Overwatch is an intensely charming team-oriented FPS with easy-to-learn gameplay and a high skill cap. Choose from a roster of highly diverse characters to form a well-balanced team of six, to compete in objective-oriented game modes.
|Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Type: Team Shooter
Release Date: May 24, 2016
Pros: +Distinct artstyle. +Varied cast of heroes. +Polished gameplay. +Great map variety. +Great arcade mode.
Cons: -Poor ranked rewards.
Overwatch is a squad based competitive MMO first person shooter that blends the MOBA and FPS genres. Players choose from a wild variety of heroes, each with its own unique set of abilities and weapons. Much like Team Fortress 2, players can change their hero selection upon death. Similar to MOBAs, every hero has three regular abilities as well as an ultimate. Overwatch is a team based tactical game, not a mindless slugfest. It does however feature an arcade mode which has a deathmatch, capture the flag, and various other fun game modes.
- Team-Oriented Gameplay - create a dynamic team of six heroes with complimentary abilities and work together to win the match.
- Large Hero Roster - choose between 25+ heroes with memorable abilities that suit a highly particular playstyle in battle.
- Multiple Maps - fight across a large number of highly detailed and charming maps around the world.
- Charming Aesthetic - characters, maps, and abilities are all designed with a distinct art style that is undeniably charming.
- Polished Gameplay - smooth gameplay and controils that just work culminate in the perfect pick-up-and-play shooter.
- Hero Switching - stategically adapt to dynamic battles by changing your hero mid-match to turn the tide.
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Overwatch Featured Video
By, Sean Sullivan
Overwatch is a highly addictive team-based shooter with endless charm. For all the shenanigans Blizzard pulls they’ve earned the praise. Overwatch features characters with memorable personalities revealing themselves through flashy skills, and excellent map design for heroes to maul each other. It’s one of the few titles where nearly everyone sitting in Discord has “Playing: Overwatch” tagged under their name. But the game is not flawless. It suffers from the same issues present in any team dependent title, and it's an issue I don’t believe the genre can successfully overcome. But I can say that Overwatch is the perfect quirky shooter for pick up and play matches.
A Typical Match
Regardless of which game mode you’re thrown into Overwatch matches are made from the same stuff. Two teams of six start at opposite ends of a vibrant environments and clash over an objective. There are a handful of game modes which designate the rules of battle: Escort, Assault, Control, and a Hybrid match mixing Assault and Escort.
Assault functions as a King of the Hill where one team attacks control points while the other team defends until the clock ticks down to zero. Escort is most clearly inspired by Team Fortress 2 (and don’t forget Chivalry), and charges a team with pushing a payload to a designated point while their rivals must halt their progress, doing everything short of knifing the tires. Control forces both teams to capture the same point. Whichever one hits 100% wins, similar to Paladins. Control is the only mode played in a best of three. And then there’s Hybrid. It’s fairly straightforward: one team captures a point which spawns a payload and then must be escorted. It’s pretty humiliating when your team is stopped before they can even get the limo rolling.
Even though there’s limited game modes I never found myself bored, or sighing when RNG matchmaking delivered the same game mode twice. Different objectives demand their own tactics but each of the four modes decides it's victor by which team harmonizes better. Which is why I don’t see Team Deathmatch ever making it’s way to Overwatch, at least as a serious game mode. I do believe the game will need more modes for longevity, but the four launching with Overwatch were more than enough for me to rack up well over thirty hours in the beta weekend.
Streamlined controls makes Overwatch one of the simplest titles I have ever played. While the typical WASD guides your character, skills are bound to Shift, Q (Ultimate), and E. Space is relegated to jump, CTRL to crouch, and R to reload when wielding a gun. It’s a simplified control scheme that any PC Gamer’s hand ought to be comfortable with. It’s almost stupid simple. The complexity of MOBAs is gone, and there’s no stretching to hit a key or awkward placement. I love it. Anyone who can type should be able to sit down with Overwatch and feel comfortable within a game or two.
But for those of you who prefer your own bindings Blizzard allows players to change every single key, and it’s unbelievably straightforward. Why don’t all PC games have a such a streamlined, beautiful interface for reassigning keys? Everything is clear, easy to follow, easy to read, and simple to initiate.
Heroes Have A Role
Heroes are divided between four roles: offense, defense, tank, and support. And no matter what game mode you’ll want a diverse team of six employing heroes from each column. Because Overwatch isn’t about pulling off stunning one-versus-five brutal headshots down in the corridors of CAT. Overwatch is a team-oriented game. Remember gym class? Trust your team if you want to win.
The juxtaposition between heroes may be the most important aspect of the game, one overlooked by Solo Sallys. If you have to escort a vehicle you want Reinhardt’s shield, Mercy to heal, Lucio’s speed boost, Widowmaker’s sniper, Farah to clear the field, and McCree to say, “It’s High Noon.” Defending a point? Well there’s no better sentry than Bastion’s relentless turret, or the engineer Torbjörn to prevent the enemy’s push.
Before each match the game warns you if your composition is imbalanced: “Too Few Support Heroes,” or “No Tank Hero,” or “Too Many Soldier 76s.” It’s almost always imperative that players pay attention to the fulfillments. Because a balanced team will secure victory far more often than five Bastions.
XxXThugLife666XxX Only Plays Reaper
And herein lies the first issue I have with Overwatch. Some players refuse to fulfill roles. They always play Widowmaker and won’t budge. Or they’re the last to pick and there’s no healer but they decide to also choose Reaper because “My name is XxXThugLife666XxX and Reaper is my favorite!” Classic Reaper amirite?
Overwatch has an extremely diverse cast of heroes, each with their own personality-defined playstyle and it’s a shame to fall into the trap of only choosing one. The allegiance destroys a match’s viability, as imbalanced teams quickly fall to ruin against diverse opponents complimenting each other’s roles. But puggies are the OG, and they rarely care.
I played a match with two other friends and two puggies working together as Farrah and Lucy. They refused to roll with us and went off on their own adventure, which inadvertently never involved the payload. We lost that match before pushing the payload to the first checkpoint. My mouse hovered on uninstall for a good minute. The issues should resolve itself as players become accustomed to the game’s mechanics and serious players enter competitive play.
Switch Em' Up
Switching heroes mid-game is not only available but a promoted tactic for adapting to combat situations. Players can switch their character upon death or in their spawn room. Blizzard has repeatedly reinforced that it’s a key component of the game. The skilled Overwatch player isn’t someone who can play Genji and kill the entire team. Talented players are the ones who know what hero to switch to and when to gain the upper hand.
Bastion is a notorious pain when he sits smug on defense. The robotic sentry mows down anyone who crosses his path with a gatling gun from behind his teammates. He’s very good at what he’s designed to do, but players have to be willing to switch out heroes to defeat him. Blizzard recommends Hanzo, Genji, or Widowmaker to counter Bastion. Whereas I like to use Winston and jump right over the turret, or sneak him with Reaper. There’s always a counter you can use to overcome a situation. As far as I can tell no single hero is unstoppable. Teamwork and complimentary heroes will always supercede a single player.
Ego Of The Game
At the end of a match one player earns the Play of the Game, typically by pulling off exceptional team kills with their ultimate ability. POTG doesn’t seem to follow one static criteria. And I’ve seen many debates enumerating what the ultimate decision behind POTG is. I believe it takes into account a player’s score in relation to objectives and the time taken to achieve that score. Sometimes the POTG is an amazing killstreak. Sometimes it’s nonsensical. It is a neat touch to end a match on. But I’ve met a few players only interested in seeing their name splashed against the screen at the end of a match, followed by “WOO” through their mic. It adds a competitive flair between friends, seeing who can earn 10 seconds of fame. I’m all for bragging rights, just remember to keep your eyes on the objective, not the fragfest.
I hate to say it but Blizzard is an expert at imbuing its games with personality. While they spent months hyping players up through cinematic trailers the in-game heroes manage to sell themselves equally well off of YouTube. Pixar-level character designs stink of charm and attraction, and ensures that each hero makes their presence felt. Complementary skills speak far louder than cheesy one-liners. Whether it's Mae’s annoying freeze gun followed by a headshot, or the cue to duck when you hear a nonchalant “It’s High Noon,” no one is forgotten.
I played every hero and discovered I liked playing many I dismissed at a distance, e.g. Roadhog. Without going into detail the designs are imbued with the sense of history that tells me each hero has a deep lore to be explored in comics, movies, novellas, etc., as if there’s some grand universe lurking just beneath the surface of Overwatch’s world. It’s masterful superficial storytelling, and the secret to the game’s charm.
While this may be a contentious point I found the map design in Overwatch to be excellent at first. Every hallway pushes you along to the objective with clearly defined boundaries and nooks to camp out and use as a tactical advantage. And they are beautifully designed corridors, with plenty of obvious and not-so-obvious easter eggs to feast as you move to your destination (look for the Diablo piñata on the map Dorado). Every map is brimming with detail, both within its confines and into the distance. They all feel inhabited and part of a larger world, even though you’re a Battle Royale prisoner, à la The Culling. It’s the sense of openness within a rat maze, the illusion that should be broken but refuses.
But Overwatch’s maps are not the apex of design. Some maps combined with a particular game mode confine hero selection, causing some character to be ignored because they lack utility. Bastion is a typical default choice on most maps but in a map like Ilios where there’s no tactical point Bastion is better left behind. Whereas Escort missions almost always demand a Lucio for his movement speed increase and passive healing. I worry that given enough time, map design will force skilled teams to always pick the same handful of heroes while the rest are left to pugs.
Overwatch Dress Up
Every time players level up they receive a loot crate with a selection of cosmetic goodies: new skins, taunts, and sprays. It’s a solid celebration to commemorate the amount of time you’ve spent in Overwatch’s world. Loot boxes will be purchasable with cash, a harmless business strategy I endorse. If you really want that Tracer skin and love to gamble for digital rewards then be my guest and throw money at the game until you get what you want. With no pay-to-win element and the ability to theoretically earn every skin in-game given enough playtime Blizzard has created an acceptable post-release monetization model.
Final Verdict - Excellent
Overwatch is my new addiction thanks to an endearing universe and fast-paced–team-oriented gameplay. On one level matches are repetitive with little variety apart from what players bring to the game. But Overwatch doesn’t pretend to be deep. It is the culmination of streamlined controls set against the backdrop of a whimsical world with characters and maps imbued with tidal charm. You pick up and play full games in small spurts, able to drop in and out. Overwatch is an excellent title that will endure as a popular shooter for a long time to come.
Overwatch System Requirements
Operating System: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8
CPU: Core i3-540 3.06GHz / Phenom II X3 720
Video Card: GeForce GTX 460 / Radeon HD 4850
RAM: 4 GB
Hard Disk Space: 5 GB
Operating System: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8
CPU: Core i5-670 3.46GHz / Phenom II X4 900e
Video Card: GeForce GTX 660 / Radeon HD 7950
RAM: 6 GB
Hard Disk Space: 5 GB
Overwatch Music & Soundtrack
Overwatch Additional Information
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Director(s): Jeff Kaplan and Aaron Keller
Other Platforms: Mac OS X
Game Engine: Proprietary game Engine
Closed Beta 1: October 27, 2015
Closed Beta 2: November 20, 2015 - November 23, 2015
Closed Beta 3: February 09, 2016
Closed Beta 4: April 15, 2016 - April 16, 2016
Early Access: May 03, 2016 - May 04, 2016
Release Date: May 24, 2016
Development History / Background:
Following the cancellation of Titan, Blizzard Entertainment has been focusing their efforts on Overwatch. Overwatch was first announced to the world at Blizzcon on November 7, 2014. Blizzard held a number of Closed Beta tests beginning on October 27, 2015. A second invitation-only Beta test weekend, designed to stress test the servers, was held from November 20th to November 23, 2015. Closed Beta then took a break on December 10, 2015 and resumed on February 09, 2016, beginning Closed Beta 2. The final stress test weekend was held from April 15th to April 16, 2016, lasting for 36 hours. Overwatch released on May 24, 2016.