I won’t beat around the bush, I’m not very impressed or happy with the way Blizzard has handled Overwatch over the years. From essentially forcing the original game into a stagnant limbo, all in an effort to prepare for the launch of a sequel that ultimately turned out to be a regressive title update at best, needless to say it was very challenging to stay positive as an Overwatch fan. But the one thing you can say about the new Overwatch 2 live model is that it brings a lot more additional content to the game, something it has lacked for a long, long time. Most of this is extra 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 considered a pretty important one by Blizzard, I’ve decided to overcome my previous gripes with this game and see how the title develops ten months after its release. Essentially, I’m here to tell you if it’s worth the £12 needed to buy the new story missions, and if it’s worth updating the game to check out Illari and the new Flashpoint mode.
If you’ve been waiting for a chance to release years and years of pent-up anger by being farmed as a Support player, well … Illari is your best chance to blow off some steam. This character is downright disgusting in her current state. She will 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 is not an easy character to get value out of.
Blizzard manages to create engaging and interesting characters and abilities despite all its faults, and we’ve seen that time and time again over the years. Illari is the next step on this journey, and yes, she is an absolute blast to play, one of the most interesting and fun Supports Overwatch has ever seen.
But is this new character enough of a reason to return to Overwatch? While she has a lot going for her, I can’t say she’ll 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.
Blizzard has come up with a number of notable game modes for Overwatch over the years. 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 pop up as the next game mode. Flashpoint, by what I’ve experienced so far, is looking for more in the former category.
This is essentially Control, except that instead of one point that each team fights for per round, there are up to five points that each team fights for in one round. It’s a real King-of-the-Hill if anything, and for Overwatch it works very well because there are plenty of opportunities to adjust team composition between points and get the jump on the enemy team. Likewise, it has a fast and balanced nature that feels very rewarding in practice, and I can see this mode being very popular, assuming there are the right maps to play it.
Suravasa, for example, really suits this game mode and fits exactly what you need from it. It’s fast, has sightlines but also lots of cover, unique points that require different angles, and so on. New Junk City is exactly the same, even if it didn’t quite give me the same impression of Suravasa and its winding corridors and environmental hazards. The point is, don’t let this game mode die the same way Control did thanks to nightmares from maps like Temple of Anubis, Horizon Lunar Colony and Paris. The fact that Hanamura still does not exist in rotation is a travesty that needs to be addressed.
Heroism and player progression
This is one of those features that is cool, but ultimately doesn’t add that much to the Overwatch experience. Sure, it’s a pleasant addition to progress and earn experience for each character and class type to prove your excellence with them and earn some neat cosmetics, but it’s not one that redefines Overwatch or vastly improves it.
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 control systems won’t really leave much of an impression on you. Still, I commend Blizzard for adding this feature, because in my mind, more data and more ways to track your achievements and Overwatch history is a very good thing.
Invasion Story Missions
When Overwatch 2 was announced, the story missions were a very big selling point. A few months before the game debuted, it was revealed that they would not be ready, meaning the title would arrive without them. A few months after release, they were canned, leaving many angry and feeling betrayed that Blizzard promised them in the first place, with many players even wondering why Overwatch was ever upgraded to Overwatch 2 at the end of the day. For the sake of transparency, I am still one of these individuals.
But in this Invasion season, there are some “story missions.” These are essentially more narrative versions of the cooperative modes launched in the past as part of seasonal events. They are not as predictable and boring as those events and take players through linear, albeit very monotonous, levels where you must blast and shoot hordes of Omnic enemies, at various difficulty levels. The actual meat of the gameplay is hardly anything to celebrate or hammer about, because it’s just plain Overwatch, except that instead of shooting other players, you shoot AI robots as part of a mission where you actually serve on the rebuilt Overwatch team.
This is the most vital part of the story missions, as Blizzard has been sitting on a golden goose with this franchise for years and has done virtually nothing meaningful with it on a narrative level. Players have been waiting to be fed cinematic videos for any hint of lore, and now these story missions want to tap into this in a more interactive sense. They’re hardly immersive from a gameplay perspective, and frankly, once you’ve played them and experienced the story of each mission, there’s not much reason to want to revisit them. But they do leave me with a bittersweet taste in my mouth, because although I still hate the way Blizzard handles 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 think of a better way to tell stories than with half-baked story missions then I’ll be incredibly disappointed, but at the same time I’m glad we’re finally seeing some exploration in this area.
Would I recommend paying £12 to experience these missions? Absolutely not. They’re mediocre at the best of times, take 90 minutes at a stretch in one playthrough, and replayability depends solely on your ability to frequently consume content you’ve already experienced. Think Destiny 2, except that 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.
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 messing around with this title and this franchise, and that’s obvious, but the core framework of Overwatch is still a very complete and exciting hero-based shooter experience that frankly very few games can match. Should you spend your hard-earned money on the half-baked story missions or on battle passes and absurdly priced cosmetics? I wouldn’t recommend it, but yes, to each his own. There are far worse games than Overwatch, but there’s also no denying that this game is treated the right way and makes money.