Developed by Blizzard Entertainment, Overwatch is a one-of-a-kind team based shooter that has managed to garner the attention of players of all genres from around the world. Although I am most definitely NOT an FPS gamer, I was drawn in by the promise of diverse characters, unique non-conventional FPS gameplay and friends to play with.
Overwatch makes a moderate attempt at formulating an interesting backstory to a FPS game. Despite the implementation of the cutscene being played upon your initial start-up, unlike other games that I am interested in, I have nearly no interest in getting to know more about why Overwatch exists, what they are fighting for or what backgrounds each character comes from.
The character videos, cinematics, comics, gimmicks including the coming of Sombra – I just feel completely impassive. And after searching up and watching videos explaining the background of characters such as Mercy and debating whether her actions were truly ethical or not, I still feel that the universe that Overwatch is set in is ultimately lackluster. Perhaps there will be more to come that will hopefully catch my eye.
Gameplay & Mechanics
As of this moment of writing, there currently is a diverse group of 23 characters available in the Overwatch scene. Characters are divided into 4 categories: Offence, Defence, Tank and Support. In case 23 isn’t enough for you, Blizzard has announced that they will be pushing out new characters and maps that will be available for all players.
Aside from Characters, Overwatch has a total of 14 maps that are randomly allocated to each game. These maps are categorised into Assault, Escort, Hybrid, Arcade and Control. Assault maps have an attacking team attempting to capture 2 consecutive points from a defending team, while Escort maps have the attacking team push a payload through the enemy’s defenses. Hybrid maps are, well a hybrid of both types. Control maps are just King-of-the-hill, where both teams are contesting a single point. While there has been some criticism regarding the lack of maps available, Blizzard has already assured the community that maps will be added from time to time; after all, the new hybrid map Eichenwalde has just been released. Additionally, a new map based of Mei’s research world, Ecopoint has been added as a feature of the newly added arcade mode which allows players to engage in small scale team death matches.
Overwatch features a total of 4 main game modes. Quick play touts itself as the casual mode of Overwatch; the place you go just to have fun or improve your skills without worrying too much about your win rate and performance. Brawl, similar to Tavern Brawl from Hearthstone, presents a cycling series of modes with unique rules every patch. The newly added arcade inputs more fun for those keen on proving their dominance in rather short lived matches. Loot boxes are also rewarded for every three wins up to 9 wins and resets every 3 days.
On a more serious note, competitive is the ‘Ranked’ of Overwatch; the arena where players put in their absolute best in order to achieve victory and get their hands on the much-coveted golden weapons. Then again, since Blizzard daintifully set the level requirement for ranked to be level 25, you can get some Low experience players on your team which can be pretty disheartening looking at how they play and slowly see your competitive game falling into crumbles. Similar to all other team games with a Ranked ladder, there will be a couple of toxic players around that come down hard on their teammates when they aren’t performing. Fortunately, despite seeming to be significantly fewer outright meanies when compared to most other games (League I’m looking at you), passive-aggressiveness remains as a minor problem. This is likely due to Blizzard’s decision to not display the kill-death ratio and other game statistics of team mates to others, reducing the opacity of their failures and making it just a little more difficult to blame others when the game appears to be not in their favour. However, players who do not perform do not escape the eyes of team mates as underperforming team mates are quite easy to notice with them appearing on the kill feed often or just idling around with no objective.
Game Progression & Replay Value
Players gain experience points after every game based on their in-game performance, which is assessed by their Eliminations, Objective Kills, Objective Time, Damage Done and Healing. When players have received sufficient Xp to level up, they receive a loot box which drops Icons, Voice Lines, Skins (of various rarity), Emotes, Poses, etc. While I have heard some complaints regarding the fact that loot boxes are purchasable, I really don’t spot any problems; all loot box contents are purely cosmetic and have no impact on the game. In my opinion, loot boxes are simply a minor incentive to continue playing just a game more to level up.
On the other hand, my friends are the ones who spice up my experience and keep me interested in the game; I suspect I would have even less than half of the hours ingame than I have now. Sounds like I have many friends. Spoiler alert: No I do not.
Overwatch carries a mixed vibe in my heart. I kinda like the gameplay and graphics but at the same time, lacklustre efforts in developing and maintaining The competitive scene makes players like myself who enjoy playing competitive for a more serious team absolute detest the current skill trend and match making of the game. Though quick play and arcade often provide a short respite from the rigor and fustration from playing competitive, truthfully competitive is the only set of wheel that is moving Overwatch forward with the growing scene of fps games.
A lot has been made in comparison between overwatch and Team Fortress 2. After playing Overwatch on a daily basis since launch, I can’t really see any botched similarities between the two to call Overwatch a rip off per se. Yes, both games incorporates team fights and objective pushing and Defence, however much has to be reminded that such assets are the foundation of modern fps games. Those who have tried to reinvent the wheel and produce those run of a mill fps such as Smash and Grab – a game which incorporates looting as the main focus of the fps, has failed miserably and failed to captured the curiosity and investment by players. In today’s rapidly changing trends and gaming scene, it’s hard to reinvent the very aspect of fps which made what fps is today – straight forward objectives. Objectives that are easy to pick on and quick to master along with manageable maps is what makes Overwatch still a popular blizzard creation despite its hefty price tag. Let’s not even talk about the distinct knock off that is Paladins.
My favourites often fluctuates between Lucio, Mercy and Ana. Pretty much all supports because I admire utility. With the exception of Ana, I typically do not need to feel too confident in order to play them because they do feel fairly basic. However, they do generally take a level of finesse to play. Lucio has wall-riding capabilities that can offer unique kiting mechanics, Mercy requires good awareness and kiting skills to keep herself safe from perverted Genjis and Tracers.
Overwatch is all in all a well equipped game with a diversity of heroes each with a unique skills that enables players to tinker and formulate a way to play to bring out the maximum potential of their gameplay. However, certain limitations such as cosmetics and match making makes certain days of gameplay frustrating and filled with disdain. However, updates are relatively frequent with changes implemented to refine the game making it worthwhile purchase definitely.