California developer Blizzard has been a staple in the video game industry since the ‘90s. With titles spanning the likes of Starcraft, Diablo and the storied Warcraft franchise, they have been known to create games with long lasting legacies and player bases. Now, with the release of their newest endeavor Overwatch, they aim to bring the same level of polish and consistency to a whole new genre.
The first thing you notice jumping into a match is just how vibrant, and colorful the world is. Nearly every shooter this generation has some type of gritty realism to it, with a overlay that clogs up the whole screen to boot. Overwatch has none of this. It’s sleek stylized and simple, to show exactly what matters most when playing it, it’s world and cast of unforgettable characters.
The roster in Overwatch is as robust and diverse as any MOBA or classed based shooter out there. There aren’t too many games where so many characters are both fun to play and viable for a bunch of different play styles. Each character has strengths and weakness, some are for more experienced player with abilities tailored specifically to a users skill set and some have across the board numbers to help ease newcomers into the game.
The gameplay in Overwatch takes the fundamental philosophy that all multiplay centric games should, it’s easy to start and difficult to master. It takes time to gather a rhythm with anyone of it’s 21 different characters, but doing so is incredibly rewarding. The shooting is very responsive, it has a strong weighty feel to it with bigger characters and a more twitch based feel with the smaller. Movement is fluid, and allows you to pull off moves and misdirections with certain characters that are fast, to allow you to go toe to toe with meatier characters that posses twice as much health.
While the differences between classes are vast, even characters within the same class feel completely different. In support, the German angel Mercy is by far the best focused healer out of the pack, while the roller skating Brazilian DJ Lúcio is less targeted, but disperses his healing power to more teammates. When it comes to tank characters, someone like Reinhardt is almost the polar opposite of D.Va but both provide similar roles, but allow people who play differently to utilize them.
The game also features a hefty amount of customization options in regard to each character. Different skins, sprays and one liners unlock with each level. This carrot-and-stick approach to leveling makes sure that you never go too long without some kind of reward no matter how well you’re doing. The skins and other unlockables themselves are seriously awesome and something you definitely feel like working toward.
Not only do these characters provide various avenues for success in game, they also each have a distinctive personality attached to them. The character set features a wide array diversity, whether in gender or ethnicity is something rarely seen in games generally, let alone shooters filled with bald white space marines.
Throughout each match characters offer witty remarks that give them a sense of charm and charisma. While the banter back in forth with specific characters, show the relationships between them. Blizzard has put out a series of animated shorts, that delves deeper into some of their lives, though them not being included in the actual game is a bit of disappointment.
As far of the maps and game modes, there is certainly a little left to be desired. There are three watch type in Overwatch, Assault, Control and Escort, (another name for Capture, King of the Hill and Payload from Team Fortress 2) all of which are fun in the their own right. While many of a the 13 maps, super pretty and take a real cleaver approach when it comes to level design, a few have choke points that are a bit too congested for their own good. However, Blizzard has announce a no paid DLC approach going forward, which means all new characters and maps will be free to everyone so as not to fracture the user base, a good move on their part.
With every game mode being objective based, teamwork in Overwatch is incredibly key. Going into a match with five other friends tends to lead to much more successful results, than trying to wheel and deal with McCree solo. Having friends and team chemistry, who work well together with heroes who are diverse and cover all aspect of play. This does however, leave you vulnerable to the odd case of, when playing by yourself, three teammates all sniping from a rooftop as Widowmaker only to see your team get destroyed, so sticking with teammates and chatting when you can is highly important.
Blizzard and their team, seem to have struck gold with a perfect combination of class based, team centric first person shooting with their latest entry in their storied career. They show that in an era of overpriced and overwrought online only first person shooters, Overwatch stands out above the fray, to deliver a meaningful, competitive experience sure to last for years to come.
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