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Mourning Overwatch 2's Story Mode, A Tragedy That Didn't Need To Happen

Yesterday, Blizzard held a livestream in which it announced that, yes, a new tank hero, map, and cinematic are coming to Overwatch 2. It also announced that its PvE story mode, y’know, the whole reason it said it was making Overwatch 2 in the first place, is getting nerfed into the ground. Deep in mourning, Kotaku’s resident OW2 players decided to gather together and hold a wake for all the OW2 PvE story mode content Blizzard unceremoniously gutted.

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Alyssa Mercante (Moira Main): Woof, Overwatch 2 is not what they promised four years ago. How are we feeling today?

Kenneth Shepard (Soldier: 76 Main): It has been 1,291 days since BlizzCon 2019, and that was how long I was an Overwatch 2 believer. Now, I am perhaps the most dejected I’ve felt about the game since I started playing it. Usually after work, I boot it up for at least a few matches, but today I couldn’t even be bothered. The TikTok algorithm shows me Overwatch 2 videos more than probably anything else, and all I could do was scroll past them. There aren’t a lot of games that I’ve put this much time into and while I think the kneejerk reaction is to be angry, I’m just fucking bummed.

Isaiah Colbert (D.Va Main): Turns out the real Overwatch 2 was the season passes and loot boxes we opened along the way. RIP substantial in-game PvE story content. I’ll see you all in therapy.

Alyssa: I’m just gagged that Blizz was ostensibly working on this since it stopped giving us any sort of OG Overwatch content in 2019 and then they just canned it anyway. How am I not supposed to feel like the pivot from original game add-on to standalone Overwatch 2 was anything more than a way to get people to pay for what used to be free skins?

Isaiah: I mean, when I installed OW2 on my Xbox One, the Xbone literally never changed the original OW logo while downloading, like it was just an update. So the veil was quite transparent in my household from day one. The only thing I’m still mourning is 6v6 matches. Why’d they have to take everything from me, a lowly healer main?

Alyssa: Healer main also, gotta love when the solo tank goes off-tank and I just get harassed by Tracer and Sombra for an entire match. It just all feels so disingenuous and sketchy, man. Every step of the way.


Read More: Overwatch 2's Ambitious Story Mode Is Getting Gutted Into Something Smaller

Isaiah: So on a scale from Rein charging into a D.Va ult to a Hanzo main who actually gets their shots, how shocked were you from yesterday’s news that PvE has been nerfed?

Alyssa: I mean, Blizzard said when Overwatch 2 launched that PvE was coming in 2023 right? So nearly halfway through, it tells us “jk”? Honestly, if it weren’t for the audacity I wouldn’t be shocked at all considering Blizzard’s been bait-and-switching us since 2019.

Isaiah: I’ll be honest, when I wrote up the article about Blizz saying that PvE would be “coming later” I knew deep in my bones we weren’t gonna ever get it. Shame it made the game in a new engine just to showcase the characters’ feet on Twitter. Would’ve loved some story content. Especially since all OW players have had to tide things over were YouTube videos from the game’s voice actors and the odd comic-book issue.

You’ve been playing OW2 more often than I have. Have you come across players in competitive or casual matches that’d whisper about waiting for PvE content? Cuz I can at least remember that the revolving door of Junkenstein PvE events and that one null-sector mission left a lot to be desired when it came to finally delivering some exciting content. If PvE content in 2023 was supposed to look like those events but with an entirely different ability skill tree and the odd voice line interactions between characters, I kinda feel like we’re better off without all that in retrospect. Maybe Blizzard will just release cinematics like a lot of folks on Twitter keep asking every time it releases a Pixar-quality short.

Alyssa: Well, we’re getting the lore index, Isaiah, that should be enough, right? And honestly, I haven’t heard much about PvE grumblings when I play, but I’m also in sweaty matches that exemplify the still-broken matchmaking so, makes sense.

Kenneth: This has been a weird thing for me with Overwatch in that I feel like I came into the game at the exact right time for the PvE pivot to sting. I started playing Overwatch in 2019, largely on the back of its characters and story. I read all the comics, watched the cinematics repeatedly, and read fanfic. I was a sicko for all that shit. I even have audiobooks of all the novels. So when OW2 was announced and it was pretty much exactly what I wanted, I was on board. I feel like I came into OW just late enough to not feel burned by the stagnation of the story because I knew it was, ostensibly, coming. Now, Blizzard says it’s still doing story content, but all the really interesting new mechanics and design philosophies have just been washed away, and it’s like, I didn’t spend all this time waiting for more Archives missions.

I was expecting a robust campaign that finally delivered on all the promise of these characters and world because that’s what was pitched in 2019. I really believed in what we were told was coming and now it just sounds like this will be something the developers toss out every other season on the scale of what we’ve seen before.


Read More: Blizzard: Overwatch 2 ‘Launch Experience Has Been Frustrating For Many’

Isaiah: OW2's entire launch was a cursed trainwreck in terms of functionality with its infinite log-in time delays, the rolling out of SMS logins, and aesthetic changes amounting to just OW2 taking place four hours after OW. This all came after director Aaron Keller said the closed beta lacking PvE would allow the team to make “the live game the most vibrant and dynamic PvP experience anywhere.” That rocky launch led to Blizzard apologizing with free skins and charms. I can only imagine the consolation prize Blizzard would have had to line up if it rushed out PvE content that had as many hiccups as the game’s launch.

Kenneth: So do we get an apology present for Blizz gutting PvE? I will take a cinematic of Lifeweaver and Baptiste’s date.

Isaiah: I’ll even take the devs announcing Mama Hong as the new tank hero.

Alyssa: I mean why didn’t it drop Overwatch 2 with like, a fuck-ton of content then, if it was probably always considering gutting the promised PvE? If you want to make money, drop a ton of skins from the jump.

Kenneth: It makes you wonder how long this has been on the table. PvE hasn’t been shown in any meaningful capacity since 2020, but the developers were still talking about it and promising it would come in the form we knew it before Overwatch 2 went into beta. Yes, they hemmed and hawed about all their reasonings for launching PvP first, but so many of these changes to the game’s structure have been a pivot, rather than what they initially pitched. So I have to wonder if this shift in rollout has only come together in the past year, maybe, and the seasonal rollout means Blizzard’s spreading out content and skins that could have, at one point, been part of a much bigger launch before all these changes started happening. I wonder when was the first time someone at Blizzard said in a meeting “Everything we’ve been working on has to adhere to this new seasonal model.”

Isaiah: Well unless Blizzard has nerfed its promise to be more transparent with OW2 developments, I hope we get to hear about what led to this decision in a shorter time than it took the devs to finally come clean about PvE getting so nerfed. Overwatch 2 has become the Barnum effect for anyone who wondered if the game was still worth playing. “Anyone” being myself. Luckily for me, I pre-mourned PvE content not being a thing somewhere around the time Blizzard did that Greek mythology-themed skin event.

Kenneth: Yeah, and another takeaway from the stream that has me feeling pretty sour about the game was that it was hyping up a lot of the non-canonical story events like Starwatch. I wrote about this on the site, but I do not give a fuck about these themed events anymore. I don’t care about watching my Overwatch faves cosplay as characters from a different world. I play Overwatch because I like its characters and want to see their stories unfold. Making Brigitte a space dictator’s right hand is not a replacement for the shit this game has needed for seven years.


Isaiah: Now that the Band-Aid has been ripped off, do you guys still plan on playing OW2, or was that the last straw for you?

Alyssa: I almost logged on last night and was like, let me take a beat here. I had a horrible experience the other night playing comp where I was just getting abused by a dude in voice chat, so maybe I’ll take a break. It’s really been my number-one game for the last few months, but I don’t know anymore.

Kenneth: I don’t think it was the last straw because I am a clown and will probably play this game until I’m dead in the ground. I do still want to see what these story missions look like and see if there’s anything there for me. But man, the emotional whiplash I’ve felt for this game in the span of a month is something else. Lifeweaver, despite his various problems, was a real shot in the arm for me in a game I was already still playing and loving. As a character who embodied what I love about Overwatch, he really struck a chord with me. The hard part about this is that, despite the PvE gutting, there’s still so much about this game that I love.

Maybe it’s a good thing Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is out, and games like Street Fighter 6 and Rain Code are coming, so I have other things to play while I sort out my feelings. It really feels like Overwatch and I had a rocky relationship for a while, had gotten back to a healthy place, then I found out it betrayed my trust in a powerful new way. This really took the wind out of my sails, I’m just not sure how much effort I’m going to put into it going forward.

Isaiah: I’ve already started a lil fling with Hoyoverse’s Honkai: Star Rail, so I think I’ll continue to pursue that relationship further and occasionally check in with OW2 should friends want to party up and kvetch about the ways our mains don’t play like they used to.

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