Blizzard Entertainment announced Thursday that Overwatch 2 PvP will officially begin closed alpha testing and transition to an open beta in late April. The April beta will be the first of multiple phases; players will be “granted access in phases” with more and more players added as the phases progress.
Blizzard first announced Overwatch 2 at BlizzCon in 2019, with early focus given to the game’s PvE and story elements. However, Blizzard has now shared the Overwatch team is “changing [its] release strategy by decoupling Overwatch 2’s PvP and PvE experiences from one another.” The goal of this will be to release PvP sooner while the team continues to develop PvE.
Game Director Aaron Keller also shared a developer update that goes into more depth about the new development process. In it, he acknowledges that the development team has fallen short when it comes to delivering content on the existing game and sharing updates on Overwatch 2. He also stated the game will have a new ping system.
The decoupling of PvP and PvE answers early questions about how the Overwatch League will handle its 2022 season, which is due to begin on May 5 and be played on an early build of Overwatch 2. Overwatch League players are among those who have access to closed alpha testing, meaning they will have from now until season start to practice in the Overwatch 2 client in earnest.
Overwatch 2 does not have a set release date yet, but the beginning of beta testing points to its PvP content releasing sooner rather than later. Blizzard has already announced that all PvP content from Overwatch 2 plus the new game engine will be integrated into Overwatch, meaning players who already own Overwatch will not have to make a new purchase to enjoy all the PvP content that rolls out from now on. Players will have to purchase Overwatch 2 for its PvE content, which is currently still a work in progress.