After an extremely successful and popular beta period, Blizzard Entertainment released their highly anticipated multiplayer game Overwatch on May 23, 2016, a day earlier than the expected release. I had the opportunity to play the game during the closed beta period for three days and during the full open beta as well. The beta experience convinced me and many others to pre-order the game. I’ve been having so much fun playing this masterpiece of a game that I simply can not put it down.
First and foremost, there needs to be a big thank you to Blizzard for the smooth and functional servers on launch day. Unlike some of their other games’ debuts (ahem, Diablo 3), Blizzard made sure that there were minimal, if any, server crashes, bugs and other hindrances that made the game unplayable on launch day.
For such a highly anticipated game, one with millions of waiting players, Overwatch had a successful launch. It has seen no significant roadblocks to this day. The effect of a clean launch earns gamers’ trust, especially if the game is not free-to-play, because now the players know that the company which is running the servers knows exactly what they are doing. Props to you, Blizzard.
As for the gameplay itself, there were minimal changes from the open beta period, if any at all. Many bugs were reported behind the scenes from beta testers like myself, and Blizzard’s team were sure to extract the mistakes from their finished product.
There are still the same number of heroes, maps and game modes as the beta, and it seems like the beta period was just a way to double-check that all of the tied knots were tight and there were no loose ends in balance, programming or server status. You still have a six-versus-six shooter arena and 21 uniquely designed heroes with different abilities and personality. As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Although technical fixes might not be an issue, Overwatch admittedly does lack a few key elements. The first is a competitive mode. If Overwatch wants to establish a strong foundation that ensures corporate longevity in an e-Sports heavy industry, it must have a reliable competitive or ranked mode. This is one point that Blizzard has no problem doing, as its previous games Warcraft, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and both Starcraft I and II have to this day. I’m almost positive that Blizzard will be able to do the same for Overwatch.
Another is the lack of details and depth into the story and characters of Overwatch. With 21 heroes, each with different backstories and a game built around a technological future, there is a ton of room for single-player content and lore exploration. Overwatch is meant to be a multiplayer game, but it will appeal to more casual players if a “story mode” or single-player campaign is added in the future, such as in their current successful title Street Fighter V. Blizzard continues uploading lore to the Overwatch website in the form of comic strips and cinematics (both of which are beautifully made), but I’m not sure if they will honor the demand for a dedicated, playable story.
Finally, Overwatch lacks pure, raw content as a game. Right now, there are a handful of maps, 21 heroes and three game modes. These maps are based on locations around the world such as China, Egypt and Mexico. Blizzard is bound to release new, beautiful maps in the future, presumably paired with new game modes as well. The world never runs out of fascinating places; I’d like to see a Siberian snow or Amazon River jungle map in the future.
As for heroes, Blizzard has already leaked the next hero for release, so it is safe to expect more content in the future, but one thing I would like to see is more skins. Currently, most heroes’ skins are simply recolored, but I would like to see Blizzard follow in the footsteps of League of Legends and produce unique skins that not only change the physical appearance of the character, but also add new weapon effects, particles and voice lines.
Overall, Overwatch is a game that has established a firm foundation on the gaming industry. Blizzard has hit the bullseyes of all the targets they fired at, although there are still more to take Overwatch to another level. I believe it has the opportunity to be better than games like Counter Strike, League of Legends and Dota with the steps it has already taken – the next few years will be crucial if it wants to prove that the hype was real and all worth it. For now, Overwatch is a game worth buying as it is an extremely fun pastime with rewarding gameplay, exciting content and a future to believe in, with the company credentials to back it up.