Overwatch Review – The New Exemplary Class-Based Shooter
Salvaged from the remains of Blizzard’s cancelled Project Titan, Overwatch is a testament to the very fact that the company’s infuriating tendency to take extensive development periods only leaves us with products that are synonymous with quality and fineness.
Since its announcement at BlizzCon 2014, Overwatch has been garnering immense traction and crazy fan-following.
Beginning with a captivating debut trailer that bundled loving characters and their colorful personalities with exciting gameplay, all the way through to a compelling beta period with close to 10 million passionate participants.
Suffice to say, Blizzard cooked Overwatch like a master chef; hence, allowing the game to release with a horde of voracious fans just waiting to sink their teeth into the company’s new multiplayer first-person shooter.
Since its announcement, Overwatch has been continuously compared to Team Fortress 2, and I can concur with the very same fact that Blizzard’s new intellectual property can indeed be referred to as a modernized version of Valve’s 2007 team-based first-person shooter.
Game Director Jeff Kaplan was correct in stating that while the comparison is “the world’s greatest compliment” for the developer, Overwatch has an entirely different design direction.
By sprinkling key MOBA spices, Blizzard has created an appetizing roster of heroes that wield multiple abilities (with cooldown periods), including ultimate attacks that can at any time turn the tide of battle.
It doesn’t take long for anyone to realize that Blizzard has put most of its focus on developing the colorful characters of Overwatch. There are 21 of them currently available in the game, divided between the roles of Offence, Defense, Tank, and Support.
Each of them are distinctively designed to not only look and feel unique, but also play differently. This gives way to Overwatch’s gameplay mechanics and addictive multiplayer; Blizzard has carefully designed each character to thrive in certain situations.
There is no concept of mastering a single character and proceeding to stomp opponents back-to-back. Instead, the game pushes the player to switch characters on-the-fly and discover new synergies with his/her team mates.
For example, there is always attraction for the sniper class in any first-person shooter. In Overwatch, players can choose between two: Hanzo and Blackwidow. While both come under the same tag, their separate skill sets allow for gameplay that is different to each other.
Hence, you might be picking Blackwidow pretty regularly as your favorite character. However, a situation may arise in a match where Hanzo and his special skills may prove more useful in obtaining the objective.
This brings the topic of counter-picking that I’ve found to have a wide effect in how you choose your heroes in Overwatch.
With enough games under your belt, you’ll begin to see how certain combination of heroes can decimate foes with ease. While the community is pretty low-key on the matter of balancing right now, Blizzard will surely have to look into tweaking certain characters in the coming months.
However, despite that, Overwatch remains a very accessible game for all kinds of players, equally fun for all skill levels. To add to the gameplay segment, Blizzard has found a way to lessen the focus on individual performance streaks and instead promote teamwork. This has resulted in a fairly less toxic community, which is rare to see these days in any online multiplayer game.
Overwatch pits two teams of six players against each other across twelve maps that come under three different modes. There’s “Escort” where one team pushes a payload across the map while the other team attempts to halt that progress until the timer runs out.
“Control” is your traditional King of the Hill mode where the teams fight to gain control of objective areas on the map. “Assault” is pretty self-explanatory, teams situate themselves on either the attacking or defending side and rack up kills.
There’s also an arcade mode which customizes the game rules, such as doubling health or damage, to give a unique mode every week. It’s important to remember that Overwatch is not a free-to-play game. On that note, many have expressed disappointment over the lack of modes in the game at launch.
I do agree with that notion, since recycling through the same modes over and over again will eventually weigh you down. However, I also believe that it’s unlikely for players to keep on recycling through all of the modes on a regular basis.
Most of us tend to side with one or two, which we follow blindly. I will not relate replay value with the number of modes present, since the gameplay of Overwatch holds enough value for anyone to clock in a good amount of hours.
That being said, Blizzard has promised to release more maps, modes, and content in the future, which will be free of charge. Hence, you all can rest easy.
Now comes the part where I talk about the inclusion of microtransactions in the game. Although I’m never in favor of any premium game featuring the dreaded business model of paying for content, it’s important to make it clear for newcomers that Overwatch does not support pay-to-win in any form.
Loot boxes can be either purchased with real-world money or earned whenever you level up in the game. Each box contains randomized loot, covering voice overs, emote animations, cosmetic skins, victory poses, graffiti spays, highlight animations, and Credits. None of that changes the way you play the game.
The issue here, though, is that the content is completely randomized and you’ll probably end up gaining loot for heroes that you don’t even play. Imagine the frustration of finally earning a legendary skin, but it’s for a character you don’t often play with.
Additionally, it’s hard to say with conviction that most of the included loot has any form of appeal. Coming from League of Legends, my interest was solely in the cosmetic upgrades. However, it surprised me that Blizzard has mostly kept to skins that only swap color palettes.
It baffles me as to why the developer couldn’t have used its team of profound artists and designers to come up with unique and inspiring skins for each character. With time, I expect Blizzard to come about and start selling better costume upgrades that are uniquely designed and give players more value than simply the option to choose between green and blue.
Furthermore, it also has to be asked as to why Blizzard couldn’t have simply allowed players to purchase whatever content they want through microtransactions. This forceful inclusion of RNG mechanics with loot boxes is frustrating.
Spending real-world money is more like rolling a dice, hoping to get lucky and earn something worthwhile for the character(s) of your choice. While you can still opt for the in-game shop to buy specific content with Credits, the currency is still something that is gained through the same RNG mechanics or by disposing of loot you already own.
Blizzard has a tendency to take its sweet time to build up a game post-release. Overwatch carries immense potential and with future updates, it is undoubtedly going to become one of the best first-person shooters out there. Overwatch is already doing so many things right, and Blizzard is likely to just add to that with time.