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StarCraft II's Nova Covert Ops Pt.1 Impressions: Fresh Approach, Fading Fun

by Daniel Tack on Mar 30, 2016 at 09:55 AM

I really like the model that Blizzard is using to implement the next StarCraft II “campaign” this year – a series of mission packs centering on everyone’s favorite Ghost, Nova. Nova does a great job at being a badass in the first three missions (available now), and the groundwork is laid for some interesting systems at work, allowing players to customize Nova’s loadout from mission to mission as well as units. The cinematics and cutscenes are top notch, and the types and styles of missions are varied. Sadly, they’re just not that engaging. 

The first mission has us playing Nova in a Solid Snake-style escape mission (there’s a wonderful Easter egg nod to this right when you begin, involving a cardboard box). You do a lot of running around performing stealthy takedowns, rescuing companions, and finding your way out of the ship. The mission then turns into a sort of R-Type style shooter as you fly off, speeder-bike style. It should be a lot of fun, but it ends up feeling mechanical and rather boring, moving up and down and slamming your hotkeys appropriately. I appreciate Blizzard’s willingness in this mission to break away from resource-gathering, unit-building conventions and letting us play around with Nova’s abilities, but it didn’t stimpack my interest level to any appreciable degree.

The second mission is a more traditional “defend the thing” mission, but it starts to display some of the cool parts of this campaign, namely, outfitting Nova with different pieces of gear for dramatic differences. Instead of the signature sniper rifle, perhaps a shotgun is in order, or some heavy armor with jump jets instead of her traditional cloaking. I expect these customization options to get more interesting in the missions yet to come, and they’re the most fun (along with unit customization) to tinker around with.

The third mission is a slog. It’s a big map with lots of points to take, and you have access to a variety of units to do it with, but it’s just not that exciting defending and taking the points. It feels too much like other “standard” StarCraft II missions and doesn’t really give you that Nova feeling – even though you have the chance to use nukes in this mission to blow Zerg chunks everywhere. That’s the best part of it, actually.

With many more missions to come, the groundwork is laid. I like what Blizzard Is trying to do, mixing traditional maps and “fun” stuff like the escape ride, but things outside of Nova being an awesome central character fall flat. I’m hoping that the future missions, with the core customization aspects only being gently introduced here, are more entertaining fare.