I don't think that's true. I've been using nova covert ops assets in my maps without problems even though I never purchased it. (I've been tight on money but really like the stealth gameplay for my new map.) Also, I have yet to receive complaints about not being able to play yet either. I'm pretty sure covert ops is the same as with lotv, you don't need to buy it to use assets, just to play the maps.
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Discord - Discord is a custom fan made campaign. When it's done it will have 30 missions and cover 3 interwoven stories.
Custom Campaign Initiative - Visit the Custom Campaign Initiative to see other authors campaigns.
You can take a look on small showcase of Mission 1 from my abathur campaign. There is no more testing. The mission 1 shows you what you can expect from the campaign. The campaign will be released this year as a whole campaign, not mission by mission. I think it will be after summer or this fall.