Activision Blizzard - which continues its attempts to reassert itself following many months of shocking allegations it had fostered a company culture where sexual harassment, assault, and inappropriate behaviour were able to thrive - has announced its previously detailed Overwatch 2 beta will launch on 26th April.
Blizzard revealed its intentions to "decouple" Overwatch 2's PvP and PvE modes and begin a series of multiplayer-focused betas earlier this month, when game director Aaron Keller rather dubiously attempted to spin the developer's upcoming beta sessions as some sort of generous treat for content-starved Overwatch 1 players rather than the limited testing sessions for a select number of players they actually are.
At the time, Keller explained the developer would begin with a short closed alpha session for Blizzard employees and Overwatch League pros before embarking on a limited-scale closed beta test of new features, content, and systems toward the end of April. Stress-testing of servers with a wider player base won't occur until future beta sessions.
Following that initial announcement, Blizzard has now given its first Overwatch 2 closed beta session an official start date, with proceedings due to begin for PC players on 26th April. This will include access to Overwatch 2's 5v5 gameplay, its new Push mode, plus four new maps - Escort map Circuit Royal, Hybrid map Midtown, as well as Push maps New Queen Screen and Colosseo. Additionally, it'll feature new hero Sojourn, reworkings of four existing heroes - Orisa, Doomfist, Bastion, and Sombra - and a new ping system.
Those wishing to throw their name into the hat for potential selection when the first Overwatch 2 closed beta arrives can do so by signing up via the official website. Participants must own Overwatch 1 and will be selected based on specific criteria, including region and machine spec. Successful applicants will receive their invitation via email.
Activision Blizzard's Overwatch 2 closed beta announcement follows a string of reveals from the publisher in recent months (including word of a new mobile Warcraft experience and a brand-new Blizzard-developed survival game) as it attempts to put the last eight months of shocking allegations into its workplace culture behind it.
Following a State of California lawsuit filing last July, which described Activision Blizzard as a "breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women", almost immediately sending the publisher into crisis, CEO Bobby Kotick became the focus of a damning report claiming he was aware of sexual misconduct within the company "for years". More recently, the parents of a former Activision Blizzard employee who committed suicide during a company retreat in 2017 launched a lawsuit suing the publisher for wrongful death, alleging the suicide was the result of sexual harassment by work colleagues.