What we learned about Hero Missions and talents in Overwatch 2

We'll get to play with RPG-esque talent trees and "hundreds" of co-op missions.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Blizzard Entertainment explained early on that Overwatch 2 would be primarily focused on PvE content, but a new behind-the-scenes BlizzConline panel revealed mountains of new information about missions and talents.

At BlizzCon 2019, a playable demo of Overwatch 2’s story mission content was available for fans to test out. The short mission took players through Rio de Janeiro as a team of four heroes fought Null Sector omnics. While it was a fun look at the potential of PvE Overwatch content, especially with the addition of hero talents, it lacked depth. 

For this BlizzConline experience, the developer team introduced systems that might create endless content within Overwatch 2. 

Hero Missions 

The 2019 BlizzCon offering focused on a story mission, which deepened the lore of the Overwatch world and focused on a key goal. At BlizzConline, developers introduced Hero Missions. These cooperative, objective-based missions will serve as leveling opportunities for players looking to upgrade their favorite heroes. 

Based on the footage from the behind-the-scenes panel, Hero Missions appear to be for four players and will pit heroes against various Null Sector enemies. While they may mimic the Overwatch Archives style of PvE content, Hero Missions apparently have much more to bring to the table. 

All previous PvE content in Overwatch has focused on reaching a final endpoint, but these missions appear to have at least half a dozen labeled objectives or goals. One mode, called “Retrieval,” asks players to spread out and collect canisters to bring back to a safe zone. While this seems simple, enemies will apparently spawn to stop the collection. 

Screengrab via Blizzard Entertainment

Other objectives were briefly shown during fast-paced gameplay footage. One mission asked players to “defend the uplink” while another told them simply to “survive the gate hack.” With additional objectives like “deactivate terminals,” it appears that Hero Missions will ask more of players than just pointing and shooting.   

Developers confirmed Hero Missions will be played on all multiplayer maps, as well as new maps. New areas in existing maps have also been created to field these various missions. Footage was shown of a new area built behind a gate in King’s Row, bringing new life to a classic map.

Screengrab via Blizzard Entertainment

Maps will also include weather changes, like intense sandstorms in Temple of Anubis and dreary rain in Paris. This will apparently influence players to alter hero compositions. One example given by developers was the choice of Hanzo or Widowmaker, who have abilities that can offer sight in bad weather.

Each map will also have atmospheric time changes that are unique to that map. Footage showed a sunny day in Dorado and a twilight version of Hollywood labeled “La La Land.” 

Screengrab via Blizzard Entertainment

Developers also aren’t satisfied with just a handful of missions for players to grind. Associate game director Aaron Keller said the goal is to create “hundreds” of Hero Missions for Overwatch 2 so fans can enjoy the process of leveling up characters.  

Talent trees 

At BlizzCon 2019, the playable demo of Overwatch’s sequel included a set of talents that players could choose from, giving heroes like Tracer the ability to cause a chain reaction with Pulse Bomb. Each character only had a small set of choices during the demo. Developers have put that idea into overdrive, according to this recent footage. 

Screengrab via Blizzard Entertainment

Each character now has three specializations that branch out into talent trees. These are reminiscent of RPG talent trees as well as the World of Warcraft talent system. For example, Soldier: 76 has the option of choosing Commander, Rifleman, or Vigilante as his specialization.

Trees appear to have at least 16 distinct talents and upgrades that branch out from one another. Support hero Mercy has specializations like Valkyrie, which appears to be based on damage, and Savior, which seems to upgrade her healing potential.  

“You can play the same hero in so many different ways,” said lead character technical artist Dylan Jones. Footage showed Soldier: 76 doing ice damage with his rifle and Junkrat placing a trap laced with electricity. Multiple developers commented that the experience felt like leveling up in an RPG.

While no Overwatch 2 release date was announced during the panel, developers offered information about potential hero changes and map additions upon the game’s release.