Overwatch 2’s lead writer is touting the game’s new, four-player story-based missions as a “more traditional way to tell a story in the Overwatch universe,” a job that has been done by trailers, seasonal events and, well, headcanon since its 2016 launch.
In an interview with PlayStation Blog, lead writer Michael Chu said Overwatch 2 will have “a complete story with beginning, middle, and end.
“In addition, we’ve finally moved the story forward after Winston’s recall, and we hope to continue to push events into the future in the stories to come,” Chu said.
Chu added that the story-driven component of Overwatch 2 is a response to longstanding community desire to have the Overwatch canon advanced by gameplay, as opposed to non-interactive cinematics and other media. He acknowledged that the seasonal Archives PvE events, which began in Overwatch in the spring of 2017, were mostly an “experiment” with story-driven content.
Blizzard said its PvE maps are “2x” the size of regular Overwatch maps, which adds new gameplay and story possibilities, too.
“We like to call the story a Story Experience,” Chu said. “It’s not quite a single-player campaign in that you will be playing the story alongside three other players in co-op. Players will experience the story together with their friends.”
Color us skeptical, however. Earlier this month, we went hands-on with one of the story missions at BlizzCon 2019, noting that familiar heroes have enhanced abilities, or even different ones, from what players are used to in Overwatch. But, “playing with a set of locked-in heroes, for 20-minute stretches against AI-controlled opponents hasn’t been a draw for me in Archives,” said Polygon’s Michael McWhertor, “and the same is so far true for Overwatch 2.”
Aaron Keller, Overwatch’s assistant game director, went on to tell PlayStation Blog that PvP and PvE progression are “entirely separate,” mainly to keep PvE’s differently powered versions of heroes out of the competitive arena.
“We don’t want gameplay changing talents and abilities to give an unfair advantage in PvP,” Keller said. “Our goal is to make a robust, meaningful progression system that feeds into our Hero Missions, where players can play and replay for many hours, or as their main mode of play after they complete the Overwatch 2 story.”
That said, player progression in the original Overwatch will carry over, and players will have access, in Overwatch 2, to all of the content they acquired in the first game. Similarly, Overwatch players will get access to all of Overwatch 2’s PvP content, with the PvE story missions remaining exclusive to the sequel.
Overwatch 2 was formally announced at BlizzCon 2019, although it doesn’t even have a launch window yet. It will come to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One when it launches, however.
At BlizzCon 2019, game director Jeff Kaplan said the Archives event would still run at its usual time in 2020, although it won’t have a new story-driven mission. Otherwise, Blizzard’s Overwatch team was supposed to “go dark” after the BlizzCon reveal, which makes today’s Q&A on PlayStation Blog more intriguing.