Overwatch is the debut first person shooter from beloved developer Blizzard Entertainment. Overwatch is a team based shooter that includes four different classes, each class having its own set of unique character. The characters all have their own different weapons and abilities that players must master to win matches.
The game has been hyped up ever since it was announced; expectations were high as Blizzard is known for their highly polished, fun games. The marketing machine for this game has been great with a ton of well done CGI trailers that introduces the setting and characters to Overwatch, people fell in love with this world before the game even came out. Can a game with this much hype live up to expectations? The answer is yes, they may have even surpassed those expectations.
Overwatch features a heavily stylized style similar to that of a CGI animated film. This helps the game in multiple ways; first of which being that it adds a bit of personality that differentiates the game from the majority of the FPS genre. The stylized characters are just filled to the brim with personality, you can tell a lot about each character just by looking at their designs. While, these characters might not be the most original it’s fun to see them all mashed up together shooting at each other.
The design choice is also valuable in game play because it makes it incredibly easy for players to know who other players are using. This is incredibly important in the team based game play of Overwatch, as you can alert your team mates on which characters are on the enemy team and thus your team can fight accordingly. It’s a great game design choice and helps make Overwatch a bit more accessible to those who are new to team based games.
The game is also great to look at, it’s like a Disney or Pixar movie brought to the gaming world. The maps are filled to the brim with life and subtle hints at the backstory to the world. The character models all look great and the cartoony designs help with some of the more “out there” characters, as these characters might not have looked as good if the game had a more realistic art style. Overwatch‘s art style is one of its strongest features, anyone plays it will attest to this.
While Overwatch does not have a campaign or any substantial single player content (there is a Vs AI mode that can be played by yourself), the game still features an interesting story though you must dig a bit to find it. The story of Overwatch is about a group of superheroes (calling their selves Overwatch) who once saved world and were heralded by the world, yet eventually the world turned on them and the members of Overwatch disbanded. Now a new threat arises and the members of Overwatch must come out of retirement, alongside a group of new recruits, to save the world yet again. The game’s plot makes it even more saddening that there isn’t a campaign because an Overwatch campaign could’ve been something truly memorable.
In favor of a traditional story telling experience, the game’s story is told through promotional videos (including some fantastic CG trailers focusing on certain characters) and hinted at through dialogue between the characters. The latter is a page taken from Valve as they used this in Team Fortress 2 and the Left 4 Dead, it’s an interesting form of storytelling as only the hardcore fans will get to experience it. But at the same time, it does help the community grow as fans can theorize past events or relationships between characters; it worked well in Valve’s games and it should work well in Overwatch as well. I’ve already found myself loving with several of Overwatch’s characters, I’ll be one of the first to eat up any merchandise Blizzard throws at us of these guys.
Overwatch is one of the most refreshing multiplayer games in years; the shooter genre has been following in the footsteps of Call of Duty for so long (even fellow cartoony games like Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare), it’s nice to find a game that tries something different. For the most part there is no aiming down the sights, no sprinting, no unlockable weapons, everyone starts off at the same point and skill is what wins games.
The focus of Overwatch is teamwork, players going lone wolf will either result in their defeat or the defeat of the whole time. All of the game’s modes are all about team work, you won’t be able to win a game solely by yourself no matter how good you are. A team that is well coordinated and knows what they’re doing can defeat almost everyone, but a team of people who are just running around will almost always get squashed. You’ll need to play with friends or have your mic on if you want to win in Overwatch.
The game’s also has a varied set of 21 characters (called Heroes in-game) that add another layer to the game. The heroes are sorted into 4 classes: offense, defense, tank and support. Each hero in these classes are completely unique from all of the other heroes in the game, each having their own unique weapons and abilities. This leads to a “Rock, Paper, Scissors” style of game play when playing competitively which is something most games don’t have. For example, if a team is going to town with Torbjorn and his turrets your team should switch to characters that can take out the turrets from a distance like Widowmaker or Pharah while having a tank character distract the turrets. But then the enemy team, can switch characters to counter the new characters your team has picked. It creates a nice dynamic and makes sure matches don’t play out the same way each time. With the “Rock, Paper, Scissors” gameplay I don’t feel like there are any characters that rule over all of the others, each character has atleast one other character that can put them in their place.
The vast amount of characters gives Overwatch a lot of replayability, if you’re getting bored you can just use a character you’re not familiar with and try them out. It will take some time before you find the character that fits you, I personally think it’s wise to have one main character per class; for example I currently use Soldier-76 as my offense, Widowmaker as my defense, Roadhog as my tank and Mercy as my support. Though, there are a couple other characters in each class I find myself wanting to play as, I never feel like the game is stagnant because of this.
Overwatch currently has three game types: Escort, in which one team must escort an item to a checkpoint while the other team tries to stop the, Assault, which has both teams trying to gain control of a point on the map and Hybrid which is a mix of the two game types. The maps in Overwatch are designed specifically for these game modes and it’s clear Blizzard put a lot of time into making these maps work. Each map is well designed with areas of the map that must be controlled in order for one team to have advantage, the fights for these areas can get really crazy at times which is exactly what Blizzard intended. The maps are also built so that all of the characters can be used on every map; sniping points for snipers, high ceilings for flyers and various paths for ground characters to take on. In some games, some characters would dominate on certain maps but that is not a problem in Overwatch.
Matches in Overwatch are complete madness, the game is fast paced and you have to adapt quickly in order to survive. The pure chaos of Overwatch is a joy to play, when you’re doing good you feel unstoppable and even when you’re not doing well you still don’t feel as frustrated as you do in other games.
While Overwatch does share some similarities with the iconic Team Fortress 2, it sets itself apart from that game and feels like nothing else that is currently on the FPS scene. Between the teamwork focused gameplay, the lovable cast of characters and the game’s utter chaos while in the midst of battle, Overwatch is just a joy to play. Overwatch isn’t just my favorite multiplayer game in years, it’s my favorite game in years. With Blizzard promising a ton of free DLC coming (including maps and new characters) and the game’s community already being very active and awesome, Overwatch may very well be the gift that keeps on coming for years to come.