How to get the Overwatch 2 beta: OW2 beta release date, UK time and sign up - when is the full game coming out

The highly anticipated game is finally available to the public for the first time - here’s how to jump in

(Image: Blizzard Entertainment)(Image: Blizzard Entertainment)
(Image: Blizzard Entertainment)

The public beta for one of the most anticipated gaming sequels of recent years goes live today (26 April), with players on PC able to try out Overwatch 2 for the first time.

But what exactly is Overwatch, and how do you get access to the beta if you want to give the follow-up a go for yourself?

Here is everything you need to know.

What is Overwatch 2?

Overwatch 2 is the sequel to 2016’s team-based multiplayer first-person shooter game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment.

Overwatch divides players into two teams of six, with each team choosing from a wide roster of characters known as "heroes" who each have their own special powers.

The teams then compete against one other to fulfil map-specific objectives in a set amount of time.

Overwatch 2 will include a "shared multiplayer environment" with the original Overwatch, allowing players from both games to compete in existing player versus player (PvP) modes while keeping all unlocked cosmetics and other features.

All new heroes, maps, and PvP modes will be added to both games to maintain this shared environment.

What’s new in Overwatch 2?

(Image: Blizzard Entertainment)(Image: Blizzard Entertainment)
(Image: Blizzard Entertainment)

One big departure is Overwatch 2’s move to teams of five, rather than the original game’s six-player teams.

According to director Aaron Keller, the previous allowance of six players per team made gameplay slower than they would have liked, thus they reduced the number of players to five, which speeds up play.

This also reduces the amount of activity that both players and viewers have to observe on screen, an important factor for the game given its popularity within the realm of Esports.

New maps have been created with more cover choices, and heroes have been reworked within their classes to also help the game play faster.

The game will also have player versus environment (PvE) modes, which will involve four-player cooperative missions against computer-controlled opponents, akin to Overwatch's special seasonal events.

These modes will include a story-based mission mode, in which players are limited to their hero selection in replaying scenarios based on Overwatch's storyline, and Hero missions, in which all heroes can be deployed to fight waves of opponents in various locales.

How can I play it?

The Overwatch team will send a welcome email to players who have been selected to participate in the Overwatch 2 PvP Beta with details on how to get access.

To opt-in for the beta, visit the Overwatch 2 PvP Beta page, where you can also learn more about what’s included in the PvP Beta and sign up for beta testing.

(Image: Blizzard Entertainment)(Image: Blizzard Entertainment)
(Image: Blizzard Entertainment)

Another way to gain access is to participate in the Overwatch 2 PvP Beta Twitch Drops campaign.

Viewers must tune in to a select group of streamers broadcasting the Overwatch PvP Beta under the Overwatch category on Twitch, and will be eligible for drops after four hours of viewing any participating channel.

For a full list of participating streamers, head to Blizzard’s website.

Prior to playing in the PvP beta, all players must own and install Overwatch.

If you have been invited to the PvP beta but do not own Overwatch, you can download it and try it out for free during the beta period.

Currently, the initial beta is only available on PC, but Blizzard says it does intend to include console players in future testing.

Because the beta is a work in progress and a way for the team to test out Overwatch , none of your progress made in the beta will move over to the live game.

When can I play it?

The Overwatch 2 PvP Beta will start on Tuesday 26 April at 7pm BST.

It is expected to run until Tuesday 17, though this date is subject to change based on testing needs.

When can I play the full game?

Overwatch 2 is planned to arrive for PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch, and will be released in “parts”.

No specific release date has yet been specified for these, with director Jeff Kaplan saying the development team is more concerned with the product's quality, rather than its timeliness.

According to investor documents issued in November 2021, an initial planned release window of 2022 was moved to at least 2023, with the goal of “giving the teams some extra time to complete production and continue growing their creative resources to support the titles after launch”.

However, Blizzard claimed in March that they had placed too much emphasis on Overwatch 2 in recent years, to the detriment of support for the current game, and that they had revised their plans to release Overwatch 2 in parts.

While the PvP section of the game has been published in beta form, the rest of the game's modes and parts are to follow at a later date.

This is to allow the developers to continue to maintain Overwatch while Overwatch 2 is being developed - Kaplan believes the two games will eventually blend into a single product.