Overwatch 2 kicked off its third competitive season on Tuesday. Season 3 is the first with no new hero for the online shooter, as we enter the phase of the game's ongoing development in which it alternates between a new hero and a new map each season.
Instead, we got a new control map, Antarctic Peninsula, along with a new mythic skin in the battle pass. We also got some unexpected changes, like an upcoming collaboration and Overwatch's first foray into text-based dating sims. Here's everything to know about season 3, including information from Blizzard's blog post.
New map: Antarctic Peninsula
Control maps, aka king of the hill maps, are a community favorite in Overwatch, but we've gotten only two new ones since the game launched in 2016. The new Antarctic Peninsula map gives players a different feel than what they get from the game's other control maps, which are typically set in more metropolitan areas. The three submaps in Antarctic Peninsula are an icebreaker ship, an underground drilling area, and Overwatch laboratories. Overwatch 2's narrative lead has hinted that environments have some lore hidden away for sharp-eyed players to find. Also: penguins.
Crossover with One Punch Man
Perhaps the biggest surprise of all the season 3 news is the upcoming Fortnite-style collaboration with the anime One Punch Man. The only thing we know so far is that there will be a Saitama-themed skin for Doomfist, Overwatch's own punching machine, but there may be other skins and cosmetics as well. The blog post says the team is looking for more potential collaborations in the future.
New mythic skin: Amaterasu Kiriko
In its first two seasons, Overwatch 2 offered a new type of hero skin called mythic skins, which come with hero customizations and different sound and visual effects. These skins are unlocked at level 80 of the battle pass. Season 1 brought us Cyberdemon Genji, while Season 2 added a Zeus-themed Junker Queen to the game. Season 3 continues the mythology trend by adding a mythic Amaterasu skin for support hero Kiriko. According to the season 3 blog post, the mythic skin is based on various deities in Japanese mythology and can be customized with moon, sea and storm themes. The shinto deity seems like a good fit for Overwatch's newest support hero, whose healing abilities are already tied to a Japanese fox spirit.
Competitive and matchmaking changes
Matchmaking has been one of the community's biggest complaints since Blizzard launched Overwatch 2, and the developers have planned changes for season 3 to address some of those concerns. In a developer blog about matchmaker goals, they said the matchmaker will start looking to balance teams within each role (tank, DPS and support) rather than just across the entire team. This should help avoid games where an entire role on one team outclasses the other, leading to a one-sided stomp.
The devs also introduced a couple of adjacent changes to improve the competitive experience. Previously, players would be able to see their updated rank only after they'd notched seven wins or 20 losses. Starting in season 3, those numbers have been lowered to five wins or 15 losses, allowing players to see their updated rank more often. It means you're less likely to rank up on each update (because you'll have played fewer games on average), but it also means you no longer have to win 21 games to update your rank across all three roles -- a welcome change. The devs said, too, that the user interface will also get an update in the midseason patch, so you can always see how close you are to a competitive update (instead of only after a win or by doing math based on your current number of competitive wins for each role).
Your competitive rank will still decay at the start of season 3. But the developer blog said they'll remove the seasonal rank resets that drop players roughly one full rank at the start of a season, starting in season 4.
More ways to earn credits
Since the launch of Overwatch 2, players have been asking for more ways to earn rewards that let them buy cosmetic enhancements for their characters. Previously, the only way to earn in-game currency was by completing weekly challenges, which awarded up to 60 credits per week. But a premium battle pass costs 1,000 credits, and legendary skins cost even more than that, which felt virtually impossible to save up for with weekly challenges.
But in season 3, players are able to earn legacy credits through the free and premium tiers of the battle pass. Legacy credits can't be used to buy battle passes or cosmetics that are new to Overwatch 2, but they can be used on cosmetics from the original game. The free tier offers up to 1,500 credits -- enough to get a legendary skin from Overwatch 1 -- with another 500 credits available through the premium track.
Honestly, Overwatch dipping its toes in dating sims feels like an inevitability, but that doesn't make it any less exciting. Your personal feelings about the heroes Genji and Mercy may make it more or less intriguing, though, as those are the two heroes you have the option of pursuing, with the aid of a cupid-themed Hanzo. You'll be able to unlock a Play of the Game highlight with certain endings, so be sure to check it out between Feb. 13 and 28 at loverwatch.gg once the event is live.
Please, everyone play this and make it a huge success so we get more in the future. The game is filled with eligible candidates. The player base is thirsty. Baptiste already flirts with people in the game. I'm begging everyone to band together so we can flirt back.
The game introduced a streamer mode in an attempt to cut down on stream sniping, where players queue up at the same time as streamers so they can watch the stream while playing, in order to outmaneuver the streamers. New streamer mode options include hiding your and other players' Battletags, hiding chat and replay codes, and delaying and hiding queue times to make it harder for people to join the same match as the streamer.
A few changes were made to aid in visibility across various parts of the game, including more subtitle options, mouse cursor size options and custom colors for groups and alerts, which players will now be able to preview before applying.