After only 4 months, Blizzard will axe one of Overwatch 2's last PvE modes because it 'hasn't resonated with players in the ways that we hoped'

Three Overwatch heroes running toward the screen in a blue and white abstract level environment
(Image credit: Blizzard)

One of the few Overwatch 2 co-op PvE modes, Hero Mastery Gauntlet, will be removed in the next season due to a lack of interest, Blizzard announced via a forum post.

"Hero Mastery Gauntlet was intended to bring the high score-chasing excitement of Hero Mastery missions into a multiplayer format," community manager Kaedi wrote. "Unfortunately, it hasn’t resonated with players in the ways that we hoped."

Hero Mastery Gauntlet—not to be confused with the Hero Mastery Solo courses—is a three-player mode where you defend towers from waves of robots using unique tools like turrets and explosive barrels. Your final score is based on how efficiently you clear enemies out and pick up coins that spawn in the level. It's a fun way to try heroes you don't normally play until you increase the difficulty and are forced into a meta team composition just to survive—the curse of every Overwatch PvE mode.

Compared to the solo Hero Mastery mode, which is essentially a growing list of obstacle courses for individual heroes, Hero Mastery Gauntlet never really caught on with the community. It has nothing to do with Overwatch 2's story, nor does it have any sort of progression systems like the skill trees Blizzard scrapped with the 'Hero Mode' last year. It's a mode for a very niche set of high-skilled groups who want to grind the same thing over and over for some small cosmetic rewards.

That it's being removed after only four months speaks to Overwatch 2's confusing approach to PvE after abandoning most of its ambitions for the sequel. The story missions still exist, but are now buried under a vaguely-named "missions" menu option. I queued up for a couple of them a few weeks ago and was given bots as teammates because it couldn't find real players fast enough. Bloomberg and Kotaku report that Blizzard has no current plans to release the second set of story missions after the massive Activision Blizzard layoffs gutted the PvE side of the team—information that PC Gamer has also corroborated separately. 

It's not surprising to see a vacant mode go—plenty of live service games do this to keep queue times low—but that doesn't mean Hero Mastery Gauntlet couldn't have been iterated on to become something closer to what players wanted out of Overwatch 2's original PvE-focused pitch. It isn't a bad mode; it just suffered from a lack of complexity that would make you want to keep coming back. But if there are no more people left to work on it, it's probably better to cut it off as the PvP side of the game takes the rest of the year to refine existing maps and heroes.

No one can say Overwatch 2 PvE is truly dead, but I think Blizzard's silence on the subject over the last year makes it clear that it's not a priority. With the recent changes to make the game more like a MOBA than an FPS and to make heroes free again, Overwatch 2 has basically spent the last two years reverting back to the kind of game that Overwatch 1 was. Only the ghosts of the ambitious sequel it could've been remain. 

Associate Editor

Tyler has covered games, games culture, and hardware for over a decade before joining PC Gamer as Associate Editor. He's done in-depth reporting on communities and games as well as criticism for sites like Polygon, Wired, and Waypoint. He's interested in the weird and the fascinating when it comes to games, spending time probing for stories and talking to the people involved. Tyler loves sinking into games like Final Fantasy 14, Overwatch, and Dark Souls to see what makes them tick and pluck out the parts worth talking about. His goal is to talk about games the way they are: broken, beautiful, and bizarre.