Review: Overwatch

Posted by: 6/9/2016

When the studio that developed Starcraft, Warcraft, and Diablo announced that they were making a team focused first-person shooter, it surprised many within the gaming community. Overwatch has shown that Blizzard continues to be a dominant force in the gaming industry, and can still make a fine video game.

On paper, Overwatch is really simple. Two teams of six compete on a handful of maps and complete objectives to win. Each player chooses from a roster of 21 characters, and each character has different strengths and weaknesses to help your team. It is wise to pick a diverse team to accommodate the different situations that will arise in each match, but you do run into teams that have the same character selected.

There are multiple game modes, but they revolve around the same idea: stay close to a control point or payload, and keep the other team away. While the game modes are light, it never feels that way. Each match is unique enough that it doesn’t feel like you play the same match twice. It helps that the roster of characters is so diverse.

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While many players will find their “main,” I have a handful that I switch between, depending on the situation. My main is Tracer. She is fast, deals medium damage, and has low health. Tracer reminds me of the fast paced shooters of the ’90s, like Quake. She has the ability to blink behind the enemy, and can be real annoying. Her job is to take focus off of your other teammates so they can advance. Winston is another player I like to use. He is a giant talking gorilla that can take a lot of damage while taking people down with his lightning gun.

Those are two examples, but it shows how diversity with the characters. This isn’t picking different loadouts; choosing different characters effectively changes how you play. With the huge cast of characters, it is incredible how balanced Overwatch is. It had been in multiple betas for over six months prior to release, which helped Blizzard balance characters for the full release.

I came to the realization the other day that Overwatch looks like a FPS at first glance, but once you start playing the game, it is more like a strategy game with a FPS wrapper. I love the moments when your team is being pushed back, so someone switches to a Winston or Reinhardt, and is able to push the other team back just enough to swing the momentum, and start the comeback.

No game is perfect, and Overwatch‘s most glaring issue will be players not playing their class. It happens with every team based shooter at release, and the problem will subside over time. But since there are so many characters to play as, usually there are one or two characters you can pick from that will help your team when they are playing poorly. That is what makes Overwatch stand out from other team based games.

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Blizzard has always been known for having great art in their games, and Overwatch may be their best looking game to date. It is colorful, the levels feel lively even if they are static, and the characters; oh the characters are so fantastic. Their personality shines during each match, you hear little quips as they react to things happening in the match, and they are fun to customize with cosmetic items that you receive through loot boxes when you level up. I haven’t fallen in love with a cast this quickly since I played The Witcher 3 last May.

Overwatch is a game that stands out in a crowded field of shooters. It is unique, easy to play, hard to master, and just a lot of fun. Matches can take anywhere between five minutes to 22, which is the longest I’ve experienced. It is a game that is fun to play with friends; reminding me of the old days of playing shooters over the internet. While many games enter the gaming community and leave just as fast, Overwatch is a game that will be around for a long time.

Score: 9/10

Overwatch was developed and published by Blizzard for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on June 24th, 2016. A retail copy of the PC version was purchased by the reviewer.

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