Overwatch 2's Mirrorwatch Event Is So Good It Has Me In Mourning

Image: Blizzard Entertainment
Image: Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch 2 has had a lot of bad news since it launched, such as the gutting of its PvE suite, and now the reported cancellation of its story missions. Every seemingly good thing that’s introduced, like a store to buy rare skins, comes with a caveat, in that case being egregiously expensive. The limited-time Mirrorwatch event that began this week is no exception, but even so, it’s probably the coolest loop-de-loop the game has pulled off in its neverending rollercoaster of emotions.

Mirrorwatch is the culmination of Overwatch 2’s tenth season. The new skins you’ll find in the shop and battle pass dress heroes as the opposite of their usual alignment. Mercy, known as the empathic caretaker of the titular peacekeeping force, is here depicted as a sadistic leader of Talon, the chaos-driven organization that seeks to disrupt the Overwatch world’s harmony. Doomfist, the agent of said chaos, now runs Overwatch and seeks a peaceful world. That on its own is a cool premise for a season of cosmetics, and new voice lines and lore let long-time fans peer into an alternate timeline in which things were different.

I hadn’t considered who Tracer, Overwatch’s cheery time-traveling poster girl, might have become if she’d taken a darker path. But now, here she is adorned in Talon’s black-and-red uniform. The implications of these skins and alternate histories have given Overwatch fans a lot to chew on, but that’s not the extent of the event.

The actual playable Mirrorwatch event allows fans to explore these alternate histories in-game, and most of the characters in the mode have been heavily reworked in some way. Sombra, the Talon hacker who is defined as a saboteur in the main game, is more of a support hero in Mirrorwatch. Her hacks are now applied to her teammates instead of her enemies, and offer a brief health buff and faster attack speed. Reinhardt, who once protected his teammates as a proud member of Overwatch, has turned to Talon and sees his shield equipped with a passive Baptiste ultimate that increases the power of any projectiles fired through it.

These reworks are fascinating because they not only require you to learn how to use these characters differently (running behind an enemy as Sombra in my first match and trying to hack them only for it to do nothing was an embarrassing clip), but each change has implicit storytelling mixed in. What is different about Sombra’s life in this universe that prompted her to use her hacking skills to build up allies instead of tearing down enemies? Some of these possibilities are explored in voice lines, such as its spin on Tracer and Widowmaker who face off in the actual Overwatch canon during the latter’s assassination mission of a peace activist. Now, when Widowmaker dons her Overwatch garb and defeats an opposing Tracer, she remarks that tank hero Ramattra—the leader of a synthetic uprising in the main storyline—was Tracer’s pacifist target in the Mirrorwatch universe. One voice line has enough implications to inspire fan art and fan fiction for years to come.

Screenshot: Blizzard Entertainment / Kotaku
Screenshot: Blizzard Entertainment / Kotaku

The entire thing is such a wonderful culmination of the Overwatch team’s talent that has been so constantly squandered by decisions from Activision Blizzard. It marries the best parts of Overwatch’s art, gameplay, and narrative branches and creates something that reminds you of the potential lost in recent years. The reworked ability sets are evocative of the canceled PvE mode that would have let players use skill trees to experiment with hero kits—something Blizzard propped up as a major reason for making a sequel instead of updating the original game. The lore tidbits are just a reminder that the story missions are reportedly not coming, and this world is once again in limbo. The Mirrorwatch skins are such cool riffs on each hero, but they’re also tied up in Overwatch 2’s grindy and expensive monetization which has become the defining difference between the first game and its sequel. How many people who worked on this event are even still working on Overwatch 2 after the Xbox layoffs back in January?

I love playing Mirrorwatch, and most days, I love playing Overwatch 2. But it’s a shame too much history means this game can’t get a win without reminding us of what we’ve lost along the way.


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