Warcraft. Diablo. Starcraft. These are all big-name franchises that are known and loved the world over. And they have all been brought to you by the same company – Blizzard. I could go into a big spiel about how great these games are, but let’s be honest here. It is more than likely that you, the reader, have sunk a great deal of time into these franchises, and know exactly how good they are.
Blizzard’s latest game, Overwatch, is their first foray into the world of Online First Person Shooters. Designed specifically with Multiplayer game play in mind, the premise of Overwatch is pretty simple. Overwatch was a group of heroes that were initially brought together to battle and eliminate the threat of the Omnics, a race of artificially intelligent robots. After successfully beating the Omnics back into submission, things were looking good for Overwatch. Until it wasn’t. Due to various circumstances, Overwatch was disbanded, never to be reactivated. That was 6 years ago. Now, a sentient, talking ape named Winston has decided that Overwatch is needed again, and put the call out to all of the hero’s in the world to come back and fight for what they all used to stand for.
And that’s where the game starts. As I previously stated, the gameplay is multiplayer centric. Each game you play is a battle between two teams of six, with each player initially selecting one of a possible 21 characters to play. Each character is then broken up further into one of four roles; Offense, Defense, Tank and Support. Each of the 21 characters, regardless of their role, has access to a primary attack and at least two secondary skills. These attacks and skills are specific to each character, with some of the skills having a brief cooldown period. Characters also have access to one Ultimate Skill, with the meter building up over time as you play. Once characters are chosen for each team you are loaded into the map, where you are advised of this particular map’s objective or goal.Each map will coincide with one of four different game types; Assault, Escort, Control and an Assault/Escort hybrid.
Visually, Overwatch is a nice game to look it. The environments and character models, while somewhat cartoonish, all suit the theme and feel of the game. While I wouldn’t personally say that any of the vistas I’ve seen are beautiful, they don’t distract from what can be a very fast paced game, which helps to keep your concentration where it needs to be. Surprisingly, sound plays an important role in this game. Each character’s particular moveset of ultimate is usually prefaced with an audio cue, which can help immensely if you keep an ear out for it. For example, Bastion’s Ultimate lets him transform into a rolling tank of death, which will literally blow you away if you walk around the corner and are staring down that barrel. As he transforms, there is a particular whistle, which is your signal to run the fuck away until he has finished shooting holes through everyone.
As each game progresses, if you feel that your team needs a second healer, or more tanks, you have the ability to swap to a different playable character. This is usually easiest to do after dying, but can also be done by backtracking to your starting area. And this is where the game gets a bit interesting. Every minute, every game can change drastically due to the make-ups of each team. With characters being able to be swapped in and out, the team dynamic will change. One minute, you can be pushing forward to secure an objective and be running into a team of healers and assault characters. The next, you will come across a team of tanks and defenders, and need to change your tactics and team accordingly to either keep pushing, or hold your objective. Each game becomes more about strategy than just picking your favourite character and shooting at people. And if you are playing on a team where members don’t understand that, or can’t communicate with each other, prepare to lose.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Overwatch can be a fun game to play, and the ability to be able to change to a different character midway through any game can sometimes be a blessing. The truth of the matter is, I have not played this game for about a week and a half now. And I don’t really feel like I will pick it back up again any time soon. Oh sure, if some of my mates or family are playing and ask me, I will probably jump on for a few games, but this is not a game I will come home from work to sit down and play. And there are a few reasons for that.
Firstly and most importantly, I feel like you’re not really rewarded in any kind of significant way for playing any of the games. Sure, you will be able to get different skins and voice packs and spray tags for each character (and there are actually quite a few of these), but none of these impact the way the game is played in any way. Each character, every time you play them, will have the same skills and abilities. That doesn’t change. So once you have had a few games, the characters can start to feel old and boring. You will find that there are certain characters you like to play more, or maybe even one character you like, but there is no reward to log on and play that character day in and day out. So what’s the point?
Secondly, I’m not really sure what the story is with this game. Like, really. Why are these teams fighting? Did I miss something? Why is Reaper the walking spectre of death? What’s the go with Zenyatta, the robotic Ghandi? Sure, I could spend some time and google search all of this, and I’m sure there would be some backstory, but I have not found any of this information in game. Nothing, not even a teaser that might make me want to go and look up who the hell Roadhog actually is.
For me, this game has no staying power. Sure, it can be fun if you are playing with mates or the right group of people. But nine times out of ten, those friends will be playing something else. And so I will play a game that gives me that sense of reward, and has a story line or plot that I can see and care about. Blizzard has made some great games, both in the past and recently. Sadly, to me, Overwatch is not one of them.
The Good:– Large roster of characters, games are easy to find and begin
The Bad:– No story? Unimportant rewards and character customization, totally random games and maps
The Final Verdict:– The online First Person Shooter market is currently getting flooded with new games from a number of developers. Sadly, Blizzard’s entry into the scene does not give any feeling of excitement or purpose, and as such is very low on my list of game to play.