Two months ago if you would have told me that my favorite game of 2016 would be Overwatch, I would have said you were crazy.
What makes Overwatch any different than say, Call of Duty, Team Fortress, Battleborne or Titanfall?
Balance, polish, teamwork and instant gratification. While Team Fortress is the closest comparison, Overwatch is kind of it’s own thing in this space, which is probably why it works so well. Each of the 20 characters have a specific set of moves and abilities that when used correctly, counter another character perfectly as well as aid you winning each match type. On the attack, you probably don’t want to play as Tobojorn. Bastion tearing your team apart, grab Genji and take him out. Time running out, pick Solider 76 and rocket to the objective using his speed burst. The choices you make in each match matter, which as of right now, is what makes each match of Overwatch so special.
The game doesn’t have any single player content...is there enough to do?
Well, it does have a training and VS. bots mode, so there is some single player content...however none of this is offline nor worth your time. Not having more maps, modes and gameplay varieties at launch is probably my only knock against the game. The game features four main game modes that play out on 12 different maps (3 for each game type). If that doesn’t sound like a lot of maps, it’s not. After about 23 hours of logged playtime, fatigue started to sink in, which wouldn’t be a bad thing if this wasn’t the kind of game you want to play for 100+ hours. When that fatigue hits, you might find yourself playing the game like me...in 2 to 3 match bursts, which tends to keep things fresh.
Each of the games 20 characters fits into a specific class and has a unique skill, can you shed a little light on how this works?
Each of the 20 characters at launch fits into one of four classes - Offense, Defense, Support and Tank. Each one is pretty true to it’s name, Offense is meant to push around the map, securing objectives and racking up kills and so on. The characters in these classes each have unique skills such and special moves, which back up their class affiliation. Tracer, an offensive character, has the ability to zip around the map using her “blink” ability which allows her to move forward or backwards quickly, avoiding enemies in the process. If that sounds like it could be overpowered or used to cheese a game mode, it can, but only if the opposing team doesn’t realize that a solid McCree can take her out.
So does this mean that all of the characters are balanced?
Believe it or not, yes, it does. Almost every character has at least one character that is the ideal counter to them
Which character(s) did you find yourself gravitating to? Why?
I’ve spent most of my time playing as Tobjorn, the defensive minded dwarf with a turret. The team tends to joke that I gravitate to him because I don’t have to do anything to rack up kills, since the turret does most of the heavy lifting. I however like him because when played well, he works solid in each mode and tends to give most people trouble.
The visual style of this game is very Blizzard, aka bright and colorful, does it work?
This is the most Blizzard game I have ever seen, and it works oh so well. Each character is a perfect stereotype of himself, which means you don’t need to read about each character before jumping in and playing them. The art style is also built in a way that makes the characters stand out from the background, which helps stop camping and makes each match flow. This is hands down the best character design of the year.
You’ve mentioned the sound design on The Block Party a few times, what’s so great about it?
The sound design plays into the character design in a way few games do. Much like a person can take a quick look at McCree and understand that he is going to be an offensive character that does well in close quarters. You also know that when you hear the words “High Noon” you are probably going to want to get away from him quickly. Similarly, when you hear Bastions little whistle, you are going to want to get a beat on him and run the oposite way as quickyl as possible.
It’s impossible to predict the future, but, do you think Overwatch will hold up against the heavy hitters such as Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2 and Call of Duty releasing this fall?
I’m going to put a stake in the ground and say yes, Overwatch is going to be able to withstand heavy hitters and still find a way to sit at the top of the games played charts six months from now. Blizzard knows how to adjust to the market and will find a way to release content that keeps the hardcore part of their player base interested in this game. The casuals, no way, they are going to move on to Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2 and COD. A year from now however, I think that Overwatch will be the most played game again.
I’m on the fence about this game, do I need to play with friends to have a good time?
No, but like any team v team game, it does add to the fun. I played through most of the beta by myself and had a blast. When Overwatch Tuesday started and I began playing with the Allerton Ave crew, the fun was definitely cranked up as we communicated and adjusted to the opposing teams much easier. It’s also pretty fun finding five friends and running full teams of one character can make for some pretty great moments.
There are no character upgrades, instead the game rewards the players with loot boxes for leveling up. How do you feel about this?
I’m fine with it. Nothing you unlock will make you any better so hiding these cosmetic upgrades behind micro-transactions is fine with me. If you want to unlock better costumes you can easily get them by playing the game. They come fast and furious for the first 20 levels after that, they do come a little slower but not enough that has made me think, man, I need to spend some cash to get some gear. I can see how some people might have an issue with the loot being random when you are spending money, but allowing people to buy the best costumes straight away kind of breaks the randomness of the loot boxes all together. It’s a fine line that Blizzard is walking and I am fine with it...for now.
Overwatch is easily one of the best shooters of 2016. Despite having a somewhat limited selection of maps and modes, the game is pure fun and will provide hours of joy.
RELEASED: May 25 2016 | SYSTEM: XBOXONE | SINGLE PLAYER: 23:45 | MULTIPLAYER: 23:00
BALANCE - 5/5
CONTENT - 3/5
CONTROL - 5/5
PERFORMANCE - 5/5
- No game this year is as polished as Overwatch
- I could have gone for a few more maps and modes
- Every character plays as you would expect, in the best way
- Not getting a good loot drop sucks
- The game is better with a communicative group of friends
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