Activision Blizzard has confirmed Overwatch 2, which will be an "always on, always evolving" free-to-play game when it launches into early access on 4th October, will be ditching its predecessor's lootboxes in favour of a seasonal battle pass and in-game store.
That news was shared during an extended Overwatch 2 livestream this evening, primarily focused on the game's live-service model and seasonal content plan - the latter of which, according to Overwatch 2's game director Aaron Keller, will enable Blizzard to deliver new content to players on a more "frequent and consistent" basis compared to the original game.
Each season will last nine weeks and alternately add a new hero then a new map. That's a little different for season 1, however, with Blizzard promising three new heroes, six new maps, the new Push game mode, weekly challenges, 30+ new skins, and a new mythic skin when things get underway on 4th October in tandem with Overwatch 2's early access launch.
Release day will introduce Sojourn, Junker Queen, and a new support hero to be revealed at a later date, while new maps will include Midtown, Portugal, and other "iconic locations" from around the globe. Overwatch 1 content will also return in the form of revamped heroes, PvP maps, and "fan-favourite" modes.
As for cosmetics, which form the heart of Overwatch 2's free-to-play monetisation model, these can be unlocked via the new seasonal battle pass or purchased through the in-game store. Expect to see the likes of weapon charms, banners, and skins (including new mythic skins, described as the next tier above legendary), all of which, Blizzard notes, can be used on any platform regardless of where they're earned, thanks to cross-progression and cross-play.
Overwatch 2's second season arrives on 6th December and promises a new tank hero, a new map, 30+ new skins, a new mythic skin, and a new battle pass, and that basic release framework will continue into 2023. Next year will see the introduction of two more support heroes, plus another tank, and is also when Overwatch 2's much-touted PvE will finally arrive, giving players the chance to experience the game's ongoing lore first-hand.
Prior to all that, Overwatch 2's second closed beta will launch for PC and consoles on 28th June, debuting the new Rio map and new axe-wielding tank hero Junker Queen, who received an extended introductory cinematic during today's livestream. Sign-up are now live for those wishing to take part.
Today's Overwatch 2 update arrives on the same day Activision Blizzard - following almost a year of shocking allegations it fostered a company culture where sexual harassment, assault, and inappropriate behaviour were able to thrive - announced it had investigated itself and decided there was "no widespread harassment, or systemic harassment" at the company.
It also insisted there was "no evidence to suggest that Activision Blizzard senior executives ever intentionally ignored or attempted to downplay the instances of gender harassment that occurred and were reported", despite a damning Wall Street Journal report in November claiming Bobby Kotick had been aware of the allegations of sexual misconduct and mistreatment of female employees across many parts of the company "for years", but had failed to act on them or tell the board of directors and executives everything he knew.