Few titles garner as much hype among the PC community as Blizzard games, having been one of the platform’s leading developers for years, and even console players are starting to understand what Blizzard can do now that they are more regularly releasing to other platforms like with Diablo III, Hearthstone and, of course, Overwatch.
The great thing is that many of us knew what the game was like LONG before the release, with trailers, gameplay videos and loads of opportunities to get into the betas, giving players the rare chance to actually play a game before release, knowing what they were getting into. They weren’t going to pull the wool over our eyes like too many companies today try to do. They let the game speak for itself, showing confidence in their creation. And rightfully so, because to me, Overwatch is one of the best shooters to release in recent years, despite there only really being 2 modes (and competitive soon to come).
I’ve been somewhat tired of shooters recently, with the only two having caught any attention from me being Battlefield 4 (after the first 6 months when it was unplayable for me) and probably Titanfall, whose life barely exceeded 3 months on PC. Even Halo 5, a series I’ve loved for years, couldn’t get me hyped in any meaningful way even though I honestly think its multi-player is at its greatest point yet. So what has me so interested in Overwatch?
Overwatch takes a lot from one of the most popular shooters ever made, Team Fortress 2, and expands on that core gameplay with a large number of heroes, each with their own set of unique abilities and weapons, as well as Ultimate abilities that are on a recharge timer. You have 21 heroes to choose from, each with their own strengths, weaknesses and counters. These heroes are split into 4 categories, Offence, Defence, Tank and Support, and having a good mixture between the classes, bouncing off the strengths of the others, is a surefire way to win the match.
Like MOBA’s and MMO’s, Tanks, like D’Va and Roadhog are there to draw fire and give the rest of the team the chance to move around and rake up the kills, wanting fire to be focused on them while the healer keeps them topped off. They are really good to hold points and push the team forward. Offence heroes, like Tracer and Reaper, are great to get kills with high fire-rates and damage output, but are very squishy so try to stay behind the tank, flank the enemies, or pick them off when someone pulls away from the main group. Which ones you use is really up to yourself, as they are all good depending on the scenario.
Supports are probably the most important in a group, and whether your’re an out and out healer, or more utility really depends on the team, the map and whether you are attacking or defending. The likes of Symmetra isn’t of much use when pushing forward, but as defence is great as she can plant turrets all around the point as well as create a teleporter allowing defenders to get to the frontlines much quicker than without her. Mercy is an out and out healer so she’s great at keeping the tanks’ health filled. She can also quickly glide between allies if someone is in dire need, and that also works as a great escape. Lucio is good on the attack as he can heal everyone around him, and is very mobile so can be difficult to hit. Zanyatta is the strongest if you are looking to do damage as a healer. With his orbs you can slowly heal anyone in line of sight or weaken enemies making you and your team do more damage.
The defensive heroes are probably the most diverse, as they aren’t always just good at defending. The likes of Junkrat can really disrupt defending enemies, and his stun bomb is a great way of moving around the map, getting height advantages and escaping, as well as knocking annoying enemies off the map or the point. Snipers, Widowmaker and Hanzo are great at picking enemies off and taking out defenders like Bastion and Torbjorn’s turret, making some room for your team to push. As for Bastion and Torbjorn, they are pure defence as their turrets are great for whittling down tanks and outright killing unaware squishys.
Playing the game is the quickest way to learn how each hero works, as they aren’t complex like you’d see in MOBA’s. Some of the hardest heroes to master are actually the most basic ones like Widowmaker or Mcree, and what shocks me the most is that people actually ENJOY SUPPORT!!!Even myself, who can’t support for shit, can actually do a pretty decent job helping the team and even get some kills…. though I still don’t understand how to play Lucio….
A lot of people don’t think about it, but key to a shooter’s success is map design. Maps are diverse, based on different areas of the world, with some having 3 different sections for best of 3 games. They all have chokepoints, sniper alleys, rooftops and open or closed areas allowing every hero to be of use and work to their strengths. While in some sections one hero might be favoured over another, there’s always a counter to stop one player running the game, and there’s no excuse not to experiment with heroes when you can switch anytime you die.
Probably the only disappointing thing at the moment is the lack of game modes. At the moment there’s only really two to choose from, being the standard objective based game and the weekly Tavern Brawl style mode that just says “Fuck It” and does whatever. There is a competitive mode coming though, and as they release new heroes and maps I’d expect quite a few modes on the way to keep things interesting. I’d say they focused purely on the core aspect of the game and perfecting that, rather than putting in game modes for the sake of it. Also, with the weekly random, it will give them a chance to experiment and mess with any concepts they have.
Graphically it looks great with its cartoonish style, and runs very well. Naturally, being a shooter, 60fps is the standard, and it’s great that Blizzard put the effort into the PS4 and Xbox One versions to be at that standard we should be seeing far more regularly. Too few developers put that effort in, making it seem that it’s the power of the consoles at fault, even though most just try to make it as pretty as possible and leaving performance as a secondary thought.
Gameplay is frustrating as it is fun. Do well and players will notice it usually, with even the enemy team regularly handing out commendations at the end of a game, and even to healers. Do poorly, and you’re likely listening to a friend (*Cough* Dave *Cough*) cursing at the name of some “Over-Powered” hero who needs a nerf, despite all the heroes being fairly balanced, just playing to their strengths or as a team. Being able to change between heroes makes the combat constantly change, and if you don’t adapt to a new playstyle you will likely lose. Whether you like playing on a controller or m+k doesn’t really matter unless you are picking up twitchy heroes like tracer or sniping with Widowmaker, so just take into consideration the skills of each character.
While playing on your own is fun, it’s so much better with other people. This is a team-focused game, and not being able to communicate with each other does dampen the experience. That said, you can still play alone, just try to work with the team and use pings to group up and tell people when your ult is ready.
As for the story, the game doesn’t have one internally outside a bit of dialogue between heroes at the start of the match. To learn anything about the characters you will have to check out the videos and the comics giving more insight into the heroes and what “Overwatch” is.
Skins, Sprays and voicepacks are earned through leveling up, as well as some achievements giving rewards. You can also buy them, but as cosmetics I can’t really argue against them. If you want to pay more, that’s your choice, though don’t expect 50 packs to give you what you’re looking for. There’s no item that affects gameplay, so there’s no pay to win aspect.
The core game’s pricepoint is arguable however. While some will argue it’s too expensive for the amount of content available, looking at games in a similar vain it’s actually quite fair. The only difference is you have to pay for the heroes straight off, instead of earning them in game with some kind of free-to-play model, but in many ways it’s the best way to have it so gamers don’t favour one hero just because it’s the only character they can play competitively with. It encourages people to try out everyone and gain an understanding of how each hero works, and gain a quicker understanding of how to play the game.
I think that’s about everything covered for the most part, but the best way to see for yourself is to watch some videos or play it if you haven’t already. Also, stop comparing it to Battleborn… They are two completely different games whose similarities end at being cartoonish hero class shooters.
Anyway, I’m going to go play more. And you should probably give it a shot yourself whenever you get the chance. If you have any questions on the game, drop them in the comments below and same thing goes if you want any tips. I’ve played more than enough at this stage to give you some competent advice…. unless it’s with Lucio….
Ohhh. And yes. Overwatch probably has the best butts in gaming.
WORSHIP THE BOOTY!