Overwatch’s New PvE Event Is Its Best Yet

Overwatch’s New PvE Event Is Its Best Yet

Overwatch’s Retribution event

Overwatch got its spring event yesterday, which includes a new player-versus-environment mode where players can take down swarms of killer soldiers in a picturesque, futuristic Venice. Retribution, the new PvE mode, is absolutely the best of its kind yet. It might have players asking why Overwatch can’t get its own story mode already.

Retribution is set against Overwatch‘s Blackwatch lore, a shadowy organisation of high-level operatives. Four players queue up as Blackwatch agents: the disgraced geneticist Moira, the cyborg ninja Genji, the killer cowboy McCree and the ghostly wraith Reaper, who here appears as his past self, a human mercenary.

In the mission, the heroes infiltrate a Venetian hideout as retribution for a past crime. Players must fight through hordes of Talon warriors to get to an escape helicopter.

The mode has two zones: a column-lined foyer with a half dozen doors that enemies pour through and a huge, beautiful cityscape that looks like Venice. There, players encounter the same cannon fodder agents but also a few specialised enemies.

There’s an assassin who sprints from wall to wall, only stopping to pin you down and slice your face open. There’s a huge “heavy assault” enemy who can charge you. There’s also a deadly sniper.

The assassin from Overwatch’s retribution event

Overwatch‘s past player-versus-environment events weren’t nearly as polished as this one. Its Halloween event, Junkenstein’s Revenge, had players fighting evil Overwatch heroes on a small, stagnant map where no one had much space to move. It also didn’t really have a plot. Last year’s Uprising event was a vast improvement, taking players through a modified King’s Row where they fought omnics, some of which resembled the heroes Bastion and Orisa.

It was the story of Tracer’s first Overwatch mission, which means Blizzard gifted us with some cute voice lines they let the heroes interact. Retribution takes everything players loved about Uprising and gives it a major upgrade.

It’s a smooth, kinetic experience that escalates at a good rate. Also, because it’s got a more fleshed-out plot, it feels a little more high-stakes.

Retribution’s new, gorgeous map, called Rialto, is a game-changer: hovercrafts flying by Venetian domes, a picturesque river with a bridge, a classy outdoor restaurant attended by a robot. Watching killers arrive on both hover ship and hover boat makes for some very cool world-building.

It feels a little like a PvE map in Destiny or another first-person shooter’s story mode. It offers just enough space for my team to go looking for trouble without leaving us clueless on where to go. (In a few weeks Rialto will be modified for player-versus-player games and released for public testing.)

Enemies’ unpredictability makes them terrifying in the mode’s harder difficulties, especially compared to other PvE modes where enemies were basically reskinned heroes. Once, when I was playing McCree, the assassin pinned me down when I was using my ultimate ability, which was pretty shocking.

In “Hard” mode, I died twice to the tanklike enemies. Teammates had to risk themselves to resurrect me while, at the same time taking down the Talon fighters.

There’s a lot to say about how fun Retribution is to play, but what players are really losing their minds over are the mode’s new voice lines. “This was all worth it to see McCree trying to pass himself off as a waiter,” Reaper jokes in one instance.

“I thought I did just fine,” McCree says. “You got fired from your cover job,” Reaper retorts. Then, there’s Moira calling out McCree’s crappy Italian accent: “McCree, we need to talk about your Italian accent,” she says. And in McCree’s most cringy cowboy voice, he responds, “I watched a bunch of old spaghetti westerns. I thought it was pretty good. Bona sera seniora. Can I-a get you-a something to drink?”

These back-and-forths aren’t so common Overwatch‘s typical player-versus-player mode, so inside this short, story-driven campaign, they’re really whetting players’ palettes for more plot.

In a press event, Overwatch‘s gamedad Jeff Kaplan explained why Retribution will only be a limited time thing: “I honestly believe there’s a big difference between creating PvE highly replayable content that you’re expecting somebody to get hundreds of thousands of hours of gameplay out of versus something that you think can be sustained for a couple weeks,” he said.

“I think what would happen if we put Uprising and Retribution just permanently in the game is that players would find that they needed more out of it. Like a progression system on top of it, or scoring, or items, or players asking when the next mission is. They would want more content [beyond Uprising and Retribution].”

Here’s a spoiler: We already do. All of Overwatch‘s heroes are so fascinating that it’s natural to want to know more about them. Overwatch won’t get a full-on story mode, but compared to the player-versus-player experience, these limited-time events are anticipated moments where players can geek out over their favourite heroes.


  • Had a blast playing last night. Normal mode felt way too easy, and Hard definitely is a good challenge point for players. My friend and I had a couple challenges on Hard with a couple failed runs at the end, but we pulled through and got it done.

    Definitely excited for more PVE events. I’m thinking one with D.Va, Lucio, Bastion and Winston as an event on the introduction of new members to join Overwatch. They could be meeting with Winston and suddenly they’re under attack or something.

    • Yeah normal was effortless pretty much. Good for farming loot boxes tho. Hard was way harder then I thought it’d be – but also felt good. Now I’m starting to think I should up the difficulty, good tense fun – especially if all your team actually get on the dropship at the end! 😛

  • To be honest, I don’t know why Blizzard just doesn’t offer an optional 10-15 hour story mode campaign as paid DLC.

    The DLC cost will help fund the content and I’d love to have a decent story campaign to play through. Overwatch could be every bit as compelling as something like Halflife 2.

  • The PvE mode is fun, but I can see it getting less and less players as people lose interest. Time limited is probably the best way to go, keeps it nice and fresh.

    Also: Can we PLEASE get some story development on what has happened since Winston hit recall? How did Mei get out of Antarctica? How has the world governments reacted to Overwatch reforming? How do Junkrat and Roadhog link in to the Overwatch vs Talon story? Why are Talon and Overwatch teaming up and working together?

  • I say it every time, and will probably say it every time: If PVE were permanent, I’d probably buy the fucking game.

    It’s not, so I don’t.

    • I think you should give it a shot. I mean it is a multiplayer PVP game that has got a variety of PVP modes that cater to all play styles. You could play competitively or you can just jump into some of the different arcade modes like Mayhem or 8 player free for all. The PVE events are something that blizzard are releasing, and the great thing about Overwatch is there is no paid DLC. Cosmetic skins are from loot boxes and you can earn a lootbox 4 times a week in arcade mode and each time you level up

      • Nah. I played the beta. For background: Since the 90s, I’ve sunk thousands of hours into Quake, Counter-Strike, CTF, Team Fortress 1 and 2, and God only knows how many wannabe imitators to DEATH. And at this stage in life, I am done with PVP match/lobby shooters. Less than zero interest – it’s active disinterest, a turn-off that drives me away. Project Titan was a spark of hope that got turned into… well, TF3, to my extreme disappointment.

        Now, if they could swing an actual campaign or permanent PVE mode, I might pick it up, but I know what it the rest of it is. There is no, ‘try it, you might like it!’ here. I know what I’m about.

        • That’s fair enough. I have the same sort of reasoning with plenty of other titles that my friends have been trying to get me to play (looking at you Monster Hunter World).

  • I liked the PvE event vs robots (omnics) last year more, the level felt longer and more challenging. But in general I am all for PvE in overwatch

  • I don’t think Kaplan understands his players at all.

    I’m sure if they kept the PvE missions in game permanently and then offered a new chapter each year (for free, mind you) that fans would be plenty happy to have another game mode to play each day.

  • I wouldnt come close to calling this the best Event. the Omnic uprising last year felt a lot more fun and engaging.

    • I like them both, but I particularly like how every hero seems to have unique stuff in the all heroes mode, even the people who were part of the official story mode, not just copy pastes.

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