Overwatch 2 Season 9, set to release on Feb. 13, 2023, has caught the eye of many players due to being the largest fundamental update to take place in the game. Season 9 is effectively a fresh start for the game with features such as a competitive restart, significant gameplay tweaks, and new content.
For this reason, many players seem to believe that Season 9 may make or break the future of Overwatch. We’ve identified all of the major features and updates coming with this Season, to help give a sense of what players are so eagerly and nervously looking forward to, so follow along below.
Cowboy Bebop Crossover
Overwatch 2 launched a successful crossover with One Punch Man a few seasons ago, which saw several characters receive special cosplay-style hero skins. It seems Overwatch 2 is getting yet another one of these crossovers in Season 9 but with the beloved anime, Cowboy Bebop. This was revealed at the end of the Season 9 trailer, where Cassidy’s high noon noise and footsteps can be heard, with the scenery of Route 66 showing on screen.
Then, the Cowboy Bebop theme song plays through the Jukebox. Because of this, fans seem to think that Cassidy may be getting a Spike skin and that Ashe is also a very likely contender for the crossover, due to their history around Route 66 and lifestyles.
In Season 9 of Overwatch 2, Endorsements are also being further tweaked, enabling players who are already friends on Battle.net to endorse each other after a match. That’s right, if you’re grouped up with some buddies in a stack, you can still spread the love around. Who knows, maybe now I’ll finally have the chance to reach that legendary Endorsement level 5 that has forever been outside of my reach.
Competitive Play Rework
Perhaps the biggest change in this season, minus numerous Hero tweaks, is the complete Competitive Play overhaul. After much frustration from players regarding the Competitive format, severely unbalanced matchmaking, and lack of transparency regarding rank progression, these are all changing for the better.
Now, placement matches are back to give players their initial rank, and after every game, players will get a clear indicator of how their rank has progressed or decreased towards the next level up. On top of this, it sounds like there’s going to be a lot less ‘steamroll the enemy team, or get steamrolled by the enemy’ matches going on, as there have been more tweaks made to matchmaking to ensure better balancing.
Lastly, players have a lot of factors that will contribute to their rank. For example, losing a match you were favored to win will have a bigger penalty on your rank, while winning a match you were favored to lose will give you a bigger boost. Many factors like this may tweak the results for each player in a lobby, rather than players seeing the harsh reality of a flat win or loss, which is hugely important for a sense of clarity and progression.
Competitive Rank Reset
In addition to the changes mentioned above, all players in Overwatch 2 will be receiving a complete wipe of their rank, enabling a total Competitive Rank reset. If you’re still stuck in elo hell from the early days of learning the game, well, now you have a chance to break out of that range! Rank Reset is the perfect addition to the season alongside the competitive overhaul and mass Hero changes, bringing the opportunity for players to get back into competitive play and start fresh.
Rank Evaluation Changes & New Champion Rank
As touched on earlier, Competitive Rankings are now set to have more clarity than ever before. After every match of Competitive Overwatch that you play, the progress bar will update depending on whether you are progressing towards a higher rank, or decreasing to a lower one. In addition to this, there is also a brand new rank titled Champion being released above the Grandmaster level, making it the new top rank in the game.
New Weapon Skins – Jade Weapons
Everybody loves saving up Competitive Points to purchase Golden Weapons for their main Heroes. In the last season or two, Overwatch has been testing the concept of more weapon skins, with the addition of the Hardlight weapons being temporarily eligible for purchase in the store.
Jade Weapons will be released in Season 9 and will operate in the same way as Gold Weapons, eligible for purchase in exchange for 3000 Competitive Points. In addition to this, the Season 9 roadmap has hinted that there may be a couple more limited-time weapons showing up for purchase in the Overwatch store this season, so it seems weapon skins may be implemented on a more regular basis.
Hero Role Passive Skill Changes
Though there are many individual Hero changes and tweaks going live with Season 9, there are also new and updated passive abilities taking place for each role in the game. All heroes will regenerate 20 HP per second after not taking damage for five seconds, which enables a stronger sense of individual play and takes pressure off Supports.
DPS will reduce healing received by their target by 20% when dealing damage, which helps these players secure picks and win team fights. Supports get the best passive healing role in the game, which grants them more survivability and enables them to last through team fights, keep their allies up, and have more of a fighting chance against being dived.
Lastly, the new Tank passive reduces knockback received from abilities such as the various boops in the game, as well as slower Ult. charge gained through damage received and healing. This prevents heavy use of Tanks being used as Ult. charge machines for their Supports, which is a pretty solid change, overall. I mean, it was a bit ridiculous that I could put my shield down as Reinhardt and walk into the line of fire to quickly earn Ana her Nano Boost and to storm the team fight.
HP and Projectile Changes
In addition to the passive role changes, there are also some changes coming to the health pools for each Hero in the game, with the numbers being buffed by a certain amount. This is likely to balance out the numerous Hero tweaks that are on the way, as well as the projectile damage type changes. Though it’s hard to imagine how it’ll function in the game without hands-on experience, we can only assume these changes have been made with balance in mind, as Season 9 is somewhat of a fresh start for Overwatch 2.
That’s right, everyone’s favorite rocket blasting, flying DPS is receiving a significant rework, more than the other balance changes taking place for the rest of the roster. Pharah has been in an interesting spot for a while, usually being either totally overpowered or useless, depending on the map and if there is a pocket Mercy involved.
For this reason, it’s understandable that she would be prioritized for such a rework. Details of this are yet to be confirmed, but the Overwatch team has stated on more than one post that more details will be revealed as Season 9 gets ready to drop, so keep your eyes peeled!
Mass Hero Tweaks & Balance Changes
Sure, this may sound like nothing out of the ordinary – every season brings a handful of Hero tweaks and balance changes. However, Season 9 is the biggest balance change overhaul in Overwatch 2 history. Complete details are officially kept under wraps, and will likely drop a couple of days before Season 9.
However, there was a very genuine looking leak that has been revealed and quickly spread throughout the fanbase that states over fifty different changes will be made to Heroes to ensure the game, with all of the other mechanical changes, functions as smoothly as possible. This same leak also mentioned a Pharah rework, which has now been confirmed – so it’s looking good so far. I don’t know about you, but I am very keen on those Lucio buffs…I’ve been dying for an improvement on his boop for quite a few seasons now, so I’m definitely very eager to see if these end up being legit.
Hero Mastery: Gauntlet
Overwatch 2’s Hero Mastery is a gameplay mode that aims to introduce the fundamental skills for each character to new players, and give longterm players a chance to show off their skills by battling it out through solo obstacle courses to compete for a combination of the best scores and times. With Season 9, Overwatch 2 is adding a brand new Hero Master mode titled Gauntlet. This Hero Mastery is the first multiplayer edition, in which you can team up with friends and take on a tower defense-styled mission. I can imagine this would be brilliant for groups of new players looking to get started in the game, or even for longterm players to warm up for their games, and mess around for some fun.
Ecopoint Antarctica: Cosmic Crisis
Cosmic Crisis is a new limited-time mini event taking place on the Ecopoint Antarctica map, tying in to Season 9’s Eldritch Horror theme. Not much has been revealed other than some ominous clips featuring Talon scientist, Moira, in her new Mythic Skin and getting up to some shady business, but if other mini events are anything to go by, this will probably run like a simpler version of the Story Mode Missions. This means you should be able to group up with friends to jump into a new mission, follow a short, basic oneshot-styled story, and possibly earn some rewards upon completion.
Further Restrictions on Leaver Penalties
Overwatch 2 has already made edits to leaver penalties in recent seasons with the introduction of competitive-styled suspensions to players who leave (aka rage quit) multiple matches of Quick Play within a certain period. Now, these are being taken even further to try and minimize griefing of all kinds, with these changes now carrying over into Mystery Heroes. Players may be suspended for up to four hours if they leave six of their last 20 games played. All I can say is that if you have terrible internet…RIP.
New Battle Pass
Another Season of Overwatch, another Battle Pass to rob me of my hard-earned cash (I’m a sucker for character design and there’s always more than one skin I can’t live without). This season, we’ll get to experience an Eldritch Horror theme, which is already proving to be as badass as it sounds. On top of the main theme, it seems one or two Lunar New Year unlockables may also potentially wiggle their way in, which is a fun addition.
Moira has been confirmed to be the lucky recipient of this season’s Mythic Skin, with multiple weapon designs, helmet designs, and color palettes to choose from when building your variant of this cosmetic. In addition to Moira and all of her Eldritch Horror shenanigans, you can certainly expect plenty of creepy, ghoulish, and dark magic-inspired cosmetics and collectibles to be present in the S9 Battle Pass.
New Hero Skins
Thanks to the Battle Pass, we are very likely to see many badass new skins this season, with quite a few Heroes already being confirmed to be receiving some new additions. Among those unlocked in the Battle Pass, Torbjorn, Bastion, Winston, Sigma, Illari, Mei, and Widowmaker have all been revealed in some splendidly spooky new fits.
In addition to this, there will also be new cosmetics showing up in the Overwatch Shop throughout Season 9, both to celebrate Valentine’s Day and the Eldritch Horror theme. Kiriko, Reinhardt, Genji, Lucio, D.Va, and Lifeweaver have all been revealed in some funky new looks and seasonal recolors of fan favorites. I’ve got to admit, from the glimpse we’ve seen so far, the cosmetics game for Season 9 looks very on point. My wallet is screaming.
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