Overwatch 2’s beta gets a release date – but console players will have to wait

The first Overwatch 2 closed PvP beta now has a firm launch date of April 26 2022. However, this date only applies to PC players.

The beta launch date was announced as part of a recent developer livestream, in which it was also confirmed that it will be the first in a series of closed betas. The beta on April 26 will include:

  • New 5v5 gameplay
  • New hero: Sojourn
  • New mode: Push. This is described as a mode in which “teams battle to take control of a robot that begins in a central location, then push it toward the enemy base. Either team may take control of the robot at any time. The team that pushes the robot furthest onto the enemy side wins the game.”
  • Four new maps: Circuit Royal (Escort), Midtown (Hybrid), New Queen Street (Push), and Colosseo (Push)
  • Hero Reworks: Orisa, Doomfist, Bastion, and Sombra
  • New Ping System

As for console players, they’ll have to wait a little longer but there are plans to include them at an unspecified date down the line, with Blizzard commercial leader, Jon Spector, stating “we do want to include console players at a future point in our beta testing program and we’re working towards doing that.”

In the livestream, the team also touched on the ongoing closed alpha, access to which is limited to Blizzard employees, Overwatch League pros, and other key partners. As far as goals for the alpha, and later the beta, are concerned, the team is looking to get feedback and data on everything from hero balance to “less in your face” aspects like stability, servers and matchmaking. 

Those who want to take part in the Overwatch 2 beta can sign up over at the game’s official site, though as this is a closed beta it’s worth noting that entry isn’t guaranteed. 

An FAQ on the site states that you’ll need to own a copy of the first Overwatch game to access the first beta and that participants are chosen “based on a variety of factors, including (but not limited to) your Battle.net region, when you signed up, and your computer hardware specifications.”

Those who are selected will receive an invite to the email associated with their Battle.net account and, as for numbers, the FAQ states that the number of players invited “is based on our testing needs” and that “if we determine we need more players to test new features or keep matches running smoothly, we’ll add players to the Closed Beta from our opt-in pool.”

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Analysis: Long-awaited

This announcement follows last week’s update on Overwatch 2’s development, in which Game Director Aaron Keller announced a shift in plans to get the game into the hands of players sooner. 

Rather than ship the PvE and PvP parts of the game together, Keller announced a plan to decouple them in order to get the PvP out quicker. This change, Keller said, will enable delivery of “frequent PvP content to the live game” and the team has a “goal of far exceeding Overwatch’s previous rate of content release” in order to make the game “the most vibrant and dynamic PvP experience anywhere.”

After this first beta, players can expect more down the line, with Keller stating in last week’s update that there’ll be “new features, new maps and, yes, new heroes.”

These updates on the game’s progress mark a shift towards more regular communication between the development team and the Overwatch community around the game after an acknowledged drought. 

In the March 18 livestream, Jon Spector explained that the recently announced shift in strategy was challenging to talk about until it had been fully worked out but said that, going forward, they hope to communicate more “regularly” with the community and “continue to respond to questions where we can”. 

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