Dedicated PvE for Overwatch has been a big topic for us on Heroes Never Die. The Uprising and Junkenstein game modes were genuinely fun, and the time I’ve spent with Retribution is no different. This always leads me to the same question: Why don’t we have any permanent PvE in Overwatch?
I recently sat down with Overwatch’s game director, Jeff Kaplan, to ask about that very thing.
First things first, I asked Kaplan about if Retribution, Uprising and Junkenstein’s Revenge were experiments for the team that could possible lead to more long term PvE.
“We’re always clear and direct in our vision that ‘this is a PvP experience,’” Kaplan said about Overwatch. “We relish and take pride in the competitive nature of the game. I think that’s the core audience we’ve attracted. Yet, we listen and we’re fans ourselves and realize that there’s also a desire to see some of this other stuff.
“Our team and our game wasn’t built to do heavy amounts of PvE content, but it’s a fun area for us to explore. We as game developers have a lot of fun making stuff like [Retribution], but our fans also have a ton of fun playing it. So I think [PvE] is a great bed for experimentation.”
This lead to asking how the team thinks they may end up implementing PvE in the future. Might we expect a Overwatch mode to permanently stay in the game, or should players expect a different game altogether?
“I think we love exploring PvE events,” Kaplan said. “That’s why they come out in these bite-size chunks and why we don’t leave it in all year long. I don’t think it necessarily has the legs to last. After a year of playing Retribution people would be like, ‘Can it do more?’
“Something I see often is this request, like ‘Can you guys just make a campaign? Just make a story mode for Overwatch.’ It almost pains me in a lot of ways because we’re dying to do something like that. It would be fantastic. Obviously when we make something like Retribution, it just shows that we’re learning how to do that. It’s something we’re very passionate about. We’re building the knowledge and also the technical tool set to be able to do that.
“Creating something like a full-blown campaign is like creating a separate game. We’re really talking about a separate game at that point. It’s like ‘hey, I’d love a co-op Overwatch game,’ that sounds amazing to me. So at some point, we never want to abandon our PvP core and we never want to abandon our competitive crowd. They’re our focus and that’s what the game is about. But it gives us a lot to think about when people bring up ‘I really like this PvE stuff, why don’t you guys do more of it?’”
As Kaplan and I talked, I asked him about the Overwatch universe as a whole. Blizzard has always been famous for its franchises. From Warcraft to StarCraft to Diablo, the team has been able to make multiple different kinds of games inside the different molds. So then how does Overwatch fit into the Blizzard canon?
“We had just come off a project that had been canceled,” said Kaplan. “And part of the reason that project had been canceled was because it tried to be too much. With Overwatch we said ‘look, this is a very focused game experience, but our hope is that what we’re creating here, if we’re to use the analogy of Warcraft, we’re hoping that Warcraft is to World of Warcraft now, this game that we’re currently proposing (Overwatch) would be our Warcraft I.’
“In the Warcraft universe they’ve made novels, they’ve made a feature film, they had Warcraft 2, 3, all the amazing expansions, World of Warcraft. We were hoping to set the stage with Overwatch. So absolutely our goal is for the Overwatch universe to transcend [the game] Overwatch.”
As someone who loves the Overwatch universe more than I love Overwatch itself, this gives me so much hope for the future. Like many of you, I’m happy to keep playing Overwatch , but Kaplan’s comments can’t help but make my mind wander a bit as to what I want to see next.
So this raises the question: What kind of Overwatch spin-offs do you want to see?