Blizzard has their fingers in a lot of popular genre pies, ARPG, RTS, MOBA, TCG and MMORPG. What remained was a Shooter and they managed to do just that with the recently released Overwatch, the company’s first new IP in more than a decade. Even if someone is not a FPS fan, the game has managed to get their attention through its deep rooted team based gameplay.
However, all is not rosy in the world of Overwatch as a vast majority of people playing (as well as those who refuse to play) are of the view that given the price tag, $40 for Standard Edition on PC and $60 for Origins Edition on consoles, the multiplayer focused game should have shipped with a story mode. After all, even if just tacked on and lack luster (looking at you Diablo 3), all of the previously released Blizzard IPs have had a singleplayer campaign with a deep lore behind it.
So why is there nothing of the sort in Overwatch? After all Blizzard took the time to carefully craft and shape the world with comics and animated shorts, each of the 21 playable characters as well as the upcoming Ana has a back story and their own motivations unlike other class based team shooters such as Dirty Bomb or Ghost Recon Phantoms. According to Jeff Kaplan, Overwatch has its roots in the cancelled MMO Titan, which if you consider the fact that World of Wacraft has a story meant that Titan would have had a story too.
Blizzard’s approach to storytelling in Overwatch is somewhat unique. Instead of having a narrative campaign with good guys and bad guys and a plot to save the world, the story telling here involves character interactions.
Creating a campaign with 21 characters would not only be confusing but also pretty jarring when the story continuously jumps from one situation to another especially when some of the characters have no link with others.
Overwatch was designed for multiplayer, its gameplay and mechanics reflects that. Forcing that into a single player campaign would be a waste of time, money and resources with the end result being not fun at all, an example of it is Battleborn which is somewhat similar in a few gameplay aspects.
Everything that follows is an opinion and no need to get riled up (internet loves to do that). Let’s get one thing out of the way first, there is no such thing as lack of content in a PvP game. You make your own content in such a game with unique moments and gameplay tactics.
When you are playing a competitive game, lack of weapons and maps doesn’t even factor in since you need to be perfect in the content available instead of getting more frequent content in the name of variety without perfecting play styles. Battlefield 4 launched with 10 maps, CS GO has an Active Duty pool of 7-8 maps so Overwatch seems to have launched with the perfect amount at launch.
Another thing that gets mentioned a lot is lack of post release support for online games which makes it difficult to justify the $60 price tag, most common in Ubisoft titles. Definitely not when it comes to Blizzard if you just look at the content they have released just last year for all their previous games.
Heroes of the Storm has had more than 15 characters released since it left beta, Hearthstone with multiple expansions, seasonal changes in Diablo 3 and paid expansions for Starcraft 2 and World of Warcraft. All the maps and characters upcoming in Overwatch will be free so players have basically bought the game and the season pass (which every developer sells for a minimum of $30 these days) for the price of the game.
Frankly, I would rather have a singleplayer or multiplayer only game instead of developers following a checklist and adding tacked on modes that cater to players looking for a singleplayer campaign as well as some PvP action resulting in at least one of those modes being not fun at all and potentially not only ruining the game but also the franchise.
The recently released Doom did this with its multiplayer, more than 800,000 owners on Steam yet only has a 24h peak of around 6000 which means only a handful are engaged in the multiplayer so the people who bought the game for multiplayer will be spending half their play time looking for matches. If Blizzard continues the way they have been doing with Overwatch and releases more animated shorts, comics and probably an animated film further down the line, I feel there is no need to throw in a 4-5 hour long singleplayer campaign.