Over six months after it’s release, I relented and purchased Overwatch during the holiday sale on PSN. Having previously played the beta and free weekend I knew the game was good but until I put some hours into it I didn’t understand just how good.
From the outside looking in, Overwatch looks pretty but kind of run of the mill. The art work has its own look and feel that stands out from other games in its class. That is about the only thing that makes the game stand out without playing it. Just like any other first-person shooter you have a primary weapon and see stuff on a HUD. From the trailers and videos you can see a cast of characters and their different abilities but it never really seems like it is something more than what other games have tried to offer. Then you play the game. After that you play the game again. Then you play more. After that you play more. You just keep playing.
What you don’t see in the videos of this game are the subtle things that make it work. When you first see the wide variety of characters you think they are just trying to give you different looking characters to play around with. Then you realize after playing for awhile that each one is unique and each thing that can make them dominant can also be countered. For example, the flagship character of Tracer is quick and deadly but her weapons don’t have great range so she has to be danger close to use them. Tracer is very allusive with her Blink and Recall abilities that allow her to travel distances quickly and reverse time but characters like Junkrat and Mei can trap her with some of their abilities. There is a list longer than I can think of much less cover that this game offers and that list has been expanding with the creativity of the players.
Even the look of a first-person shooter is deceptive as to what this game actually is. Those that play RPG’s may note the use of classes like DPS, healer, and tank but these are not common in FPS games. What one will come to find in this game is that FPS rules and roles don’t apply the same way as they do in other games. Many FPS games can be dominated by sheer force or coordination. These also work in Overwatch but you’ll find subtle if not drastic twists on this. Mercy, a healer, may seem useless until she is used correctly. Although she may never fire a shot, if she correctly heals or buffs the damage of another player she may be just as valuable as the person dealing the most damage on a team.
It’s the little things. That is something that can be said about what makes this game great. One example is to look at the player select screen before a match. This is where you choose your character but it does so in such a smart way. It breaks the characters down into their four roles so that you can pick the type of player you want to be. Not sure which you should choose for a given match? No problem because the screen will also make recommendations on your team’s composition. If there are too many or too few of a type it will display a message stating such. That way if you have too many defenders and no healers it gives that team an alert and gives someone the chance to change their character.
This game is unique and special in so many ways. Earlier I mentioned this game’s look because that is the easy thing to mention when talking about this game. Not only is it different in its style and look but it is also gorgeous. All the environmental aesthetics look like no other game and are built in a beautiful way. Once you stop gawking at the maps you are playing on, you realize how well they are constructed. If you are playing an objective game where you are trying to capture a point, there is always a way that it can be defended and vice versa.
Something that Overwatch lacks is a proper campaign. This is probably the biggest short coming of the game. For a multi-player only game, this is probably one of the most interesting cast of characters that could be assembled. Seeing their backstories via short videos feels almost like a disservice to them. Playing through said stories could have been so full-filling and brought in an entire other set of players increasing the player base even more. Alas, this is not to be and we can only watch videos and read comics to enjoy the virtual lives of these characters.
Much like the original Titanfall before it, Overwatch is multiplayer only and makes the most of it. The previously discussed missing campaign is completely forgiven and forgotten based on the fact of how good and fun the game is to play. For those of us that don’t care for online multi-player gaming, we forget that fact just so that we can enjoy this game. I’ll pick up this game when I want to jump in for a quick match or two if my time is limited; I’ve also played the game for two hours straight in lieu of other games I have.
My only regret is that I didn’t buy this game sooner. If I had I would have put it very high, if not on top, of my game of the year list for 2016. Given that this game is this far passed its release and still has such an active player base, it is possible if not probable that it is Blizzard’s newest sustainable franchise that will live on for years to come.
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A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.