When hero-shooter Overwatch first launched on May 24, 2016, it earned near-universal critical acclaim, and it stands as one of the highest-rated video games of the past decade. Spawning its own dedicated esports league, mountains of fan art, and having directly influenced other games in its genre, Overwatch is a landmark game release. Despite its success, there's no doubt that some fans moved on from Overwatch long ago, whether it was just because they lost interest or if some other game caught their attention instead.
Thanks to Blizzard's constant support of Overwatch, a lot has changed in the game since launch, offering an even more content-rich experience for anyone who decides to check it out. Those who previously played the game and moved on may find some aspects of Overwatch to be unrecognizable compared to when they used to play it, as some of these additions and changes have been quite radical.
For those wondering how the game has changed, here is everything that has changed in Overwatch since launch.
11 Torbjorn Rework
Torbjorn has long been a controversial hero in Overwatch for a variety of reasons, chief among those his perceived uselessness in many different scenarios, to the point that picking Torbjorn was akin to "throwing" the match. In an attempt to increase Torbjorn's appeal, Blizzard reworked the character, changing his Ultimate to one of his special abilities, and making it so Molten Core would now throw lava over a designated area. The Torbjorn rework has made the character more useful and popular, though he still doesn't have quite the same range as other heroes in the game.
10 Symmetra Reworks
Symmetra was the game's least-played hero, prompting Blizzard to rework Symmetra just months after Overwatch's launch by giving her a second Ultimate ability that could generate shields for her teammates. Then in 2018, Blizzard decided to completely rework Symmetra again, increasing her damage output and making her a Damage class character instead of a Support. This combined with her teleporter becoming a regular ability has made Symmetra a much more dangerous foe than she was in the game's early days, and a much more viable pick for Overwatch players.
9 Mercy Rework
There once was a time when Mercy's Ultimate ability could completely change the dynamic of a match. She would be able to revive all of fallen teammates at once, potentially countering a Team Kill by the enemy team. This led to a lot of Mercy mains just hiding in corners until the right opportunity arose instead of actively healing their teammates, and many felt as though her Ultimate was cheap. Listening to fans, Blizzard finally decided to rework Mercy, giving her a more reasonable Ultimate ability that mostly just makes her a more effective healer for her team by greatly increasing her mobility.
8 Other Hero Changes
There have been some other hero changes in Overwatch since launch that are also notable, though not quite as dramatic as the reworks for Torbjorn, Mercy, and Symmetra. Roadhog's hook has been tweaked multiple times, and D.Va was given a new missile barrage attack at the expense of the effectiveness of her shield matrix. Hanzo's Scatter Arrow ability was replaced with the more useful Storm Arrow, and there have been a variety of other small changes as well. Blizzard's desire for balance will see plenty more hero balance changes and reworks in the game moving forward.
7 Goodbye Offense and Defense Classes
For the first couple of years of its existence, Overwatch offered four distinct classes for players to choose from in the game - Offense, Defense, Tank, and Support. However, a June 2018 update saw the Offense and Defense classes combine to create a singular Damage class. This seems to have significantly changed the way some heroes are viewed, though there are still those who will get frustrated if players pick a character like Torbjorn when not defending a point.
6 New Heroes
One of the most exciting things about Overwatch is when the development team reveals a new hero. New Overwatch heroes don't come around often, but when they do, they always have potential to significantly shake up the meta. Including the new tank hero Sigma, there have been 10 post-launch heroes for Overwatch to date, bringing the total number of playable heroes to 31 at the time of this writing.
Here are all the new characters that have been added to Overwatch since launch:
- Ana (Support) - 7/19/2016
- Sombra (Damage) - 11/15/2016
- Orisa (Tank) - 3/21/2017
- Doomfist (Damage) - 7/27/2017
- Moira (Support) - 11/16/2017
- Brigitte (Support) - 3/20/2018
- Wrecking Ball (Tank) - 7/24/2018
- Ashe (Damage) - 11/13/2018
- Baptiste (Support) - 3/19/2019
- Sigma (Tank) - 7/22/2019 (PTR)
5 New Maps
Blizzard has supported Overwatch with plenty of free updates since the game's initial launch in 2016, and this has included new maps. The first post-launch map for Overwatch was Eichenwalde, but more have been added to the game in the years since.
Here are all the post-launch maps for Overwatch for the standard game modes:
- Eichenwalde (Hybrid) - 9/1/2016
- Oasis (Control) - 1/3/2017
- Horizon Lunar Colony (Assault) - 6/20/2017
- Junkertown (Escort) - 9/19/2017
- Blizzard World (Hybrid) - 1/23/2018
- Rialto (Escort) - 5/3/2018
- Busan (Control) - 9/11/2018
- Paris (Assault) - 2/19/2019
- Havana (Escort) - 5/7/2019
For the Arcade modes:
- Ecopoint: Antarctica (Elimination) - 11/15/2016
- Black Forest (Elimination) - 5/23/2017
- Castillo (Elimination) - 5/23/2017
- Necropolis (Elimination) - 5/23/2017
- Chateau Guillard (Deathmatch) - 8/29/2017
- Ayuththaya (Capture the Flag) - 2/8/2018
- Petra (Deathmatch) - 5/19/2018
And finally, for Lucioball:
- Estadio das Ras - 8/2/2016
- Sydney Harbour Arena - 8/8/2017
- Busan Stadium - 8/9/2018
4 Endorsement System
It's no secret that Overwatch has a problem with toxicity, which Blizzard has admitted to on multiple occasions. In an attempt to make the Overwatch online community a friendlier place, the Endorsement system was introduced, allowing players to praise their teammates and even their opponents for their sportsmanship, in exchange for various bonuses.
3 New Ways to Get Skins
For the longest time, the only way to get skins in Overwatch was through loot boxes. While loot boxes still play a significant role in the game, Overwatch has since added some new ways for players to unlock skins. There have been special events, like the Baptiste event for example, that gift players with special skins when they win a certain number of matches within a given time frame. There have also been skins that players have been able to purchase directly through microtransactions instead of relying on the RNG of loot boxes, with some of these skins even being used to raise money for charity.
2 Custom Games and the Workshop
Since launch, Blizzard has worked to give players more control over the way they experience Overwatch. At first this was done through Custom Games, which would allow players to put together their own unique match types. The Workshop mode takes that idea a step further, giving Overwatch players the tools to fully customize the game as they see fit. There have already been a number of impressive creations born out of the Overwatch Workshop, and it's likely that fans will dream up even more moving forward.
1 Role Queue
One of the biggest changes to Overwatch is the introduction of Role Queue. Role Queue (currently being tested in the PTR) looks to significantly shake up the way people play Overwatch, and should go a long way in preventing people from throwing by picking characters that are counterproductive to the team composition. As its name suggests, Role Queue has players select which role they want to play before heading into any given match - Damage, Tank, or Support. Each team will have two representations from each class (creating a 2-2-2 team composition), and players will have different Competitive ranks for each class they play. Role Queue is controversial as it may limit players from using some more creative strategies, but it should go a long way in making Overwatch less toxic in Competitive.
Overwatch is out now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.