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Overwatch 2 director explains reasons for scaling back on PvE

Overwatch 2 Game Director Aaron Keller explains that a choice had to be made between sufficiently supporting the live PvP game or focusing on a robust PvE component.

Blizzard Entertainment

Earlier this week, Blizzard issued a roadmap for Overwatch 2's future. One item that fans were looking for was an update on the game's promised PvE component, which was delayed indefinitely in favor of getting PvP up and running. After a long struggle, Blizzard's Team 4 has ultimately decided that the PvE, as it was marketed, cannot move forward. On Friday, Overwatch 2 Game Director Aaron Keller personally issued a statement explaining why.

Genos Genji skin from Overwatch 2

Source: Blizzard Entertainment

Keller's explanation notes that when Overwatch 2 was first revealed, there was a vision for Story Missions containing the Overwatch 2 characters as they're seen in the PvP game and a separate Hero Missions mode that goes in an entirely different direction. Hero Mode would have featured a single-player component with replayable missions, talent trees, and a deeper sense of character progression. However, unlike Call of Duty, which has multiple developer studios focusing on specific aspects of every game, Blizzard's Team 4 was flying solo and inevitably had to choose to either have a live PvP game that would be supported for years to come with frequent updates, balance changes, and regular events or a robust PvE mode that would feature a deep sense of character progression and a story that spanned dozens of hours. It was soon evident to Keller that the team couldn't have it both ways.

Here's his explanation from the Overwatch website:

We had an exciting but gargantuan vision and we were continuously pulling resources away from the live game in an attempt to realize it. I can't help but look back on our original ambitions for Overwatch and feel like we used the slogan of "crawl, walk, run" to continue to march forward with a strategy that just wasn't working.

We had announced something audacious. Our players had high expectations for it, but we no longer felt like we could deliver it. We needed to make an incredibly difficult decision, one we knew would disappoint our players, the team, and everyone looking forward to Hero Missions. The Overwatch team understands this deeply - this represented years of work and emotional investment. They are wonderful, incredibly talented people and truly have a passion for our game and the work that they do.

Lastly, people have wondered why this announcement came at this time. After Overwatch 2 had launched, we started refining our plans for future seasons. As those plans grew, we tried to find ways to make all of our ambitions fit together in a plan that we believed in.

We couldn't. And we also knew that we couldn't go back to pulling people away from the live game in service of that original vision again. So, we made the difficult decision to cut Hero Missions and started planning for the future.

However, contrary to the impression that the roadmap left, Keller notes that PvE isn't scratched entirely. Overwatch 2's narrative will continue to play out through co-op Story Missions, which will debut at the start of Season 6. These will go farther than the PvE event missions from the first Overwatch by featuring cinematics and cutscenes that further flesh out the game's story.

Keller is promising more information on Overwatch 2's refined PvE element in the weeks to come. We'll continue to watch and see what new form PvE takes, so keep it on Shacknews for any further updates.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    May 19, 2023 2:20 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Overwatch 2 director explains reasons for scaling back on PvE

    • reply
      May 19, 2023 4:17 PM

      Wish they would scale all the way to ow1

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        May 19, 2023 4:51 PM

        Meh, OW2 > OW1 imo. Much prefer 1 tank, 2 dps, 2 support.

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          May 19, 2023 6:43 PM

          Way better than even the best OW1 meta, 6v6 is such shit compared to what we have now

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        May 19, 2023 6:44 PM

        you guys got to chill with these comments lol. ow1 died with 6v6, if it was so good people would play it but the numbers were not there

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          May 19, 2023 7:26 PM

          I can be pissed they killed the game that I paid for. If ow2 is the bees knees no harm In rolling back a classic server right?

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      May 19, 2023 4:33 PM

      We had announced something audacious.

      Audacious? I think this guy is high on his own supply.

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        May 19, 2023 6:44 PM

        He’s right. 40+ characters with skill trees with 40-50 abilities each in an FPS?

        This is way more complex than something like Diablo, it was a crazy proposal

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      May 19, 2023 6:45 PM

      I called it, they were still chasing Project Titan.

      It’s their great white whale and it’s about time they let it go so that they can continue focusing on the core game rather than using it as a stepping stone to a game that they clearly abandoned for good reason.

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        May 19, 2023 7:12 PM

        When Jeff Kaplan was still leading OW, I think they could have done it, if execs didn't start to press hard on how to make more money with OW. Jeff's vision was basically incompatible with the monetary model that Activision really want.

        If there was no exec interference, I don't know if Jeff could have reached that PvE goal, but I think they would have been a lot closer to something that worked, than just giving up after a few years.

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          May 19, 2023 7:33 PM

          Jeff had no leash in the late 2000s and early 2010s when he was leading Titan and it failed. He led a Titan re-attempt after OW1 launched, at the expense of the live game no less. That also didn’t work.

          ABK interference was certainly an issue in later years but there’s also no shot that Jeff was the solution. He’s cool but tbh he honestly gets too much credit as the guy who could have made it work when he didn’t make it work and the second time he tried it was at the expense of the live PvP, a game that was actually great.

          On the plus side the PvP has never been better and if they can keep down this path they can continue making it great. Losing the MMO and Diablo type PvE sucks but at least the single player missions and such will still be around.

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        May 19, 2023 7:16 PM

        I am not sure I would apply that. Project Titan was much bigger than a horde-style PvE campaign and a skilltree.

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