Overwatch 2 PvE Cancellation Might Be the Best Outcome for Players

A hard decision that is for the good of the game.

Overwatch 2 reveal key art
Activision Blizzard

Ever since Blizzard announced Overwatch 2 in 2019, it has been an uphill battle of justifying why the live-service title needed a numbered sequel at all. Even with negative reactions to the downsizing of team sizes, as well as some missteps in character balancing, one feature that gave players hope was the promise of an extensive PvE component to the game. However, on May 16, Blizzard announced that the promised feature will never come to Overwatch 2. Despite the understandable disappointment that comes with this announcement, there is a silver lining.

Talking to GameSpot, Overwatch 2 game director Aaron Keller and executive producer Jared Neuss confirmed that the team is “definitely not doing the Hero Mode and the talents and that power progression system” that was announced back at BlizzCon 2019.

Overwatch 2’s promised PvE component is canceled, but something better can rise from the ashes.

Activision Blizzard

These features promised players the chance to upgrade individual heroes on a skill tree system that would allow for extensive customization beyond what competitive play allows. “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,” Neuss told GameSpot, “and then, on top of that, you need to run that as a live game, so content has to continually come out for that side of the game.”

This led to the decision to cancel the ambitious PvE component of Overwatch 2 to prioritize delivering a solid PvP experience, something that has been difficult since Overwatch 2’s launch was met with a mixed response from the community. However, PvE is not being scrapped in its entirety. Instead, the scale is being refocused to smaller story missions.

While this seems like a small consolation compared to what was promised it is a choice that could end up being better for players in the long run, and that has precedent for Overwatch. The team-based shooter itself was born from the ashes of another failed game: Project Titan. Sometimes stopping to evaluate what is working and what isn’t allows a development team to hone the final product into a better overall experience, even if the scale is smaller. The cancellation of the Hero Mode in favor of focusing on smaller seasonal PvE content like Hero Mastery and story missions allows for an oft-neglected element of the Overwatch world to get the attention it deserves: the lore!

Give me more of that sweet sweet lore.

Yes, Overwatch is a competitive team-based shooter that thrives on team composition and the mastery of hero movement tech and skills. However, one of the biggest draws of Overwatch from the start was the colorful cast of characters that made players want to try the game in the first place. The game itself has rarely given those interested in the lore of the world much to sustain themselves. World-building has been predominantly accomplished in comics and animated shorts. Hero Missions — and the new lore codex coming to the game in future seasons — give those who love Overwatch for the world a reason to get back into the game.

This smaller approach to PvE is a scalpel that addresses one of the biggest and long-running issues that Overwatch has faced — deciding who the game is for. Since the first game launched, Blizzard has flip-flopped between tailoring the experience for high-skill competitive play and the more casual crowd. For years, this has left both communities wanting due to the lack of commitment. But a smaller more manageable PvE component helps the development team deliver a quality experience to every type of player in a timelier manner with Overwatch 2’s seasonal schedule.

Hopefully, Overwatch 2 can deliver on the new promise of this pared-down PvE mode. Us lapsed Overwatch 2 players obsessed with the lore need some official content to latch onto so we can stop rereading the same fanfics.

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