Blizzard has detailed a couple of major new features for Overwatch 2 ahead of its launch next week – namely the Defense Matrix Initiative and the First Time User Experience (or FTUE for short.)
As the new game will be free-to-play, the studio is prepping itself for a high influx of new players. And with those new players, the studio has recognised it’s needing to put measures in place to promote positive gameplay in the sequel.
The two pronged approach includes a bunch of safety and security features – and some interesting choices to ease new players into Overwatch 2. Let’s take a look at both now.
Overwatch 2 – Defense Matrix Initiative
As per the blog post, the Defense Matrix Initiative includes a number of security measures that aim to make the game safer for all.
The first of these has proven somewhat controversial so far. SMS Protect will require all players, regardless of if they owned Overwatch 1 or not, to attach a phone number to their Battle.net account by October 4.
No number means you won’t be able to access the game at all, regardless of platform. The same phone number also cannot be used on multiple accounts. This is, Blizzard say, to help verify accounts as genuine, and try to get a pre-emptive jump on the practice of Smurfing.
In case you’re not aware – Smurfing is making a new account to make you seem at a lower skill level than you actually are, allowing the player to play against brand new players and netting them easy wins.
More aspects include things like a Ping System and Endorsements, to help facilitate communication for players who don’t want to be on voice chat and to reward good and sportsmanlike player behaviour.
As an added change, Competitive skill tiers will no longer be displayed before a Competitive match. Blizzard is also creating both an internal and external Defense Matrix Task Force to help enforce rules, investigate and combating changing both from inside the game and out of it.
Overwatch 2 – First Time User Experience (FTUE)
A big change coming to the game is the First Time User Experience or FTUE for short. Brand new players who have never played Overwatch before will find this waiting for them when they launch the game.
In fact, they’ll find much of Overwatch 2 – including modes, heroes and more features like chat – locked off to them at first. The idea, Blizzard say, is to “onboard them more gradually”.
This’ll be done in several phases. Firstly they’ll unlock all the other modes in the game as they play their first few matches – and the ability to text chat in game.
Then the next phase begins that sees players unlocking all the original Overwatch heroes on a gradual basis. They say it’ll take around 100 matches to unlock the original heroes.
” This focused experience eases new players into the world of Overwatch by teaching them about different modes, rules, and other high-level aspects of the game in an approachable way.”
Overwatch 2 – is there any way around the FTUE restrictions?
Blizzard say that “most” FTUE restrictions will be lifted when playing in a group. So the quickest way to get your hands on as much of Overwatch 2 as you can will be to team with friends.
However, this won’t be the case for Competitive mode, because players will have to complete a specific challenge before they’re allowed into this game mode. Instead players will have to win 50 Quick Matches before they’re allowed into Competitive.
Anyone who has played the original Overwatch prior to the October 4 date won’t be bound by these restrictions, nor will those who purchase the Watchpoint Pack.
Blizzard gave some justification for the new FTUE restrictions in the blog post. “FTUE is an investment to complete because it takes time to unlock game features. Disruptive players are unable to immediately affect the larger community, with things like voice chat and match chat unlocking later in FTUE.”
“FTUE was designed to make Overwatch 2 a welcoming, approachable, and fun game for everyone who chooses to play.”
Overwatch 2 – FTUE & Defense Matrix FAQ
Do you need a phone number to play Overwatch 2?
Yes. SMS Protect will require all players, regardless of if they owned Overwatch 1 or not, to attach a phone number to their Battle.net account by October 4.
How do I unlock all the Overwatch 1 heroes in Overwatch 2?
Blizzard say the fastest way to unlock all the original heroes is to play the game. It should take around 100 matches to unlock everyone – but you can speed up the process in one of two ways.
First off is buying the Watchpoint Pack – which should allow you to skip the FTUE entirely. The second is to group with friends, as “most” FTUE restrictions are lifted while in a group.
How do I unlock Competitive (ranked) mode in Overwatch 2?
Similar to the heroes, Competitive mode is locked to new players. You’ll have to win 50 Quick Play matches before the mode is available to you. Alas, unlike the above, there is no way around this restriction.
What is the Overwatch 2 Defense Matrix Initiative?
The Overwatch 2 Defense Matrix Initiative is a series of goals Blizzard has set behind the scenes to ensure fair, competitive play in Overwatch 2 across three main goals:
- Define, develop, and nurture programs that will ensure a positive experience for all players.
- Ensure competitive integrity at every level of play by rapidly identifying and eliminating cheaters and disruptive players.
- Create a safer community both in and out of the game by embracing a firm stance against disruptive gameplay and enabling players who are both positive and constructive to be the leading voices in the community.
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