End of Watch: The Shutdown of Overwatch to Launch Overwatch 2

Overwatch 1 is gone… the game that became a standard in esports competition and redefined team-based shooters for a generation of gaming fans has been wiped off of the face of the earth, never to be played again. When the inevitable sequel was first announced, the impact it would have on the first game wasn’t fully understood… and if you are like me, you probably assumed these two titles would peacefully co-exist next to each other for a very long time to come. I mean, sequels are pretty standard stuff in video games, and while they may result in splitting the audience, most gaming studios tend to permit both their original and newest titles to co-exist, allowing the audience to choose how and where they want to participate. Gamers who loved the first Overwatch could try the new experience being offered, and if they weren’t a fan of the changes that were made, they could always go back to the original. Everybody wins, right? Considering both games feature different team-based play styles (5 on 5 vs. 6 on 6), one could argue they aren’t REALLY the same experience… and if you were the SIXTH best player on your previous Overwatch team, the new 5 on 5 style of play may have you on the outside looking in. But the decision made by the developer is final… Overwatch 2 is not simply a new experience in the Overwatch universe… it is REPLACING it. Overwatch as we knew it is gone… long live Overwatch 2.

Letting go of games isn’t always easy, especially when it is a game that you have played for a very long time. Even with all of its’ imperfections, Overwatch found a path to success by continuing to add new content, listening to players feedback, and building a community to support this new franchise amidst very stiff competition. But this was all merely for the purpose of building a structure that would eventually house an entirely new experience… one that was not only built to improve on its’ predecessor, but to take its’ place. And while this is a hard decision for all who have played and followed Overwatch through the years, the truth is we have all observed what happens when a developer allows the old to exist alongside the new in other titles… especially in online-based games. The original title ceases receiving consistent support and updates from the developer, the communities tend to split into two distinct (and often toxic) fanbases who constantly argue over which title is better, and the original often becomes a free-for-all warzone for cheaters who ruin the experience for the remaining players. As difficult as this may be for the most passionate Overwatch players to accept, perhaps closing down the servers was a kindness… preventing the game from degenerating into an unrecognizable nightmare.

The inherent challenge with all new things is that whether we like it or not, they were designed to replace something… and our fondness or familiarity with the original version of these things can make it hard to let go of them. From adjusting to a new place to live, a new career, or a new responsibility to less desired changes like coping with a new normal after experiencing heartbreak or loss, accepting and embracing change is at the core of the human experience. Entire genres of books and a plethora of motivational speakers exist solely to help guide others through the inevitable changes that we will all experience in life… mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you are struggling with changes that are affecting you across multiple battlefronts in life, you are certainly not alone. We are hard-wired to resist what we do not appreciate or understand, and as a result many times we are guilty of trying to keep the old right next to the new… a “best of both worlds” approach. And the place where most of us struggle with this the most is in how we process these changes at the spiritual level. What we may perceive as merely a surface level or “external” change is actually a larger part of how the Lord is growing and shifting us into something new on the INSIDE. So, let’s look to a lesson from Christ for some much-needed enlightenment on the subject.

Matthew 9:16-17 No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

In these simple analogies from Christ, we can understand the deepest concepts of how to not only cope with the changes we experience, but fully understand the very nature of truly following Christ. In my personal experiences, I have found myself trying to have it “both ways”… similar to the Overwatch conundrum, I wanted to embrace all the new and incredible promises I was hearing about having a relationship with Christ (love, joy, peace, protection), but I also wanted to keep all of the parts of my life that were incongruent with His teachings. Like the example of an item of clothing that required a patch, I possessed holes in my life that only the Lord could fill. But I didn’t want to let go of the old garment that I was familiar with so He could give me a new one. Instead, I just wanted Him to “patch me up”… you know, fix all my problems and bring me joy and peace without giving Him full control of the parts of my life that were causing me all of the sadness and pain. I wanted Him to let me keep living my life on my own terms, but still experience all of the benefits of a life lived in submission to Him. And those two concepts, like Overwatch 1 and Overwatch 2, simply cannot coexist.

Christ did not come to simply fill in the gaps we have in our lives or patch up our broken hearts… He came to replace all that we previously possessed with something completely new (John 3:1-15). This is a full system overwrite… the old servers must be completely shut down to allow a new operating system to take its’ place. We cannot simply add Christian philosophy to our worldview like it is a garnish to a meal… He came to make us an entirely new creation from the ground up. We can’t “sprinkle a little Jesus” into our homes and hope that our relationships supernaturally improve… He has to be firmly placed as the foundation of every aspect of our lives if we want to reap the benefits of a life blessed by Him. And as we face new challenges and absorb the changes they bring, the truth about what these paradigm shifts in our lives represent finally comes into focus.

Like Christ’s wineskin analogy, we lack the fundamental capacity to handle what the future holds for us if we try to absorb it with our old ways of acting and thinking. The ability to go to the new places He has for us involves more than just pouring new things into us… He changes the vessel so we can handle the new things He is placing inside us. When we experience changes in life that challenge us to grow into new places that are uncomfortable and unfamiliar, these are not merely superficial changes that impact where we live, work, go to school, or interact with… He is using these experiences to increase our reliance on Him and disconnect us from that obsolete version of ourselves that is not designed or prepared to function in the places we are going next.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

If we are being honest with ourselves, change is something we tend to appreciate when it brings us something we want… but we often struggle with accepting what it asks from us in return. As gamers, we are gratefully receiving Overwatch 2 as a new free-to-play experience, but we are being forced to give up Overwatch 1 and everything it represented to us in exchange. And the truth is, we have very limited choice in the matter… Overwatch 1 as we knew it is gone, no matter what we choose to do next. The only choice that remains to us is what we decide to do with this permanent disruption. And the same is true of the changes we experience in our real-world lives… whether the changes we are facing are entirely unwanted or something that we desired, they ARE happening. They are inevitable… the only part we choose is whether we allow these changes to press us deeper into our relationship with the Lord and increase His control of our lives, or stubbornly place that obsolete Overwatch 1 disc into our drive tray in a vain attempt to relive an experience that now resides permanently in our past.

Not every change we experience in life is from the Lord (Job 1:6-22), but He will USE every change we experience in life to grow us in our knowledge of Him, develop us, and bring us to the places we were destined to occupy (Job 42:12-17). When we invite Christ into our lives, it is not simply a supplemental process that adds Him to what we previously were. He takes who we were and transforms us into something entirely new, leaving no room for the old (Romans 12:1-2)… because the places we are going next will require that transformation in order to survive. He doesn’t merely patch up the battle-damaged clothing on His hurting children… He gives us an entirely new outfit that matches the fullness of the destiny that lies before us (Luke 15:11-24).

There isn’t a patch to bring Overwatch 1 into our future… it has been replaced by Overwatch 2 with finality. But it is the Lord’s mercy and grace that uses these changes to press us forward to the places that we wouldn’t have willingly embraced on our own… because it is only in these new and unfamiliar environments that we learn to stop applying temporary patches to our lives that cannot grow with us into who we are becoming in Him. Let’s let go of those things that don’t belong in our future… even if they were familiar and comfortable. We can’t accept the new benefits that these changes offer until we release that which we cannot hold onto anyways… so let’s release that old “Overwatch” that we have been clinging to once and for all. The Lord has something new and better for us… not just an upgraded experience, but a whole new way of living that revolves around our complete and utter dependence on Him as well as our full obedience to Him. And it is only in this new place that we realize these changes aren’t happening TO us… they are happening FOR us so we can allow Him to grow IN us. When we find ourselves in a state of change and are trying to reconcile who we were with what this situation is requiring of us, let’s seek what the Lord is trying to change IN us, not AROUND us. Even the best heroes answer to the call of their developer as these changes completely transform them for their next experience, serving a unique role that can only be achieved when they allow their creator to fully rewrite them into the masterpieces they were designed to be.

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