Overwatch, oh Overwatch, how you’ve consumed my life. Every waking moment fuelled by the various comics, memes and fan animations that spread across the various planes of the Internet when this titular title first released earlier this year.
As you may know, we’ve been livestreaming a lot of Overwatch here at Respawning as of late, and as a result, I’ve decided to kick back and conduct my own, serious review of the game! So sit down, grab a coffee, and relax whilst we delve into the sensation that is Overwatch…
Released by Blizzard of all people back in May 2016, Overwatch was poised as a brand new IP, something Blizzard hadn’t brought to the table in god-knows-how-long, aiming to become the next Team Fortress 2 of sorts…And boy, does it show – Objective-based gameplay on a minor selection of maps? Check. Multiple colourful characters each with their own personalities and characters? Check. Unique ways to play, with a low bar of entry and a hard spike to master? Certainly. I’m sure that you can see a pattern forming here.
Whilst its’ no doubt that Overwatch is essentially the Next-Gen rendition of Team Fortress 2, there are plenty of improvements made to the already impressive formula, mainly through how balanced, competitive and strategic Overwatch is. Each character fits into one of four classes – Attackers, Support, Tanks and Specialists (I believe those are the names) – Attackers focus on killing quickly and effectively, with hard-hitting moves and abilities; Support comes packed with buffs and debuffs alike, able to heal other players; Tanks focus on shields and protecting allies with their huge pools of HP, and Specialists blur these lines with their own unique playstyles.
These open up to an interesting sense of diversity within team compositions, with the game notifying teams if they’re lacking a healer, tank, or support – This helps to build more balanced teams with fairer characters, and encourages players to try out characters they might’ve never used previously. Speaking of characters, there are a healthy selection to choose from, with there being 23 playable character classes, each with their own unique skins, voice lines, victory poses, attacks and skills. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the large amount of characters on offer, and it can be extremely difficult to find a select number of favourites – Personally, I’ve come to love playing as D.Va, Genji, Mei and Reinhart, respectively.
However, with this massive amount of character diversity comes at a cost – Unfortunately for Overwatch, the number of gamemodes and maps pre-packaged is minimal at best, especially when compared to fellow FPS games. Overwatch comes pre-packaged with 13 maps from launch, which, initially, sounds like a lot – Take into consideration, however, that these 13 maps are spread across individual gamemodes, with only 3-4 maps available within a common rotation within any one game mode. This harms Overwatch more than it benefits it, since if you pick a favourite map, you’ve got to play a specific gamemode to play on it. This can be resolved through Custom Games, however you’re limited to either playing with friends, or with AI characters.
It should also be said that, as with many modern day FPS games, Overwatch does indeed contain Loot Boxes, which you can purchase for real currency. This fortunately isn’t as pushy as other games, since players can earn 1 Loot Box with each Level, and 3 Loot Boxes per week with the Arcarde Gamemodes. Players can earn cosmetics through these boxes in order to really show off when they achieve the much desired Play of the Game award.
Now, if I had one negative point I had to make about Overwatch, it would be about the complete lack of a story – Supposedly, evil robotic creations known as Omnics have been terrorising the near-future, with the Overwatch created to protect the world’s population from these nefarious mechs…However, a string of bad encounters goes from bad to worse quickly, as the Overwatch are quickly outcast from society and exiled by the world…And that’s it.
Sure there are backstory shorts online, and tie-in media, however all in all, none of it matters. Why is this colourful cast battling one another? There literally is no reason. I’m serious. They’re just battling for shits’n’giggles. This massively hurt my experience with Overwatch, since I was hoping for a reason to care about each of these characters, however it’s sad to see that that’s all they are. Characters. Overwatch could’ve seriously benefited from a Solo / Co-Op Campaign, even if it was 1-mission-per-character, as it would’ve given new players the perfect excuse to try out all the characters, learn some lore, and heck, maybe even care about some of these characters’ backstories.
That being said, however, Overwatch is still an extremely fun, enjoyable package regardless, with regular events, a deep competitive scene, and fun, addicting gameplay, I’m sure that Overwatch is bound to stick around for years to come…Possibly as long as Team Fortress 2, infact.
I would rate Overwatch an 8.5 / 10.