With the news that the Overwatch 2 closed beta will begin on April 26, more information will be released by the developers about the unique additions of the sequel over the next month. One of the first issues they address is communication between team members.
In a new blog post, Overwatch 2 developers showed off the game's ping system, which allows players to alert teammates about enemies, locations, and objects without using voice chat.
Like the ping systems in other games, the Overwatch 2 system will open a "menu" option for players to use when the ping button is held down. It's like the selection wheel of Overwatch sprays and voice lines. Options shown in a screenshot include "retreat" and "group up", which are currently only voice-based instructions in the base game (for Overwatch 1). Now, these instructions can be combined with a location-based ping.
The biggest feature for the Overwatch 2 ping system is the use of context within the game. If a Tracer summons an enemy Reaper, teammates will clearly hear Tracer using a voice line along with a ping, according to the blog post.
Additionally, pings are “added” to the last location of the enemy before using a movement-based ability such as the Reaper's Shadow Step that causes invisibility or position change. Some abilities, such as Sombra's Translocator or Tracer's Recall, will cause a ping to "change" because they are no longer visible or in an easily predictable position.
Teammates will also be able to respond to pings by pressing the ping button above an existing ping, allowing teams to communicate without using voice or text-based chat.
“One of our goals was to increase speech and provide a way for people to visually interpret voice communication,” systems designer Gavin Winter said in his blog post. “We also wanted to support all voices and create a system to communicate for players who prefer to avoid voice chat.”
Winter hopes the ping system will "help toxiclige in the game", possibly wanting to get a handle on the unpredictable and often abusive state of voice chat. He noted that heavy spam protection has been tested to prevent players from overusing the ping system, and the usual blocking techniques for voice lines will likely be extended to include pings.
According to the post, Overwatch 2's pings are "an evolving system", likely to be further improved as the closed alpha continues and the closed beta launches on April 26.