Reviewed on: PC. Copy supplied by publisher.
Having been one of the most agonisingly anticipated games in recent memory, Overwatch is finally here, and it lives up to the hype for the most part. In fact I’d go as far to say it’s been my favourite game this year, I’m hooked, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have faults.
Overwatch pits teams of six against each other in four different game types with three maps for each, consisting of Assault, Escort, Assault/Escort and Control. The rules of each mode are relatively simple:
- Assault: One team must attack two points and take control of them, the other team must stop them.
- Escort: One team needs to escort a payload to checkpoints before the time limit is reached, to make it move along the fixed track attacking players must stand near it, the other team needs to push it back and keep it from progressing.
- Assault /Escort: A combination of the two above, the attacking team must control the payload before it starts moving.
- Control: Both teams fight for control of a point, the first team to 100 percent wins, this takes place in a best of three rounds scenario.
You’ll find certain modes suit your preferred play style and heroes better, but overall they are versatile, fast paced and extremely fun. My personal favourite is Control as the amount of time and best of three rounds situation means longer matches and fiercer competition.
Selecting game modes is something that would be a nice addition, as currently there are only four play options consisting of Quick Play, Play vs. AI (with other players), Custom Game (play with and against AI) and Arcade. One positive of the current aspect is that constant rotation means each game type is consistently full of players, but still, come on! Let us choose game type!
As for selecting games, Quick Play certainly does what it advertises and getting into a match is a relatively fast process, which is always a great thing considering I actually stopped playing Battleborn because you could cook a roast in the time it took to find a game.
Once players feel like a break from conventional modes, the Arcade Brawl option offers a weekly rotating set of new rules, such as all must play as one character, or headshots only. These brawls are fun and sometimes silly, but a welcome addition nonetheless. For those with a competitive edge there will also be a ranked mode coming in June. So far there’s a massive tick in Overwatch‘s corner for gameplay variety.
Speaking of variety, Overwatch has one true ace up its sleeve, which is the current cast of 21 playable heroes consisting of four types. You have offense, defense, tank and support classes to pick from, and plenty of variety in each category. Of course most players will take a shining to one character, but it’s well worth your while selecting a few to master, as having a balanced team is vital.
Initially I stuck to only playing as the support healer Mercy, mainly because not many people play support, but also because she is easy to play as and makes a great impact on matches. But as my game time progressed and thirst for blood grew, I switched to playing as the defensive hero Mei, who runs around freezing people for stuns then dishes out relatively decent damage. Both are extremely different to play as and offer a great variation in strategy, keeping me well and truly fixated on the game. Of course as time goes on the heroes players are comfortable using will increase, hopefully making the game a lot more heated.
Having played with every character I’d safely say that none of them seem overly shit, they each offer unique skills and ultimate moves, which can change the way you play the game. Of course a lot of players are happy to salt the earth and complain that some of the heroes are OP (Bastion, it’s always Bastion), but I can tell you now that nobody is without fatal weaknesses and any team can work together to overcome anything thrown at them, it just requires smart plays and communication.
Speaking of communication, so far it’s an interesting thing in the Overwatch community. Sure, I have played a few rounds where a guy totally spazzed out and blamed everyone on his team for his awful abilities and the fact his wife probably hates him and he has no friends, but in general most people are courteous and supportive. Community is something that can make or break a game like Overwatch and only time will tell how it plays out, but so far all has been good. Well in saying that, sometimes teams you play with suck and all go the same hero or disregard objectives, but that isn’t too often.
Interestingly Overwatch is almost completely void of plot, but at the same time has a shit load of it. The game consists of shooting people, shooting people, and shooting people, with no room for story, but nonetheless Blizzard have managed to make a rich world. Through animated shorts, which you can see here and here, and digital comics, the world and heroes are fleshed out. Since release I’ve spent a load of time on the Overwatch Wiki reading character bios to learn more, but it’s not something I mind. It would have been weird and unnecessary to bolt on a campaign or story mode to this game, and I’m glad they didn’t water down what Overwatch is by doing so. And for those wondering exactly what Overwatch is, it’s multiplayer action done right. Overall the success of this aspect of the game will be down to personal opinion, but it definitely isn’t a negative point for me.
The only reason Overwatch misses out on a top score of 10 is due to the fact microtransactions rear their ugly head. For a price you can buy loot boxes that are usually unlocked by leveling up. Loot boxes contain skins, spray tags, voice lines, player icons, and in game credits to buy all this stuff individually. Sure, I can see that the contents are inconsequential to the game and could be ignored, but that’s such a defeatist attitude. I’m not willing to sit by and see full priced titles charge up to US$59.95 (AU$83.23!!!) for items. Yes, they don’t impact gameplay (unless you think wearing a bitching outfit makes you play better), but it’s still a shame they exist. I for one like to see what people have slowly unlocked through luck rather than how much they’ve spent, and not knowing who is a lucky box opener and who has wads of income sucks.