Overwatch 2’s story missions are charming romps chained by expectation

The Overwatch 2 PvE story missions arriving in Season 6, Invasion, are entertaining adventures with plenty of charm, but the weight of expectation hangs heavy.

Overwatch 2 Invasion story missions - Torbjörn gives a warm smirk from behind his large beard.

The first Overwatch 2 story missions arrive with Overwatch 2 Season 6 and they’re charming, fun romps with a lot of heart, but the manner in which they’ve arrived in the multiplayer game puts an almost impossible weight of pressure on their release. If you’re looking for a new spin on the Overwatch 2 formula, you’ll probably have a good time, but anyone hoping for a more substantial experience might feel short-changed.

We at PCGamesN took a hands-on look at the three story missions that launch with Overwatch 2 Invasion, and spoke to the team at Blizzard about the design process. The three missions are Resistance (set in Rio De Janeiro), Liberation (Toronto), and Ironclad (Gothenburg). To get the bitter pill out of the way up front: if you want to take part, you’ll need to spend $15 on the Overwatch 2 Invasion bundle for permanent access.

This package does include 1,000 Overwatch Coins (typically priced at $10 and enough for a Premium Battle Pass) and a Legendary Sojourn skin (along with hero access to her if you don’t already have it). That means you’re getting the three missions and the Sojourn skin for effectively $5; unfortunately, the fact of the matter remains that you need to stump up $15 to play these missions whether you want those Overwatch Coins or not.

YouTube Thumbnail

The missions themselves, I’m pleased to report, are a whole lot of fun. The opening mission sees our crew responding to a distress call in Rio, which begins with Reinhardt air-dropping in on Null Sector forces. Each mission’s available roster is dependent upon the narrative, so here we have Rein, Winston, Echo, Genji, Mei, Tracer, and Lucio – from whom we must form a squad of one tank, one support, and two DPS.

The initial rollout feels worryingly just like playing the multiplayer Rio map in reverse, albeit covered in swarms of hostile Null Sector robots, but this feeling quickly evaporates when we leave the first building – the doors slide open to reveal the city streets in smoldering ruins before us, buildings destroyed and rubble strewn about. As someone who has spent a lot of time in the traditional layout, seeing the change in scenery is quite a striking moment.

We veer off the path onto the beach a little further in after destroying several shield generators, and fight our way to a shuttle, which Brigitte flies onto a Null Sector carrier ship. Here, the second half of the mission sees us fight through the carrier, take down a boss, and then escape the ship before it explodes.

Overwatch 2 Invasion story missions - several heroes fight Null Sector forces on the beaches of Rio de Janiero.

The whole escapade runs about 20 minutes, and it’s certainly a more engaging and robustly designed adventure than any of the co-op ‘missions’ Overwatch has offered in the past. The dialogue is pretty much what you’ve come to expect from Blizzard’s hero shooter, with quips galore and some real charm to be found. Audio director Scott Lawlor says the team has recorded “between 5,000 and 10,000 lines of dialogue for this release,” with interactions that can be highly specific to certain combinations of heroes and situations.

While I enjoyed this first taste, the latter missions actually ramp things up further. Our journey through Toronto features a much wider 15-person selection of Overwatch 2 characters and rapidly deviates from the familiar map territory as we escort a pair of Omnic subway workers through the trains, tunnels, and stations, keeping them safe from brain-sucking “subjugators” intent on doing exactly as their name suggests.

Much like Overwatch’s past co-op missions, certain enemies require rapid response on your part, such as the Stalkers who will trap a player in a tractor beam that gradually sucks them in to deliver heavy damage; basically a robotic spin on Left 4 Dead’s iconic Smokers. Location-based damage means you can destroy individual turrets on an enemy, or even their heads, which diminishes their danger but doesn’t stop them coming.

Overwatch 2 Invasion story missions - heroes fight tentacled Stalkers on the streets of Toronto.

“Make sure that you finish them off,” Senior game designer Dylan Snyder tells us, “Players may think that they’ve won, but – oh-ho-ho – they have not.” He chuckles. “I think the destruction is really cool – it makes Null Sector as an ecology have a really unique personality to fight against.”

The third mission is by far the standout – Gothenburg takes us to the home of everyone’s favorite Swedish engineer, Torbjörn, as we follow on from the story of Liberation and enlist his help in finding out what’s happening to the subjugated Omnics. As Null Sector inevitably descends, we (as a fixed four of Reinhardt, Bastion, Torbjörn, and Brigitte) uncover Torb’s arsenal of giant turrets spread across the city, before holding out in his workshop.

As the hordes crash in through windows and walls, deployable freeze and knockback turrets are made available to place wherever we fancy – the latter of these are perfect for blasting incoming bots into Torbjörn’s inexplicably unsafe open lava pits around the environment, helping you hold out for the final moments.

Overwatch 2 Invasion story missions - several heroes fight to defend a giant cannon on the streets of Gothenburg.

Nothing in these missions is truly revolutionary, but they’re all fun adventures that feel pleasingly distinct from one another, rather than falling into a cookie-cutter mold, and the dialogue carrying them is perhaps some of my favorite Overwatch writing to date. This goes further with the accompanying cinematics, which wrap into the missions themselves and also tease future content with sequences outside of their scope.

I won’t reveal too many specifics about what happens for fear of spoilers, although the fact I enjoyed them enough to do that is probably a good sign. Length-wise, Gothenburg also lasts about 20 minutes in total, while Toronto stretches out slightly longer to the 25-minute mark. There are also emails, text chains, photos, codex entries, and other communications to dig through between each mission, and some of these genuinely elicited some burst-out-loud laughter from me along with placing each mission in the timeline.

“This is the first time we’re doing something with the story that’s permanent,” Lawlor remarks, “I’ve been on this team for 11 years and this is kind of what we’ve looked forward to, where we can finally start telling the story of Overwatch going forward. Everything we’ve done up until this point is backstories, character building – this is the first time that we’re pushing the world of Overwatch forward into the future.”

Overwatch 2 Invasion story missions - Mei and Snowball examine an Omnic civilian with attachments on its head.

So where does that leave us? Taken as a five-dollar add-on for a free-to-play game I love, I would feel pretty satisfied by the three missions included in the Overwatch 2 Invasion bundle. Even a single playthrough of them brought me enough entertainment to justify the cost, and with four difficulty levels to mix things up on repeat playthroughs, I can absolutely see myself getting together with a squad of friends, seeing how far we can push it, and uncovering all manner of new hero interactions with each squad lineup.

Unfortunately for Invasion, its arrival among the greater context of the Overwatch 2 PvE’s long-standing saga makes it feel perhaps more important than it could possibly ever have lived up to. This isn’t the grand vision that some players had in their heads of a full, broad story mode with dozens of hours of adventuring – if that was ever even the plan. It’s merely a first salvo in what Blizzard is positioning as the new direction for Overwatch 2.

“This is the broadest release we’ve had for Overwatch or Overwatch 2,” game director Aaron Keller says of Season 6, pointing to the story missions, event missions, hero mastery, player progression, the Flashpoint mode, and new Overwatch 2 hero Illari. “Not all seasons are going to be like this,” Blizzard says, “but this is closer to the amount of gameplay we want to release in future seasons.”

Overwatch 2 Invasion story missions - Bastion looks on as his bird Ganymede perches on Brigitte's hand.

There’s currently no schedule set for when we’ll see more story missions. Dawson tells us there’s “Nothing to announce quite yet, but there’s a bright future for the story in Overwatch.” He suggests that we might see more event missions in the vein of the London Underworld map appear “soon,” but emphasizes that there’s nothing set in stone right now.

“The best design comes out of iteration,” Snyder adds, “and I think that taking the time to see how players respond to what we are giving them here and making sure that what we make in the future reflects what they are looking for is super crucial, so we really want to have that time to listen to what fans’ reactions are to the content.”

For me, the proof is ultimately going to be in what comes next, and when it arrives. If we can see missions like this start to appear on a more regular basis, Blizzard could build something that will keep players checking back in regularly. As a one-off package, presented as the first true arrival of Overwatch 2 PvE and with a $15 minimum buy-in price, I think a lot of players will feel underwhelmed by what Invasion has to offer.

With that said, if you’re already playing Overwatch 2 and you’re going to buy the battle pass anyway, the Invasion bundle is probably worth the extra cost on top of that. If you love the characters and world of Overwatch as much as I do, and you take this package on its own merits, I think there’s a lot to like. For those who go all-in on that stuff, even just a taste will feel like the sweet, fresh water of an oasis in a lore desert.

If you’re planning to jump in with some friends, make sure you’re using the best Overwatch 2 settings to ensure your time is as enjoyable as possible. You’ll also want to check out our Overwatch 2 tier list to see who’s looking strongest – but if you’re there for the story, then we say just follow your heart.