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Video Game / StarCraft II: Nova Covert Ops

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And the adventure continues!

StarCraft II: Nova Covert Ops is a DLC campaign for StarCraft II, made up of 9 playable missions. The first pack of 3 missions was released on 29 March 2016, along with Patch 3.2; the second was released on 2 August, along with Patch 3.5 and the final one was made available on 22 November 2016, along with Patch 3.8.

As the name suggests, the story focuses on Nova, the Dominion Ghost first seen in Wings Of Liberty. Having found herself framed with treason, and with her memories distorted, Nova must find out what happened to her and her team on their last mission (before her memories got screwed up), and who set her up. Along the way, she gets entangled with the Defenders of Man, an anti-Dominion group.


Tropes found in the campaign include:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The first half of "In the Enemy's Shadow" has Nova infiltrate a Defenders compound via the sewer system, which is somehow large enough to fit a Thor inside.
  • Action Bomb:
    • Spider mines are back, only this time they are deployed by reapers, siege tanks, or ravens.
    • So is the exploding variation of infested terrans. Luckily for Nova's forces, they aren't as fast as they used to be.
    • General Davis' compound has a number of drones patrolling the halls. They explode when they detect enemies.
  • The All-Seeing A.I.: In the final mission, any time Nova tries to call in a nuke, the enemy will immediately do a comsat sweep right over her exact position and nearby units will swarm to attack her. This will happen even if she had previously gone undetected getting into position, and even if she's out of vision range of enemy units or structures — no matter how stealthy you are, once the nuke is targeted the AI knows exactly where she is.
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  • Always Chaotic Evil: Zerg. Justified, because the zerg Nova fights are feral, instead of being part of the Swarm.
  • Armor Is Useless: The Defender troopers wear armor much less bulky that the standard Marine combat suit, but have the same stats and HP.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Enemies will panic and cower if Nova kills someone next to them... but stay in the same place.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Putting Jump Jets on Siege Tanks certainly sounds like an awesome idea, allowing them to move up onto otherwise-unreachable plateaus to rain down death upon all nearby enemies with no fear of reprisal... except they're still just as helpless against air units, and putting them up on those otherwise-unreachable areas generally leaves them out of support-range of any of your anti-air defenses (at least before Nova gains access to her air force), leaving them very exposed.
    • Starting on the penultimate mission, Battlecruisers can be given cloaking technology, meaning they can warp in undetected and rain hell upon enemies. Unfortunately, cloaking takes energy which is better spent on Yamato Cannons. In the end, it's better to give the cloaking technology to Liberators, Reapers, or Banshees, particularly since the latter two become permanently cloaked with the upgrade.
  • Big Bad: General Davis, the Dominion general who is the secret leader of the Defenders of Man.
  • Big "NO!": Nova's reaction to the Defenders of Man activating a psi emitter to lure zerg to a civilian world.
  • Blinded by the Light: Starting from the second mission, Nova can choose flashbangs as her thrown weapon which neutralizes detectors and stuns enemies.
  • Bookends: The first and last boss battle have Nova go up against experimental Terran aircraft.. Additionally, both the second and second-to-last mission are a Hold the Line against waves of enemies channelled into chokepoints by the geography (Zerg in canyons for the second mission and the Tal'darim in city streets in the second-to-last).
  • Boom, Headshot!: She is a sniper.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • One of the possible upgrades allows a unit that normally requires a tech lab (such as Marauders or Siege Tanks) be built without it. Dull but it lets you build two at a time from the same building with a reactor. In fact, giving it to Marauders/Siege Tanks means you no longer need tech labs for your Barracks/Factories at all.
    • There's another upgrade for Hellbats, Siege Tanks, and Liberators to transform between modes almost instantly. This can be a lifesaver for frantic situations (and there will be those moments).
    • Several units, such as Marines and Goliaths can use an upgrade that massively reduces their build time. Great for both getting started and when your bases is being swarmed.
  • Boss Battle: The first mission ends with one against the Warhawk.
  • Bullying a Dragon: The Defenders doing a sneak attack on the freaking Tal'darim, and destroying an outpost.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • The Defilers return to the ranks of the Swarm after being absent for all of StarCraft II (their corpses could be harvested in one Wings Of Liberty mission) and failing to return with the many units that returned in Legacy of the Void.
    • Alarak and the Tal'darim return after leaving in the epilogue of Legacy of the Void, and offer to help Nova against the Defenders.
  • But Thou Must!: The only way to finish the final mission is to kill General Davis.
  • Call-Back: The final cut scene of the second mission pack begins with a close-up of a record player as Valerian moves the needle to play, identical to the final cut scene of Brood War with DuGalle doing the same. The records even play the same music. The same music plays in General Davis' office as she reminisces about her and Arcturus Mengsk.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Inverted with the new Super Stim Packs which heal units along with increasing movement and attack speed, though this is likely to balance the distinct lack of healers until Night Terrors. The new stim packs operate more like a Super Serum than anything else.
  • Civil War: The Defenders of Man are trying to engineer this.
  • Clear My Name: Nova has to do so as she's suspected of treason against the Dominion. At least, a certain admiral still trusts her. Valerian will also give Nova one chance to prove herself. Turns out she was tricked into committing treason against the Dominion, and she ended up joining the Defenders of Man under the impression that they were operating under the Dominion.
    • To a lesser extent, Valerian himself. The Defenders of Man are out to make him look weak, ironically, by using the method his father used to destroy the Confederacy.
  • Cliffhanger: Blizzard promised that each mission pack (consisting of 3 missions) will end with one. The first pack ends with Nova realizing that a Psi Emitter is luring zerg to a civilian world, as the estimated casualty count keeps rising. The second ends with Valerian abdicating the throne. The third ends with Nova and the crew of the Griffin seemingly going rogue, promising to take care of problems for the Dominion which require dirty deeds. Valerian and Horner, while not in on it, turn a blind eye, trusting Nova to do the right thing, for the time being.
  • Collapsing Lair: The Defenders of Man are willing to blow up their own base to stop Nova from escaping.
  • Cool Bike: Nova and her team use Vulture hover-bikes to get to the starport in the first mission.
  • Cool Starship: Valerian gives her one, named Griffin, before the third mission.
  • Cool Sword: Two of them. Nova finds and acquires a monomolecular blade in the third mission and, as an Easter Egg, a Blazefire Gunblade in the seventh mission.
  • Contemplative Boss: One scientist is found staring out the window at a few Overlords who seem to be staring right back.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Covert Ops crew use gray and black color scheme not because they are bad guys, but because they are an Elite Army.
  • Dash Attack: Nova can use it if equipped with a monomolecular blade.
  • Deadly Lunge: Hellbats can do this if equipped with jump jets.
    • Nova's main attack if she has the sword equipped lets her do this.
  • Deconstructed Trope:
    • The campaign deconstructs The Good King trope. Valerian finds out that even with him being an objectively better emperor than his father, there is still resistance to his rule, resistance that may one day need to be dealt with through overt violence. It's up to Nova to save his reputation. It seemingly got so bad that he abdicates the throne at the end of the sixth mission, but it turns out to be a ruse to capture the leader of the Defenders of Man.
    • Nova reminded Valerian that General Davis was loyal to his family, and not to him personally. Through this, it is implied that Davis was a beneficiary of the corruption within the Dominion under Arcturus's reign, and that she and others like her will fight to resist Valerian, whose reforms would almost certainly mean the end of easy money/power for them.
    • Nova being forced to save the Defenders of Man from the Tal'darim in the fourth mission since letting them be destroyed would leave the planet defenselessness predictably leads to them taking all the credit for saving the planet under attack by the Zerg. Helping villains win a battle to save innocent lives unfortunately really helps their reputation.
    • The final battle with the Big Bad General Davis ends with a single attack, rather than a boss battle. Davis is only a normal human in a dress uniform, whereas Nova is a One-Man Army with Power Armor and high tech weapons.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • In the infiltration installation missions, killing enemies while undetected often causes them to react, either running away or running to investigate. Some will just turn to the spot the unit died, and some may have dialogue expressing surprise and concern.
    • In the third mission, if you stray too close to the Zerg bases, you'll get reprimanded by Reigel to stay focused on the mission and not let nostalgia for Tarsonis carry Nova away trying to clean out the place.
    • The seventh mission has a part where players need flashbangs to pass a sensor. If they don't have them, they can use the goggles they just picked up to mind control an enemy into blocking it. Likewise, the second half of the mission has several alternate routes based on your loadout along with a few spots to change your gear.
  • Dirty Coward: Marauders (the only units with enough HP to survive Nova's sword attack) accuse her of this.
  • Don't Create a Martyr: Valerian uses this to dissuade Nova from assassinating General Davis.
  • Downloadable Content: Nova Covert Ops consists of three DLCs.
  • Elite Army: The Covert Ops crew has the best hardware the Dominion can offer.
  • Emergency Energy Tank: Nova can find them on any mission where she doesn't have a base or army.
  • Enemy Mine: Highlord Alarak offers to give Nova the means to restore her lost memories in exchange for helping him and the Tal'darim hunt down the Defenders of Man. Then in Mission 8, Nova teams up with the Defenders of Man to fight the Tal'darim after Alarak invades the planet they're on and threatens the lives of Valerian and innocent civilians.
  • Faceless Mooks: Defenders don't wear face-concealing helmets, but their weird goggles (even on non-combatants) are so big the effect is the same.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Defenders of Man, according to Word of God, intend to eradicate both the Zerg and the Protoss. This is the reason why they want to overthrow Emperor Valerian Mengsk—his diplomatic stance towards alien races is putting humanity at threat. Not only are they trying to frame the Zerg as the real threat, but they've also attacked a Tal'Darim base, incurring the wrath of Alarak.
    • May be ultimately subverted, as their goal could be a more banal one: preserving the power/wealth which they had accumulated under Arcturus's reign, and is now threatened by Valerian's reforms.
  • False Flag Operation: The Zerg attacks on Dominion worlds are caused by the Defenders of Man, exactly the way Tarsonis was destroyed.
  • Foreshadowing: You can find a psi emitter behind the Zerg base in the second mission.
  • Friendly Fireproof: None of Nova's abilities affect her allies.
  • Future Spandex: Like all Ghosts, she wears a skintight hostile environment suit.
  • Garrisonable Structures: You have to use them in the third mission to secure your perimeter.
  • Generation Xerox: The Defenders are trying to invoke this. Besides trying to portray Valerian as an Emperor who neglects the fringe worlds (like Arcturus), by framing Nova, there is definitely the hope that Valerian would purge the Ghost corps, just like Arcturus when Kerrigan went rogue.
  • Geo Effects: High ground advantage is as important as ever and many units have access to cliff-traversing abilities.
  • Ghost City: Tarsonis city is nothing but ruins covered in zerg creep.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: Her default visor can detect enemies through obstacles.
    • A later set allows Nova to mind control enemies.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Most of the Defenders won't move a finger even if their buddies suddenly started to die left and right.
  • Hero Unit: Like Kerrigan before her, Nova personally participates in every mission.
  • <Hero> Must Survive: Nova's death is an instant Game Over in missions without a base.
  • His Own Worst Enemy: The High-Ranking members of the Defenders counted on Alarak and the Tal'darim, with their aggressive and vindictive nature, to act in a predictable fashion that will undermine the Dominion and benefit their cause. Alarak unknowingly does exactly what the Defenders wanted him to do: Indiscriminately Attack any and all Terran civilians.
  • History Repeats: Psi Emitters are once again used in attempts to lure zerg to terran worlds.
  • Hold the Line: The second mission is all about protecting Horner's base from zerg attacks.
    • The Defenders do this in the third mission, holding back the Zerg so their comrades can evacuate.
    • The eighth mission is about doing this against the Tal'darim.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Alarak speaks of the "brazen disrespect" shown by the Defenders in attacking a Tal'darim outpost... as he's dragging a claw across the Griffin's computer monitor, leaving a massive scratch. Of course, it is Alarak. And later he mocks Nova for her "hubris", despite himself possessing a monstrous ego.
  • I Am Not My Father: Valerian once again follows this trope, something he insists on during his exchange with Nova. This may be why the Defenders are targeting him, as his reforms threatened their interests.
  • It's Probably Nothing: Going through a Ghost's detection radius elicits a "I sense something" and little else.
  • The Joys of Torturing Mooks: Just look at all the ways Nova can slaughter her enemies.
  • Jump Jet Pack:
    • Nova gets one in the second mission and can choose to use it in later ones.
    • Reapers still have them.
    • Siege tanks can be equipped with jump jets in the third mission. While they do have a fairly lengthy cooldown, it does allow players to get their tanks to high ground easily. And they can be used while in Siege Mode!
    • Hellbats can use them to quickly close distance to enemies.
    • Goliaths can also use them to scale cliffs much like the Reapers.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The campaign spoils the terran political scene at the end of Legacy, namely Valerian becoming emperor, and Matt Horner becoming a Dominion admiral.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to Legacy. After the horrors of the End War, the Dominion are dealing with domestic disturbances this time round. Even with feral zerg getting involved, the situation is not as dire as it was in Legacy.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Killing an enemy by breaking their neck causes a ridiculous amount of blood to spray out.
  • Manual Leader, A.I. Party: All rescued Ghosts are controlled by AI.
  • The Mole: Nova strongly suspects that someone around her is performing this role to the Dominion's enemies, not to mention that a Dominion admiral was ambushed while on a secret meeting with a Ghost operative...
  • Mook–Face Turn: Several lower ranked members of the Defenders of Man turn on General Davis after realizing her true goals.
  • Mook Horror Show: Dialogues between the Defenders of Man's mooks during infiltration missions make it very clear they are panicking the moment they realize a Ghost is running around in their base murdering them one by one. Despite this, they stay where they are.
  • The Musketeer: Nova is equally good with guns and a sword.
  • Mutually Exclusive Powerups: Both Nova and her troops have them.
    • Limited Loadout: Nova has four slots: helmet, suit, gadget and weapon, which means she, for example, can simultaneously have a shotgun (a weapon) and grenades (a gadget), but not a shotgun and a sniper rifle (two weapons).
    • Inventory Management Puzzle: Her troops have only one slot, certain items can be used only by certain units and none of the items can be shared.
  • Names to Trust Immediately: "Defenders of Man". Considering what is established about them, it's pretty obvious they are trying to invoke this trope to become Villains With Good Publicity.
  • Neck Snap: In the first mission, Nova starts out escaping from the Defenders' with no weapon on her, forcing her to kill her opponents by breaking their necks with her bare hands.
  • The Needs of the Many: On Tarsonis, Nova found members of the Defenders invoking this when they sacrifice themselves to test out the effectiveness of the psi emitter.
  • Never My Fault:
    • General Davis claims Valerian's weakness led to the Tal'darim attacking Verdona, ignoring that it was her men that provoked them to begin with.
    • Alarak orders the Tal'darim to indiscriminately attacks Terran civilians, not caring at all whether they're affiliated with the Defenders or the Dominion. Nova is forced to fight off the Tal'darim attackers which then causes Alarak to accuse her of betrayal. To be fair to Alarak, however, as noted under his character page, Nova did not discuss what he plans to do with the Defenders and how, and as he is infamous for utilizing Loophole Abuse, he just went through with "don't attack them until the leader of the Defenders of Man are found.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The "Betrayal" trailer implied that Nova and Matt Horner are at odds, if not outright enemies. In the actual game, Matt sympathizes with Nova's case and she is his first and best line of defense against the Zerg.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: While as always "hero" is debatable, Alarak's attack in Mission 8 allows General Davis an opportunity to escape.
  • No Peripheral Vision: Ghosts have large cones of detection, but they often rotate, letting Nova sneak past them. Less logical on turrets, whose cones rotate continuously.
  • Nostalgia Level: Subverted with the Night Terrors mission. At first glance it looks like v2.0 of Welcome To The Jungle (grab terrazine from hostile Tal'darim forces who try to destroy the extraction sites), but it's considerably more difficult by the fact that there's a huge Zerg base who attack you when you extract terrazine, the extraction itself takes a lot longer, and unlike Welcome To The Jungle, destroying every base is not an Instant-Win Condition (what's more, even destroying their base doesn't stop their death flotillas from going out to seal off the sites). It also contains two optional boss fights.
  • Note to Self: The message on Nova's visor in the opening cutscene is actually from herself, as she discreetly typed it before the Defenders of Man could wipe her memories.
  • Oh, Crap!: Mission Control for the second level panics at every new wave of attackers.
  • One-Man Army: While Nova doesn't have enough raw power of her own to tear through squads like Kerrigan, the game goes on its way to show that by using her skills and enough stealth, she can easily dispatch an entire army on her own.
  • Optional Stealth: Breaking stealth during a Stealth-Based Mission makes Nova's life harder, but it's far from Game Over. With the jetpack suit on she can't stealth period.
  • Pacifist Run:
    • There is an achievement for finishing the third mission without killing any Defenders of Man. Zerg are fair game, though, and you can stun Defenders so that the Zerg kill them instead.
    • The fifth mission has an achievement for completion without killing any Tal'darim units.
  • Permanently Missable Content: If you skip some of the optional mission objectives.
  • Power-Up Letdown: While the sword gives Nova a Dash Attack, it actually does less damage and is slower than her unarmed Neck Snap (which can One-Hit Kill Marauders and ignore armor).
  • Plot Armor: Stone can't be killed or left to die, and if his bike takes too much damage he just tells Nova he'll catch up with her later.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party:
    • The mission where Nova gets a Jump Jet Pack is set in canyons, so she can exploit high ground to the fullest.
    • The seventh mission has multiple routes to the objective as well as areas to change your gear so picking the wrong loadout doesn't fail you.
  • Quality over Quantity: There is an achievement for finishing the first stage of the third mission without exceeding 35 supplynote .
  • Recursive Reality: Nova is on one of the broken billboards to the north of the base in Flashpoint.
  • Regenerating Shield, Static Health: If Nova is detected, her invisibility returns after a short (but very dangerous) while. Her health, however, regenerates slowly.
  • Revenge Before Reason: General Davis would rather destroy the Dominion than serve Valerian, whom she blames for his father's death, and Alarak completely ignores the fact that the Dominion's Emperor and innocent civilians are in the firing line when he attacks the Defenders of Man's compound. Nova kills Davis in cold blood after destroying her Humongous Mecha, despite strict orders from Valerian that she be captured alive to stand trial.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Why Alarak and the Tal'darim are back. The Defenders of Man attacked and wiped out a Tal'darim outpost, retreating before the Death Fleet could intervene, and now Alarak is seeking vengeance.
  • Save the Villain: In the fourth mission the Tal'darim attack the Defenders of Man. Nova is content to let them get destroyed since the Tal'darim only interested in them, but is reminded that their base on the planet includes a civilian shelter so she can't afford to look the other way.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Killing detector units causes regular units to retreat.
  • Scenery Gorn: If anything, Tarsonis has gotten worse since the Great Train Robbery mission.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: The shotgun Nova gets to use has significantly less range than her rifle, but can be used to hit multiple enemies.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Starting on the second mission, Nova can choose to use a shotgun instead of her rifle. A single shot can kill dozens of zerglings.
  • Shout-Out: See the full StarCraft page here.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Nova responds to General Davis's attempted Hannibal Lecture with a "Go to hell" after delivering the killing blow.
  • Sniper Rifle: Her default weapon is a C-20A canister rifle.
  • Spiritual Successor: To the aborted Starcraft: Ghost first-person shooter. Nova had originally been created and billed as the player character before it folded, and much of the plot that had been written for that game was adapted into the story, which is why it features many locations from the original Starcraft campaign such as Tarsonis and Antiga Prime.
  • Starts Stealthily, Ends Loudly: The first mission starts as a Stealth-Based Mission with Nova carefully dispatching enemies without being detected and ends as a massive Chase Scene with Nova and her partner weaving through traffic and gunning down multiple vehicles and gunships.
  • Super Strength: She may not look like it, but Nova is strong enough to tear huge camera like a paper towel, rip thick metal hatch from its hinges, and throw marines in full Power Armor. It is likely due to her Ghost suit as well as her psychic powers.
  • Thanking the Viewer: The last chapter ends with message from Blizzard that thanks the players for all their support.
  • Throw Down the Bomblet: She can use grenades to take out groups of enemies.
  • Timed Mission:
    • Averted in the first mission. Despite the facility self-destructing, the rooms only start blowing up after you go far enough.
    • Also averted in the seventh mission, despite Reigel urging Nova to complete it before Valerian finishes his speech. Apparently Valerian doesn't run out of stuff to talk about.
  • The Stoic: As usual for a Ghost.
  • True Companions: Nova's dialogues imply she is this with the other Ghost agents in her team, as she is very insistent on getting all four of them out of captivity.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The first mission itself - the first half is a Stealth-Based Mission where you have to sneak around and take out enemies without being detected ala Metal Gear, and the second is suddenly an Unexpected Shmup Level where you not only have to shoot enemy vehicles out of the way, but also avoid civilian traffic, complete with an end-level boss. Thankfully, the game returns to its RTS roots when you get to the following mission.
  • Unlockable Content: Starting from the second mission, you unlock additional equipment for Nova and her troops by completing mission objectives.
  • Videogame Caring Potential: Your first optional objective is to rescue two Ghosts from your team.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Invoked by the Defenders of Man, who use psi emitters to secretly create crises, then resolve them in Big Damn Heroes moments.
  • Visible Invisibility: Cutscenes helpfully show us Nova's silhouette when she is cloaked.
  • Weapon of Choice: Subverted, because for the first time since her debut, she can use something other than the canister rifle.
  • Wham Line: In Mission 4.
    Reigel: The Tal'darim death fleet is invading this world...
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: None of the rescued Ghosts are mentioned after the first mission until the seventh mission where you find out that two of them are currently being mindwiped and the third has already undergone the process and is trying to cut you off from your target.
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Averted, while Nova says to watch out for civilians, there are no consequences for blowing up civilian vehicles with grenades.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Though Nova'll have to revisit what's left of it in the third mission.
  • You Nuke 'Em: From the third mission onwards, Nova is given free access to the Dominion's nuclear arsenal. Every base starts with a Ghost Academy auto-producing nukes for free.
    • In fact this is one of the easiest methods for beating several missions on Brutal difficulty. EVERY Ghost Academy you build auto-constructs nukes for free - and they all have independent cooldowns. Build 10-15 or so in the back of your base and Nova can effectively nuke on command with no cooldown.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Mission 7 ends with Valerian arresting General Davis... and then the Tal'darim warp in and start attacking everything, allowing Davis to escape in the chaos.
  • You Wake Up in a Room: Happened to Nova, complete with Laser-Guided Amnesia regarding her last mission.

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