StarCraft II: Nova Covert Ops is a mission pack for StarCraft II. Consisting of nine missions, it was released over the course of three installments as DLC, with three missions per installment. The first mission pack was released March 29th, 2016, with the second released August 2nd, and the third on November 22nd, 2016. The pack concluded Nova's story, at least for the forseeable future.
A bundle could be pre-ordered that grants the purchaser access to all 9 missions through a single payment. Each mission pack can be purchased separately, but only the bundle is available for pre-purchase. Each mission pack will be $7.49 USD, while the pre-purchase option comes to $14.99 USD. Only the StarCraft II Starter Edition is required to download the missions.
Those who pre-purchased Nova Covert Ops received a unique Nova portrait, as well as a Covert Opsghost skin. A player can unlock the skin without the pre-purchase after completing all nine missions of the campaign. The Nova portrait is limited to the pre-purchase bundle.
"The reign of Emperor Valerian Mengsk is under threat. Along with facing political opposition, several Dominion ghosts have gone missing in action while under his rule. Their trail leads to a secretive Terran group, the Defenders of Man. As Nova Terra, a psionic ghost trained to be the perfect covert operative, you must delve into the conspiracy before it’s too late for the Terran Dominion."
The campaign takes place a few years after the epilogue of Legacy of the Void (post-2508). The Terran Dominion, led by Emperor Valerian Mengsk, is attempting to recover from the civil wars and zerg attacks that have ravaged their civilization. Along with facing political opposition, several Dominion ghosts have gone missing, the trail leading to a secretive terran group called the "Defenders of Man." Nova Terra is assigned to investigate, but goes missing. Meanwhile, zerg attacks return on the outer colonies of the Terran Dominion, with Emperor Valerian Mengsk's new regime slow to respond to the sudden assaults.
Nova later woke up in a Defenders of Man base, with no memory of what happened. She read a message on her visor stating she is in danger, and escaped the facility. She regrouped with Stone and the rest of the squad that was assigned to infiltrate the facility, and escaped the city of Sharpsburg while being pursued by Defenders of Man forces. Stone and Nova reached the spaceport, and Stone demanded Nova go ahead without him.
Nova regrouped with Admiral Matt Horner on Borea, who said the Terran Dominion had evidence she was working with the Defenders of Man, and that she was wanted for treason (though Horner was skeptical of the accusations). However soon after the base was assaulted by an overwhelming force of feral zerg, and Horner asked Nova to aid them. She led a Covert Ops Crew as they defend the canyons leading into Matt Horner's base. Eventually, the Defenders of Man appeared and assaulted the zerg, and demanded the Dominion leave the planet and surrender Nova. Using the conflict between the two factions as their chance to escape, the Dominion leave the planet with Nova.
Valerian met with Nova, and gave her a new command ship, the Griffin, as well as her own Covert Ops Crew. He put a new weapons and technology specialist, Reigel, under her command, who attempted to reactivate the memories she had lose while working for the Defenders of Man. The device showed her the ruins of her home, Tarsonis City. Nova and her team moved on Tarsonis and secured garrisons outside of the base while Nova infiltrated in. The Defenders of Man noticed her, and activated a psi emitter in their own base. Nova continued further, and discovered that the Defenders of Man were luring zerg to civilian worlds to discredit Emperor Valerian Mengsk, and were now planning to have Tyrador IX attacked by the feral zerg to prove the new regime's weakness.
The Defenders of Man lured the feral zerg to Tyrador IX, a tourist destination mostly populated by civilians. Nova arrived on the planet, but too late to stop the attack. Nova deployed banshees to thin out the feral zerg's hatcheries while the Defenders of Man set up a defense around Surfside Stadium, where a group of surviving civilians were holed up. However, the Tal'darimDeath Fleet, lead by the First AscendantJi'nara, arrived above Tyrador IX, and opened fire on the zerg on the planet. Ji'nara stated she intended to destroy the Defenders of Man, and demanded the Dominion not interfere. Nova however knew that the Tal'darim would kill the civilians the Defenders were guarding, and disabled the shield projectors for their Tal'darim mothership. Enraged, Ji'nara send her mothership against Nova's forces, but they were able to destroy it.
Nova returned to the Griffin, but found HighlordAlarak on her bridge. Alarak revealed that the Defenders of Man had attacked a Tal'darim outpost recently, and he wished to see them destroyed. Alarak made her an offer: if Nova tracked down the Defenders and bring their whereabouts to the Tal'darim, Alarak would give her a source of terrazine gas to restore her memories. In order to uncover the truth about how she was involved with Defenders of Man, Nova accepted his offer.
Alarak led Nova to Jarban Minor, a planet that the Umojan Protectorate had attempted to colonize, but they lost contact with. Nova soon discovered that the planet and the Umojan crew had become infested. In addition, Alarak allowed Ji'nara and her forces to challenge Nova, and fight her while attempting to destroy the extraction devices. Nova was successful in harvesting the terrazine, and Alarak told her that when the time was right he would know where to find her. With that, the two factions parted ways.
After administering microdoses of terrazine, Nova remembered the destination of one of her missions: the now-infested world of Antiga Prime. She arrived on the planet to search for clues, and realized that she was sent on a cooperative mission to aid the Defenders of Man setup a series of anti-zerg devices on Antiga Prime. However, she and Stone realized that these were actually psi-emitters. Nova was captured and had her memory wiped, but not before she was able to implant a message in her visor. Nova also remembered that the Defenders were led by General Carolina Davis, a general that was seemingly loyal to the Mengsk family. She reported this information to Valerian and declared her intent to assassinate Davis, but Valerian stated that he has other plans to deal with Davis, and that she needed to follow along. Nova reluctantly agreed.
In the face of a series of protests against the Dominion for his failures, Valerian announced to General Davis that he wished to abdicate from the position of Emperor.
However, this was a ruse, as Valerian sought to distract Davis with his speech on Vardona while Nova slipped into Davis's compound through the sewer. She made it through the Defender's defenses, and arrived inside the manor. Inside she found that other ghosts had been undergoing mind wipes within, including Delta and Pierce. Nova deactivated the two security terminals leading into Davis's chambers, but as she entered she encountered Stone, who had his mind wiped to believe Nova had betrayed them. Nova and Stone fought, and Nova incapacitated him, and asked Reigel to send a team for him. Nova entered Davis's room, and apprehended her.
Nova dragged Davis outside to the speech Valerian was giving, where he announced the Defenders of Man being complicit in the feral zerg attacks and the Tyrador IX massacre. He stated that General Davis would be receiving a trial shortly. However, just then the Tal'darim Death Fleet attacked Vardona, with Highlord Alarak announcing that he came to destroy the Defenders of Man. His ships strafed the city, killing soldier and civilian alike. He psionically contacted Nova stating their bargain was fulfilled, and he would now destroy the Defenders of Man. Nova refused, saying she wouldn't let him harm civilians.
The Dominion, Nova's Covert Ops Crew and the lower ranking Defenders of man unaware of Davis's agenda formed a defensive line against the Tal'darim as they funneled through the city. Against a ravenous Tal'darim assault the line held. Soon the Dominion Fleet arrived, and Gorgon-class battlecruisers strafed the attack lanes. Ji'nara attempted to send two motherships against the terrans, but still was unable to break through. After suffering heavy casualties, the Tal'darim were forced to retreat from Vardona. However, in the chaos Davis had commandeered the Medusa and fled the planet. Nova got in the Griffin and gave chase.
In the Griffin, Nova was contacted by Alarak, who stated she had made a powerful enemy. She said he did as well, and that he should never return. She then contacted Valerian, who said Davis had to be stopped, and that Nova would bring her in alive. Nova stated the only way to stop her was to kill her, but Valerian refused, and gave her a direct order to bring Davis in alive to stand trial. Nova begrudgingly agreed. Reigel managed to trace Davis to the Cerros Shipyards, and the Griffin gave chase.
In the shipyards, the crew found the Davis and her most loyal Defenders of Man activated the Xanthos, an experimental war machine. Davis sought to use it to destroy the Gorgons docked in the shipyards, crippling the Dominion Fleet and Valerian's ability to control the Dominion. Nova's forces deployed to the shipyards, and forces under Admiral Matt Horner set up fortifications around the Gorgons. While Nova's forces could not attack the Xanthos directly, they could disable its weapons and force it back for repairs, at which time in was vulnerable. Nova, with aid from Admiral Horner in the Hyperion, pushed through the Defender's lines and made it to the Xanthos. However, Davis activated a secret transformation of the machine, which gave it a powerful thermal laser. Neither this, nor sending the remainder of her loyal Defenders of Man at the Dominion was enough to save the machine however, and it was incapacitated. However, Davis was still alive inside. Nova infiltrated the Xanthos, and Davis stated she knew her family, and that if Nova killed her she'd be no better than Davis was. Nova, in open defiance of Valerian's orders, killed Davis.
Aboard the Griffin, Nova began to take stock of what weapons and ammo she could find, when Reigel entered. Nova hid, and prepared to fight him, when Reigel opened up to her about his past in the Moebius Foundation, and his destroyed career. He stated that his life there was all he had left. He then brought up to Nova that he and the crew were loyal to her alone, not the Dominion, and they would follow her wherever she led. Nova stated the Dominion would always have enemies, and they would need them to solve things their own way, beyond the command structure.
Aboard the Bucephalus, Emperor Valerian Mengsk and Admiral Matt Horner watched UNN as they reported on the fallout from the conflict. The news stated that after Valerian released his documents, public opinion turned back toward him, and that they even generally agreed lethal force was necessary against General Davis. Horner asked what they should do about Nova, as they were tracking her ship, and Valerian stated they should let her go, for now.
Now a fugitive from the Dominion, Nova and her vigilante squadron went to warp, speeding off into the sector.
Nova is controllable in each mission, similar to how Kerrigan operates in the campaign of Heart of the Swarm, featuring gear and loadout features. She is supported by a black ops force. New units and structures will be unlocked in a manner similar to previous campaigns. Pre-existing units will gain new abilities/properties, such as cliff jumping siege tanks and marines who use stimpacks to heal themselves.
Missile comes out and stays immobile in front of the Raven for 4 seconds while charging up, then rapidly moves (it’s not dodgeable at this point) and explodes at the target, causing 100 damage to target plus splash damage. Targeted unit lights up red when targeted. If the unit moves 13 range out of where the Seeker Missile is, the missile fizzles.
In the aftermath of Legacy of the Void, it was decided that returning to a terran perspective was a "natural" choice. Nova came up as a focal point during these discussions, and it was decided to explore her character, as well as ghosts.
The story was designed to be darker in tone than StarCraft II, which focused on galactic events. Covert Ops is designed to be "a little bit closer to home," and to return to the "grittiness" of StarCraft I. It would likewise differ from Wings of Liberty in that it would focus on Dominion black ops rather than "scrappy mercenaries."
The DLC model was chosen instead of an expansion pack or sequel so that "more campaign-style content could be delivered to fans." With the completion of the mission pack, fan reaction will be gauged to decide whether more mission packs will be released, or whether Blizzard should work on an entirely new RTS game.Chris Sigaty has commented that the development model has stemmed from Blizzard's current approach to content release, namely to release smaller content more frequently.
A goal of the mission pack is to establish Nova as being distinct from Sarah Kerrigan, as fans have already drawn similarities between the two. It has been stated that the game is ultimately about choice; James Waugh has commented that Nova will be in a more empowered position than she is at the start of the game's story. Although Nova is present in each mission in a manner similar to Kerrigan in Heart of the Swarm, effort was made to show that she is not nearly as powerful an individual.