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Overwatch 2 changes multiplayer to five-person teams, tweaks role limits

Expect familiar gameplay, smaller teams.

overwatch2
Blizzard Entertainment

The first time you play Overwatch 2, you might feel like you're missing a team member. That's because you will be. Overwatch 2 will reduce multiplayer teams to just five players on each side, Overwatch director Aaron Keller announced during a developer livestream.  

"Overwatch has always been played with two teams of six players," he explained Thursday. "Overwatch 2 will be played with two teams of five players, consisting of two support, two DPS and one tank." 

It's a big change to the multiplayer dynamic of the first game, and Keller knows it, but he's careful to note this isn't the first time the Overwatch team has changed the rules. "Before launch, you could pick six Winstons if you wanted for your team composition," he said, recalling how eventually teams were limited to just two of each kind of hero. "We feel like this is the next step in the way Overwatch ought to be played."

The Overwatch team says the change will simplify multiplayer matches, and will make each player's role in a battle more important. "Sometimes it's just hard to keep track of what 11 other players are doing on the battlefield," Keller said. "Removing two of them simplifies everything. It allows players to understand that's happening around them and to be able to make better choices because of it."

To compensate for the team composition change, Overwatch 2's maps will provide extra physical cover for players to hide behind, and tanks in general will take on less damage.

The team dynamics of multiplayer might be changing, but by and large the gameplay in the developer streamed looked a lot like classic Overwatch. Most of the big changes will come in the form of new game modes, new maps and smaller tweaks to character abilities.

Some game systems are being simplified, too. In the original game, players could get temporary boosts to health, armor and shields. In the build of Overwatch 2 shown this week, the team has simplified that to a more straightforward and singular "overhealth" metric. This makes the status boosts a little easier to read at a glance, but new health system might not be in the final release -- the team says it's still making changes.

The developer PVP stream was live on May 20, but you can rewatch it on the PlayOverwatch YouTube channel.