Blizzard’s class-based multiplayer shooter hits the spot.
Blizzard don’t have a huge roster of games in their library, but what they do have uniformly works incredibly well. Whether it be the MMORPG, dungeon crawling, strategy, a card game or a MOBA, once Blizzard turns their hand at a genre, you can be assured that it will be highly polished and represent the best possible example of that genre. So, it is with understandable excitement that gamers anticipated their take on the class-based shooter – Overwatch.
Rarely does a game manage to amass such a fervent community before the game has even released. Even before the beta testing, Overwatch had a massive following. However, once the beta was being played, the community exploded, and now that the game has launched, it seems like everyone is playing Overwatch and declaring their love for teamwork.
Many of the discussions among Overwatch fans revolves around favorite characters, and with a massive roster of 21 unique characters, there is plenty to talk about. In Overwatch we have a roster that would not seem out of place in a MOBA or fighting game. The characters are grouped into loose classes representing Offence, Defence, Tank and Support, and even within each of those groups, the characters available are substantially different, with a variety of skills and abilities that encourage players to try out each and every one to find their favorite. The roster of colourful characters really is a highlight in Overwatch, and despite the lack of any real backstory in the game, each character has its own personality that shines out on the battlefield.
Faced with this massive roster, new players may find themselves overwhelmed as to which character to play as. It is advisable to try and master at least one character from each of the different classes. This is down to the game having a very heavy emphasis on teamwork, and even before a match starts the game will make suggestions if your particular team is lacking in any of the class areas. A well rounded team that works together is nigh on unstoppable. Blizzard don’t want to lock you into a particular character choice though, giving the option to change characters when respawning, so if something doesn’t work for the player or the team, it is easy to try something else.
The combat itself is fluid and fast. Everything is set up perfectly on the Xbox One controller, so anyone who has played any kind of shooter in the past will slip comfortably into Overwatch. The different abilities of the characters require some learning, but once the player has worked them out, they are easy to use. Most abilities have restricted use, either through a cool down timer or a meter that has to be filled through landing hits on opposing players, but play an incredibly important role in the game.
Overwatch is almost entirely multiplayer based, which is likely to be the one thing that turns some players away. There is a tutorial stage that briefly introduces player to the game, and bots can be battled against for practice, but otherwise it is all about the multiplayer matches. So far, there are only three different types of match, and these all revolve around teamwork rather than any deathmatch type gameplay. Whether it is about capturing areas or defending a convoy, the team will need to work together for victory. The selection of match types does feel a little light at the moment, but there is no doubt that further modes will become available down the line to flesh out the selection, along with the inevitable inclusion of even more characters to the roster.
The maps across which the matches play, of which there are 12 so far, are just as well thought out as the character roster. Each map will take players time to learn, and offers hidden areas and secret paths which may only be available to certain characters.
And everything looks so damn pretty. In a world dominated by gritty shooters, the colourful setting and characters of Overwatch can be quite shocking. Whether it be based in Japan, Egypt or Russia, to name a few, the settings are all equally interesting to look at, or more likely run around while trying not to get shot. The characters are modeled with such care and detail, each looking incredibly different from the last and popping with colour. The level of polish that players would expect from a Blizzard game shines through in everything the game does.
Now for a dirty word – microtransactions. Reviled by many gamers, Blizzard has decided to include microtransactions in Overwatch, a full-priced game. However, before players desert the game in droves, the pay for items available are only cosmetic, and they can be earned through playing the game. They are just a shortcut for players with more money than sense.
Blizzard’s games rarely disappoint, and Overwatch does nothing to change that. While it may be a bit light on content, Overwatch presents a near perfect combination of class-based teamwork and first-person shooter action. Considering this is only the beginning, shooter fans would be a fool not to jump on the Overwatch bandwagon right away.