A Missed Opportunity for More Engagement
When Blizzard first announced Overwatch 2, I had every reason to be thrilled. I had always enjoyed the first installment of the series, but I craved more. As someone who isn’t a skilled competitive player, I longed for additional ways to engage with the shooter beyond enduring losing streaks. So you can imagine my excitement when Blizzard revealed that the sequel would feature a full Player vs Environment (PVE) mode. Finally, I thought, I would have the chance to immerse myself in the world and characters of Overwatch and embark on a solo campaign.
However, it turns out that this dream was nothing more than a fantasy. In a recent interview with Gamespot, game director Aaron Keller disclosed that plans for the PVE mode had been scrapped. While Overwatch 2 would still receive some story content through new seasons, the grand vision of a Hero mode with its own skill trees was no longer on the table. What’s more, these plans had changed a year and a half ago – a fact that was never communicated to fans when the game’s multiplayer component was launched last October.
This leaves Overwatch 2 in an awkward position, with the version released last year appearing to be the final content offering after all. While competitive-focused players may not be too bothered, as someone who was eagerly anticipating the PVE mode, this whole fiasco has severely damaged my already shaky relationship with the hero shooter. I’m now uncertain if I’ll ever return to Overwatch 2, and perhaps Blizzard has come to terms with that too.
A Mutual Disappointment
When Overwatch 2’s multiplayer component launched, I felt like I was playing a game of “Spot the Difference.” The sequel featured an upgraded art style, a few new characters, and a change in team sizes, but all of these changes seemed like updates that could have been implemented in the original Overwatch. The only significant change from a casual player’s perspective was the shift to a free-to-play format, introducing a season structure and a paid battle pass. On paper, this seemed like a positive step, replacing the loot box system of its predecessor. However, it ended up raising concerns about pay-to-win as new heroes were locked behind paywalls or incredibly long grinds to unlock organically.
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As someone who enjoyed Overwatch on a casual level, this left me feeling a little underwhelmed by its October release. While I did play a few enjoyable rounds in the initial days, I had made up my mind to revisit the game once the Hero mode was introduced. My hope was that by honing my skills in this mode, I would become a better competitive player. This approach mirrored what I had done with Destiny in the past – getting familiar with controls in strikes and raids before putting my skills to the test in the Crucible.
Little did I know that Hero mode was never going to be a reality, but Blizzard did. In the aforementioned GameSpot interview, Aaron Keller shed light on the challenges Blizzard faced in developing a complex live service game like Overwatch. To ensure that multiplayer didn’t suffer while working on the PVE mode, plans for Hero mode were changed. “It was about a year and a half ago that we made the decision to really shift strategy,” Keller revealed. “That’s when we rapidly redirected our team’s resources towards launching Overwatch 2, which is what came out last October.”
I can’t help but feel a sense of disappointment, which I’m sure many players share with me right now. What stings isn’t so much the cancellation of the mode itself, as features are often altered during game development. However, it’s shocking to discover that plans for the mode had already been scrapped long before the multiplayer launch. Since I had intended to play PVE to improve my skills, I had been tempted to invest in season passes to ensure I wouldn’t miss out on content that would benefit me in PVP when I eventually gained the confidence to try it. Fortunately, I refrained from making those purchases, but I can’t help but wonder how many people did so under false pretenses about the game’s future.
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All of this has shattered my trust in Overwatch 2 to the point where I’m unlikely to return to it. It seems that Blizzard is doubling down on the competitive community rather than trying to attract more casual players like myself. While future seasons will include some story missions, they will be more of a side activity rather than a primary mode.
In that sense, I can appreciate the decisive stance Blizzard has finally taken, even if it should have been made much sooner. Players in my position needed clarity on whether the sequel would cater to their casual desires. Unfortunately, Overwatch 2 just isn’t the game for me, especially considering my lack of interest in spending money on it. Both Blizzard and I will be better off parting ways amicably, I’m sure.
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