Overwatch series director Jeff Kaplan has confirmed that Overwatch 2‘s enhanced visuals will also come to the original game, as part of Blizzard’s effort to maintain competitive parity between the titles. The news comes from an interview published today on Kotaku, where Kaplan cites Overwatch 2‘s development as the primary reason for the first game’s stagnation.
“There will be a point where the clients merge,” Kaplan told Kotaku. “We think this is important, especially as a competitive experience. The whole idea is to avoid fragmenting the player base and giving anybody a competitive advantage. If we’re playing in the same competitive pool, you’d better not have a better framerate just because you’re on a different version of the engine.”
The update should happen when Overwatch 2 launches, rather than at whatever nebulous future date this client merger might occur. Then again, Overwatch 2‘s launch is itself a nebulous point in the future, so there’s still plenty of time for Blizzard to settle how this whole thing is going to roll out. We already knew that Overwatch would receive all of Overwatch 2‘s new characters and maps, but this is the first confirmation we’ve seen that the updated visuals would also be coming to the original game.
Of course, when Kaplan talks about keeping the framerate experience consistent across Overwatch and Overwatch 2, he’s almost assuredly talking about the console version, where those sorts of things can be tightly controlled. On PC, the amount of money you have to spend is directly proportional to the number of frames that your computer can produce, and therefore, how much of an advantage you have when playing Overwatch against people with regular computers. Someone playing Overwatch with their laptop’s integrated graphics chip just straight-up won’t be able to match the frames of someone playing on an expensive desktop gaming PC. Even among gaming desktop PC users, someone with a $1200 graphics card and a 144 hertz monitor is going to have an advantage over someone with last year’s budget card and a 60 hertz display.
Frames matter because more frames mean more accurate aiming, when you boil it all down. Overwatch checks to see if your aiming reticle is over an enemy every single frame, and if your computer is producing more frames per second, your reticle has more opportunities per second to be on top of an enemy. At 30 frames per second, the game may only register your aiming reticle just before, and then just after it’s on top of a target, missing the exact moment that the two overlap. At 60 frames per second, however, the game is evaluating twice as many instances of your reticle and the target, so it’s half as likely to skip the moment that you’re on target. Hardware permitting, this number can reach as high as 300 frames per second in Overwatch, though you’d need a hell of a computer to get there.
Frames aren’t the only thing that make competitive PC gaming a classist hellscape. Did you spend $20 on your mouse instead of $60? You’re at a disadvantage. Do you have a normal, human keyboard instead of one that costs $175? You’re at a disadvantage. Are you playing through monitor speakers instead of an expensive gaming headset with virtual surround sound? Surprise, you’re at a disadvantage. Anyway, I’m being told that this post was originally about Overwatch 2‘s graphical overhaul. Do we know if that’s coming to the first game yet? It is? Hell, I need to write that up. Okay, good talk everybody!