Interview with Devs about Overwatch Retribution: “You Will See How Gabriel Became What He Is Now”

Retribution, an Overwatch Archives event, was updated on April 10th.

Retribution is a PvE event mode where players will be fighting against AI, just like the Overwatch Uprising from last year. Many Overwatch fans have been looking forward to it as it will be depicting the stories of Blackwatch, which hadn’t been intensively featured before.

We were able to talk with Jeff Kaplan, the Game Director of Overwatch, and Aaron Keller, the Assistant Game Director, about this new event.


▲ Jeff Kaplan, Game Director (Left) and Aaron Keller, Assistant Game Director (Right)



We would like to know why you named the new event, ‘Retribution’.

Jeff: Both the comic shorts and trailer we announced last week were created under the name, ‘Retribution’ in the story. You will find out the reason if you focus on the thoughts of Gabriel Reyes, the main character of this event, and what he thinks after the results of the ‘Retribution’.

There must be some players who’ll play the event without reading the comic shorts announced last week. Is there anything you prepared separately to help these players understand the story?

Aaron: Of course. Just like last year, this event mission has a video shown right before the mission starts. However, the video depicts a point in the story after the comic, Retribution, takes place so I recommend reading the comic before playing.


▲‘Retribution’, the comic depicting Gabriel Reyes’ torment and determination.


What was the reason you chose this point of the Overwatch story, the ‘Retribution’, for the Archives event this year?

Jeff: First, the timing was really good. We wanted to feature this event of the story, and it has been just one year since we last had the Uprising event, and we had discussions about changing the name to ‘Archives’ and featuring important events in the Overwatch story. We wanted to talk about the incidents during the ‘Retribution’ through this.

‘Retribution’ is a really important case in the overall Overwatch lore. It is the first case that shows how Blackwatch was exposed; this is how Overwatch ended up facing international criticism and eventually met their downfall.

You will be able to see why Gabriel Reyes made his decision and you will see how Gabriel became what he is now, Reaper, through Retribution.


▲Gabriel chose a different path from Overwatch after the Retribution.


You mentioned that this year’s event game is more linear than previous events; could you give us the details?

Aaron: For example, in Uprising, there were small detailed objectives in the overall mission where you take over the church or hold out until the payload is ready. However, the only objective we have for the players in Retribution is escaping Venezia, so that players can concentrate mainly on the story.

You can enjoy the related stories by listening to the heroes’ dialogue in-game. Just like last year, the dialogue will change each time you play so you can enjoy finding different lines as you play several times.


▲Unlike the Overwatch Uprising where there were several missions in-game, the only objective of Retribution is to escape.

How long is the playtime? And what changes are there once the level of difficulty goes up?

Aaron: It takes an average of 10~12 minutes in the lowest difficulty level and comparatively shorter than the Uprising where you had to do several missions in-game. However, it will become much harder and take longer once the difficulty is increased.

Notably, it will be pretty hardcore playing the ‘All Select Mode’ where you can freely choose any heroes with the highest difficulty. Enemies will deal more damage and have higher health bars. Special units including snipers, assassins, and infantry with heavy weapons will appear sooner and in larger numbers. You will need to cooperate with your teammates to win.


▲ The special units that appear during the mission: assassin, infantry with heavy weapons, and sniper (from left to right).


Unlike the Uprising where you had 1 tank, 2 DPS, and 1 support - Reinhardt, Torbjörn, Tracer, and Mercy, this year’s mission takes 3 DPS and 1 support with Reaper, McCree, Genji, and Moira. This has to be the setup because there are no tank heroes either in Blackwatch or Talon; do you plan to make any tank heroes working for Talon?

Aaron: (Laughs) A Talon tank sounds like a really fun idea. Thanks for the question.

The reason there is no tank in the Retribution is because, as you said, there is no tank hero in Blackwatch. But since this event mission was about having to keep moving forward while taking enemies down, it needs as many DPS heroes as possible. Also, Moira is a very aggressive healer. We took all that into consideration when coming up with designs for the missions in the Retribution so there is no need to worry about the team composition.


▲4 heroes who were former members of Blackwatch, although there is no tank.

Is there a special battle with a boss at the end of the event mission? Also, is there any particular team comp you would recommend for the all select mode that you came up with during the internal test?

Jeff: There won’t be any particular boss unit but it will feel like a boss battle at the end since there will be a lot of special units pouring out.

The Brigitte-Zenyatta-Mei-Roadhog comp was a really fun one to play when doing the internal test. Other than that, I remember Orisa-Mei-Zenyatta-Soldier: 76. Getting only Talon heroes on the team to fight against Talon was fun as well. I hope players will come up with even more diverse compositions as they play.

It seems like the Archives event will continue in the future, is there any new lore-related content you are planning besides Retribution?

Jeff: It would be nice if we could make more, but we have just made the Retribution content for now. But it is really great to plan and work on new lore-related content. We will try to prepare more for Overwatch players as soon as we can.

A new map, Rialto, was added along with the event; does it have any features that are different from other old maps?

Aaron: Although it is the same as the map for the event mission when the Retribution takes place, the regular PvP game happens during the daytime, instead of during the night time. Also, you can visit the places you could not go during the event mission and there are also other different details to it. It will also be fun to find the differences between the two maps.

If we were to tell you just one thing, there are many areas with corners on the route the payload follows, just like the Starcraft area in the Blizzard World map. It will be very hard for the attacking team to push the payload in these areas. There is even an area we nicknamed, the ‘Devilish Corner’, during the internal testing. I think it will be very difficult unless players play strategically.


▲The scenery of Rialto, the new escort map. The Retribution mission takes place during the night while the regular game takes place during daylight.


Is there any chance Rialto will be added to the Overwatch League? The feedback from regular and pro gamers must be different when you’re working on the map balance; how have you been adjusting it?

Aaron: When we are making new maps, we don’t just make them based on the standards certain skilled people have. We try to make maps that as many people as possible can enjoy.

Jeff: There has been nothing decided about when it will be added yet. We will have to decide if it can be added at the OWL Stage 4 or not depending on how the PTR tests go.

You made a comment about a battle royale mode during an external interview; could you tell us more about it?

Jeff: It isn’t impossible to turn Overwatch into a battle royale game, but it will be very challenging. Since the game was designed as 6vs6 PvP, the game takes place in small maps and there are differences in hero abilities as well. The two genres have a huge difference in structures.

I cannot say that Overwatch will never become a battle royale for certain, but if it does, I want to say that it will be work on a completely different level.


Turning Overwatch into a battle royale requires a whole new level of work due to the structural differences.

Is there anything you’d like to say to the Overwatch fans?

Aaron: It’d be great if you take interest in playing Overwatch Retribution and I hope many people enjoy it. We are looking forward to seeing how players will play the Retribution mission.

Jeff: (Laughs) Personally, I’d like to see Pine play McCree. I hope many people enjoy Retribution.


Jeff Kaplan, the Game Director, and Aaron Keller, the Assistant Game Director.

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