Overwatch 2 game director Aaron Keller has released a new blog that dives deep into the cancellation of the sequel’s PvE (Player Versus Environment) Hero Missions. When news of the abrupt removal spread across the internet, the game’s community expressed deep disappointment, citing it as the primary hook for their interest in Overwatch 2.
It had been described as a flagship game mode, and would have introduced the ability to cooperate with a squad and play through rounds with a team, levelling up characters along the way. Here’s the official description of the planned mode, per Keller:
‘Hero Missions … encompassed an in-development game mode that allowed players to upgrade individual heroes through talent trees, providing a deeply replayable version of PvE in Overwatch 2. It was a really exciting concept, something that not only resonated with players, but that the team was passionate about and really dedicated to.’
It was previously in development alongside Story Missions, which feature ‘linear narratives’ about the heroes of Overwatch, diving deep into their backgrounds and motivations. These will still debut in Season 6 of Overwatch 2, but will now be the sole PvE offering in the game.
According to Keller, this decision was made due to a need to focus on the development of the main game, as its scope and ambition grew.
‘Things rarely go as planned in game development,’ Keller said, detailing initial plans for Overwatch. ‘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. We had an exciting but gargantuan vision and we were continuously pulling resources away from the live game in an attempt to realise it.’
Keller believes the team set itself up with high expectations – but subsequently, could not corral all its ideas into a deliverable experience. After years of ‘work and emotional investment’ the plug was pulled, and the team turned its focus to ‘refining plans for future [game] seasons’.
‘This has been hard for us, but as the director on this project, I have to do my best to make decisions that put the game and the community first, even when those decisions are disappointing,’ Keller said. ‘In this case, 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.’
To end his latest blog, Keller promised the Overwatch 2 team would continue to put the game and its community first, with plenty of new content on the way for those disappointed by the cancellation of Hero Missions.