Overwatch

Once again here we stand on another game I didn't care at all about until a friend gave it his highest recommendation, even going so far as to purchase an additional copy so that we could play together. That being said, Overwatch is a pretty fantastic character/team-based first-person shooter (with a bit of a MOBA flavor) where matches last five to ten minutes and the screens fills with hectic colors with projectiles flying all over the place. While the content here at first seems plentiful, one thing that worries me is that there's only one game mode per map and there are only a handful of maps in the first place.

The first time I played Overwatch, I had to ask my friend is there was any sort of narrative. He pointed me in the direction of their website where some small character and plot summaries were available. The story might remind one of Team Fortress 2's conveyance of videos focused around one or two characters, delving into the origin stories with a bit of action to follow. Certain combinations of heroes will also chat during the match using per-determined dialogue that sheds a bit of light on entity-to-entity relationships.

The variety of characters gives Overwatch that signature Blizzard magic. We'll get more into it when we talk about the gameplay mechanics and visuals, but every hero behaves differently and has an individual personality that translates to their gameplay. Every character has a plethora of costumes, colors, graffiti options (for a one-time expression in-game), and taunts that are unlocked randomly from chests after every level the player earns. The amount of time you play is up to you - I could see myself grabbing 50-plus hours with room for seconds, but there's always the overarching concern that there aren't enough maps to play on.
You can try characters in practice rooms, but taking them to the real online test helps much more.
One thing that stood out to me was the visual design of Overwatch. We have plenty of gritty realistic military shooters on the market, and Blizzard took that to mean we really don't need another one. This is a fun game with bright colors and character designs straight out of my junior high notebook. The courses are all unique too and based on real-world places. The sound design quality matches the aesthetic, though I generally have less to say about it. Characters are voiced well enough and weapons all have an appropriate amount of punch.

I was immediately happy with the performance of Overwatch. There are some network issues due to the dedicated servers, but I only came across serious lag when I was on my non-gaming laptop during one session. On my GTX 960 SC paired with an AMD-6300, I get a constant 70fps (even when effects fill the screen) and play at 1080p all on the high settings preset.  I could fiddle with the settings to get better visuals out of it, but finding the time in between matches is tough. On an old laptop, I managed something to the tune of 720p on the low settings preset and maintained 30fps most of the time - so you'd be hard-pressed to find a PC that plain couldn't play it.

Every map plays out in a similar fashion with game modes that differ just enough to be considered unique. This is more about the characters and team-building than the spectacle of new and interesting environments, though. There are certain classes of heroes to choose from (attack, support, tank, sniper, builder, etc.) and a successful team balances the needs based on the objective with the aim of having a diverse 6-man squad. Having an off day doesn't mean defeat, because more often than not my team could pick up some of my slack during my bad rounds and I've been known to do the same.
A good setup of defense and support taking on a tank.
Every entity you play as has the basic fire, usually two powers (maybe even an alternative fire), and an ultimate. It's a very MOBA-like game in that sense, though there's only one "lane" and no cumbersome level-ups to manage in the thick of things. Imagine starting off a round of DOTA 2 at max level with all the equipment you need and pushing only the middle lane with the entire team beside you - that's what Overwatch boils down to but in shooter form. There's a short training segment, and I found there was a long amount of time dedicated to trying out characters and figuring our your play style. Eventually I settled into a support role.

A game like this lives and dies on its online community. The servers generally held up during my longer play sessions and I didn't have too many problems with lag, though browsing through the community I can see I was lucky in this scenario and many people do consistently struggle with it. Players in-game have been supportive from what I've experienced with a little light trash-talking during the ending summary after a match, but it's been nothing like the toxicity of other online games like Dark Souls 3 or Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. There were achievements to unlock via Blizzard's Battle.net and comparable stats so that you can compete with friends.

To wrap up, I like Overwatch. I think it's a very fun game, and it's much better to play with friends. I don't honestly think that the current amount of content will keep people coming back for more in the long run. I don't know Blizzard's plans for further development, but I do know that the game has sold well so far and that usually entails more free updates and stimulus packages of characters, maps, and modes. Also the price of $60 for what you're getting out of the gate is a little steep - this could have been a free-to-play especially considering the micro-transactions available, and the fact that Blizzard is very comfortable in the F2P space.
You can pay real money to unlock more of these loot boxes.
Let's Review:
  • Very fun and vibrant
  • No official story compendium
  • Not a lot of "game" (yet)
  • Finding your niche is a fun process
  • Bound to have more content incoming
Overwatch gets a 7 out of 10.

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