When Overwatch 2 pivoted from the series’ 6v6 format in favor of a faster, single-tank 5v5 one, it also shifted away from a popular gameplay tactic: Crowd control, or abilities that can stop or slow an opponent in their tracks with a stun or freeze effect. Now, it sounds like Blizzard is feeling a bit of buyer’s remorse regarding the hard change, and will be tweaking some old character’s kits to bring crowd control back into the fold.
Director Aaron Keller discussed the change in a blog post on the Overwatch website, where he explained Blizzard’s initial mindset in removing most crowd control abilities in Overwatch 2 to leave the control of match pacing to tank characters like Orisa and Roadhog. He says the crowd control abilities present in the original game “felt like you were in a pinball machine” if a coordinated team hit you with several of these abilities at once, and that retooling these abilities felt like a good change for Overwatch 2. However, Keller says the addition of hypermobile characters like Sojourn, Kiriko, and Lifewaver has made the team rethink the decision, and it’s looking to find a middle ground in Season 5.
Is Overwatch 2 bringing back crowd control? Kinda.
Upcoming in Overwatch 2 Season 5 are changes to Mei and Cassidy’s kits, two characters who used to be infamous for their crowd-control capabilities. In the original Overwatch, Mei’s primary fire could freeze an enemy in their tracks after sustained damage, and while it doesn’t sound like Blizzard is completely turning the dial in the other direction, Mei’s primary fire will be able to slow enemies down even further for 1.5 seconds.
Cassidy, meanwhile, will be getting an update to his Magnetic Grenade that, while lowering its damage, will slow enemies and block movement abilities. It remains to be seen if this captures the same utility and vibe of OG Overwatch, which was able to stop enemies just long enough for a Cassidy player to unload their revolver for an easy kill before it was changed to a magnetic damage dealer in the sequel, but it’s at least interesting to see Blizzard is examining the changes it’s made in the sequel and consider whether things might’ve been better at one point, or lessons can be reapplied to an ever-changing game.
On another note, Keller also mentions that Lifeweaver, the newest hero and an ongoing problem the Overwatch 2 team has been trying to solve, will be getting some further buffs in season 5 to help build up his viability. The blog post doesn’t get into specific numbers, saying those will be made clear in future patch notes, but Keller says anyone playing the pansexual support hero can expect “increases to his healing and damage output, a heal on Life Grip, a slightly reduced hitbox, and some quality-of-life changes to Petal Platform.” Anything to make his numbers go up sounds good to me, but the Life Grip heals is the part that piques my interest as someone who’s been maining Lifeweaver since he launched in April. The ability is one of Lifeweaver’s most useful, but often frustrating, as it pulls an ally to Lifeweaver without them getting any say on the matter. But giving Lifeweaver another means of healing his teammates is good, because right now his utility as a healer, even if numbers are raised, is pretty one-note until he reaches his area-of-effect ultimate.
While Lifeweaver is getting buffs, Junker Queen is getting some nerfs. Specifically, her Commanding Shout ability will now give her 150 additional health, rather than the previous 200. They’ll also be increasing the cost of her ultimate ability so she’ll take longer to charge it up. Junker Queen had gained some popularity this past season due to her survivability, so it looks like Blizzard is looking to mitigate that a bit in Season 5.
Overwatch 2 is in a weird state now after Blizzard announced significant cuts to the planned PvE modes. But despite the state of the game, the team recently rolled out a new Pride event that confirmed some long held headcanons and painted the Midtown map rainbow, which was well-received among queer fans.