The world's most confusing videogame sequel has another surprise that nobody really wanted or asked for. After canceling its ambitious PvE hero mode years into development, Overwatch 2 is now going to charge $15 for its upcoming story missions.
On August 10, Overwatch 2: Invasion, otherwise known as season 6, will debut with three co-op PvE missions which finally continue the story that started all the way back in 2016. The missions will span three new maps set in Rio de Janeiro, Toronto, and Gothenburg, and you'll play as either Sojourn, Winston, Mercy, or Cassidy, according to Game Informer's recent hands-on preview.
These story missions won't include the ambitious hero mode that Blizzard promised when it announced Overwatch 2 in 2019. Hero missions would've had replayable scenarios, randomized objectives, and an expansive talent tree system that let you modify your favorite hero abilities.
Story missions will more closely resemble the smaller PvE missions that Blizzard has made over the years, like last year's Wrath of the Bride mode. You can only play as specific characters for a specific story arc and it'll cost money to access them. They'll have new cutscenes and voice lines, but they won't act as an entirely separate mode that you could put as much time in as you would the PvP.
Blizzard revealed exactly how story missions will be sold in a blog post yesterday and I've since clarified a few extra details with a Blizzard representative.
Here's how Overwatch 2's PvE story missions break down:
- The $15 Overwatch 2: Invasion Bundle is required to play the story missions
- The bundle includes 1,000 Overwatch Coins ($10) to spend on a battle pass or shop cosmetics
- The bundle will also include a Sojourn legendary skin and will unlock her for PvP once you finish every story mission challenge
- You won't be able to buy the story missions separate from the bundle or individually
- Access to the story missions will be permanent
- You'll be able to buy the story missions at any point in time, even when season 6 ends
- If you want to play story missions with a group, everyone has to own the Invasion Bundle
- If there aren't enough players in queue, you'll be grouped up with bots
A $15 admission fee for what was the originally the focal point of the sequel and eventually downgraded to "PvE experiences" (with no comment on whether they would be free or not) has, understandably, upset a lot of people, including me. Blizzard itself seems blindsided by the sticker shock reactions, though I'm not sure why. It's true that PvE was once going to cost money while Overwatch 1 players could get the new PvP stuff free of charge, but then Blizzard made Overwatch 2 free-to–play and didn't talk about PvE for a year. Considering trust in the team's ability to deliver on its promises is at an all-time-low, I had assumed Blizzard wouldn't take this particular opportunity to ask for more money.
Overwatch exploded largely because of its diverse cast of characters, satisfying team-based combat, and magnetic cinematic shorts. It captured the sorts of players who felt ignored by all the other militaristic and fast-paced shooters at the time. Now, seven years and a free-to-play sequel later, those hopeful players have become the primary targets of Overwatch 2's live service monetization model. With paid heroes, paid battle passes, paid skins, and now a paid co-op mode, Overwatch 2's bazaar-like user experience is seriously making me miss the days when playing Overwatch for "free" simply meant ignoring loot boxes.
If you play Overwatch 2 for the PvP, you got what you wanted, free of charge. Every new map and mode, including Flashpoint, which will launch alongside the story missions in season 6, doesn't cost a cent. But if you were one of the many, many players invested in the heroes, you have to pay upwards of $30 for skins and keep track of every in-game and Twitch drop event to earn them for free. It's frankly insulting how many ways Overwatch 2 tries to capitalize on the people who love it the most.
Even setting aside all that, charging $15 for a feature you just said would be considerably less ambitious than you had originally promised, looks exceedingly greedy. Game Informer's preview describes the one mission they played as a "chunky piece of gameplay" with the kind of cutscenes and cooperative challenges that have never been in the game before, but it all comes with the suggestion that PvE will always be treated as side content that you also have to pay for.
It's a brazen move to charge for an unfinished campaign mode when, just a few weeks ago, Blizzard was talking about PvE taking too many resources away from its PvP development.
It truly sucks to be this disappointed in Overwatch 2's PvE while the rest of the game continues to impress me with clever new voice lines and events. Many of the issues it had at launch, from hero balance to UI issues, have been not only fixed, but greatly improved. Its newest heroes, like Lifeweaver and Ramattra, have distinct kits and personalities that fit right in with the existing cast. And there's even a Pride event going on right now, which finally lets players express their identities through free cosmetics, and it confirmed two of its popular characters as LGBTQIA+—a step closer to the kind of in-game, not-relegated-to-a-web-comic representation fans have wanted for years.
Overwatch 2 has made exciting changes in the last several months that I would've never expected, especially as someone who has been playing Blizzard games for most of my life. But the handling of the PvE side of things has killed any hope that it was on its way to becoming the game it was originally pitched as. And although things change all the time with game development, it's hard not to feel cheated by Blizzard's years-long silence on the subject. And while I'm still willing to try out what's left of the PvE, I wouldn't blame anyone who is done being strung along by a game that has ejected many of those original goals.