Overwatch 2 Game Director Apologizes for Cancelled PvE Hero Mode, Talent Trees

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Overwatch 2 Game Director Apologizes for Cancelled PvE Hero Mode, Talent Trees

Reading the biggest takeaways from Aaron Keller's latest Director's Take blogpost for Overwatch 2

Overwatch fans have been through a rough week as of late. Ever since the sad news about the original PvE vision being scrapped, long-time fans who were looking forward to playing the story mode since its first trailer back in 2019 aired their frustrations en masse on social media.

The online vitriol even got the subject trending on Twitter, and was even picked up by major influencers like Ludwig and Moist Esports founder Charles “Moistcr1tikal” White Jr.. Needless to say, a ton of people in and around the Overwatch space were disappointed, and who can blame them?

To give you some context, the future story campaign of Overwatch 2 was first announced 3 and-a-half years ago. Here, Blizzard showcased a fantastic Hero Mode filled with exciting new features. One such feature was “Hero Talents”, skill trees that heavily modified familiar hero abilities and added tons of replay potential to the PvE. These were both cancelled just moments before Overwatch 2's biggest content roadmap was unveiled.

Considering all of this, it's understandable that Blizzard's devs would want to shed more light on the situation and assure the players as best they could. So amidst all of the uproar, Overwatch 2 Game Director Aaron Keller addressed the fanbase's complaints and worries surrounding PvE in Blizzard's lastest Director's Take post. 

Keller's update began with an important correction. “We're really excited for everything we’ll be launching soon,” the lead expressed, “but much of the discussion this week has been about how we’re cancelling PvE outright, which isn’t accurate, so I want to take some time to discuss some of that with you here.”

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Next, the Game Director stated the important distinctions between Hero Mode versus Story Missions, which will be the form “PvE” will be taking from Season 6 going forward. According to Keller, ” Story Missions tell a linear narrative about the heroes of Overwatch reuniting and battling the new Null Sector threat, pushing the story of Overwatch forward for the first time since our original game released.” He continued, ” These missions take place on huge maps with new enemies and new cinematics.”

Now if you've been playing Overwatch since 2017, you'll know that this description sounds pretty similar to the “Story Archives”, our first real taste of short Overwatch PvE missions from the original game. Naturally, many were skeptical due to remembering how short and self-contained the Story Archives were. That said, Overwatch 2's new game engine will have to work overtime to prove the doubters wrong. “The work done here is amazing, leaps and bounds above what we’ve built for PvE previously in our game,” Keller remarked, “and I can't wait for our players to get their hands on them.

Before the game director talked more about the sudden changes, he hearkened back to the first days of game development. Initially titled “Project Titan”, Overwatch was originally conceptualized as a futuristic MMO before it evolved into a first-person shooter. Upon release in 2016, Blizzard's team-based FPS enjoyed massive success and even earned a GOTY award. Since then, the developers were hard at work crafting their vision of a grand campaign; a stepping stone towards realizing Overwatch's original objective: turning into the MMO it was meant to be.

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Suffice to say, it didn't work out. Due to internal pressures, the Overwatch team finally had to stop its balancing act of improving the live multiplayer and preparing a complex single-player story mode. “We had an exciting but gargantuan vision and we were continuously pulling resources away from the live game in an attempt to realize it.”

A lengthy apology followed the gasme director's reasoning behind the sudden change. “I had trouble pivoting away from a vision that just wasn’t working. And for that I would like to apologize to our players and to our team. I’m sorry.”

The Overwatch 2 team has a new vision for the game as a whole. and that, as sad as it may be, means making space for newer things. At the end of the Director's Take, Aaron Keller called for the faith of the surviving fanbase, noting that the Overwatch we all knew and loved came from a scrapped project too. The decision to axe Overwatch's original PvE mode was as equally audacious as the task to begin building it, and only time will tell if this momentous sacrifice was worth it.

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Overwatch 2 Game Director Apologizes for Cancelled PvE Hero Mode, Talent Trees
Paul Goño
Paul started writing for ESTNN in 2022, the same year he beat his first Souls game. An avid fan of RPGs, his all-time favorites include Baldur's Gate 3, Assassin’s Creed and Kingdom Hearts 2. Besides being a professional nerd, he still struggles to get over the broken PS2 memory card that stored years of his save files.