Ahead of Overwatch 2: Invasion’s launch today, we got to go hands-on with the game’s behemoth update. From the highly anticipated story missions, to running Flashpoint matches with Illari, we got to play with everything new coming to Overwatch 2’s sixth season. While I’m unsure if Invasion offers enough to warrant a reinstall for returning players, there’s a lot of good content to get into here for Overwatch regulars.
The biggest allure of the Invasion update is undoubtedly its PvE components. Serving as the start of Overwatch 2’s canonical narrative, Invasion brings three unique story missions set in Rio, Toronto, and Gothenburg respectively. It also brings what’s to be the first of many event missions in Underworld, set on the King’s Row map.
At its core, the story being told here is about the reformation of Overwatch in the face of Null Sector. Overwatch is a shell of its former self, comprised of only a few members who were present during its glory days. The team moves through regions affected the most by Null Sector, recruiting heroes both new and old to their cause so they can take the fight to the enemy.
The writing and world building is the unquestionable highlight of these introductory missions. Members of the team banter back and forth in a fashion that establishes prior relationships as believable and storied. Private journals and communications between heroes flesh out beloved characters and add layers of humanity to their personalities.
The broader narrative is also one of intrigue and conflicting ideologies. Without spoiling too much, the conclusion of the third mission makes the direction of this narrative very clear, and it does a great job of hooking you into the premise. Furthermore, each mission is punctuated by Blizzard-quality cinematics, and previously released shorts are recontextualized within the broader narrative being told here.
Where these opening missions stumble the most is in their gameplay. One dimensional objectives and linear mission design leave these first three levels feeling a little too simplistic. There isn’t much more to do than dispatch Null Sector baddies, push payloads, and defend points. Playing with friends can ease some of the mundanity, but I doubt many players will come back for seconds after a first run through.
Null Sector as an enemy force do manage to keep things feeling mostly fresh. Each mission introduces at least one new enemy type with unique mechanics and roles that require some prioritization. Fighting these adversaries is made even better by a dynamic dismemberment system that sees robotic limbs being torn from chassis, limiting their capacities for combat.
Out of everything offered in this update, the content I had the most fun with is undoubtedly Flashpoint. Overwatch 2’s new game mode stands alongside Push as one of the best the game has to offer, focusing more on dynamic team play and adaptation as opposed to turtling up on a point or payload.
The gargantuan size of the maps Flashpoint is set on goes a long way to help with this. They feel colossal in size, but never maze-like or overbearing in navigation. The way momentum can swing between teams at a moments notice makes for an unpredictable and fluid gameplay loop is consistently exciting and engaging. It’s at its best when teams are at two points each, contesting each other in a final scramble for victory where ultimate abilities are going off left, right, and center in a bid to keep control of the point.
As a damage player, it isn’t often that supports do much for me outside of a few exceptions. I’m pleased to say that Illari was promptly added to that short and sweet list. Healing Pylon allows for passive healing that lets Illari focus on putting out damage and keeping enemies away. The healing beam in her alt fire means you can always go hard on healing when the time is right, and her ultimate ability has the potential to put an explosive end to team fights.
Her design is also excellent. Blizzard continues the trend of bringing diverse and unique characters to its roster with each new addition. Her mannerisms and dialogue also feel distinct for her age, cluing you in to her scarred and traumatic past.
Hero Mastery missions add a bit of replayable fun to Overwatch 2’s suite of content, especially given the inclusion of leaderboards. It’s unfortunate then, that Hero Mastery is only available for a handful of heroes at launch. While there are more to come, it can be hard to care much about them if they don’t encompass any of your mains.
While I don’t think Invasion will do enough for many lapsed players, there’s loads of great stuff on offer here for players who frequent Overwatch. The story missions do a great job of expanding the lore, characters, and world of Overwatch. Flashpoint and Illari are excellent additions that shake-up the game, and Hero Mastery is a good time despite its limited offerings.
For a seasonal update, Invasion is jam-packed with content, hopefully marking the start of continued support for evergreen PvE modes, increasingly creative hero designs, and more expansive maps in Overwatch 2. Invasion is live right now on all platforms. We have more details on what’s coming in Overwatch’s largest content update yet right here.