Update - 3:45 pm August 4: Blizzard has announced that a third Overwatch beta will not happen.
Overwatch 2 is due out in October, but we need another beta before then – and it's unclear if we'll get it. The second PvP beta finished up on July 18, teasing a new support hero and leaving a bad taste in the mouths of many Mercy and Moira mains. Blizzard has already made some post-beta changes in response to feedback, but with the large gap in time between the last beta and the sequel's official release, it feels like a third beta across all platforms (including Nintendo Switch, which hasn't gotten one yet) is necessary.
Until then, we're stuck in liminal space, playing Overwatch 1 while waiting for a drastically different sequel that Blizzard is clearly still experimenting with just two months before release. Giving us another Overwatch 2 beta will let us test out the new support hero, give Switch players a chance to see how the sequel runs on the handheld, and hand Blizzard another stack of feedback to help ensure the sequel is rock-solid.
Overwatch 1 is a weird game right now. Straddling the updates of yore with the complete rework that will come with Overwatch 2, Overwatch 1 is just kind of existing. Quick play matches are more chaotic than usual and matchmaking queues are especially long. It's incredibly difficult to find solid comp matches at my current rank, as it feels like most players are just goofing around or waiting until Overwatch 2 – the number of losses I've gotten from teammates quitting or otherwise not trying is frustratingly high. While it's natural for the original game to have a somewhat stale period on the precipice of its sequel, the promise of another beta would certainly help bide the time.
Plus, Overwatch 2 isn't just changing major aspects of the original game (like changing the team format to 5v5 and making every match faster and more deadly) – it's replacing it entirely. That means that Overwatch 1, which is currently stuck in this bizarre, pre-sequel, post-update state, will never be playable again. Another beta would help make that transition feel a bit less harsh, allowing players to get used to the new Overwatch 2 rules and regulations while still having the security blanket of Overwatch 1 readily available. Overwatch isn't a typical FPS title – its allure lies in players' abilities to craft teams out of a variety of hero combinations, and turn disparate abilities into simpatico multiplayer performances. Overwatch is like conducting an orchestra, so any changes to its core features will feel like a string has snapped on the first chair's viola.
It's also important to consider that Nintendo Switch players have no concept of how Overwatch 2 will perform on their platform of choice. Last year, the devs admitted that Overwatch 2 on Switch may have "some compromises" due to the high-end features in the new game engine. "Switch is a little more challenging than some," said technical director John Lafluer. For Switch players who won't even have the option of playing the original game, it's imperative that they see how Overwatch 2 runs on the handheld. A third, all-platform beta is the only way to alleviate any concerns – or, potentially, raise more.
The healer problem
There are three new heroes launching with Overwatch 2 this October: DPS Sojourn, tank Junker Queen, and an as-yet-unnamed support hero. Both Sojourn and Junker Queen have had betas centered around them, giving us a chance to test them out alongside characters who have had major reworks like Orisa and Doomfist. It only seems fitting that the support hero would get their own beta – especially since Overwatch 2 can't seem to figure out what to do with its existing heroes.
I wrote that it sucks being an Overwatch 2 support player after the first beta, and it wasn't much better after the second. In fact, Blizzard overcorrected, making major changes to both Mercy and Moira in an attempt to make the characters more viable. For years, Mercy players have exploited her kit in order to let the healer briefly fly in the air without triggering her Valkyrie Ultimate, and Blizzard wants to make this ability an official part of her moveset. In the first iteration, Mercy's Super Jump automatically triggered when reaching an ally by traveling with Guardian Angel, but the delay before it activated was met with negative feedback. "The auto super jump helps neither the experienced Mercy main nor the new casual player," wrote Reddit user CaduceusJules (opens in new tab).
So Blizzard changed Mercy's Super Jump for the second beta, adding a meter that builds as Mercy approaches allies. This allows players to launch her in any direction by hitting the jump button – the more charge on the meter, the further she'll go. But it still didn't feel right. Mercy player Nico Deyo explains the disconnect best, telling me that "the changes directly harmed the easiest and most fun part of her Guardian Angel… breaking that entirely makes Mercy feel clunky, no matter how you change Super Jump." It's not clear where Blizzard will take Mercy from here as it continues to assess community feedback, but a further beta instance would certainly help the studio collect more data ahead of launch.
For Moira, Blizzard decided to rework the healer to give her more of a "playmaking ability" like the other support heroes, according to the patch notes (opens in new tab). Moira's Damage Orb was replaced by Necrotic Orb, which fires a projectile that explodes on impact, dealing damage and temporarily weakening enemies. But some felt she was "more boring to play (opens in new tab)", while others (including myself) struggled to wrap their heads around her new utility. Ultimately, Blizzard announced it would revert Moira's changes and continue to test iterations of Mercy's Super Jump, but support players are understandably worried.
One more time
Overwatch 2 is a few months away, but with all of the shakeups that have already taken place – and yet another hero release on the horizon – a third, all-platform beta feels necessary. Not only will it give Blizzard one final set of feedback before launch, but it would allow Switch players a chance to see how the game will perform on their console, and give support players a chance to see if their favorite way to play is still fun and dynamic in the sequel.
While there are rumors that a third beta is coming down the pipe, we reached out to Blizzard for comment and have not received a response at the time of publication. Until we do, all we can do is hope that Overwatch 2 gives us one more test run before it replaces the original Overwatch experience on October 4.