Blizzard Entertainment is planning to release their new premier game Overwatch on May 24. In order to create some attention and allow potential buyers to demo their work, Blizzard launched an open beta from May 5 to May 9, with early access from May 3 for people who already preordered the game. Overwatch had already been in closed beta for a few months, and I received a temporary access code for the beta, which allowed me to play for three days in April.
Pleased with my quick experience, I decided to pre-order Overwatch and it has given me hours of satisfaction and enjoyment since. Keep in mind that at the time of writing this review, Overwatch was in its beta stages and everything stated in this article is subject to change.
Categorically, Overwatch is an arena shooter game. Each game is a six-versus-six firefight. Each player chooses from a roster of 21 characters, categorized as Offensive, Defensive, Tank or Support. Every character is unique in his, her or its own way and has distinct strengths and weaknesses which can cater to various playstyles. After character selection, the two teams are given mutually exclusive objectives to accomplish. The four main objectives are escorting a vehicle to a designated location or stopping such vehicle, and capturing a designated area or preventing such area from being captured by the enemy. From then on, it is a battle to complete your team’s respective objective and stop your opponents from completing theirs by eliminating them on the battlefield. Each game is relatively short, with average playtime being around 10 to 15 minutes per game. The gameplay is exceptional and enjoyable.
Every character has special abilities along with their primary weapon. For example, one of my favorite characters, Mei, is able to freeze people with her blaster, set up gigantic ice walls to prevent enemy movement and freeze herself to avoid damage. Another character, Pharah, uses a jetpack to glide through the air while firing explosive rockets with her primary launcher.
The creativity behind each character in Overwatch really displays the phenomenal minds that developed the game, who made it so that not one character is anything like another in terms of abilities and personalities. Different maps and different objectives highlight different characters, so players be restricted in their choice. Players can swap characters in the same game, allowing one to try out various characters.
Overwatch’s graphics are not meant to be realistic and life-like, but rather resemble quality cartoons and animations. The game is set in the future and includes many robotic and technological influences in the maps and characters of the game. Many of the characters have mechanical limbs or metal-plated armor, while some are actual robots or cyborgs. Overwatch’s maps are deviations of renowned world locations such as Hollywood, Mexico, Japan and China but are redesigned to incorporate the futuristic and robotic aspects in the scenery. The game itself is not going to need a graphics-processing beast to run; therefore it is available on the Playstation 4 and Xbox One consoles as well as PC.
As a game itself, Overwatch is relaxed, fun and enjoyable. Personally, I never enjoyed the traditional first-person shooter game and have always inclined to play games such as League of Legends or Starcraft. However, Overwatch offered a platform of gaming where it didn’t focus solely on one’s ability to aim and shoot, but rather incorporated teamwork and usage of innovative abilities to achieve victory.
One standout factor of Overwatch is that eliminating a lot of opponents does not necessarily make you stronger, but rather that victory is achieved by objectives, not by how much individual skill you have. And even if you didn’t do so well in one game, the queue system is set up so players can easily join and play games in a moment’s notice, something too many multiplayer titles lack today. Overwatch does present some longevity problems, as it lacks maps and game modes. Considering Overwatch is still in beta, Blizzard is probably planning to release more characters, maps and game modes along the line, as well as brand-new cosmetic items such as character skins.
Overall, Blizzard’s Overwatch is a big hit. It’s a fresh and standout product in the shooting-game industry with gameplay that caters to everyone from the newest of players to the hardest of veterans. Even in its beta stages, Overwatch already set the bar for a multiplayer game that the only direction to go is up.