Overwatch 2 players. Some folks don’t have access to a mobile phone at all.
This is an accessibility problem. It’s blocking people who may have put thousands of hours into Overwatch 1 from playing the sequel and keeping out possible newcomers. I’ve heard some positive news on the SMS Protect front coming soon. Stay tuned for that.
Launch Day Problems
All of the above came before the major launch day problems. Sure, there were long queues. That’s not unexpected for the debut of a hotly anticipated game, particularly a free-to-play one. But players had other problems, especially if they merged their accounts.
Some folks saw an “Unexpected Server Error.” They also found that some of their cosmetics and currency from merged accounts weren’t appearing in their game. Some gamers were getting disconnected from servers, making playing Competitive a risky proposition. On top of all that, Blizzard president Mike Ybarra said the servers were hit by a DDoS attack causing more issues.
Game director Aaron Keller noted several hours later that it was “all hands on deck” to resolve the problems, which included a second DDoS attack. He noted that the team is “steadily making progress on server issues and stability.”
I’ve only been able to make it into Overwatch 2 a couple of times since launch: once on Switch and once on PC.
The account I use on Switch is connected to my main PC, which I used during the review period. I had access to the premium Battle Pass and leveled it up to tier 14. That progression was supposed to carry over into the live game. However, I only saw the free Battle Pass on Switch, and my progress had been reset.
When I got in on PC tonight, I was using my secondary account for the first time in Overwatch 2 — in case you’re wondering, I used my partner’s phone number on that one. The game prompted me to finish the account merge process with one of my PlayStation accounts. It then said I would have to restart the game to regain access to all features (to wit: the shop didn’t appear as an option). As I write this, I’ve been trying to get back in for 15 minutes with no joy.
Launch day snags are going to happen with any big game. I don’t think there’s much Blizzard could have done to fend off the DDoS attacks, either. Add everything up, including the pre-launch problems, and it’s been a messy, inauspicious debut for Overwatch 2.
I don’t take pleasure from laying out these problems — I love the game, and I hope it has a thriving scene for years to come — but they’re not exactly casting Overwatch 2 in a great light. That’s a real pity, considering how good the game is.
John Ravenporton is a writer for many popular online publications. John is now our chief editor at DailyTechFeed. John specializes in Crypto, Software, Computer and Tech related articles.