When Overwatch 2 was announced, we learned that it would feature a combined multiplayer with Overwatch 1. That’s led to a lot of questions about how the updates to Overwatch 2 will filter back into Overwatch 1, and while things like new maps and characters will be available for both games, there are certain elements that will remain exclusive to Overwatch 2. In the combined PVP queues, Overwatch 1 players will be able to see the new upgraded looks for Overwatch 2 versions of the existing 31 characters, but won’t be able to select them for use themselves.
The information was revealed in one of Game Informer’s signature rapid-fire interviews with Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan. Clarifying Kaplan’s answer, Game Informer’s Andrew Reiner asked if that meant that matches could potentially see the Overwatch 1 look of Lucio playing alongside or against the Overwatch 2 version. “Correct,” was Kaplan’s simple reply.
While Blizzard doesn’t want to alienate or leave Overwatch 1 players behind, it’s clear the studio (and arguably Activision) wants to transition players into the new boxed product of Overwatch 2 somehow. The hybrid design allows players to still play together, not diluting the competitive and PVP playerbases in the game, but still offering benefits for those that upgrade. One of those benefits is the character redesigns in Overwatch 2, which Overwatch 1 players will very clearly be able to see, but not be able to play as.
Knowing this starts to paint a little bit of a better picture of how the Overwatch experience will function. Overwatch 2 will essentially act as a massive standalone expansion to the Overwatch experience. It’s clear that updates will need to be made to Overwatch 1 to at least put the new character models in the game just so that Overwatch 1 players can see them, even if they can’t actually be selected by anyone who doesn’t upgrade. Tactics like this are common in multiplayer living games (for example, Destiny 2 is always at the latest version, though many items can’t be used unless you purchase and unlock the expansion/season), but it’s a bit unprecedented for the flow to extend to an entirely different game, in this case being the Overwatch sequel. Kaplan promises we’ll learn more ahead of launch though, and the picture is already starting to become clearer, even if we have no idea when Overwatch 2 will actually release.
[Source: Game Informer]