Overwatch 2's Midtown map has received an extensive makeover in celebration of Pride Month. As part of the many changes to the map, which includes rainbow crosswalks and a wide range of identity flags fluttering around the map, Blizzard has repainted the map's police cars to look like regular SUVs.
The change was noticed by Youtuber Niandra, in a video which provides a broader assessment of Overwatch 2's first Pride event. "One thing that is very interesting to note is that in the original Midtown there are cop cars scattered about," Niandra explains in their video. "However, they've also been reskinned in the Pride Parade theme to just be generic."
As Niandra notes, it's an "interesting" design decision. Blizzard is clearly acknowledging the sentiment "no cops at pride", which derives from the heavily documented involvement of the police in the discrimination and oppression of LGBTQA+ people. This isn't the first time Blizzard has removed contentious elements from Overwatch 2's maps either. Last year, the designers removed anti-homeless architecture from Midtown, with lead narrative designer Gavin Jurgens-Fyhrie stating that "'how we hope the world will be' is a big part of our story dev".
It isn't a perfect solution. Painting over the cars is arguably not as good as removing them entirely. That more dramatic solution might affect map flow, but simply changing how they look has the unfortunate implication that Blizzard's pro-pride stance is only skin deep. Moreover, these changes are only temporary, which raises broader questions in light of Overwatch's supposedly aspirational worldview, and whether depicting a police presence at all in a game like this falls in line with such a stance.
That said, as documented in Niandra's video, Overwatch 2's Pride event does go further than this. It introduces new short stories exploring the identities of certain characters, like Pharah, and Baptiste. Blizzard have also added free Pride cosmetics, including player icons and name cards, that will be permanent fixtures of the game from here on out.
Overall, Niandra has a positive opinion of the Pride event. "The bar was never very high with [LGBTQA+ representation], but I'm honestly really impressed by what we've got here," although they do point out that "some identities do get left out" referring to the absence of a genderqueer flag. It's also worth noting that Blizzard's Pride cosmetics won't be usable in countries that have anti-gay laws such as Russia, with Overwatch's game director Aaron Keller stating "It's better to be able to engage where you can than to not be able to engage with people at all."