A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
The game design cultivates an experience where communication and unity are key. The importance of diversity is front and center with an emphasis on a gradually growing cast of characters from around the world who make up for each other's strengths and weaknesses. While not central to the experience, characters have rich backstories conveyed through hundreds of voice lines that touch on making amends for wrongdoings, the need for hope, and combating prejudice. During gameplay, most voice lines are written to foster environments of cooperation, persistence, optimism, and even reflection. For example, one character will remark after respawning that "Repetition is the path to mastery," and another will say "Only in unity will we find strength." Characters have banter before matches, musing over what it means to be a hero, even challenging or seeking to understand characters who pursue different paths.
Positive Role Models
With a vibrant palette of personalities on display, characters range from being impossibly nice to comically evil. Besides those with irredeemable or questionable motives, most heroes provide small glimpses into inspiring worldviews and beliefs through short exchanges of dialogue. For example, Reinhardt and Hanzo believe in the importance of honor, but have differing ideas of how to achieve it for themselves and others. Other characters like Genji and Baptiste offer helpful if simple reflections on what self-love looks like.
Overwatch 2 features sentient animals and robots humans alongside a robust cast of humans. Black, Brown, and Asian men and women hail from the likes of Brazil, France, Japan, India, Egypt, and Mexico. A point is made to emphasize cultural diversity among white characters as well, who hail from European countries like Germany, Ireland, Sweden, and Australia. Even with English turned on as the default language, characters will frequently make quips in their native tongues. There's also a surprising number of elderly men and women to play as. There are two LGBT characters but this isn't made evident through the game. Others like Ana and Genji find strength and importance through their physical disabilities. Sometimes, cosmetic skins players can unlock or purchase have thoughtful and creative designs that tap into the imagery of Maori, Chinese, and Native American culture.
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Ease of Play
Overwatch 2 feels amazing to play with its tightly refined aiming and clean user interface. Straightforward mechanics are backed by useful guides and hints, along with training areas to reassign controller buttons or practice. Accessibility features include color blindness and text-to-speech. While characters are easy to pick up and play, understanding how to operate effectively in a team (which characters to play as, who to help and coordinate with, etc.) takes a lot of time and patience.
Violence & Scariness
Players can wield hammers, guns, lasers, and elements like fire and ice. Whether you shoot or slash them, damage emits subtle, cartoony sprays of blood with characters going limp upon death. The mild exception is how some projectiles (like arrows) embed in foes' bodies, but there are no wounds or dismemberment of any kind associated with this or anything else. Some robot characters fall apart in heaps of metal, gears, and springs when they die.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Several characters flirt with each other in wholesome ways. Chiseled male characters are shirtless with some cosmetic skins, but women are sexualized more. Several of them have default and special outfits with form-fitting pants that accentuate their backsides, but cleavage is pretty tame in comparison. Some outfits have incredibly short skirts that stop just shy of exposing undergarments.
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"Hell" and "damn" can be heard every so often. "Bastards" is heard once in a limited-time mode. You're very likely to hear any number of profanity from other players if you don't mute them.
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Products & Purchases
The sequel takes one step forward and two back with a more restrictive digital economy compared to its predecessor. The game is free along with new maps and modes. Players can buy in-game currency with real-world money for new cosmetics like skins, charms, and voice lines. Currency can be earned from completing timed challenges, but the more you do, the less you get. It takes weeks upon weeks to unlock valuable cosmetics through gameplay alone in contrast to the prior system in the first game. There's a new storefront where you can buy bundles of cosmetics and exclusive items that are timed to incentivize spending, along with questionable "discounts." The Premium Battle Pass locks new characters behind a paywall unless you take time to unlock them through a few dozen hours of play.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some characters use fictional drugs to heal and power themselves up, but they don't impair their behavior. One character, Cassidy, smokes a cigar. Beer and drinks are mentioned in name only.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Overwatch 2 is a downloadable online multiplayer first-person shooter that's free to play on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox One S|X, Nintendo Switch, and Windows (via the Battle.net application). Heavily objective based and teamwork oriented, players fight in two groups of five for control of points to be captured or objects to escort. There are 35 characters who capture an admirable array of genders, ethnicities, nationalities, and cultures, including elderly folk and people with physical disabilities. All are divided into three separate groups that specialize in defense, offense, and support. Each character caters to multitudes of playstyles with weapons, abilities, and movement that differ wildly even within their own groups. The combat itself is tame with subtle splashes of stylized blood. Characters say "hell" and "damn" occasionally, but since verbal communication can be important via in-game voice and text chats, parents should be warned that worse words can be heard if other players aren't muted. You can purchase in-game currency with real-world money for advertised cosmetics and a Premium Battle Pass. While new characters and skins can be earned through gameplay, there's greater incentive to buy in than before. Some of these outfits feature women with several skin-tight suits that clearly outline their backsides. Other outfits have minor cleavage or short skirts.
Is It Any Good?
To be clear, the first game and this sequel are largely the same. Overwatch 2 retains the core content and gameplay of the original, but has been updated more extensively than ever before. What's new are several maps, three characters, and the Push mode: a fun tug of war-inspired game where players fight for control of a robot and attempt to guide it farther into the enemy team's territory than they can with yours. Several existing characters have been reworked with new abilities and roles. Instead of six players per team, there are now five, and players need to commit to particular roles in matches. As a whole, Overwatch 2 makes quality-of-life tweaks and bold character balancing adjustments that aren't perfect, but refine an already stellar experience. Cooperation and coordination are essential to victory since characters have such diverse, pronounced strengths and weaknesses in objective-oriented mode. Few multiplayer titles can compete with how well designed and exciting Overwatch 2 can be with team-oriented gameplay.
New players have a slew of wonders to behold, but the launch of this new chapter of Overwatch will leave veteran players expecting more. More modes and cooperative story missions are promised but disappointing to not see yet. Weeks into its release, account migration and connectivity issues abound, including one character being completely taken out of the game for balancing, which never happened in the first Overwatch. The game's biggest mistake comes with overhauls made to its progression systems and digital store. Before, players earned free "loot boxes" at a decent rate from leveling up and completing simple challenges, which rewarded players with randomly generated cosmetics and in-game currency. It's nice that you can directly buy currency now to purchase particular items, but rewards are earned at a notably slower rate through gameplay alone. The new digital store and Premium Battle Pass also locks one new hero (and future ones) — who can provide game-changing advantages — behind paywalls unless you complete a steep list of challenges. The shift toward more monetization is from Overwatch 2 becoming free to play, but the current market skews unnecessarily predatory and restrictive in small yet unwelcome ways. In the moment-to-moment action, the game puts itself back on the map as a champion among multiplayer games with incisive improvements to its design and feel. But big technical issues, less rewarding progression, and relatively little content at launch prevents Overwatch 2 from being worthy of its status as a sequel.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.