Activision Blizzard isn't owned by Microsoft just yet, but the publisher still had a presence at Sunday's Xbox and Bethesda showcase. There was a trailer for Overwatch 2, along with some major news. The game will be free-to-play and early access will begin on October 4th on all platforms (the Overwatch blog calls this the game's launch). There will be at least one more beta before then, with details to be announced at a reveal event on Thursday.
The clip showed a glimpse of a new hero that's been part of the game's lore for years, the Junker Queen. It seems likely that the character will be playable as part of the next beta. They have a shotgun and a melee weapon, and it appears that one of their abilities involves rampaging forward. Junker Queen is a tank character. The sequel already had one confirmed new character, damage hero Sojourn.
The trailer also included a quick look at a new Zenyatta ability, which allows the omnic to knock back an enemy with a melee attack. Naturally, it invokes the movie 300, since you can kick an opponent into the Ilios well. In addition, there was a glimpse of a mysterious fox that was leading a team into a fight.
Given that Blizzard will move all current Overwatch players to Overwatch 2, the original game will be going free-to-play as well. Those who own the game before June 23rd will receive a founder's pack, with a special icon, two skins (General Doomfist and Jester Sombra) and more goodies. You'll need to log in by December 5th to receive the pack.
It's worth noting that only the player-vs-player (PvP) side of Overwatch 2 will be available on October 4th. The co-op missions will arrive later. The PvP overhaul will feature new maps and heroes, the Push mode, reworks of current heroes, an upgraded game engine and a move from teams of six to five vs. five.
It's unclear whether the player-vs-environment side of the sequel will be free too. Overwatch 2 will herald a shift to a seasonal content format, which suggests there will be a battle pass of some kind. That means there should finally be content updates on a regular cadence. Blizzard also says there will be premium cosmetics and (at last) cross-platform progression.
"We can't wait to roll out the beginning of the Overwatch 2 experience on October 4 and introduce an exciting new competitive vision, featuring a reimagining of the iconic heroes, maps, and gameplay that made the original game so compelling," Mike Ybarra, president of Blizzard Entertainment, said in a statement. "This is the beginning of an always-on and always-evolving era for the franchise, and a recommitment to serving players with frequent and substantial updates planned well into the future to keep Overwatch 2 fresh and fun for many years to come."