Doing What Blizzard Does | Overwatch Review
With the sheer amount of stunning games that are so prevalent, a multiplayer only shooter is certainly a risky proposition, that is unless you are the folks over at Blizzard. There is something about Overwatch that just clicks, and that’s coming from someone who gets quite frustrated with multiplayer games. I’m surely classified as one of those gamers who favors a strong single player campaign that will dabble on the multiplayer side, but in no way am I someone who plays MOBAs or the other most compared to game, Team Fortress 2. But here I am, squeezing in four or five hours per day and wanting to play more.
Overwatch is in a unique place where it is exceedingly accessible to the average player, but it provides depth through its strategy as the players’ skills develops. The 6v6 hero fps, at its core, is quite easy to pick up and play. Each of the 21 characters, so far, have a primary, secondary and ultimate set of attacks. But, each character plays completely different than the other. Sure, they are separated as offense, defense, support, and tank, but their differences are vast.
The oft-used character for marketing pieces, Tracer, is an offensive hero who functions more as a distraction to the opposing team than an all out damage dealer. Contrast that with another offensive hero, McCree, who deals out immense damage with his fan, stun, roll, fan combo. The differences are just as big among each and every hero, and this is what sets Overwatch apart and adds in some deep gameplay situations.
On its surface, Overwatch seems relatively straightforward, until you realize that “maintaining” a character is a thing of the past. It is absolutely necessary to become well acquainted with each and every character on the roster as the current game situation often demands a change of character. Blizzard is quite smart in the way they utilize the need to change characters. There are surely a handful of characters that people gravitate toward in certain circumstances, but finding a perfect counter to destroy the Bastion sitting in the corner is unmatched.
Where the characters are the main “selling” point for Overwatch, it can’t be understated how the relatively short match length (usually between 5-12 minutes) is the perfect length of time to keep a player engaged. The length of a game is one of the largest contributing factors for not getting into various multiplayer games, but Overwatch’s match length hits that sweet spot encouraging “just one more.”
Besides personal gratification and knowing you were a clutch teammate, the game handles progression with a simple level up system. There is no unlocking of high-powered weapons or perks that can only be used when hitting a certain level. This is a fantastic way to level out the playing field and not punish those who don’t have the ability to grind through levels. You get XP for healing, objective time and eliminations. Once you get enough XP for the levels, you will receive a loot box containing six items. The boxes will contain sprays, voicelines, skins, emotes, victory poses, highlight intros and/or player icons with items of varying rarity. Of course, this is one of the main things with which people have qualms. Aside from leveling to earn loot boxes, you can buy them. On the low side, it is two boxes for $1.99, where the highest tier has 50 boxes for $39.99. Personally, the loot boxes never felt that egregious or really a necessity to purchase to enjoy the game. However, I do understand that it can become annoying to spend money on an unknown item considering you can get doubles of an item, and then they are turned into in-game gold.
There are some that claim the game to be light on content, but with a total of 12 maps (three for each game mode) and 21 heroes, I can’t really see the reasoning, especially since Blizzard has stated that they will not be charging for future heroes or maps. So all is fine, unless you only happen to play on console.
The one oddity I have with the game has absolutely nothing to do with the actual gameplay but rather with Blizzard’s decision to force the “Origin’s Edition” on console gamers, thus eliminating the $40 base game that is offered to the PC community. There’s a strong likelihood that many gamers wouldn’t want what is included in the pricier version, so it’s a shame the choice wasn’t even an offer.
Since this is a multiplayer only title, your fun will be somewhat dependent on those with whom you are playing. Finding a group, which isn’t hard with various forums across internet, will certainly help with the ability to coordinate. Having said that, I played half of my total time in a public lobby, and my time was generally enjoyable. At the low levels it can be a bit frustrating, but that’s to be expected when everyone is learning.
Reviewed on PC (also available on PS4 and Xbox One) with a review code received from the developers.
CPU: Intel Core i7 4790K @ 4.00GHz
Motherboard: AsRock Z97 Anniversary
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970