Overwatch 2's long-awaited co-op story missions will go live in August
But Blizzard has scaled back its PvE ambitions for the game.
Blizzard has revealed the roadmap for the rest of 2023, including details on when the first story missions are coming to the game. They'll be available in season six, which should start in mid-August.
Story missions are part of the long-awaited co-op side of the game. When Blizzard released Overwatch 2 last October, the player vs. environment (PvE) aspects of the game that it first were not available. That's because the team to work on the PvE modes.
The studio didn't want to keep fans waiting much longer for an overhaul of the traditional, competitive (or PvP) side of Overwatch 2 after what was effectively a two-year content drought. So, Blizzard split development of the two halves so it could get the sequel out faster. There have been PvE experiences in Overwatch 2, but so far they've been constrained to limited-time events.
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It's worth noting that this won't be the full PvE vision that Blizzard laid out almost four years ago. "Development on the PvE experience really hasn't made the progress that we would have hoped," Overwatch 2 executive producer Jared Neuss said. The team had created "a bunch of amazing content," including "ridiculous" gameplay augmentations for heroes. "Unfortunately, the effort required to pull all of that together into a Blizzard-quality experience that we can ship to you is huge," Neuss said. "With everything we've learned about what it takes to operate this game at the level you deserve, it's clear that we can't deliver on that original vision for PvE."
Hero missions have been cut in order to not pull too many resources away from the live game, which is the priority for Blizzard. As such, talent trees, an RPG-style feature of hero missions that would have enabled players to customize hero abilities, have been scrapped.
That's not to say there aren't intriguing PvE features coming. A single-player version of a PvE experience with a leaderboard is in the works. A ton of co-op features are planned and Blizzard will continue to add content on a frequent basis, including more story missions.
Before the story missions debut in a few months, there's a whole new season in between. Season five will arrive in June with what appears to be a fantasy theme. Fans can expect a new limited-time event called Questwatch, a new cinematic, the Summer Games event and updates for the Workshop mode, in which players can create custom games. The On Fire system, which lets everyone in a match see when certain players are performing especially well, will return in season five too.
Story missions aren't the only big change on the docket for season six. The developers say this season will mark the biggest update since launch. Blizzard will add another support hero, a firing range and an overhauled player progression system. The Anniversary event will return as well. Perhaps most intriguingly, there will be a new map type for the PvP modes called Flashpoint, which will debut with two new maps.
There will be a bigger focus on building out the story of Overwatch 2 as well. For one thing, seasons will be named and, with the help of in-game cinematics, season six will "push the narrative arc of Overwatch forward for the first time since the original game release."
Looking ahead to season seven and beyond, Blizzard is promising reworks for Sombra (yes, another one) and Roadhog. Also in the pipeline are another collaboration following the One-Punch Man crossover, a fresh tank hero, a control map, a winter event, a lore database and, most excitingly for me, the return of competitive Mystery Heroes.