Hands on with Overwatch 2’s new story missions and Push map type
Starting up my first match of Overwatch 2 felt immediately familiar — but exciting and new. We’d just watched a cutscene where the newly reformed Overwatch team came to save Rio de Janeiro from the invading Null Sector robots. We’ve gotten story moments in the Overwatch Archives missions before, but not with as many characters as were on display here. Almost the whole squad was on the mission and seeing them work together and make jokes while crushing robots was everything I’ve wanted to see in Overwatch since it came out.
The extra work that has gone into wringing every drop of performance out of the Overwatch engine is breathtaking. Characters feel the same, but seem to have a little extra life in them. Their abilities and ultimates have an extra touch — a few more snowflakes in Mei’s beam, and Reinhardt’s Fire Strike got a little extra fiery. The new style for heads up display mostly works. I like the minimalism in the display but did have a hard time paying attention to my health in the heat of battle. It was harder to tell when things were getting dicey, especially playing Reinhardt who belongs in the middle of the battle.
Saving Rio in the Story
In the Story Mission I played, Rio is under attack and there are only four heroes who can save it. The mission starts out as all Overwatch missions do — everyone going hog wild and seeing what sort of junk they can knock off of the walls of Lucio’s house. But we quickly got a move on, fighting our way through the streets of Rio until we hopped in a dropship with Echo and blasted up to the giant Null Sector mothership above the city. From there we fought our way to the reactor core. We blew that up and escaped the way we came in as the ship exploded around us.
If you’ve played the existing PVE story missions in Overwatch this will feel like the best possible version of that. Everything feels a little bit crisper, and the pacing is way better. Just as you’re getting tired of fighting robots in one section of the map, it’s time to move onto the next.
The first few areas introduce you to the enemy types you’ll be seeing on the mission. We fought standard foot soldiers, nimble Skirmishers, heavy firepower Obliterators, and super annoying Orbiters. They all behave differently and pose unique challenges. Skirmishers like to dodge and fly around the battlefield looking for better angles. While Obliterators will reward precision shooting, destroying their cannons will make them no threat at all. Even the basic foot soldiers are dangerous if ignored. When I played as Tracer I found myself getting in trouble quite often if I was off by myself. Sticking with the team is definitely recommended.
The Mechanical Differences
Similar to the Archives event mechanics, rather than die outright when your health drops to zero, you’re knocked to the ground. You can crawl around, and one of your allies will be able to rez you by pressing a button. It takes a little longer than a standard resurrection that Mercy can perform, so I don’t recommend dying if you can help it. Playing on the show floor if the whole team got wiped out unlike Archives, you were set back to a checkpoint earlier in the mission and you could resume where you left off.
The replayability factor in these missions is going to be interesting. How much of it will be exactly the same each time? Will the different difficulty tiers be enough? We’ll have to see how the hero progression system winds up working in the final game. They showed off a few of the talents you unlock during their panel, which seems to be the primary drive to keep playing these missions. But will there also be achievements and challenges with additional rewards?
It’s not hard to see why the new talents won’t make their way into the PVP side of things — they’re all extremely overpowered and tons of fun. Reinhardt gets one that gives his shield an amplification effect on any friendly fire that passes through it just like Baptiste’s ultimate ability, but available all the time.
Just imagine the unholy combination of a Bastion and Reinhardt with an amplification shield on your next King’s Row map.
Pushing through Toronto
On the PVP side of things, I also got to try the new Toronto map and Push game mode. This was an excellent map. I didn’t get to spend much time trying to find all the little bits of Canadiana sprinkled throughout, but what I did see felt authentic. We 100% have statues of hockey players already, so a hockey-playing Omnic just makes sense. The set up for Push was great, lots of twists and turns. Plus plenty of sneaky paths through, around, and behind the action.
Both teams fighting for the same objective feels like a better take on the escort maps that I’m used to. There’s still attackers and defenders, but unless you absolutely roll over the enemy team you’ll probably get to experience being both within the same match. Just like in escort if you’re on a roll you’ll have to balance pushing forward and making sure that you keep Push bot walking.
And what a good bot that Push bot is! He was just so friendly and happy to be helping. Definitely the standout star of the new game mode.
I really enjoyed my time in Overwatch 2. Everything feels geared towards working as a team. The lone wolf player isn’t going to do as well. Even the cinematics are full of heroes working together and cooperating. Plus how great to finally see a Canadian hero! Sojourn looked amazing, and I’m hoping that her kit meshes with my playstyle.
If you’ve found yourself eagerly wanting more PVE content from it, you won’t be disappointed. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the missions are, and I definitely can’t wait until the first Junkenstein’s Revenge of Overwatch 2.
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