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Why Overwatch 2’s PvE Talent System Is Staying Out Of PvP

With Overwatch 2’s PvE and PvP modes decoupled, a major part of what seemingly justifies the “2” in the game’s name–the PvE mode–will not be available when the game launches in October. But even once PvE does arrive, one of its big components, the talent system, won’t make its way into the core PvP side of the game, though it could eventually show up in some kind of special mode.

Speaking with GameSpot ahead of the Overwatch 2 event on June 16, game director Aaron Keller discussed the new talent system and how something like it was once considered for PvP in the first game. But he also shared why it doesn’t make sense to incorporate it into standard PvP.

“Some of the talents that we’ve made for the PvE side of the game are pretty cool, and really, really fun to use. Like Tracer can practically stop time as one of her talents. It’s pretty amazing. Things like that don’t really work in our PvP matches,” Keller explained. “I don’t know if we’ve talked about it much, but the original game, during the development of it, we had a talent system that we were working on. And one of the problems is it was always really difficult to know what type of hero you are about to face off with. Is this the Reaper that can heal himself as I’m fighting? You need to know–in our game, because it’s so fast-paced–exactly what you’re facing off with at any time.”

In the interest of keeping things more manageable for players, those talents will remain on the PvE side. But Keller did allow the possibility of a special playlist of limited-time mode, where competitive balance is perhaps a bit less crucial, could eventually incorporate them in some way.

“So I don’t really think that it’s appropriate to bring the talents that we have on the PvE side into our core PvP experience, especially into the competitive side of the game, because we want that to be as fair and as balanced as it can possibly be,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be some other type of game mode where we are utilizing them in some sort of PvP environment. I think that there’s some really cool ideas there. We’re not going to have any of those at launch on October 4th, but it’s something that we talk about internally on the team, and I think that there’s some potential there.”

Although keeping the action–and the characters you’re squaring off against–comprehensible for players is key, Keller did note that, even with a ballooning roster size, Blizzard doesn’t want to temporarily remove characters or anything of the sort.

“I think one of the best things about Overwatch, and maybe the things that people kind of envision when they think of Overwatch, are all of the heroes in the game,” he said. “We have fans from around the world that don’t even play our game, but they associate different heroes with themselves. They almost feel represented by heroes that we have in the game. And so I don’t feel like there’s a moment where we would like to pull those heroes away from players in order to have a different seasonal list. I think a lot of times when people pick up the game, they’ll find a hero that they like to play, and it’s the thing that helps them engage with the game. And so I think moving into a system like that right now isn’t in our plans, and I’m hoping that we don’t ever have to go there.”

As for how the talent system works in PvE, Keller said Blizzard isn’t ready to get heavily into specifics. However, he did explain that progress is tied to each character. Leveling them up provides you with more talents (and equipment options) that make them more powerful.

Overwatch 2’s PvP launches on October 4 as a free-to-play game, with a new beta scheduled to begin later in June. The PvE content will arrive sometime after the game’s launch. As part of its new event, Blizzard outlined Overwatch 2’s aggressive post-launch roadmap for new content updates.

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