Blizzard Entertainment has quite an impressive resume to take in. Setting the gaming world ablaze with such titles as World of Warcraft, Diablo, and many more, it seems they now have laser focused themselves into cracking open the first person shooter market. Their newest venture, Overwatch, is a cooperative centric shooter that focuses on objective based gameplay. Providing the player with a legion of heroes to choose from, and equipped with their own role and special abilities, Overwatch is team-based mayhem that can quickly become underwhelming.
Originally revealed at Blizzcon 2014, the game has been a curious project for fans of the Blizzard community. Will it play to the same standard of their previous releases? Does it contain enough substance to draw in a dedicated community similar to the ones of WoW and Diablo? Recently a closed beta period and eventual open beta were announced. we got our hands on the beta, giving us full chance to see what Overwatch is all about.
I began the Overwatch beta by thankfully jumping into the recommended Training scenario. Here we learn that every hero you pick will come with one unique weapon, and three special ability features. Whether it be healing yourself or allies, releasing a charge shield, ect., it’s stressed that each hero will have its own significance in the grand scheme. Additionally, every time a player earns a kill or receives points, they charge up a unique super attack. These super attacks can be devastating to your opponents and be key to ensuring a team win if used wisely. My favorite so far is for the hero “Soldier 76”, upon activating his super a smart-reticle function is turned on. Meaning no matter where you aim, you can fire like a madman and the bullets will automatically plummet towards the nearest enemies.
Jumping into my first match, I was completely taken off guard with the selection of heroes. It is massive. Which means countless options and characters to try and familiarize yourself with, strategize with, and get comfortable with. If you truly want to understand and grasp Overwatch, get ready to clear your schedule. There are four types of characters. You have offense, defense, tank, and support. I couldn’t help but feeling that perhaps they over saturated this portion. After trying the 21 different characters in multiple matches, they all became nameless avatars that I felt would take an egregious amount of time to master. Although each character was awesome and had great weapons and abilities, maybe a modest 5-7 characters would have been a better entry point for players to grasp and get a better taste of Overwatch.
During the beta Overwatch is offering three game modes to get your feet wet in. The first is Assault, in which the players are divided into an attacking team and a defending team. The defending team’s job is to hold down two capture points while the attacking team tries to take it over. Escort, once again divided the teams into attacking and defending rivals. This time though the attacking team has to escort a payload truck to a delivery point before the defending team stops them. Finally there’s Control, which is the basic run-of-the-mill king of the hill game type. Teams fight to hold a designated capture point, first one to reach one hundred percent wins. The multiplayer action was fun, but nothing felt genuinely new, or groundbreaking. In my time with the beta what resonated the most with me was Overwatch’s lack of identity from the FPS mold. Nothing screams staying power, or gives me excitement for many hours to be played within its world.
Traditionally the art design of games hailing from Blizzard all capture their own piece of originality, I wish Overwatch carried these virtues. The cel-shaded aesthetic comes off dull and reveals an almost unfinished look. The color palette is filled with many pastel shades, making Overwatch look plastic. The lighting effects are decent, but lack of textures as of now in the beta, really lead to a bland taste graphically. Hopefully from now until release, the visuals will receive a boost giving itself some more shimmer.
As of now Overwatch reminds me of a very expensive restaurant, you enjoy it maybe once or twice a year, then go back to your tried and true. The sensation and buzz that permeates from a great multiplayer shooter seems to be missing from Overwatch. An overpopulated roster and an uninventive game mode selection leave much to be desired in this aspiring shooter. Possibly this beta is just one sour slice of something greater, or perhaps Blizzard just may have missed the mark.
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