One of the most requested features from fans of Blizzard's enormously popular multiplayer shooter Overwatch is a single player or co-op campaign. It's a feature the developers are keenly aware there's a hunger for among fans.
Ahead of this week's BAFTA Video Game Awards, Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan sat down with IBTimes UK to discuss the game and his team's plans for its future, including the current progress of its next new playable hero.
In 2016 Kapaln said: "Everybody knows Blizzard has a passion for storytelling and we also love doing single-player and co-operative campaigns... but we're nowhere near having anything like that. It's a far thought from us right now."
When we caught up with him, we asked how a potential campaign was shaping up.
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"I think something that's challenging about Overwatch is that it was designed to be a six vs six action shooter. That's the whole core, that's the essence of what Overwatch is," Kaplan explained.
"A campaign would be phenomenal, I think a lot of us can see what that might be like in our engine and in our game. The reality is, and I know it's not the sexiest answer or the one fans necessarily want to hear, but making an entire campaign is the same effort as making an entire game. It's not just a feature that we can patch in some day.
"To really do what people expect, which is that Blizzard quality level of polish, on either a single player or co-operative 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."
The story of Overwatch's world has to date been told primarily through other media more than the game itself. Blizzard has supported the release with web comics and animated shorts fleshing out the lore and characters.
When we asked Kaplan about how Blizzard may expand on Overwatch's narrative, one in-game example he cited was Junkenstein's Revenge: a co-op horde mode set in the game's Eichenwalde map. The events of the mode's story aren't official canon, but as Kaplan explains lessons are being learned from it in terms of storytelling.
"We learned a lot from the Junkenstein event, which was sort of, it was comical storytelling in that it wasn't an actual piece of fiction it was, you know, 'Here's this story of Junkenstein starring the Overwatch characters,'" he said.
"But seeing our fan reaction to that, and also us just learning what it takes to make something like that was really eye-opening to us and I think gave us a lot of ideas for future things we could do in the game, that not only will push the story forward but also introduced new forms of gameplay I think our fans will like."
Overwatch was named our game of the year for 2016 and was one of the biggest hits of last year. As of January the game hit 25 million active players, a figure which Kaplan reiterated during our interview.
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