We interviewed Blizzard about what it took to assemble a team of champions for the Overwatch 2 PvE Story Missions and beyond.
Overwatch 2 Invasion is here! It features PvE Story Missions with new enemies, experiences, and hero interactions. We sat down with Blizzard for an interview about these Overwatch 2 PvE Story Missions and more. Read on for insights from director of audio and technical narrative design Scott Lawlor, senior game designer Dylan Snyder, game producer Monika Lee, and senior mission designer Jorge Murillo!
Overwatch 2 PvE Story Missions interview: Character interactions and lore
The three Overwatch 2 Invasion PvE Story Missions take place in Rio de Janeiro, Toronto, and Gothenburg. When players jump into each of these missions, they'll notice that the gameplay and cinematics help advance the game's storyline and characters. Additionally, when players visit Winston's Lab before or after a mission, they'll get to explore extra story details.
These missions happen shortly after Winston's recall and flow as part of a timeline, according to senior mission designer Jorge Murillo. This means new hero interactions such as Lucio meeting Reinhardt for the first time ever. Lucio himself has some fans among the heroes as well.
Director of audio and technical narrative design Scott Lawlor mentioned Bastion meeting other characters in a PvE Story Mission before detailing what players can expect in terms of Overwatch 2 storytelling and lore moving forward.
"There [are] other characters that you kind of meet along the way in the Overwatch canon," Lawlor told esports.gg. "So, just for example, like Bastion comes in and you sort of see how he became part of Overwatch."
Lawlor added that there's a lot of content outside of the game that's really relevant. This is especially the case with the recent Overwatch 2 Genesis animated shorts.
"We recently released our three-part anime short series called Genesis," Lawlor said. "That's really, really relevant to the story of this game. It has probably some of the deepest lore [and] storytelling we've actually ever done because it tells the story of how omnics came to be and how they became sentient."
He mentioned other short stories from the past, such as one for Cassidy, that can get players ready for the PvE experience.
Players who are interested in Null Sector leader Ramattra and his side of the story can discover details through the PvE Story Missions, cinematics, and Winston's Lab.
"But there's even more coming as part of this," Lawlor continued. "And, you know, it's something that we want to continue to build on. Like you said, this is our first step in building the story of Overwatch into the future, and we have so many more plans for what we want to do. And, you know, we'll take our time to reveal them as they come. But there's a lot more that we have waiting in the wings someday."
As for now, Murillo said he's really happy about the balance of action-packed gameplay and narrative storytelling in Overwatch 2 PvE. He added that developing this was challenging due to different kit movements like skeletal mash hit boxes and how heroes play in different environments and difficulty levels. Unlike simpler characters with a gun, for example, these varied experiences needed careful consideration to ensure a cohesive and fun experience.
"And so kind of having the hero fantasy of like it's fun playing Tracer, it's jumping enemies and zapping like Winston — just having that all come together feels pretty good," he said.
Are Overwatch 2 Story Missions replayable?
The Overwatch 2 Invasion Story Missions can be replayed several times on varying difficulty levels. There are also new voice lines depending on which heroes are on a team's roster. Players can visit Winston's Lab for character and mission files that detail unique perspectives as well.
An example of this is Sojourn's journal after the Toronto PvE Story Mission. Game producer Monika Lee shared her thoughts on this mission and the interactions with the hero.
"Getting to be in Sojourn's turf and kind of see her take charge is really exciting for me as a woman," Lee said. "Getting to see such a strong character almost kind of boss around the other dudes. It's just really exciting to see it from her perspective. I don't want to spoil too much, but she's really badass in that mission."
Meanwhile, senior game designer Dylan Snyder emphasized how Story Missions bring Overwatch 2 characters to life. He also shared details about the varying difficulty levels.
"I think that kind of insight into the characters is what I think most of us love the most about Overwatch, and there's definitely a lot of that to be found in the Story Missions," Snyder said. "Additionally, in regards to the difficulty levels, this isn't a case where we just made the game on Normal and then said Legendary is just the values times two or something."
"We have gone in and made sure that on every single difficulty level, the experience feels fresh and feels relevant and appropriate for that difficulty," Snyder continued. "And I can tell you right now that Legendary is tough. It's not going to be a walk in the park for most players."
The difficulty levels are:
Assembling a team of champions
Every Overwatch 2 PvE Story Mission features select heroes from which to choose. According to Lee, the current plan is to keep these Rio de Janeiro, Toronto, and Gothenburg rosters for narrative purposes. It requires a decent amount of work to balance the heroes in PvE as well. Lee then noted that it wouldn't make sense for Reaper and Moira to be near the united Overwatch characters around this time.
"There are few heroes that have specific abilities unique to PvE to kind of make it feel good against Null Sector," Lee said. "And so I think it'd be a bit of an undertaking to do that. And I think narratively, I don't know if it would make sense for Reaper and Moira to be wandering around once Overwatch unites. And so we want to make sure that they have their time to shine as they return and unite together."
Lee mentioned tweaks to Winston before Snyder emphasized the interactions between certain hero abilities and Null Sector.
"I will also jump in and say that there are some really great interactions between certain hero abilities and the Null Sector ecology that will make it super entertaining for players to kind of discover what those interactions are and the best way to approach fighting certain units in the ecology as they progress. Those options exist in the game as well," Snyder said.
In terms of how long it takes to create a single Story Mission, Lee noted that they have been in development for a couple of years. She joined the team a little over a year ago and was stunned to see the work that was put into these missions.
"So I'm really excited for you guys to see this," Lee continued. "It's really polished, and the experience is really exciting — especially for the first time. They definitely took a decent amount of time, though."
Overwatch 2 PvE cinematics and sound
A lot of effort was put into the sound design as well. Lawlor went into detail about this, highlighting the advancements in Overwatch 2. While the first iteration of the game emphasized directional sound cues and rapid reactions, Overwatch 2 aimed for a cinematic level of audio storytelling.
The launch of Overwatch 2 introduced 3D audio technology such as Sony's 3D audio headphones, Windows 3D audio, Xbox 3D audio, and Dolby Atmos for home theater, he added.
"This whole game is mixed in [a] full, immersive surround format," Lawlor said. "So I highly suggest you grab some popcorn, crank it as loud as you possibly can on your best surround sound system because, I mean, we added a few low frequency channels, we recorded over about an hour of music or more for this event. And it's all mixed in full Dolby Atmos, which is just a glorious thing if you have a chance to to listen to it."
That's all for now. Will you be able to save Rio de Janeiro, Toronto, and Gothenburg from Null Sector's forces? Stick around on esports.gg for more Overwatch 2 news, interviews, and updates!