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Overwatch‘s Archives event doesn’t include new missions this year, but it still has a surprise. Blizzard added a series of “Challenge Missions” to the mix. They don’t change the purpose of each operation but do interfere with how it’s played.
Each assignment has two possible Challenge Missions, each with an added twist. Extra effects can range from decreased health and increased damage to a headshot-only mode. The rotation kicks off with the Kings Row Uprising.
In the game’s universe, Uprising was Tracer’s first mission for Overwatch. Players have two choices: “Molten Cores” makes enemies drop lava upon dying, while “Glass Cannon” increases players’ damage at the expense of their health bar.
Most of the four base heroes—Tracer, Mercy, Reinhardt, and Torbjörn—can find themselves in tricky situations if they aren’t careful. Reinhardt must move with his shield up to avoid lava, and Tracer and Mercy need to be aware of their locations and trajectories when using their mobility skills. The mission itself is harder than others, which adds complexity to the mix.
For the second week, players can dive into the Venetian canals when the Challenge Missions reach Rialto. Retribution features an extraction operation gone wrong and players must use their best special agent skills to complete the challenges.
The two challenges will make you feel like an Overwatch version of John Wick. With “Surgical Strike,” the only way to damage enemies is with critical hits—it’s unclear how that rule will interact with Moira, who can’t land headshots. The description of “Close Quarters” says that “enemies can only be killed if a player is nearby.” McCree or even Genji won’t be able to snipe their opponents and Moira’s orbs may have to be used in close proximity.
Week three will upend Operation Storm Rising, added in last year’s Archives. The “Blood Moon Rising” challenge gives players Life Drain, but seemingly removes support heroes from the mission based on its description. “Storm Raging” makes some enemies enter a berserk state and killing them spreads it to other foes.
The lack of a new story mission doesn’t come as a surprise. During a panel at BlizzCon, game director Jeff Kaplan announced that the developers were saving new story missions for Overwatch 2, which he called “the better storytelling experience.”
The Archives event runs until April 2. Players have until then to dive into the new challenge modes, get the remaining achievements from the base missions, or obtain limited-time cosmetics. Skins from previous Archives events are also in the hero gallery until April 2.