This is a late post that may no longer be that relevant, I admit. I was supposed to post this after BlizzConline, but the past two weeks were a blur for me. However, I realized that I still had much to say about the sequel to my 2016 GOTY, so I had to finish writing this. While I have to admit that I’m actually hyped about what Blizzard is doing in Overwatch 2, I’m also quite skeptical about what it’ll do for their newest franchise.
The way Blizzard mishandled Overwatch to the point of almost killing its competitive scene, had people swearing off their games due to the Blitzchung and Diablo Immortal controversies, and turning their back on both their (now former) employees and core audience, are more than enough to cast a shadow on what will be their next step forward.
This is no longer the beloved developer renowned for their commitment to polish. This is now a studio owned by a publicly-traded company beholden only to their shareholders and the eternal quest for more profit. I’m not saying money is bad, but look at what it has done to one of the most legendary game developers of all time. I’m not sure if Overwatch 2 will help regain the trust of the gamers who used to swear by the quality of their work.
I had a feeling that Blizzard was stumbling in the dark since the release of StarCraft II and Diablo III, with gameplay that didn’t exactly match expectations. That same feeling crept in with Overwatch, and it was made crystal clear with how Brigitte broke the meta and necessitated an intervention that came too late. Here’s to hoping (albeit reluctantly) that they’ve figured themselves out at this point.
Overwatch 2: A Mix of Left 4 Dead and Borderlands
It looks like Overwatch 2 will have PvE co-op that expands on the story and lore of the in-game world. Before, it had only been shown through cinematics and comics published outside of the game, which are helpful but still extraneous in presentation. There were in-game events, but most people likely played them for cosmetic rewards, seemingly a drag without them.
The character progression system will definitely make Overwatch 2 more interesting, reminding me of the skill trees in the Borderlands games. I remember enjoying my time with the first Borderlands game, but I now have a personal boycott on Gearbox Software due to how much of a shitbird its CEO has consistently been over the years. It’ll be nice to be able to play a shooter with those mechanics again.
Overwatch is Still a Salvage Job
We know Blizzard is making it up as they go, which is not unusual in making games, but Overwatch is even more of an improvisation act due to how it came to be. After all, it was a salvage project that was risky since it was their first new intellectual property in 17 years.
You think they still remember how to make new games, especially with most of their old horses already gone by this point?
But the difference between their previous works and Overwatch isn’t just the genre and when it was released. The main difference is the structure of Blizzard itself. It’s now a hulking mass of hundreds of employees being whipped by big wigs powered by the money of Activision. Of course, it’s going to have that now-familiar AAA stench.
If they were going to do it right in the first place, they should’ve started with how they’re doing Overwatch 2, and then add the multiplayer component and have it done right from the start. But since they didn’t know what to do with the leftovers of a cancelled project to begin with, they released it in the form that would attract players first.
Perhaps you can say that they had to have a skeleton first before they could cover it with meat and skin. But what they did was bring out the meat first, and now try to insert the bones in the hopes it’ll stand up right. They’re also trying to add the vital organs well after the fact.
However, what it really needs is the heart, which is faintly there. It’s in pieces, with the voice actors, writers, and developers. Jeff Kaplan is trying his hardest to bring it all together so it beats with the passion that Blizzard once had. But Blizzard lost the hearts of the people along the way.
Overwatch is Blizzard’s Main Franchise Now
I don’t find Overwatch to be as offensive as Blizzard trying to milk more out of their old intellectual properties. At least with this, they’re coming up with new things. The problem with old titles, trying out new things with them will likely alienate core audiences. But with Overwatch, no one can say what it truly is just yet.
World of Warcraft has long been in life support. Now with the release of Shadowlands and the announcement of The Burning Crusade, you can see how they’re trying to attract new players while also pleasing their longtime players through a divide-and-conquer strategy. WoW players clamoring for a vanilla server all those years ago actually did them a favor.
Diablo III was even more of a crapshoot, and it got what it deserved. StarCraft II became its own thing separate from its predecessors, and it’s sad they decided to finally pull the plug on it. Warcraft III is now a corpse that has gone through a failed resuscitation.
Even if they fix Warcraft III Reforged at this point, that disastrous launch was pretty much the final nail in the coffin for old Blizzard. Somehow, I’m not sure if they learned their lessons from that launch in order to make something out of Diablo II Resurrected.
Meanwhile, everything Blizzard used to be is now banking on Diablo IV. If that goes like Diablo III, then any tiny shred of hope for Blizzard capturing an inkling of their former glory will be lost. Unless you’re a World of Warcraft player, nothing at all will resemble the Blizzard that gamers grew up with. Refer to them now as Actiblizz. Like Squeenix.
Actiblizz sounds like a prescription drug. One I’m having second thoughts about taking.
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