The first thing you notice when you get into a game of Overwatch is the attention to detail. Little things like the flap on Junkrats grenade launcher bobbing up and down as you walk, the posters on the walls hinting to even more lore on your favorite characters. There’s just so much detail and polish in every little thing in the game you can’t help but appreciate Blizzards chops as a game developer. Blizzard somehow manages to take classic game genres and capture lightning in a bottle with all of them, this time it’s with Overwatch.
Overwatch is an objective based first person shooter that can most easily be compared to Team Fortress 2, while lifting light MOBA elements such as abilities and ultimates. Every hour I pour into it just makes me appreciate everything it does so much more. From slick reload animations, to over the top emotes and victory poses it just breathes so much life into all of its characters, and that’s what these are characters.
Every hero feels like a character and not “class”, Soldier 76 is the scorned vigilante not just a the guy with the assault rifle. Despite the lack of a single player campaign and most of the story being based outside of the game in animated shorts and comics, the personalities of every character are so well realized in game. Everything from Reinhardt yelling about the glory of battle in his thick German accent to seeing D.Va press the buttons on the joystick of her mech when you click to fire, every character is bursting with charisma.
I don’t think there’s ever been a video game where I like every character and more than that, I like to play every character. No matter how many times I’ll yell out in anger when Roadhog hooks me or Tracer sticks me with a pulse bomb, I’ll happily jump into games as them the same as any other character. What makes the game work is every characters abilities feel unique and can be used effectively in many different ways. Despite characters being limited to few abilities, usually three and then an ultimate, the depth of each character is astounding. Bastion can become a stationary turret great for defending a location, or how about setting up on the payload and as it moves through the level mow people down. Lucio has a three burst long range gun to pick of foes from a distance, or you could run up and use its alternate fire to send a sound blast knocking them off the map. The possible play style for each character may eventually be limited but once you start thinking as part of a 6-man team the combos and ways to play are endless. Stationary Bastion? Put a Reinhardt who has a one way shield in front of him, Soldier 76 can’t get to a vantage point? Have him stand on a wall of ice created by Mei to boost him up.
Beyond the abilities Overwatch is also just a generally a very tight FPS. Whether it’s firing an assault rifle, bow or swinging a hammer everything feels great to use and even better than that feels like it has a genuine impact. Direct hits with Pharah’s rocket launcher destroy low health opponents, up close blasts with Roadhogs shotgun feel like they carry weight as your opponent’s body rag-dolls away after the blast. Blizzard have a pedigree for making games that are if nothing else, technically sound and highly polished. When it comes to visuals as well blizzard didn’t slouch; everything looks gorgeous from characters and environments to flashy ultimate abilities. Everything about Overwatch comes across as the greatest Saturday morning cartoon ever, with the most outrageous characters and action sequences; it’s just a joy to watch things happen.
More than anything overwatch is game that just wants to be enjoyed
While releasing with only 12 maps and lack of a campaign at all might turn some off, all of Overwatch’s mechanics and interactions more than make up for this. The game modes boil down to classic payload, king of the hill and attack/defend, so while lacking anything new, each map is hand tailored for its game mode. Multiple attack and defense routes, options to sneak by or charge in, the maps compliment all the characters in different ways and finding new strategies on each map is more than enough to keep people entertained for hours.
Every map is accompanied by a “Play of the Game” highlighting some of the best or crazies moments of that match, then some voting for the players who did the best in their roles. Every mechanic is geared towards players having a great experience, and for new players to be accommodated with ease. The inability to see anyone’s Kills or Deaths other than your own means there’s much less toxicity within the community and the voting at the end encourages you to appreciate your team mates, with supports often snatching a lot of votes.
Blizzard has learned from years of developing multiplayer games and realized toxicity within a community makes the experience worse for current and new player and has tried to deal with these accordingly and so far it seems to be working. Overwatch is so accessible but also contains so much depth it’s nice to see both hardcore and casual players appreciated. Whether it’s experienced players to getting a great “Play of the Game” or a newbie who just jumped in and got a bunch of kills, everyone gets the chance to feel like the best.
Outside of the matchmaking, each player has an account level which you gain experience towards by playing games, you earn bonuses for winning, playing better and playing with friends etc. Every level you gain grants you a loot box which contains 5 random cosmetic items for any character, these can be anything from alternate skins to new voice lines. While cosmetics may not drive every player to keep playing many of the skins and animations are so great you’ll eagerly want to open your loot boxes hoping for that one specific skin for your favorite character. Any duplicates you get transferred into a currency which you can use to buy specific items for whatever character you wish, this systems means that every loot box is still valuable even despite its complete randomness.
These loot boxes of course lead into the inevitable micro-transactions which plague many large triple-A games as of late, however Blizzard gets it just right. You can complain about microtransactions in $60 games as much as you like however there reality is that there here to stay, but when there this inoffensive it’s not an issue. You can only buy different amounts of loot boxes, which means that the microtransactions are cosmetic only and not just that but you only need the boxes, no keys required. Everyone goes into the game on an even playing field, no pay-to-win aspects; just some might enter the battlefield looking way cooler than others.
The Wrap Up
I could keep going on about just how good Overwatch is, but I think this is a game you have to experience for yourself. It just goes above and beyond anything else in its genre and also manages to have the most interesting characters of not only a multiplayer game, but most games in general. Overwatch is a game that just oozes charm and style, but more than that it’s a game that just wants to be enjoyed, proving that Blizzard once again have caught lightning in a bottle.