“It feels better to be on this path where we know we can consistently release updates to players,” said executive producer Jared Neuss.
Blizzard Entertainment, specifically the team developing Overwatch 2, has received backlash for cancelling Hero Mode. It was meant to be a PvE experience, one of the game’s major selling points when initially announced, that featured Hero Talents and progression. All of that has been scrapped, though story missions are still coming later this year in Season 6.
Speaking to GameSpot, director Aaron Keller discussed the shift in approach and why it happened. “We’ve talked a lot in the past about Overwatch 2 and how different it is from the original game, even just being free-to-play and swapping to a 5v5 team format and all the new content we’ve developed for it. To me, that’s the biggest change we’re looking at here; it’s not just that we have some of the same Heroes in the game. It’s the way that we’re writing the game and how we’re looking at the game, going forward. I really hope that the roadmap that we just released is something that illustrates that to players.
“We have a lot coming out this year, and even if you look at Season 6, it’s the biggest season we’ve ever launched in the history of Overwatch. We have a new Support Hero coming out that season. We have a new game mode. We’ve never released a new game mode as a seasonal update ever in Overwatch. It has two new maps coming out with Flashpoint. 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.
“Overwatch Anniversary is running another event. And then, on top of all of that, we’ve got the start of our new story arc with new story missions, cinematics, and other lore content, such as a lore codex. It’s all packed into this one season, and this is the future of what we’re trying to bring to Overwatch 2. That’s what I hope players can take away from this experience, the shift in the way we want to develop for this game and what we want to put out for our players.”
Executive producer Jared Neuss added, “I think it’s interesting thinking about this over time, coming to the team a little bit later and seeing the state of things and building that plan to go forward because the original pitch was this big monolithic thing that releases. It has all this pressure and expectations set against it, and really the decision we’ve made was not to walk away from PvE or to totally sort of abandon this side of the game. It’s to move into a model we know we can deliver on.
“We know that if we get into the seasonal cadence, we can release things during seasons in a way that we can plan for effectively and that we think is going to be really exciting to players. That, more to the point, gives us time to adapt to the next thing for players before you release it, and 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. For me, that’s really the important thing here. We want to acknowledge that it’s not the thing people were expecting, but also we have high confidence that we can deliver in the way that we’re shifting now, which for us is really exciting. You can never ask anyone to take your word for it, so the hope is that once we start releasing this stuff in Season 6, players can see it and believe it too.”
Neuss and Keller discussed recently how Overwatch 1 would have six or so events each year, while the current pace is three per season, with multiple seasons in a year. “For us, it just feels better to be on this path where we know we can consistently release updates to players, tell a story in an ongoing unfolding way, and not wait for this big singular moment if that makes sense,” said Neuss.
Season 5 will have a new limited-time event, QuestWatch, and Mischief and Magic. Summer Games and the On Fire system also return, along with the Creator Workshop. In Season 7 and beyond, a new Winter Event, new collaboration event, Tank hero, reworks for Roadhog and Sombra, and new Hero Mastery missions are also coming. Stay tuned in the meantime for updates.