Big Overwatch 2 Story Mode To Be Gutted Into Something Smaller

On May 16, Blizzard outlined its future plans for Overwatch 2, offering new information on the long-awaited story content revealed back when the sequel was announced in 2019—though some parts of it won’t be released as they were initially unveiled.

Overwatch 2 is in the midst of its fourth season, which added Lifeweaver, a new support hero who has already seen several tweaks since launching in April. The studio held a Twitch stream where the team discussed the hero shooter’s future as far as season 7 (the game is in season 4 now). Some of the changes are small, such as reintroducing the “on fire” status that highlights when you’re doing well in a match, while others are much larger, concerning the oft-promised PvE story content players have been asking for.

When Overwatch 2 season 5 begins, the team will introduce a new limited-time event called Mischief & Magic, which, similar to the recent Starwatch event, seems like a themed reskin of the game offering a fantasy vibe instead of Starwatch’s sci-fi lean. The popular Summer Games event that focuses on sports and summer wear will also make a return in season 5, then the creator workshop mode that lets players make custom game modes will also make a return. On top of all of this, we’ll also be getting a new animated cinematic focusing on Sojourn and her dog Murphy, who is good and perfect.

The Overwatch 2 roadmap shows plans for seasons 5-7.

Image: Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch 2 PvE mode changes

Season 6 is where the version of Overwatch 2 Blizzard announced back in 2019 finally starts to kick off, as the team will finally add story missions as part of its seasonal rollout. Game developer Aaron Keller says these missions will kickstart a new story arc within the Overwatch universe. Also planned for season 6 is a new support hero, a new event called Flashpoint, and Hero Mastery, which will give you hero-specific training modules to run through solo.

Notably, some key aspects of the originally pitched PvE content won’t make it to the live game. This includes removing the dedicated hero mode and talent trees that would’ve let players customize their character’s abilities to do silly twists on established attacks, like changing Mei’s Cryo-Freeze into a rolling snowball that does damage to enemies as it rolls over them. Keller says this largely came as part of the Overwatch 2 team prioritizing the live game and devoting resources to that.

Blizzard laid out the broad strokes of what to expect from season 7 and beyond, including a new tank character, another collaboration similar to the One Punch Man event, a new Control map, a new Winter event, new Hero Mastery Missions, reworks for Roadhog and Sombra, the return of “fan favorite” modes, new cinematics, the return of competitive Mystery Heroes, and a lore codex so you can keep track of the story that will hopefully matter after more of said story actually starts rolling out.

There’s some stuff to be excited about here, but as an Overwatch fan who really enjoys the lore and the characters, I’m pretty disappointed to hear Blizzard doesn’t seem to be prioritizing its PvE content at all. I’ve put over 1,000 hours into the game over the years and still love its competitive mode, but it sucks to hear that after all these years waiting, Blizzard has more or less said that the sequel, which was initially pitched as a story-forward moment for the series, is shifting its approach.

Gaming CEO Gutted After $2 Billion Deal Collapses In Real Time

Embracer Group CEO Lars Wingefors looked dejected during his gaming conglomerate’s latest earnings presentation. Despite recently acquiring the gaming studios behind Deus Ex and Tomb Raider at a bargain, Dead Island 2 releasing to strong sales and good reviews, and now owning the rights to The Lord of the Rings, Embracer’s stock is in the tank today after it was revealed the company lost out on a $2 billion game development deal at the last minute last night.

“Up until late last night, we had an amazing cash flow because of that transaction,” Wingefors said amid heavy sighs and pregnant pauses during a May 24 Q&A session. Without ever naming the company who backed out of the $2 billion partnership, he said Embracer had a “really strong commitment” from someone it trusted. In a press release he wrote that the agreement would have been transformative for the company and “set a new benchmark for the gaming industry.”

For years now, Embracer has been snatching up every small publisher and game studio it could find. In 2020 it was Saber Interactive (World War Z). In 2021 it was Gearbox Entertainment (Borderlands). And in 2022 it was Crystal Dynamics (Tomb Raider) and Eidos Montreal (Deus Ex, Thief). Sometimes the results have been mixed. Last year’s Saints Row reboot had its moments but launched in a sorry state. Sometimes it’s worked out. Dead Island 2, which spent years in development hell getting traded from one studio to the next, came out last month and was actually quite decent.

The big question now is who Embracer was planning on partnering with and for what. Wingefors said the company had been working on the deal since last fall, with hundreds of specialists involved on both sides, and a strong belief it would all work out despite some logistical challenges. The list of companies that could likely even afford a $2 billion commitment is quite small.

Sony, with its penchant for PS5 exclusives, is one possibility. Microsoft, which is in dire need of new blockbusters for Game Pass, is another (Crystal Dynamics is also currently involved in the first-party Xbox exclusive, Perfect Dark). Massive Chinese conglomerates like NetEase and Tencent might also fit the bill, or maybe even a U.S. tech giant like Amazon or Netflix, both of which are trying to add game content to their streaming and entertainment businesses. Embracer purchased the rights to The Lord of the Rings for $770 million last August, right before talks for the deal apparently began.

Whoever ghosted Embracer, the Swedish holding company’s been left in a tough spot. Its stock price plummeted nearly 45 percent in a single day following the news. It’s also facing a number of internal game delays. A remake of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic originally in production at Aspyr, the Austin-based studio Embracer purchased for $450 million in 2021, was reportedly in trouble as of last year. We are also due for another Metro shooter from 4A Games, though the studio is based in Kyiv, Ukraine where a war with Russia is now in its second year.

               

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