Overwatch is Blizzard’s new franchise, and if you’re an avid reader of Cyberphile, you already know that I love it. I’m just going to reiterate what I said during the open beta, since the full release is practically identical to the open beta.
Overwatch, unlike other Blizzard franchises actually takes place in the real world, although, slightly into the future. Humanity has been able to build robots that boosted the world’s economy into a golden age. Unfortunately, golden ages never seem to last and for no apparent reason, the robots, called Omnics, rise up against the humans. With no military force able to take them out, Overwatch is born with the goal of taking out the Omnic threat. Overwatch is a carefully selected group of heroes, adventurers and oddities who are able to finally quell the Omnic Crisis and bring about peace in the world again. Again, peace never lasts long and power struggles within Overwatch occur and talk of darker missions are passed to the public. The public begins to fear Overwatch and eventually the U.N. forces them to disband. Years pass and things in the world get worse; many Overwatch agents now just do their own thing. But Winston, Overwatch’s resident gorilla scientist calls them back into action to stop crime and bring about justice, of course, without the official go ahead of the U.N. So what do we do?
We fight senselessly in FPS combat because it’s fun. :3
Overwatch is a 6-on-6 team FPS. Sounds simple and normal enough, right? Well, like any team based shooter, you have different roles of each character. In the full game, you have the option between 21 different heroes, some from each role: offense, defense, tank, and support. Some characters also have a second role that makes them even more invaluable to the team, such as 2 defense characters who are also snipers, and two builder characters. A good team requires a healthy balance of each character, a basic understanding of your map and objective, and good teamwork. For example, if you’re objective is to defend an area, you may want to invest in some defense heroes.
Offense heroes excel at putting out damage, but are usually the frailest characters, so hopping in and out of the fray is necessary. For example, one hero, Tracer can teleport around the map, and go back in time to negate damage done to her, assuming she isn’t dead. Defense heroes skills help protect areas by setting up ice walls, building turrets, or sniping. They tend to have a bit more health than offense characters, but less movement options. Your tanks have a massive amount of HP and can often shield the rest of the team or objective, or at least disrupt enemies. Support characters can heal, give speed boosts, or even revive allies in a time of need.
Each of the 21 characters play very differently. I haven’t played very many team-based shooters in the past, but of the few I have played, Overwatch excels. Each character is completely different and requires you to play much differently than the rest. If you’re getting bored of one character, simply switch it up! The amount of variation between each character is truly amazing.
As you complete matches, you can level up, unlocking random items that you can customize your character with. Anything from new voice effects, skins, character icons, winning poses, emotes, Play of the Game intros, or spray paints to spray on walls for fun are able to be unlocked and customized.
There are 12 different maps, and each has one of 4 game modes, usually with an attacking and defending team. Escort has the attacking team try to escort a payload by remaining next to it while it travels to its destination, while the defense team must stop them from doing so. Along the way, there are multiple checkpoints to increase the time limit. That way, if the attacking team is getting stomped, the match will end earlier. Assault sets two points on the map, where the attacking team must successfully capture an area. Once the first area is captured, the first area becomes the attacking team’s spawn point and second area opens up for capture. If the defense cannot keep the attackers off the point, the attackers win. Assault/Escort is an amalgamation of the two prior game modes, where the attackers must take an area, and if successful, a payload will be made available for transport. Lastly, there is Control, where each team is an attacking team attempting to capture the same central point. As one team holds it, they begin to gain percent toward the win. If the other team captures it, their percent stops. Whichever team can hold the point to 100% wins. If there is at least one person who is about to lose attempting to complete an objective, the game will go into overtime until no one is on that point, giving teams a last chance hurrah to push forward and win a seemingly losing match. One player per match is also featured as the Play of the Game, usually whoever had the best multikill. It is super satisfying to be the Play of the Game.
The presentation is a cartoony style, and it works very well with Overwatch. The characters and world blend together wonderfully.
Overwatch is an amazingly polished game. From the get-go, the game grabs your attention with the characters, all of which are absolutely EXPLODING with personality. Each character has their own unique backstory, style, and abilities. Visually no two characters are the same, and mechanically, they couldn’t be more different. Even just the 6 attack characters are so wildly different that you’ll need to utilize a different strategy for each one. But you don’t have 6 characters. You have 21. That’s 21 unique characters to learn and love. Getting bored with your main character and their playstyle? Just pick any of the other 20 characters and try something different. You never know, you just might end up really liking a character you never expected to. I know I did.
Not only are the characters unique, but they are very well balanced. While I’m sure some would argue about balance (some of those arguments may be slightly justified too) ultimately, each character has things they excel in and other things they aren’t so great at. This makes each character weak to a different character. No one character is a real jack of all trades (though Soldier: 76 comes close) or is too powerful. If you keep smashing your head against the proverbial wall, getting killed by one character over and over, try switching up your playstyle or your hero altogether. You just may be surprised that that unbeatable character moments ago is now suffering to your more effective character choice.
Character choice is immensely important. It’s important to have a diverse team with many different roles so that your team has all of the bases covered. The game will inform you if you’re missing an integral part of a team, and I would implore you to go out of your comfort zone to try those other characters. You might end up really appreciating them. It also encourages team play so that characters are playing effectively off of each other.
In addition to revealing character dialogue in game, Blizzard has been building a fantastic and interesting lore outside of the game though animated shorts and one off comics. Check ’em out. The Pixar quality animated shorts are enough to get you interested in the world of Overwatch for sure.
The only real gripe I have with Overwatch is that there is virtually no single player. The world and lore of Overwatch is so fantastic and I want to learn even more about the characters. Your only option is Overwatch is multiplayer. Even to go into training mode you have to be connected to the servers. But that’s a tiny issue in a sea of wonderful.
The Bottom Line
- Wonderfully crafted world and characters.
- Well balanced.
- Incredibly fun with tons of replayability.
- No offline modes or ways to advance a story or the world.
Final Score: 9.5/10
Overwatch is amazing. If you’re partial to FPSs, then you need to play Overwatch. Right now. Go.