Overwatch 2 devs admit bringing PVE content to Nintendo Switch induced some “headaches”
With fresh PVE content finally in focus thanks to Overwatch 2’s Season 6: Invasion update, we asked developers at Blizzard to outline any unique hardships faced when bringing this expansive new offering to dated hardware like the Nintendo Switch.
After years of patience from the Overwatch 2 community, Blizzard has finally delivered on its promise of new PVE content with the launch of Invasion, AKA its Season 6 update. Kicking things off, three distinct Story Missions are now available as the plot moves forward for the first time in a good while.
And while many players may now be jumping in for the first time, especially with the move to Steam, it’s worth keeping in mind Overwatch 2 is still supported on some rather dated hardware. Namely, the Nintendo Switch, which now happens to be in its sixth year on the market.
Naturally, evolving the Overwatch 2 experience while still having to keep a broad player base in mind would come with its own set of challenges. So in a recent Q&A with the dev team, we asked just how this PVE content was brought to life across a wide range of platforms.
Overwatch 2 devs admit Switch is a big “bottleneck,” but it comes with a silver lining
Without directly spoiling anything, it’s safe to say the scope of the first three Story Missions in Overwatch 2 pushes the envelope for Blizzard’s hero-shooter. With larger maps than anything we’ve seen prior and tons of enemies on screen all at once, it can be quite demanding.
At no point in development, however, was the team ever considering a pivot away from previous-gen hardware. “We want to support Switch,” Senior Game Designer Dylan Snyder reaffirmed straight away. “But that’s the biggest bottleneck we have.”
“The nice thing is if it runs on Switch, it’s going to run pretty well on everything else. So it’s almost a nice bottleneck we have, in a weird, roundabout way.”
As for exactly how the team pulled it off, Snyder admitted it wasn’t without plenty of setbacks along the way. “It’s been a pretty big headache,” he said candidly.
“We had to develop new tools and systems to do a lot of memory clean up. For PVP maps, things are on all the time because players are around the whole time. But [for PVE] we had to do a lot of different tricks.
“Basically, what I’ve been doing recently for the missions is making sure I’m closing off sections, unloading parts of the map, things like that that we don’t traditionally have to worry about for PVP.”
Similarly, other drawbacks have to be factored in on more dated hardware options like the Switch. One such intentional limitation to help performance actually comes on the audio side, Audio and Technical Narrative Director Scott Lawlor chimed in.
“On the audio side, we scale the number of voices that are allowed to happen,” he explained. “If the Switch is struggling, we’ll lower the number of voices.”
“Very careful precision in the way we try to make things fit. It worked out very well.”
After years of turbulent development, with various bits of PVE content scrapped along the way, the first chunk of story content is now available for Overwatch 2 players, and evidently, it was a labor of love getting it working on all supported platforms.
“A lot of people have put a lot of work in to make sure this stuff runs well,” Snyder added. “Hats off to them, incredible team.”