Uprising is the best case for an Overwatch campaign yet

Playing Overwatch's PvE Uprising event made me want an Overwatch campaign more than ever. Even though you're just running around a reskinned multiplayer map, it felt closer to playing Left 4 Dead than it did Overwatch. It's a fun mode with a surprisingly high skill ceiling, but reignites my passion for a point I made nearly two years ago: Overwatch's universe is being wasted on a competitive shooter. 

Seeing the cast of characters interact with each other in Uprising's standard mode filled me with a renewed excitement for that universe. While fancy comics, lore-laced teases, and the occasional animated short add a little depth to the Overwatch' world, none of them provide any sort of payoff for that setup. Sprinkling stories in the background of each map or through short pre-fight voicelines is all garnish without a mode that actively backs it up as the main course.

By contrast, Uprising is a meal. It makes the story the star of the show, even if it recycles assets from the base game to do it. The interactions between characters aren't just there for color, it's how the story is told—and it's a story that genuinely matters within the history of the Overwatch universe. We get to hear Soldier: 76 before he lost everything, and get reminded that Reaper was at one point not only a good guy, but a rank above Morrison. It puts into action and gameplay so much of the world-building that has only been passive until this point. 

It wouldn't be a small task, but it's easy to see something like Uprising spread out over a longer, custom made map that doesn't have to retread parts of its own level. Left 4 Dead paved this structure years ago, and I'd be excited to see Overwatch lean into that format further. Overwatch is a much faster-paced game accustomed to more contained arenas, but walking down the streets of King's Row as a team, then holding at objectives (cracking jokes along the way) didn't feel too far off from that formula. 

Former Blizzard creative director Chris Metzen once told me they were making Overwatch's story up as they go, rather than building out all the history beforehand. I think that's a big reason as to why all we have is little hints at backstory, because there's not much below the surface. But events like this prove Blizzard can create interesting and exciting narrative arcs within Overwatch, and it makes me hungry for lots more like it. 

The one problem with building a campaign is that the concept of a continuous game story is somewhat at odds with Blizzard's business strategy—that is, putting out limited-edition cosmetics only available during seasonal events. With every new seasonal event, Blizzard makes money hand over fist selling loot boxes to its now more than 30 million players.  Unless the company figures out a way to effectively monetize a campaign story, it's unlikely we'll see a move away from timed events with limited-edition loot. 

The good news is that curated PvE experiences like Uprising are still a great way to explore Overwatch's history and flesh out its story. (And Considering how well-received Uprising has been, I can only assume that more will be on the way.) The problem is that Uprising, like the much-more-basic Halloween PvE brawl Junkenstein's Revenge before it, is a temporary event. When the Uprising seasonal event comes to a close, this fantastic slice of Overwatch's history will disappear along with its themed skins and cosmetics.

If and when Blizzard rolls out its next piece of Overwatch PvE, I'd love to see it not only once again dive into Overwatch history, but also bring back Uprising as a playable mode. Blizzard could build an area in the game's Arcade section called the Overwatch Archives—a place to experience Overwatch's history in the same way the Caverns of Time let World of Warcraft players play through important moments in Warcraft's history in the form of dungeons and raids. 

Obviously it would require more than a single PvE fight to warrant building out an entire hub, but I hope it's something Blizzard will consider going forward. Even without a special menu section, it seems a shame for the slice of history told in Uprising—and whatever other future PvE stories are told—to be locked away forever once its event comes to a close. If nothing else, I'd love to see Uprising added to the custom game builder, letting players not only continue to enjoy the mode, but do so with all sorts of wacky rules and modified abilities.

Bo Moore

As the former head of PC Gamer's hardware coverage, Bo was in charge of helping readers better understand and use PC hardware. He also headed up the buying guides, picking the best peripherals and components to spend your hard-earned money on. He can usually be found playing Overwatch, Apex Legends, or more likely, with his cats. He is now IGN's resident tech editor and PC hardware expert.