Overwatch’s history is a storied one dating back from its early development but its initial announcement is something that has really kicked-off a snowball effect into what the game is now. Overwatch is an hero-based first-person shooter developed by Blizzard and was debuted back in Blizzcon 2014 and was launched May 24, 2016 for PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One. Boasting beta player numbers well onto the 9 million mark, Overwatch has impressive numbers to brag about and an even more impressive cult following growing because of its excellent lore and characters. All of this merge to give Blizzard one of the most memorable IP in its years of development.
As mentioned, Overwatch is a hero-based FPS which takes on the fundamentals of the growing hero-based genre and takes them to an FPS concept. Whilst some FPS games use roles or class to determine loadouts, Overwatch’s heroes operate on the same concept but take on the familiar MOBA approach of defining heroes with their own sets of skills and characteristics. Much like Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch equips heroes with a trait, a primary attack, and a couple of skills all unique to each character. These skills give each character an advantage in certain situations and of course their own disadvantages. To offset this, Overwatch allows players to swap-out heroes in-game anytime with no restriction as long as you’re in your respawn point.
Overwatch requires the player some basic understanding of when and how to use hero skills to maximize their potential
Heroes are classified into classes namely Attack, Defense, Tanks and Support. Attack heroes deal heavy damage but are limited in some capacity, the same goes for Defense heroes who specialize in creating space and push back assaults. Tank heroes are heavily armored, physically large and have immense health. Support heroes offer healing or other strategic advantage to their teams.
Overwatch’s current roster of 21 heroes is significantly diverse, each with their own skill set and characteristic which like fighting games and MOBAs, require the player some basic understanding of when and how to use their skills to maximize their potential. That said, Overwatch differentiates itself from most FPS by mixing-in move mastery together with key FPS skills and senses to deliver an intense gaming experience.
Overwatch was launched with a limited set of game modes with: a king-of-the-hill match where 2 opposing teams fight for control of a point to score a win, a payload escort mission where one team must escort a vehicle to its destination point while the other team tries to stop them, a capture objective mode where one team defends while the other tries to capture the objective point and lastly a hybrid of the last two modes. A competitive mode present during beta but as of the release and open beta, it is currently absent. Its expected to return later as Blizzard is reworking it.
Players are rewarded after each game with experience points and stat counters. Overwatch does not have a team stat display and only shows your current stats like kills, deaths and final blows. This sort of removes the need to chase numbers in-game, competing for KDR ratios but with medals highlighting noteworthy achievements, its only a topical solution and doesn’t encourage teamwork even with the presence of shared kills. Post-game highlights dubbed “Play of the Game” also favor a streak-kill scenario, rewarding players who score a significant successive kill streak in-game but doesn’t necessarily equate to anything significant for the majority of the match. This encourages diving and promotes heavy-usage of the game’s notoriously overpowered Bastion who can tear through any character with relative ease in this turret mode much to the dismay of many players.
This leads to highly dynamic and unpredictable matches…
Ultimately, the enjoyment in Overwatch is setting the tone of match with good team composition and balancing your role in game. Overwatch encourages hero-switching to adjust to situations and adopt the most effective team composition to counter the opposing teams’. This leads to highly dynamic and unpredictable matches that last from anywhere from 3 minutes to over 15 minutes which is still quick compared to most matches in CS:GO and Battlefield 4 which makes Overwatch a quick burst of fun when you need a fix of FPS action.
Graphics & Audio
Blizzard has openly stated they wanted to create a brighter and vibrant visual for Overwatch and the impressive roster list is an amalgamation of a lot of design concepts that highlight this notion. Overwatch’s cast of characters are unique, well-designed and reflect they’re character well. While there’s no campaign mode to bolster the lore of Overwatch, Blizzard has made great efforts to create animated short movies and web comics to showcase the backstories of some of the characters. Whilst its significantly lacking in depth in terms of story-telling, its well-executed animations and character art present them in a light that is easily appreciated by anyone.
In-game, PC players can enjoy Overwatch up to Epic quality settings implementing higher-resolution textures, amongst others to give it a more significantly detailed visual presentation in this platform compared to its console counterpart.
…PC version coinciding with the NVIDIA GTX 1080 launch helping to set the game as a benchmark for this graphics card which in turn only propels its popularity
Regardless, the Playstation 4 and Xbox One variants do balance the game’s details to keep it at a smooth 60FPS for consoles with the PC version coinciding with the NVIDIA GTX 1080 launch helping to set the game as a benchmark for this graphics card which in turn only propels its popularity over the previous flag-carrier of NVIDIA’s bundle and seeming rival to Overwatch, Gearbox’s Battleborn.
Another significant presentation feature of Overwatch is the voice-acting. Characters speak in their native language on certain actions and have noticeable accents when speaking English. Regional languages are also provided giving Overwatch a significantly large array of VA data to play with. A per-character audio selection would be a good option to allow players to define how each character spoke but that’s more of a request and nitpick at this point. Overwatch’s score and voice is spot-on and add immense depth to the game.
Overwatch doesn’t do much to revolutionize its genre, its still your traditional FPS with MOBA-inspired hero classes to shake things up but at the end of the day its still a spray and pray affair to most people. Despite that, Overwatch has garnered a lot of love from the online community not for its gameplay, but for its lore and characters. Befittingly, Overwatch offers drops called loot boxes that gives players in-game customization options which don’t change anything gameplay-wise and are mostly cosmetic. This gives it a market for skins and such, again similar to Heroes of the Storm, wherein players can either rack-up gold to buy their favorite skins for their characters or outright pay for them with cold, hard cash. Overwatch by no means encourages in-app purchases and you can grind to get these skins anyways but its an inevitable market in the future.
This ultimately leads to the lack of rewards that Overwatch offers with regards to its price. A $60 price tag for what it offers does polarize opinion and divide the masses with regards to purchasing the game. While PC players have the $40 option, consoles do not and the relatively competitive community is mostly centered around the PC. That said, the community at large is mostly positive and solo matches almost always results in even opportunities for both teams. Match-making still needs polish though with some matches having a team of level 1-10 players against a team of level 20-30s. While I’ve had the experience of playing with rude and toxic players, they’re mostly rare and far between and with Blizzard’s track record in maintaining high discipline amongst its community, the report option should easily remedy any toxic behavior.
Overwatch is a fun and highly-addictive game which mixes bursts of fast-paced action with a highly-diverse cast of colorful and brilliant characters, which offer significant depth and a unique playstyle to each one giving both new and seasoned players a choice in how to approach and enjoy the game.
Overwatch is an easy recommendation especially for anyone looking for that team game that you and your friends can enjoy together.