Overwatch 2 cancels promised co-op PvE mode, will be worked into live service [Update]

Reinhardt, Tracer and Mei in Overwatch 2
(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

What you need to know

  • In a new Overwatch 2 developer livestream, Blizzard announced that its originally planned PvE campaign mode with hero talents and long-term progression has been cancelled.
  • Instead, the studio plans to incorporate various forms of "canon and very not canon" co-op content into Overwatch 2's live service roadmap.
  • The first batch of PvE co-op story missions is scheduled to become available in Overwatch 2 Season 6, which is expected to begin on August 15, 2023.
  • Game Director Aaron Keller says that by releasing co-op content this way, players can look forward to it "more often, and with more variety than we had originally announced."

Update 5/16/23 at 8:53 p.m. PT / 11:53 p.m. ET: Responding to the community's confusion about whether or not Overwatch 2 PvE has been cancelled completely, Executive Producer Jared Neuss has clarified on Twitter that while the original vision for co-op has been scrapped, fans can still expect "a lot of great PvE content" moving forward.

"A clarification that I wanted to make is that, while we made the decision to cut Hero Mode + Talents, we have a lot of great PvE content coming this year," wrote Neuss. "Big story missions, new cinematics, co-op events and single player Hero Mastery missions are all on the way."

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Our original story is below.

In a new livestream about the future of Overwatch 2, developer Blizzard Entertainment has announced that it has cancelled its original plans for a co-op PvE mode with hero talent trees, long-term progression, and other features. Instead, the studio plans to incorporate pieces of co-op content into its live service offerings over time.

"We can't deliver on that original vision for PvE that was shown in 2019," said Overwatch 2 Executive Producer Jared Neuss during the stream, explaining that the developers struggled with the "effort required to pull all of that [content] together into a Blizzard-quality experience" and that "there really is no end in sight or defined end date" with development.

"So what that means is that we won't be delivering that dedicated hero mode with talent trees, that long-term progression...those things just aren't in our plans anymore," Neuss continued. "We know that this is going to be disappointing for many people. To be perfectly honest, it's been really difficult for many of us...a lot of folks on the team have poured their heart and soul into that stuff."

The news comes as a complete shock to many fans, as the dedicated Overwatch 2 PvE campaign was one of the main appeals of the shift from the first Overwatch to its sequel. Notably, co-op content is still on the way, though it will look different than what the developers had planned originally.

"Going forward though, rather than doing a big one-time PvE release and rather than pouring all of our efforts into these singular PvE releases, we're planning to make co-op experiences and co-op gameplay just part of our live roadmap," said Game Director Aaron Keller. "We want you to be able to experience it more often, and with more variety than we had originally announced."

A new roadmap from Blizzard confirms that the first set of PvE story missions is scheduled to come in Overwatch 2 Season 6, which is expected to begin on August 15. Keller says that there will be both "canon" and "very not canon" missions in the future, with the developers aiming to give themselves "flexibility to explore the universe of Overwatch and its cast of heroes and villains as well as just try new things."

The roadmap also reveals that Season 5 (coming June 13 when Overwatch 2 Season 4 ends) will bring a new Questwatch event, something called Mischief and Magic, a new cinematic, and the return of the Summer Games. Alongside co-op missions, Season 6 will include a new support hero, what looks to be a new map called Flashpoint, and Hero Mastery missions. In Season 7 and beyond, players can expect a new tank hero, new and returning modes and events, hero changes and reworks for Roadhog and Sombra, additional new cinematics, new Hero Mastery missions, and a lore codex.

Windows Central's take

There's really no beating around the bush here: this is a massive disappointment, and I'm genuinely shocked that Activision Blizzard would cancel its plans for Overwatch 2's dedicated PvE campaign experience. Not only was it used to advertise the game, but a vertical slice was even put into player hands at BlizzCon 2019.

I'm at least glad that Blizzard isn’t completely scrapping co-op and will blend new missions into Overwatch 2's live service content updates. But it's still heartbreaking to know that we'll never get the deep PvE gameplay with exciting hero upgrades and progression systems that was promised years ago. There's a massive amount of potential here that’s not being capitalized on, and that sucks.

With that said, it’s also important to remember to be kind to the developers that invested years of work into this now-scrapped project. Undoubtedly, they’re just as upset if not more-so than players are about the decision from Activision Blizzard‘s management.

Despite this disappointing news about its PvE, Overwatch 2 is one of the best Xbox games on the market for fans of competitive shooters, and it's free-to-play on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows PC, PS5, and PS4. If you're a new player and want a head start on progression, consider getting the updated Ultimate Battle Pass Bundle. It includes Premium Battle Pass access, 20 instant Battle Pass levels, 2,000 Overwatch coins, and several Starwatch skins.


Overwatch 2: Ultimate Battle Pass Bundle

The $30 Overwatch 2: Ultimate Battle Pass Pack offers fans a variety of benefits that will allow them to get guaranteed access to a Premium Battle Pass track, 20 Battle Pass levels, 2,000 Overwatch Coins, and during Season 4, Starwatch skins.

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Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.