‘Overwatch 2’: Activision Blizzard Cancels Highly-Anticipated Game Mode
Activision Blizzard kills promised mode for Overwatch 2.
Overwatch came out in 2016 and solidified the “Hero Shooter” genre as more than just Team Fortress 2 while also killing Battleborne as hard as possible. The game was a huge hit with wonderful cinematic shorts that fleshed out the characters, great designs, simple gameplay, and laid-back 6v6 multiplayer that focused on objectives instead of kills. The game only got bigger from there with new characters, events, skins, and more. It looked like it could just be updated forever until Activision Blizzard dropped the news that a sequel was in the works.
Overwatch 2 was officially announced in 2019 and was immediately considered pointless by everyone still playing Overwatch 1 since nothing they showed seemed like it was needed. They were going to change how some characters played, looked, and make teams smaller by limiting them to 1 tank per team. Worst of all, it was going Free-to-Play with Microtransactions galore.
Activision Blizzard got people on board once they revealed that the game would also include an in-depth story PvE mode to make it stand out from Overwatch 1. Also that they were going to shut down Overwatch 1 and force people to only play Overwatch 2. The players who stayed eventually accepted this once released in 2022 since the promise of a story mode PvE with skill trees and special perks for those modes was a fun idea with these characters. Well, Activision Blizzard has some very bad news for those players.
PvE Future Not What It Once Was
Some Overwatch devs had a special dev chat stream to talk about the current state of the game and its future. They let everyone know the original promised PvE modes shown in 2019 were now officially canceled. Executive producer Jared Neuss explained the reason for slashing the promised PvE on the stream as that it was just not possible:
“Development on the PvE experience hasn’t made the progress that we have hoped,…The team has created a bunch of amazing content so there’s awesome missions that are really exciting. There’s brand new enemies that are super fun to fight and some truly great and ridiculous hero talents. But unfortunately, the effort required to pull all of that together into a Blizzard-quality experience that we can ship to you is huge, and there really is no end in sight or defined kind of end date where we can put that out into the world.
And so we are left with another difficult choice. Do we continue to pour all that effort into PvE, hoping we can land it at some point in the future or do we stick with this set of values that we have aligned on and focus on the live game and focus on serving all of you? With everything we have learned about what it takes to operate this game at the level that you deserve, it’s clear that we can’t deliver on that original vision for PvE that was shown in 2019. What that means is that we won’t be delivering that dedicated hero mode with talent trees, that long-term talent power progression. Those things are just not in our plans anymore. And we know that this is going to be disappointing to many of you which is why we wanted to bring it up before we talk about the road map. And to be perfectly honest it’s been really difficult for many of us and a lot of folks on the team that pour their heart and soul into that stuff.”
Game Director Aaron Keller joined Neuss in an interview with Gamespot, where he echoed the reasoning Neuss had for the cancellation of the PvE Hero mode. Keller when asked had a lot to say about it and actually stated even though the original version was canceled, that they would still be releasing PvE content eventually. Just not what was originally advertised:
“…we are doing part of what the team had set out to do, but not the entirety of what was discussed back at BlizzCon 2019. So the real focus is on the story missions and that experience as opposed to the more open-ended hero mode and that stuff…..we are definitely not doing the Hero Mode and the talents and that power progression system.”
“…this was a process. The development of any game is a process. In the years following our announcement at BlizzCon 2019, we had a really large portion of our team working on the PvE side of that game, and I think players of our live running game could feel that because we eventually stopped making content for it. It’s been maybe two and a half years since the last hero that we launched, and we don’t want to be back at the point where it’s another three and a half years since launching a PvP map. So we really looked hard at what we were doing with the live game in service of this much bigger thing that we were working on and hoping to release later.”
“I think the scope of the Hero Missions was really, really large, and what it was going to take to finish it was going to be a pretty remarkable, massive lift. You think about making a game that is supposed to be almost its own standalone co-op experience that people are going to be able to play as a main game, and not just how do you put all of the content into that to finish it? Even just a small piece of it, the talent trees: 40 to 50 talents per Hero, over 35 plus Heroes. You’re looking at thousands of talents to make everything just to get the game out the door, plus all of the content and the missions you’d be playing to do that, and it is a pretty gargantuan ask for a team….And as we started to get further and further into it–obviously our players could realize that we were pulling focus away from the live game….And that’s when we took the moment to shift strategy and put everything into the live game.”
The Future of Overwatch 2
Activision Blizzard released a brand new roadmap on the Overwatch Twitter page to show off the Story Missions that are part of Season 6’s roadmap. They most likely will function like the ones in Overwatch 1, which were PvE modes that were limited in who you could use and only out for a limited timeframe.
#Overwatch2: A Look Ahead ✨
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— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) May 16, 2023
Keller and Neuss described their excitement for players to see the PvE that did survive for Season 6 and what comes next:
“We are running a PvE event that season. We have a whole new type of PvE content that we’re releasing with our single-player Hero mastery missions… So I hope that players can see that we are still committed to PvE and we are doing more with the story than we’ve ever done before. We’re just doing it in a different way than what we originally talked about.”
“I think moving away from that idea of this one big singular PvE release moment and into a, ‘No, we’re going to do PvE stuff all the time.’ We have all these plans. Season 6 has three different flavors of that, and we have a bunch of other versions of that coming up and seasons after that.”
I am incredibly disappointed by this revelation since it was the only thing that could have brought me back to the game. It really just shows this sequel was just an excuse to monetize the game even more than the original one without adding anything new. I loved Overwatch 1 and just hate what Overwatch 2 did to a once-promising IP.
“Never accept the world as it appears to be. Dare to see it for what it could be.” – Winston, Overwatch