During a developer livestream today, Blizzard revealed its roadmap for the coming months. The roadmap, which was presented by game director Aaron Keller and executive producer Jared Neuss, details what is coming during Season 5, 6, 7, and beyond. In addition to PvP updates, the Overwatch 2 developers also gave us an idea of when to expect the long-awaited PvE experience that was announced alongside the game in 2019.
"As work slowly continued on Overwatch 2, we began to pull more and more of our focus and energy away from the live game and all of the people that were playing it," Keller said on the stream. "We had people that were excited to be playing that game, and they just wanted more of it. So, we had a difficult choice to make: We could continue working on our original vision for Overwatch 2 without a definitive end date in sight or change our strategy and get something in front of players sooner. We chose the latter, and we released Overwatch 2 last October with new heroes, new maps, new modes, and regular seasonal updates. But more than that, we shifted our values for how we want to develop the game. No longer would we store content up for really big releases and leave the game sort of languishing on the side. Now, we made the commitment to always prioritize the live game and all of the people playing it and to devote our development efforts there."
Season 5, which has the theme of "Mischief and Magic," is currently set to kick off on June 13. This fifth season of the live-service shooter brings events and modes, including a new limited-time event called Questwatch, as well as the return of the Summer Games event. The roadmap also promises a cinematic reveal, a 5v5 mini comp season, the Creator Workshop mode, and the return of the On Fire mechanic that was present in Overwatch.
Season 6, which is set for later this summer, is heralded by Blizzard as the single largest drop of new gameplay released at one time since Overwatch 2 launched in October of last year. Season 6 promises a new support hero, Flashpoint, Hero Mastery, a Firing Range, a player progression system, and the annual Overwatch anniversary event. Perhaps most importantly, Season 6 gives players the PvE content that was announced back in 2019, as Story Missions arrive as part of Season 6. Unfortunately, the Hero Missions PvE mode has been cut from the team's plans.
"Development on the PvE experience really hasn't made the progress that we would have hoped," Neuss said on the stream. "The team has created a bunch of amazing content. So, there's awesome missions that are really exciting, there's brand new enemies that are super fun to fight, and some truly great and ridiculous hero talents. But unfortunately, the effort required to pull all of that together to a Blizzard-quality experience that we can ship to you is huge, and there really is no end in sight or defined kind of end date where we can put that out into the world. And so, we're left with another difficult choice: Do we continue to pour all that effort into PvE, hoping that we can land it at some point in the future or do we stick with this set of values that we've aligned on and focus on the live game and focus on serving all of you? With everything we've learned about what it takes to operate this game at the level that you deserve, it's clear that we can't deliver on that original vision for PvE that was shown in 2019. What that means is that we won't be delivering that dedicated Hero Mode with talent trees, that long-term power progression ... those things just aren't in our plans anymore."
Finally, we learned what players can expect from Season 7 and beyond, which includes a new tank hero, reworks of longtime heroes Roadhog and Sombra, a new Control map, a new winter event, new Hero Mastery missions in multiplayer, cinematic debuts, the return of fan-favorite modes and Competitive Mastery heroes, a new limited-time collaboration event mode, and a new lore codex.
Overwatch 2 launched on October 4, 2022. While the initial response was positive (read our review here), the approach to supporting the game and the season pass structure has deterred many players from keeping up with the title.