It’s Overwatch event season again, and you all know what that means – a mad scramble for loot boxes while everyone fails at the new game mode in pub queues. Uprising is a little bit different though, in that it takes place in Tracer’s first field mission, where she is sent to London along with Mercy, Torbjorn and Reinhardt to stop a takeover by a group of terrorist Omnics called Null Sector. The Uprising game mode is the closest thing to an actual story mission that Overwatch has come up with so far, and I’m pretty sure I speak for most of the community when I say that I love the new mode.
But first – the new cosmetics. Uprising comes with a heavier legendary skin count this time around, with mission skins for Tracer, Mercy and Torb, as well as Blackwatch skins for Mccree and Genji, and a Talon skin for Widowmaker that is presumably what she looked like post-brainwashing. I mention Reinhardt’s separately as it’s an epic skin. Torbjorn also receives a second legendary, in which his left arm is intact (?!) and his beard is clean shaven. Bastion and Orisa also get epic and legendary skins respectively, based on the Null Sector enemies in the arcade mode. If you haven’t gotten any of the skins for the four focus characters, don’t worry – the Uprising default mode will throw you into a match with the four characters in their respective skins.
The main characters’ throwback skins take both the color palette and general motifs of Soldier 76’s Morrison skin from the Origins Edition, and Ana’s Captain Amari legendary skin. Likewise, Blackwatch Mccree matches Reaper’s Reyes skin quite nicely, and Genji’s skin shows him in a transitionary stage of sorts, seemingly before he’s met Zenyatta. I think Widow’s is pretty interesting, as her skin hasn’t turned her Smurf-blue just yet. Most of these skins were more or less spoiled in the Overwatch: Uprising comic that came out last week.
As usual, the lootboxes also carry a variety of sprays and voice lines to completely frustrate you while you grind for the legendaries. The sprays this time are also throwbacks, some of them harkening back to the Overwatch glory days, while others are of the characters in childhood. Several of them are meant to be paired if you look closely – young Hanzo and Genji eating ramen, Mccree teaching a young Pharah how to shoot, Junkrat and Roadhog making off with the crown jewels in their motorcycle and sidecar combo. The other sprays also hint at other story aspects that the shorts and comics don’t cover, with Widowmaker’s being a wedding photo, and Reinhardt’s being an old crusader poster. I absolutely love Zarya’s Rosie the Riveter-inspired spray. Achievement sprays are also back, earned by completing the Uprising mode on specific difficulties, or on specific characters.
Now for the fun part – the game mode. If you’re a fan of Warframe or Left 4 Dead style group missions, Uprising is just the thing for you. Your team is dropped into a severely shot up King’s Row, where Null Sector has run amok and is trying to blow up the power plant. Tracer and company have to work to disable three anti-air guns, protect a payload from enemy fire and escort it to open a door Eichenwald-style, then fight through the power plant zone and take out specific Omnic targets. Disabling the guns requires the team to stay in one general area and defend a terminal for a period of time, while withstanding waves of enemies. Uprising also comes in four difficulty levels, with the enemies’ damage output and overall tankiness increasing with each level.
Each gun is in a particular spot in the King’s Row map, with each terminal providing a different challenge. After the guns are disabled, a bomb ship is dropped in, but needs time to start up, and unlike most payloads, this one has an hp bar. The team has to protect it from enemy fire for several minutes against varying enemies, including zerglike Slicers that scurry in to fire lasers at the payload, to large balloonish Detonators that float idly to the payload and explode, dealing serious damage. Eradicator bots that combine Reinhardt’s shield and a nasty energy burst gun assist the Omnics in fire along with the occasional Bastion unit. Later on after you’ve escorted the payload through the usual King’s Row backstreet, you’re met with four powered up OR-14 units (Orisa’s predecessors) as assassination targets, flanked by other Omnic types, including other Bastions. If you’ve ever wondered what the Omnic Crisis was like, Uprising comes pretty darn close.
The one other previous PvE mode, Junkenstein’s Revenge, previously locked you into four characters as part of the story, but aside from Uprising’s default mode of using the story characters, Blizz has slipped in an All Heroes mode where you can choose any character out of the current roster. This has made the mode all the more interesting with the different combinations. Frustrated with having to fly back and forth as Mercy? Swap her out with Lucio for extra mobility and party coverage. Not a fan of Reinhardt? Orisa’s shield and ulti make shredding through waves of Omnics a breeze. Pissed at the enemy Bastions? Pack your own! There’s even an achievement for clearing the mode with eight different heroes. Fair warning though, there are no health packs to be had during the event, so you’ll want to bring at least one healer – unless of course, you’re feeling particularly brave.
As someone that enjoyed the Left 4 Dead maps, I am really enjoying the mode! The contrast between the nighttime King’s Row that we’re used to seeing is really huge, with the blue skies somehow being threatening along with the unsettlingly empty streets. I’m reminded eerily of other warzone games where you’re in urban areas that had to be evacuated, but still show signs of habitation. I’m honestly glad Blizzard threw in an All Heroes mode, as otherwise I’d be stuck being Torbjorn for the next three weeks. You will get into situations as certain characters where you realize that a Pharah would be handy, and in some cases be annoyed as an ally picks Genji, only to remember that he can deflect incoming fire. That said, the mode fails to make Sombra useful, unless you’re particularly good at hacking Bastions.
There’s a brief story scene when you start the Uprising mode (which is skippable) that paints the setting, 20 years after the Omnic crisis, and I can’t help but feel that London is an unusually appropriate venue given what’s been happening in European politics recently, with Brexit and the migrant crisis. Of course, you can’t have King’s Row without Tracer, but instead of the usual confident and determined Tracer we’re all used to seeing, we’re shown a more worried and inexperienced Lena, made all the more vulnerable by being a 150hp fighter trying to duck around Reinhardt’s attacks and blinking in between Enforcers in the heat of battle. You can die very quickly if your healer’s back is turned, or if the Reinhardt has (against Ana’s advice) charged off by himself to maul a Bastion to pieces, or if your Torbjorn has put his turret somewhere that doesn’t cover the Detonator, or if your Mercy’s gotten killed and the next wave is upon you… As with the other event modes, Uprising really tests your ability to communicate and get things done.
Overwatch – Uprising is live from April 11 to May 1.