It’s been a good while since I’ve ever been this excited for a video game, let alone a first person shooter.
When Overwatch was first announced, we got our first look into the lovable cast and what the game would be like. Since then, we have learned that Overwatch takes place in a highly fictionalized future earth, and the universe has expanded with animated shorts and web comics. Players have gotten to experience the game first hand through the closed beta, beta weekends, and most recently the open beta. All of these have combined to create an overwhelming sense of hype among the fans (including myself). But of course, as it is with any hype train, there are those who have remained skeptical. The skepticism has it’s merit, mostly because this is Blizzard’s first entry into the FPS genre. Skeptics, feel free to let go of your worries because Overwatch is a fan-fucking-tastic game.
Overwatch stars a cast of characters that are incredibly likeable the moment you lay your eyes on them. The animated shorts along with the webcomics have developed upon a decent amount of these characters and makes them stand out in aspects other than just character design. You may find yourself feeling an animosity toward Widowmaker after her short and a great respect for Reinhardt after his comic. Every character is wonderfully unique, and that extends far beyond just their lore. It may actually shine more so in the gameplay. While characters may share a common role (i.e. assault, tank, defense, or support), they all fill that role differently with different abilities and weapons. Let’s use two of the support, Lucio and Zenyatta, characters as an example. Lucio specializes in supporting multiple team members at once by staying near as many as he can with a passive ability that either heals your teammates or grants them more movement speed depending on what you chose, and in clutch situations, you can increase your output with your other ability (the first cycles through healing and movement). Zenyatta, on the other hand, focuses on targeted effects. Zenyatta can heal a teammate in need with a timed effect and can also plant a timed debuff on an enemy character that makes them take more damage. This gives the ability for Zenyatta and other teammates to quickly melt an enemy, tanks included. This diversity in play-styles doesn’t exist purely between these two characters, or even just the support role, but rather through the entire cast. With this diversity existing, there is at least one or two characters out there to fit any one particular person’s needs. Hell, even if you want to feel like you’re playing a modern military shooter with an assault rifle and an unlimited sprint, then Solider: 76 is for you, and like most other members of the cast, he’s pretty fun to play as, too.
Of course, unique characters aren’t the only thing that populates the world of Overwatch. As the game takes place in a highly fictionalized version of future earth, the maps that exist within the game are highly fictionalized versions of future places. Each map features an objective that dictates what kind of game mode the map is. There are assault maps where the objective is for attacking a point to take both objectives while the defending team attempts to prevent them from doing so. Then there are control maps, which act as a king of the hill style map where each team fights to stay on the objective and capture it for their team, these games take place in a best two out of three set with each game taking place on a different section of the location. Escort maps are next. In these games, an attacking team pushes a payload to checkpoints across the map, with each one hit rewarding the attacking team with extra time. The defending team tries to keep this from happening as much as they can, as they win simply when time is up. Lastly, there are hybrid maps that combine the assault and escort game modes. These start with capturing the first objective and then a payload is unlocked for the attackers to deliver. Every game mode has an overtime segment, where as long as a member of a the attacking team is on the objective, the fight will continue and the defending team will have to fight as hard as they can to get them off of it so that they can secure victory. Each game mode and map provides the player with a unique experience that typically makes for a pretty good time.
To better help the player experience an even better time while playing Overwatch, a couple of public service announcements are necessary. First and foremost, you may have noticed that team deathmatch wasn’t listed as a game mode – and with good reason: it’s not one. Overwatch is a game about fighting alongside your teammates in order to complete objectives. That means that your K/D isn’t the only thing important in winning a game. If by some miracle your K/D is 49 and 0 as the game is in overtime, and you’re about to lose, don’t worry about your ratio – jump on the point, refresh the overtime, and at least give your team a chance to win. The other announcement is that Overwatch is a character based game as well, meaning that some characters hard-counter others while some have slight advantages over others. So if you’re dying to a particular character a lot, you may have to get out of your comfort zone and try another character in order to not only kill that other character but also to help your team. That’s about it for the PSAs, though.
Visually, Overwatch is absolutely stunning. The models and animations are incredibly well done and the characters and setting are all so colorful. It’s almost as if the people over at pixar decided to make a video game. It’s truly stunning and is best experienced for yourself. On top of the visuals, the sound design in the game is also brilliant. The sound effects, character lines, and voice acting are all beautiful with every voice and line fitting each character wonderfully. The soundtrack is incredibly well composed and has some pretty memorable tracks, the main screen theme being the most memorable.
Overall, Overwatch is an incredible game. From its cast of wonderful characters to its soundtrack, everything is just so solid. It truly deserves all of the hype and attention that it’s been getting and is something that everybody should experience at least once. And as a parting gift to those upset about Bastion, feeling that he’s “overpowered,” just remember that there was a time where he created his own shield in turret form.