Overwatch 2’s PvE Fumble

I’m feeling jaded and nonplussed today. I guess I’m yet another victim in the vicious cycle of game studios over-promising and under-delivering. Today I’m talking about Overwatch 2‘s Invasion.

For Overwatch 2‘s anniversary update, Blizzard added new PvP maps, a new support hero, and new PvE missions. All of these are awesome, by the way. I do love a lot of things about this anniversary update. Illari is buttery smooth to play and uses a healing mechanic I’ve been waiting for. But that’s on the PvP side of things. Let’s switch gears and talk about the PvE missions.

Image Credit: Activision/Blizzard

The PvE missions are fun–if you can afford Blizzard’s $15 paywall and have three other people also willing to cough up the cash to play with you. Yes, you read that right. You and three others must all pay to play. However, there is an exception. A bonus event mission is available free to play. It feels more like slightly polished workshop content, rather than a full mission like the ones that are behind the paywall, but, hey at least it’s free.

After years of waiting for new Overwatch PvE content, it’s finally here. Blizzard has teased this since Blizzcon 2019, so I’m comfortable with admitting that I was pretty hyped for this (I’m in the camp that remembers when Talent Trees were going to be a thing).

Remember this?
Image Credit: Activision/Blizzard

Now that it’s here, reception seems to be pretty lukewarm with a consensus that the best mission is the third one in Gothenburg. Ironically, a limited roster actually helps this mission out a lot. For this mission players can only pick between four heroes: Reinhardt, Birgitte, Torbjörn, and Bastion.

Because of this limited roster, the gameplay feels tailor-made for these heroes. As Torbjörn, you can run around and place different types of turrets, and as Bastion you basically are a turret, and from there you have two shield characters with the added bonus of one of them being a healer. There’s lots of synergy on the battlefield here, and I’m sure you can imagine that these four characters mesh extremely well together. This goes for both gameplay and story. There’s a memorable story beat in one of the cinematics where Reinhardt and Bastion meet canonically for the first time and Torbjörn has to step in to prevent a brawl because Reinhardt perceives Bastion as a threat. Blizzard is really good at nailing character moments like that down.

Image Credit: Activision/Blizzard

In fact, a majority of the complaints players have about these PvE missions do not stem from the story. Almost all of the complainants lobbed at this batch of PvE missions are about the lackluster amount of content these missions bring to the table and about how they feel like repackaged Archives missions. To an extent, they aren’t wrong.

So what’s the takeaway? To no one’s surprise, Blizzard seemingly dropped this as a cash-grab. It’s scraps of a game mode that have been in development since 2019, and rather than waste all of that hard work, it was better to just release it. It’s locked behind an offensive paywall (at most this should have cost about $5, or been released for free), and it suffers from a lack of content and polish at a level which we are used to seeing the Overwatch team thrive at. On top of all that, the missions suffer from no single player mode. The AI that testers report being in the game for the heroes during testing played really well, and are still present when a player drops out of a mission. It’s a shame one can’t boot up missions that one paid for without three additional players.

It begs the question: where does the Overwatch team go from here? There’s still a mission that’s supposedly under development where players take on members of Talon, but past that, nothing’s been revealed to the public.

I hope this is still in development.
Image Credit: Activision/Blizzard

Bitter talking points aside, I still love Overwatch 2, and I wish the devs well. I understand that the team is likely experiencing some crunch culture, and the expectation to churn out new content every season must be exhausting. When it comes to new story missions, I hope the team is rested up and full of fresh ideas. The Gothenburg mission is a glimpse into what these PvE missions could be. Hone in on a select few characters and make them shine. That seems to be the working formula.

What are your thoughts on season six? Did you and a group of friends play through Invasion? What are your thought on Illari? Tell us about your Overwatch related experiences over on the Boss Rush Discord.

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Featured Image: Activision/Blizzard

One thought on “Overwatch 2’s PvE Fumble

  1. I’ve never been involved with Overwatch, but it’s horrifying what conditions Blizzard expects its developers to work under and what it expects the audience to buy without question.

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