‘Overwatch 2’ launch plagued by DDoS attacks and disconnects

“Overwatch 2,” the highly anticipated sequel to Blizzard’s hero shooter “Overwatch,” launched Oct. 4, but many fans eager to play were plagued with connection issues as the company suffered waves of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that prohibited players from connecting to the game.

The game’s troubles occurred immediately upon launch at 3 p.m. Tuesday and extended into Wednesday. Many players, some of whom took off work or skipped class to spend the entire day playing “Overwatch 2,” were stuck on a load screen that told them they were in queues behind thousands of people. Others who stuck out the queues were still not able to get into the game’s main menu, instead seeing an “Unexpected Server Error” message. Other players on the official Blizzard forums said their accounts have been wiped, along with all the alternate character models, cosmetics and achievements they’ve earned from their years of playing the original “Overwatch.”

At the time of publication, Blizzard had not responded to a request for comment about player accounts being wiped.

‘Overwatch’ pros weigh in on ‘Overwatch 2’ early access

Blizzard President Mike Ybarra acknowledged the issues facing players trying to load the game Tuesday, and said the company’s servers were getting hit with DDoS attacks, in which bad actors bombard servers with phony traffic from different sources to prevent users from accessing an online service.

Some players tried to circumvent the DDoS attacks by changing their regional location to Asia or Europe with mixed results. Players fortunate enough to get into “Overwatch 2” matches were still beset with problems. Many were abruptly booted from matches, which was especially frustrating for the players in the game’s ranked competitive mode, who struggled to win rounds as they lost teammates to connection errors.

“Overwatch 2” Director Aaron Keller stated Wednesday that Blizzard has been “steadily making progress” on “Overwatch 2’s” server issues as it contended with a second DDoS attack.

In recent years, blockbuster titles such as “Overwatch 2” have become popular targets for DDoS attacks, carried out by people who may have a grievance against a game company or are simply entertained by the ensuing chaos when a popular online service is disrupted. In September, players were unable to access Call of Duty titles, “World of Warcraft” and “Overwatch” after a massive DDoS attack took Activision Blizzard’s PC servers offline. “World of Warcraft Classic” players were cut off from the game in 2019 when Blizzard’s servers were slammed with DDoS attacks. In 2018, Ubisoft’s servers were flooded with DDoS attacks during its launch of “Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey,” which is not a multiplayer title but required an online connection to access.

DDoS attacks also go beyond gaming. Occupy Central, the campaign promoting democracy in Hong Kong, had its websites knocked offline by DDoS attacks in 2014.

‘Overwatch 2’ beta impressions: Sequel misses original’s charm

Blizzard’s Team 4, the group tasked with developing “Overwatch 2,” has endured numerous issues while making the Overwatch franchise, including some tumultuous changes. Former “Overwatch” creative director Chris Metzen, the rock star developer who was the face and voice of Blizzard for over two decades, left the company in 2016, shortly after shipping the original “Overwatch.” He later revealed he was suffering panic attacks during the game’s development because of the overwhelming pressure to deliver a huge hit. In April 2021, Blizzard announced that Jeff Kaplan, “Overwatch’s” soft-spoken and beloved game director, had left the company after 19 years. Kaplan hasn’t been heard from since. Former Blizzard designer Jesse McCree, who was the namesake of “Overwatch’s” cowboy gunslinger hero (now known as Cole Cassidy), was removed from the company in August 2021 along with several other Blizzard employees when Activision Blizzard was hit with a sexual harassment suit.

According to the players who were actually able to try out “Overwatch 2” this week, it’s apparently quite good — as long as you aren’t playing in competitive mode. The game has received generally positive reviews, earning high marks from publications such as IGN and Game Informer.

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