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Overwatch 2's Flashpoint mode would've been perfect in OG Overwatch

A fun, but confused new mode

I had the chance to play Overwatch 2’s new Flashpoint mode, and while it sports some inspired ideas for maps and gameplay, there’s one big problem: It plays like something designed for the original Overwatch. If you’ve played Halo multiplayer, you’ll have an idea how this works. Two teams fight for control of a point, and then once one side wins that area, a new one unlocks. The process repeats until one team wins control of three points.

Activision Blizzard’s level designer Ryan Smith says that the goal with Flashpoint was creating maps that encouraged unpredictable behavior, with multiple avenues toward a goal and a bigger emphasis on cooperation. It’s the kind of thing that screams for the original game’s 6v6 teams with two tanks and abilities that aren’t designed just to deal damage.

A giant gorilla and a giant robot face off in the middle of a stone room

With just one tank and four very squishy other heroes, your options for unpredictable behavior are pretty limited. The fastest way back to a spawn point in Overwatch is getting caught alone, so you can’t really send Soldier 76 or Zenyatta down separate paths to try and surprise the opposing team in Flashpoint, not without finding yourself suddenly short an ally or two.

I could see sending a team of tank, DPS, and support down an alley to engage the foe while the rest of the team invades the point, or even dividing into DPS and tank squads for a pincer attack, but that kind of planning doesn’t work in 5v5. If you don’t group up together, you just get wiped out.

Principal environment artist Daniel McGowan tells me the emphasis is on creating a mix of close quarters and long sightlines, and while the potential is definitely there, I didn't see it play out in any of the matches I tried.

Once a team occupies a control zone, they almost inevitably sit and wait for the 10-12 minutes it takes for a match to end while opponents to try and take it back - because that just makes sense. Why risk scouring the alleys and junkways to find one enemy when the rest of the team is raiding the control point? I encountered literally no one, bot or human, on my way from the spawn point to the control zone.

A narrow paved road winds its way through tall, ramshackle buildings made of wood, metal, and plastic

Some intense fights happen at the points, which sport more interesting and challenging designs than your usual control objectives. The downside is that the rest of the map exists only for you to travel through, with all its potential for interesting encounters thrown out the window.

Don’t get me wrong. Flashpoint is still a lot of fun. I just don’t think it lives up to its potential or the vision Blizzard had for it. Maybe that’ll change once more players start experimenting with the maps and getting an idea of how they work, though I suspect it won’t really come into its own until Blizzard launches more maps based on how folks play on the first two. 

When that might be is anyone’s guess, though. The team said they're open to the idea of repurposing existing maps for Flashpoint, but gave no timeline for additional Flashpoint maps or updates to the mode.