Overwatch 2 | director reflects on cancelled PvE Hero Mode

overwatch 2 pve

Overwatch 2 director Aaron Keller has written in more detail about the decision to cancel the game’s much-anticipated PvE Hero Mode.


On 16 May, Blizzard made the surprising announcement that Overwatch 2's long-in-development PvE Hero Mode had been cancelled.

Stating that the story-led multiplayer mode hadn’t “made the progress” expected, the game’s executive producer Jared Neuss announced in a Twitch stream that development would be put back into Overwatch 2's base PvP mode, and that smaller PvE events would be arriving in the future – including the game’s upcoming season 6.

In a more recent blog post published on Blizzard’s website, meanwhile, Overwatch 2 director Aaron Keller has written in a bit more detail about the Hero Mode’s cancellation.

He began by going back to the original Overwatch, which was forged from the remains of the cancelled Project Titan. “That game had many facets, but at its heart, it was an FPS MMO,” Keller writes. “The Overwatch team, especially at its inception, considered itself an MMO development team. As we transitioned away from that original concept and started creating Overwatch, we included plans to one day return to that scope.”

Keller then described the team’s plans to transition from the original Overwatch (which he describes as the series’ “crawl” stage) to “a dedicated version of PvE”, which was considered its “walk” stage, while an “MMO was the run”.

In other words, Keller and his team had plans to gradually build Overwatch up from a PvP shooter to a more grand, multi-featured MMO – something more along the lines of their earlier plans for Project Titan.

By the sounds of things, the team’s plans for Hero Mode were simply too ambitious to make happen, especially with its development existing alongside Overwatch 2′s ongoing live service requirements. “Things rarely go as planned in game development,” Keller continues. “We struggled to find our footing with the Hero Mission experience early on. Scope grew. We were trying to do too many things at once and we lost focus. The team built some really great things, including hero talents, new enemy units and early versions of missions, but we were never able to bring together all of the elements needed to ship a polished, cohesive experience.”

When the studio realised “we were continuously pulling resources away from the live game,” the “incredibly difficult decision” was made to cancel the Hero Mode altogether. For his part, Keller’s contrite about the mode’s failure (“I had trouble pivoting away from a vision that just wasn’t working. And for that I would like to apologise to our players and to our team. I’m Sorry.”), but adds that Overwatch 2 will continue to evolve over time.

“We are focusing our efforts and our passion into making this game an ever-evolving experience,” Keller concludes. “We are still committed to building many of the elements we talked about at BlizzCon 2019, including the Story Missions that delve into the next chapter of the Overwatch universe, new types of co-op content we haven’t yet shared, and new stories that we’re planning to tell both in and out of the game.”

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