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Overwatch 2

Overwatch 2: Invasion - Is now the time to return to Blizzard's hero-shooter?

We've bought the story missions so you don't have to.

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I won't beat around the bush, I haven't been very impressed or happy with the way Blizzard has handled Overwatch over the years. From essentially forcing the original game into a stagnated limbo all in an effort to prepare to launch a sequel that ultimately turned out to be a regressive title update at best, needless to say, it has been very challenging to remain positive as an Overwatch fan. But, the one thing you can say about the new Overwatch 2 live model is that it does bring a lot more extra content to the game, something that it has lacked for a long, long time. The majority of this is additional paid content or locked behind silly challenges, which is relentlessly frustrating, but you can see the good intentions at the core of the new live system.

Now that the sixth season of Overwatch 2 is here, a season that is seemingly regarded to be quite a significant one by Blizzard, I have decided to get over my past gripes with this game and to see how the title is shaping up ten months after release. Essentially, I'm here to tell you whether it's worth the £12 it takes to buy the new story missions, and if it's worth updating the game to check out Illari and the new Flashpoint mode.

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Illari

If you've been waiting for a chance to release years and years of pent up rage from being farmed as a Support player, well...Illari is your best chance to let off some steam. This character is outright disgusting in her current state. She'll out damage some of the best and kick out enough healing to make Mercy and Ana seem irrelevant. Granted, this is all assuming you hit your shots because Illari isn't an easy character to get value out of.

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Blizzard, for all of its faults, knows how to create compelling and interesting characters and ability sets, and we've seen that time and time again throughout the years. Illari is the next step on this journey, and yes, she is an absolute blast to play as, one of the most interesting and fun Supports Overwatch has ever seen.

But, is this new character enough of a reason to get back into Overwatch? While she has a lot going for her, I can't say that she will be enough to keep you playing once the novelty wears off. Still, if you manage to unlock her and are looking for something new to test your skills with, Illari is a great place to start.

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Flashpoint

Blizzard has come up with some remarkable game modes over the years for Overwatch. Control, Escort, Hybrid, these are all iconic and beloved game modes. But at the same time, Assault and Push make me want to cry every time I see them come up as the next game mode. Flashpoint, by what I have experienced so far, is looking to fit more into the former category.

This is essentially Control, except instead of one point that each team fights over per round, there are a maximum of five points that each team will compete over in one round. It's a true King-of-the-Hill if anything, and for Overwatch it works very well, as there are ample opportunities to adjust team composition between points and to get the jump on the enemy team. Likewise, it has a fast-paced and balanced nature that feels very rewarding in practice, and I can see this mode being very popular assuming there are the right maps in place to play it.

Suravasa, for example, really suits this game mode and fits exactly what you need from it. It's fast-paced, has sightlines but also plenty of cover, unique points that require different angles of approach, and so forth. New Junk City is the exact same, even if it didn't quite leave me with the same impression as that of Suravasa and its twisty corridors and environmental hazards. The point is, don't let this game mode die in the same way that Control did thanks to nightmares of maps like Temple of Anubis, Horizon Lunar Colony, and Paris. The fact that Hanamura still doesn't exist in rotation is a travesty that needs to be addressed.

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Hero Mastery and Player Progression

This is one of those features that is cool, but ultimately doesn't add that much to the Overwatch experience. Sure, being able to progress and earn experience for each character and class type to prove your excellence with them and earn some neat cosmetics is a pleasant addition, but it's not one that redefines or vastly improves Overwatch.

If you play a lot of this game, you'll find some compensation for it in this system, but if your interest in Overwatch is fleeting at best, the player progression and hero mastery systems won't really leave much of an impression on you whatsoever. Still, I commend Blizzard for adding this feature, because in my eyes, more data and more ways to track your performance and Overwatch history is a very good thing.

Overwatch 2

Invasion Story Missions

When Overwatch 2 was announced, the story missions were a very big selling point. Then a few months before the game debuted, it was revealed that they were not going to be ready, meaning the title would arrive without them. Then a few months after release, they got canned, leaving many upset and feeling betrayed that Blizzard promised them in the first place, with a lot of players even wondering why Overwatch was ever upgraded to Overwatch 2 at the end of the day. For transparency, I'm still one of these individuals.

But in this Invasion season there are some "story missions". These are essentially more narrative-heavy versions of the cooperative modes that have launched as part of seasonal events in the past. They're not as predictable and boring as those events, and take players through linear, albeit very monotonous, levels where you have to blast and shoot through hordes of Omnic enemies, at various difficulty levels. The actual meat of the gameplay is hardly anything to celebrate or harp on about, as it's just regular Overwatch, except instead of shooting other players, you're shooting AI robots as part of a mission where you are actually serving on the rebuilt Overwatch team.

This is the most vital part of the story missions, as Blizzard has been sitting on a golden goose for years with this franchise and pretty much failed to do anything meaningful with it narratively. Players have been waiting to be drip-fed cinematic videos for any hint at lore, and now these story missions are looking to tap into this in a more interactive sense. They are hardly compelling from a gameplay perspective, and frankly, once you have played them once and experienced each mission's story, there isn't a whole lot of reason to want to revisit them. But they do leave me with a bittersweet taste in my mouth, because while I still loathe the way Blizzard is handling this game, I love the sense of heroism and inspiration it embodies in me. I want to know more about this universe and these characters, and if Blizzard can't come up with any better way to tell stories than with half-baked story missions then I will be incredibly disappointed, but at the same time, I'm glad that we're seeing some exploration into this area finally.

Would I recommend paying £12 to experience these missions? Absolutely not. They are mediocre at the best of times, last for 90 minutes at a stretch in one playthrough, and the replayability relies solely on your ability to frequently consume content you have already experienced. Think Destiny 2, except the PvE elements were only Vanguard Strikes, and that was the only way to ever experience the game outside of the PvP modes. Oh, and there are only three Strikes to play and you have to pay money to access them... This is where Overwatch 2 and its story missions are. Essentially, not in a great place.

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So, long story short, is now the time to return to Overwatch 2? I'm going to say essentially the same thing I said in my review. Blizzard is still fumbling the ball with this title and this franchise, and that is abundantly clear, but the core framework of Overwatch is still a very complete and thrilling hero-based shooter experience that quite frankly very few games can match. Should you be spending your hard-earned money on the half-baked story missions or on the battle passes and absurdly priced cosmetics? I wouldn't recommend it, but then again, each to their own. There are far worse games out there than Overwatch, but there's also no denying the potential of this game should it be handled and monetised in the correct way.

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