Overwatch – Review
Platform – PC, PS4, Xbox One
Developer – Blizzard
Publisher – Activision Blizzard
MSRP: $59.99 USD
(Editor’s Note: This game was reviewed on the PS4 with the game copy being provided by Gaming Instincts.)
Welcome to Overwatch soldier. It’s time to load up your weapons, gather your friends and jump into a brand new world of heroes, villains and criminals in this brand new FPS-genre universe from Blizzard Entertainment. Overwatch was shown off to the world back in BlizzCon 2014. For those who don’t know, it’s Blizzard’s first new IP in 19 years. Many fans weren’t sure what to make of it when they saw a Pixar-like animated cinematic trailer and the simple fact that Overwatch turned out to be an FPS multiplayer shooter with heavy influence from Valve’s Team Fortress 2. It was quite a shock to a lot of people, however, it turns out that this new universe is quite a good one. The big question is, did Blizzard manage to craft a new world with interesting characters and fun polished gameplay? Let’s find if Blizzard’s new IP has triumphed in our review down below.
Gameplay and Characters
Overwatch is a multiplayer based game that pits 2 teams in a 6v6 battle and 4 different classes with multiple characters to choose from each class. There are Tanks, Support, Defenders and Offense classes that the players can choose from. If you’ve played any previous competitive games such as League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, DotA 2, Paragon or Team Fortress 2, then you know exactly what I am talking about here. However, Overwatch is nowhere near comparable to a MOBA game, it is, in fact, an FPS game with extremely polished gameplay, beautiful visuals and a fantastic cast of 21 unique characters.
What really surprised me about Overwatch is just how fun it is from the start of your first match and all the way to the end. It has been a very long time since I’ve played a multiplayer-only game for hours and almost a week now on daily basis. Blizzard has managed to surpass my expectations. The amount of polish in this game is on the next level. Nothing ever feels broken, the engine is super smooth, the visuals are quite pleasing and the sound design is one of the best I’ve experienced in any multiplayer in a long time. The sound is actually designed around the gameplay for players to understand what is happening around them and when someone is triggering their ultimate ability. For example; Soldier 76 is an offensive FPS-type character and when he activates his ultimate the enemy team will hear him say “I got you in my sight” and that’s a cue for the team to find a line-out-sight before they get shot down with his aimbot ability. The players that have Solider 76 will instead hear “Tactical visor on” and that’s a cue for the friendly team that he has activated his ultimate and is ready to kill people and go full out on the offense.
Everything in Overwatch is designed very intelligently, no game mechanics feels useless or redundant in any way. It’s just an extremely well thought-out competitive FPS game that’s super simple to understand, but as always hard to master. Overwatch can easily be played in a casual environment if you’re not much of a competitive player. Competitive players already know which hero hard counters who and what’s the best team set up for a specific map or against a certain team composition. The game was designed from the beginning to allow players switch heroes mid-game after they either die or by walking into your team’s spawn point and picking a new hero. At first, this was a big concern for me, but after playing over 200 matches and experiencing all kinds of crazy close-calls or complete domination matches, I realized that this particular mechanic allows the team to counter their opponents on the fly if they’re stuck in a tough spot and can’t get on the winning side.
There is a total of 21 characters to choose from in the game as I’ve mentioned previously mentioned. The tanks consist of Reinhardt, Roadhog, D’va, Winston, and Zarya. Reinhardt is a big hulking dude in a giant metal piece of armor that carries a huge hammer that smashes it’s way to victory. Also, he provides a big energy shield that prevents damage and protects his team-members that are right behind his shield. Reinhardt is fantastic for pushing objectives and trying to zone enemies out of particular areas. Up close he also does a ton of damage with his hammer and can kill weakened heroes in 1 or 2 hits, full health enemies usually take up to 3-4 hits, unless they’re tanks. His ultimate provides a cone area of effect ground stun on enemies that are caught within his range, it’s a great ability to stun a group of the opposite team members and finish them off with your hammer or your charge attack that can pin enemies into the walls.
Another one of my favorite Heroes is Junkrat. Junkrat is one of the defending heroes that sits back and shoots bouncy grenades that deal a ton of damage and kill enemies in tight spaces or traps them in corridors. He can also use his steel trap to stun his enemies on the floor and use an explosive trap to blow them up or finish them off with his grenade launcher. Junkrat’s ultimate sends out an explosive wheel of death that the player can guide and control for a certain amount of seconds to and try to find a group of the enemy team and blow them all up. It is hands-down one of the most satisfying ways to kill enemies, especially when you kill a group of 3 or 4 opponents on map objectives.
I can keep talking about the rest of the unique heroes that Blizzard has designed for Overwatch, but all you need to know is that they’re all really unique, serve a purpose and most importantly a blast to play. These aren’t just some regular heroes either, each hero has their own story and relations to other characters in some shape of form. Blizzard has actually crafted an entire lore for Overwatch that has a meaning and a lot of interesting background information. Although the lore doesn’t affect the gameplay in any way, it’s still a nice immersion factor to get into if you really enjoy playing a specific character and want to know more about them and their true identity.
Game Modes and Maps
Overwatch has 12 different maps out of the box, each map has different types of objectives. For example. King’s Row is a Payload map, Payload is a game mode where you have to escort/defend a vehicle depending on which team you’re on. The attacking team has to escort the payload, meanwhile, the defending team has to prevent the payload from arriving at its destination. Then there are Control Mode maps like Ilios or Lijiang Tower, where the teams must stand on a specific area on the map to capture it completely as the percentage goes up, meanwhile the other team tries to wipe them out and take it for themselves. This game mode goes for the best of 3, which means that one of the teams has to win 2 rounds in order for a whole match to be completed.
Last but not least, there is also a Capture mode where one of the teams has to either attack or defend a territory depending on which team they’re on when the game starts. Out of all the game modes, they’re all quite fun and super basic in terms of complexity and that’s not a bad thing. However, my personal favorite would have to Capture mode and that’s only because there is so much back-and-forth going on and it can get super intense, competitive and exciting to finally take over the area or win the match.
Blizzard has officially committed to the future content being completely free and that includes upcoming new heroes and maps. That is a fantastic decision because I would hate to see this game’s community get split up due to paid DLC. Once you get the game, you will get everything that’s in it on top of whatever comes in the future and Blizzard is well-known for having to provide long life support for their games.
Although, my only gripe with the game modes is that there is simply not enough of them and Competetive Mode also won’t be coming out until sometime in next month in June. Right now, players are only able to play in Quickplay which is considered just to be casual matches that don’t have any actual ranking systems tied to them. This is a bit unfortunate because real competitive players are forced to wait a little longer while being frustrated with people who tend to just play the game casually as opposed to seriously in preparation for a tournament. On the bright side, though, this gives everyone more time to get better at their favorite hero, before they fully commit themselves to a professional eSports team.
Overwatch is one of the most polished, fun, addicting multiplayer games I’ve played in years. It’s hard to say, but this game has some sort of black magic going on where it just attracts you and you can’t stop playing it. Meanwhile, the game does lack a bit in launch content as far as the game modes and maps are concerned. The biggest disappointment is the lack of competitive mode at launch. However, considering this is Blizzard’s new IP and it’s their first entry in the FPS genre, they have done a phenomenal job across all levels. It’s quite fascinating to see how a developer tries to do something they’ve never done before or had any experience with and absolutely nail it. If you like multiplayer games or enjoy fast-paced competitive experiences with a great variety of characters, then Overwatch is a no-brainer. It’s one of the best games year released this year that needs to will be played for hours, weeks, months and years to come thanks to Blizzard’s history of long-term support.
Also published on Medium.