You’ve probably seen the news by now that Overwatch 2 has scrapped its PvE mode. Or, at least, Blizzard’s developers have revealed that they cannot deliver the campaign they promised long ago when the game was first revealed. There will be story missions at some point, but we won’t get hero talents, long-term progression or anything like that. Essentially, the PvE we had hoped to get, the PvE that was the whole reason for giving Overwatch 2 its title, has been scrapped. This is, in short, for a whole host of reasons.
Overwatch 2’s PvE mode was important for many reasons. We’ll briefly go into the story it could have told, but first it’s worth pointing out that essentially the reason Overwatch 2 justified itself as a sequel has now been scrapped. Without the campaign that was teased all the way back in 2019, we are instead dealing with the same multiplayer experience as Overwatch, with a few extra heroes and the odd event that tells us a bit of the story. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like a full-fledged sequel to me.
This is not Overwatch 2, but Overwatch 1.5, and yes it is good that there is a free-to-play model for those who may only want to pick up the game for a few hours to see what all the hype is about. But for Overwatch fans, who want to put hours into the game, getting the skins and working their way up to Diamond each season, the blatant battle pass model Blizzard has chosen makes fans long for loot boxes again, a phrase that would have been insane to type five years ago.
The cancellation of PvE is something most cynical fans believed would happen, but in a decent world that wouldn’t be the worst thing that could happen to Overwatch 2. Instead, this is the latest flop in a long list Blizzard has compiled during its short time with Overwatch 2. From terribly priced store items, to an overall lack of new and interesting content, to forcing original Overwatch players onto this new platform, we are dealing with a poor imitation of a sequel and a game that has proven time and time again that it puts profits above its players.
Overwatch 2 is not alone in this, and many shooters and multiplayer-only titles now suffer from treating their players as cash cows. However, since this was not always the case in Game of the Year Overwatch, it is becoming increasingly difficult to defend the choice to switch to Overwatch 2 when the new heroes and maps could have just been brought into the original game.
This is not a criticism of the development team here, but the state of the game as a whole is nowhere near what many fans had hoped for in 2019. There used to be the copium ready to huff that it would get better when PvE dropped, but now that’s just not going to happen, and it leaves Overwatch 2 as a blatant, hollow shell of a sequel when it could have been so much more.
For fans, another reason why this will be a painful loss is the lack of a true campaign experience. With its animated shorts and lore, Overwatch has proven that it certainly has enough interesting content to make a compelling story, but instead of leaning on that, we will now likely get some very simple PvE missions. This may still give us a dose of story, but without the long-term progression promised in 2019, we won’t experience that story in one overarching plot, but instead get it in short bursts whenever Blizzard can be bothered to throw it in.
The gameplay we could have seen with the different heroes reworked for the campaign would also have allowed for two refreshing experiences within Overwatch 2. If you’re tired of zipping through multiplayer maps as Tracer, you can instead switch over with your friends and see what you can unlock with her, for example, in the campaign. Still, we don’t get any of that. Neither the big, overarching story, nor the gameplay switch-up. Again, while Overwatch 2’s multiplayer can be exceptionally fun at times, it’s still incredibly similar to Overwatch’s gameplay. We needed a justification somewhere for a sequel that didn’t just scream for an excuse to squeeze money out of a battle pass.
There are still millions of Overwatch fans out there. Some may give up on the game because of this, but the majority will still continue to play. The game is still fairly new, so it will likely retain players for several more years. However, unless Blizzard really steps up its game in the content it brings to the table, more and more people will soon find out that they have been mis-selling a sequel.