Overwatch’s newest event, “Uprising”, has gone live on all platforms, bringing with it the new “Uprising” PvE brawl. The event borrows features from the popular Junkenstein’s Revenge brawl from Halloween 2016, and infuses much-needed lore and story-telling into Overwatch gameplay. Uprising is on pace to be one of the most popular events in Overwatch to date. The update also brought with it over 100 new items to collect from Loot Boxes, added bits of lore information for several characters and skins, and brought with it a small balance patch with a few minor tweaks to the game (and some major changes to Lucio!).
However, the portion of this event that will create a lasting change on the game of Overwatch and what we expect out of future events, has to be the strength of the Uprising PvE (Player vs. Environment) game mode. It allows players to choose between a playlist with a preset lineup of heroes (Reinhardt, Mercy, Torbjorn, and Tracer) or bring whichever of Overwatch’s 24 heroes into the fight. Uprising creates a series of dynamic encounters which challenge players in a variety of ways, forcing them to work together, coordinate ultimate use, and, most challenging of all escort the payload.
This type of PvE challenge is nothing new to long-time fans of Blizzard games. Perhaps Blizzard’s best-known franchise, World of Warcraft, was originally created out of the Real-Time Strategy game Warcraft III, eventually being spun off into the fully-fledged MMORPG that is enjoyed by millions. This event and Junkenstein’s Revenge are great examples of that being done in the Overwatch world, taking pieces of the existing sandbox and adjusting them in ways that create challenging content for players who may not be as interested in the competitive side of Overwatch. The popularity of this event has brought back many Overwatch players who may not have been keeping up as the game has progressed, allowing some to experience many things for the first time.
This event has renewed calls for an Overwatch campaign mode, where complex and interesting encounters could be built around preset heroes, or challenges could be created allowing players to face them with whichever heroes they choose. While the gameplay benefits of such a mode are obvious, it would also allow Blizzard to delve deeper into Overwatch’s backstory and the origin stories of the individual heroes. Not to mention the replay value such a mode would add, with increasing difficulty levels or “challenge modes” being possible methods of keeping such content fresh over time.
The concept of an Overwatch story mode is not new with this Uprising event. In November of last year, it was noted by some observers that Blizzard was hiring for a couple of positions for an “unannounced game/project”, which of course set the rumor mill to work immediately. There was no official confirmation or denial from anyone at Blizzard of these rumors at the time. Of course, shortly before these career advertisements were pointed out, the Junkenstein’s Revenge event had come and passed. All of this seemed to point in the direction of Blizzard working on a story mode for the game, or at the very least working to incorporate more PvE into Overwatch in the future.
However, the next two events came and passed without any new hints at PvE content, with both the “Winter Wonderland” and “Year of the Rooster” events bringing in new types of PvP game modes. Then, on April 5, an interview with Jeff Kaplan seemed to ring the death knell for hopes of a story mode in Overwatch. Speaking to IBTimes UK, the Overwatch community director acknowledged the hunger in the community for such a mode, but made it very clear that story mode will not be coming soon, if at all.
“The reality is…making an entire campaign is the same effort as making an entire game. It’s not just a feature we can patch in some day… To do what people expect, which is that Blizzard-quality level of polish, on either a single-player or cooperative campaign would probably be a full development cycle for us, you know, multiple years. There are things we can do in Overwatch the PvP game that can scratch that itch a little bit for people, but I think a full campaign is probably a game unto itself.” – Jeff Kaplan, IBTimes, Apr 5, 2017
So, it appears that Overwatch fans who enjoy this type of PvE content set in the Overwatch universe will have to wait for a full game to satisfy that urge. In the meantime, it seems that Blizzard is comfortable with the idea of providing occasional events in the vein of “Junkenstein’s Revenge” and “Uprising” to fill the void that many players are feeling. I know for some, including myself, that will be enough for now. Still, I am anxiously awaiting the day when we will see a full game allowing us to delve into each hero’s origins, the history of Overwatch and Talon, the Omnic Crisis, and much more of the lore that has only been touched on through comics and animated shorts. For now, Uprising will be available to play in the Arcade until the end of April. So get in there, help reclaim King’s Row, and get yourself some of the awesome new cosmetic items available in Uprising Loot Boxes! As always, let us know how you feel about this event, and Overwatch’s story-telling methods, in the comment section below!