As long as Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan inadvertently continues being his maladroit self, the coruscating Dinoflask can celebrate becoming increasingly less recondite, due to the boon of material ripe for remixing into his quintessential skullfuckery. As another beautiful episode of said skullfuckery was bequeathed unto us mere mortals by Dinoflask’s infinite benevolence, coincidentally, the Omnic overlords at Overwatch instigated their new special event: Overwatch Uprising. Unlike prior special events, Uprising marks being the first of its kind tied specifically to the game’s lore, in lieu of a real-world happening.
Chronologically, this event takes place prior to the disbandment of Overwatch as an organization, as the young cadet Lena Oxton (Tracer) partakes in her first field mission; the not-at-all daunting task of infiltrating Kings’ Row, her home turf, in the midst of an Omnic insurgency by the nefarious extremist group, Null Sector. Only Angela Ziegler (Mercy), Torbjorn Lindholm (Torbjorn) and Reinhardt Wilhelm (Team Grandad) have been cleared for active duty in the area, and should the four of them fail, London is doomed. Inasmuch as any preeminent global group likes to throw its rookies in the deep end, figuratively speaking, the irrepressible Tracer may as well have been tossed in with flotation devices made from Torbjorn’s beard trimmings.
Being able to decimate waves of robots as Mercy, Tracer, Reinhardt or Torbjorn as they banter amongst themselves is a fantastic experience for anyone who craved a single-player Overwatch experience, as this is as close as they’re going to get. The quartet need to navigate through Kings’ Row in order to activate three terminals, to disable three cannons that threaten to destroy much-needed ammunition to infiltrate the Omnic-controlled power station and cripple Null Sector. Jack Morrison and Ana Amari also make brief cameos to debrief the team, but it’s the dulcet tones of the man formerly known as Gabriel Reyes that will have players reeling in bemusement of how different he sounds in present lore. In terms of gameplay structure, it’s a mixture of point capturing and escort, with the final area necessitating the defeat of four OR14 bots. Whilst highly reminiscent of the general premise of the Halloween event, Blizzard seem to have taken the criticism of the limitations with character selection in their stride, and added an extra mode where players are free to pick whoever they wish.
The mode comes with four difficulties; Normal, Hard, Expert, Legendary, and whilst the distance between the former difficulties is negligible, the increments in the latter are veritable universes apart. Success in higher ranks means that target coordination, grouping up, and strategising is imperative, even in free choice. Even if the omnic formations don’t deviate much between difficulties, their attack strength does, and together the amaranthine bots will melt player teams in seconds. As they tend to be in the main game, enemy Bastions can be the bane of players, forcing almost everyone to concentrate their fire to the detriment of allowing other omnics to slip past a team’s defenses. As there are no health packs, teams playing the original campaign mode will be heavily reliant on their Mercy for healing, as even lower difficulties will be exhausting Torbjorn’s armour output. Any incapacitated characters must be revived by another, which is tantamount to an automatic defeat on higher difficulties, as it renders the reviving character liable to also become incapacitated. Furthermore, taking too long to revive immobilized heroes, or allowing the payload to take to take too much damage a la the castle door in Junkenstein’s Revenge will also result in Game Over. Only the crème de la crème of Overwatch players will succeed in beating the mode on Legendary, and despite the bragging rights of such a monumental feat, they’re in for an arduous time.
As per any seasonal event, Overwatch’s range of exclusive cosmetics will test the resolutions of players as they abstain from squandering their credits on Legendary skins, or cave into their temerarious hedonism and buy all the loot boxes. The cooler tones of the Uprising exclusives look slick, and lend a more nostalgic visage to the tone of the campaign in general. As a nice reference to the tie-in comic, also Genji and McCree get a sweet new skin each, with the former guaranteed to endear the younger Super Shimada brother to sentimentalists and those who enjoy fawning over asymmetry alike. However, with these skins being priced between 750-3000 credits a pop, Blizzard can afford a few tasty sandwich parties as players inevitably shell out for additional loot boxes in a bid to combat their penurious drop percentage rate. Whilst the additional sprays and voice lines continue to proliferate loot boxes, there’s some cheeky new highlight intros for the likes of D.Va, Torbjorn, and Zenyatta, as well as a particularly intriguing spray hinting that Pharah’s paternity is not as equivocal as we thought.
In summation, Uprising is a lot of fun, and despite little variation in omnic enemy formations, it remains a frenetic, and challenging experience on higher difficulties, with multitudinous replayability from free-choice mode and campaign mode alike. Give it a go, capitalize on the free loot boxes from Arcade whilst you can, and, in the words of a certain, no-nonsense Overwatch commander:
“Good luck out there, agents!”
The Overwatch: Uprising event runs for one more week, until the 1st of May 2017.