My Overwatch 2 beta practice was defined by Orisa Javelins, streamers dominating matches, and a perpetual disdain for visual UI overhaul. During matches, I can’t help but think how hard it is to analyze what the scoreboard is telling me. After games, I can’t help but think about how much I hate the minimalist redesign and wonder what Blizzard’s thought process was behind it.
Overwatch 2 feels like an expansion of Overwatch 1 in many ways, but the UI design seems at odds with that – and the dashboard gives way to some potentially toxic teammates.
Minimalism in a maximalist world
Normally, you would never use the word “minimalism” to describe the world of Overwatch. It’s a universe filled with brightly colored explosions that happen in cartoonish versions of IRL locations, and a world where a gigantic, genetically-engineered gorilla can wear a baseball catcher’s uniform while punching you in the face with his oversized mittens. The dynamism and surrealism are part of Overwatch’s appeal, especially compared to so many other games in the genre that favor grounded realism over cartoon hamsters.
That’s why it’s so weird to boot into the Overwatch 2 beta and see a simplified, colorless dashboard and uncluttered HUD. In Overwatch 1, press select on your controller to display the current match scoreboard. The enemy team is stacked on top of your team, all of which are represented by six hero headshots each. A percentage under each of your team’s headshots indicates who is close to getting their ultimate ability, making it easy to strategize for ultimate pops. At the very bottom are your individual stats, with the left side showing images of gold, silver, bronze, or no medals depending on your results in kills, objective kills, healing, etc. The right side offers some numbers regarding your personal accuracy, healing, and best kill streak. It’s incredibly easy to quickly pull up this dashboard and get loads of relevant information – as a primary healer, I often use it to sarcastically remind damaged players to catch up (if I ‘ve got a damage medal), or remind my team that my healing so far has been up to snuff.
For me, the Overwatch 2 dashboard is a nightmare. The new dashboard now looks like something out of Halo Infinite or Warzone, with a rectangle split down the middle between teams, smaller player icons, gigantic gamertags, and a whole bunch of numbers laid out on a graph. At first glance, I’m immediately overwhelmed by the stacking numbers and have a hard time understanding what the little icons and letters at the top of the chart indicate. Instead of a percentage delineating how far each player has come to get their ultimate ability, there’s a white circle with a thicker white bar indicating their progress. Yes, this means that you can only estimate the progress of your team members unless you ask them directly. I also suspect that the new board is very difficult for color blind gamers to understand.
But the biggest problem with the new dashboard is this: once you figure out how to read it, you realize it could pave the way for serious toxicity.
The kill/death problem
If you’ve played Overwatch in any competitive capacity, you’ve probably come across a toxic teammate or two. It’s an unfortunate reality for most competitive FPS games, and one that Blizzard tries to combat by allowing you to flag teammates or avoid specific players. But the Overwatch 2 dashboard feels like fodder for the toxic gamer, as it shows each player’s stats, assists, damage amount, healing amount, and the dreaded kill/death ratio. Overwatch 2 no technically do the ratio calculation for you, but by displaying both kills and deaths on the scoreboard, it’s easy to understand.
“KD” (as most players call it) is a commonly used marker of a player’s success or failure in a given match: a “positive” KD is when your kills outnumber your deaths; a negative KD is the opposite. While KD is an understandable metric to reference in games like Call of Duty or Valorant, it’s a weird thing to display in a game like Overwatch, where all competitive matches are objective-based. And with the new 5v5 team makeups resulting in more open and intense matches that result in team wipes, everyone’s KD in Overwatch 2 is going to be a mess.
As mentioned earlier, Overwatch 1’s scoreboard was still great for judging other players, but Overwatch 2’s data-rich scoreboard is intimidating. It also seems fundamentally at odds with the overall vibe of Overwatch, which is markedly different from other team shooters. Like PCGamer’s Morgan Park writes, “having all your stats bare, like in CS:GO, Valorant, and Rainbow Six Siege, gives both teammates and enemies ammunition to ‘back up’ abusive comments or other generally shitty behavior. The chart Overwatch 2’s edge shooter isn’t unusual, but part of the appeal of Overwatch is that it doesn’t try to be like other team shooters.” Hard to imagine that this new dashboard will make games less toxic, especially for solo players or any player who can be identified as a marginalized member of the community.
Keep in mind that Overwatch 2 is still technically in beta, so Blizzard may go in and tweak the dashboard to feel more distinctly Overwatch in both its visual presentation and the stats it actually reports. As of now, however, the new minimalist HUD and dashboard design looks all wrong.
Want to try the game for yourself? Here is a guide on how to enter overwatch 2 beta.