Though most players’ expectations for Activision Blizzard are practically non-existent, the developer has managed to sink them even lower thanks to their announcement that their PvE plans for Overwatch 2 – which they previously cited as one of the main reasons for the sequel’s existence – have officially been scrapped.
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OW2’s ‘player-vs-everyone’ modes were first announced by former Blizzard VP and Overwatch lead director Jeff Kaplan during the sequel’s reveal at the opening ceremony of Blizzcon 2019.
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“Now when I talk to lots you, there’s a common request that you want out of Overwatch, and Overwatch 2 is going to deliver on this,” Kaplan would declare after premiering the opening cinematic for OW2. “And that’s for more story, and PvE. Cooperative experiences. OW2 will feature a ton of PvE content. We will have a complete story experience, including story missions.”
“In addition, we have something called Hero Missions,” he continued. “Hero Missions are focused on highly replayable cooperative experience. The analogy we like to use on the team is, similar to the adventure mode in Diablo IV versus its campaign, that’s what Hero Missions are intended to be [for OW2]. And they are powered by this really cool progression system where you can level-up your heroes, get more powerful, customize your abilities, do different talents. It’s going to be a ton of fun.”
However, after a number of delays, it seems the OW2 team has officially thrown in the towel on providing players with a significant single player experience.
News of this change was first broken by Overwatch 2 executive producer Jared Neuss during a May 17th live stream centered on the game’s 2023 roadmap, wherein he revealed that “development on the PvE experience has not really 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,” he explained. “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. ”
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“And so we are left with another difficult choice,” Neuss said. “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,” he ultimately admitted. “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.”
Attempting to clarify some of their plans (and ostensibly perform some level of damage control), OW2 director Aaron Keller later told GameSpot that while he disagreed with the framing that the team “aren’t doing” PvE, as “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.”
Bluntly asked by the outlet’s Tamoor Hussain if ” the experience that you showed during that first Overwatch 2 reveal is not going to be the one that will be released at any point?”, Keller had no other choice but to confirm, “Yeah, exactly. We are definitely not doing the Hero Mode and the talents and that power progression system.”
“As we were running up to launching Overwatch 2, we realized that we could not build that other game,” recalled Keller. “We couldn’t save up all of that content over the course of what was looking to be at least the next several years to finish it, and by doing that, pulling more and more resources away from the people that were all playing our game and all the people that would be playing Overwatch 2.”
“So we made a decision later last year that we would focus all of our efforts on the live running game and all of our PvE efforts on this new story arc that we’re launching in Season 6,” he then asserted. “And then on top of that, to keep all of our PvE efforts, all of our co-op efforts, invested in our seasonal releases rather than that one big boxed release.”
Overwatch 2 is currently free-to-play on the Xbox One, Xbox X|S, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Windows platforms.
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