The time has finally come! Blizzard’s first pvp (player vs player) shooter is finally out for PC, Xbox One and PS4 and we’ve been playing a lot of it. Brett and I (Rico) have the Xbox One version since, well, that’s what we own. Here’s what we think.
Overwatch is PVP online shooter that pits two teams of six players against one another to achieve objective-based goals; such as point defense or payload escorts. Blizzard really knows how to expertly craft an experience and bring their characters to life, and Overwatch is no exception. It features 21 unique characters bursting with personality; each bringing something special to the team dynamic. Characters are split into four main categories, which define their role in a match. There’s offensive heroes (6), defense heroes (6), tank heroes (5), and support heroes (4) that all lend a hand in very distinctive ways. No two play the same either, despite fitting into a loosely-defined role.
Our initial reaction was that Overwatch was Blizzard’s answer to Team Fortress 2. However, having spent a large time with TF2 during our college years, we can easily say that Overwatch is not just “TF2 2016.” While the two share similarities, their in-game mechanics are so different that they offer vastly different experiences. What sets Overwatch apart is that it heavily stressed the team aspect of the team-based shooter. With TF2, while you’re certainly on a team and collectively working toward a goal, it allows for individual and non-cooperative playing where you to assist your team’s efforts while acting on your own. Overwatch doesn’t really work like that. Instead, it’s about understanding the goal and acting as a collective team unit to complete that goal. While you might come across one lone hero that carries a team every now and then, more often, playing with this individualistic mindset will result in a loss. We recommend playing on a team and communicating.
It’s this that really makes Overwatch stand out. It’s not about kills or being a lone hero, it’s about working as a collective unit to complete a goal. Overwatch also rewards players regardless of skill level, because it understands that not everyone is going to be a top tier player immediately after picking up a controller. It’s this attitude that rewards players points for health assistance rather than kill ratios.
One major dynamic to Overwatch is being able to switch characters in matches. Changing team composition to fit the demands of the match adds a whole other dimension to the game itself. Being able to communicate with your team and change out based on what’s occurring can lead to easily won matches. Let me tell you, it feels great doing so.
While Overwatch is a fantastic game that we’ve been enjoying heavily, it does have its flaws. For starters, the game modes are fairly limited. A hop into the Quick Play matches will throw you into a game with 1 of 4 objectives; whereby you may be defending a point, escorting a payload, attacking a point, or stopping a payload… and that’s it. For some people, bordem can set in rather quickly. As of now, there’s no competitive mode or ranking system for more serious players due to feedback gained from the beta. Some characters and maps could use a little more balancing as well, as cheap tactics can be spammed to dominate matches– lookin’ at you, flash-bang McCree. Play of the Game highlights also don’t favor support characters, which sucks.
The other issue with Overwatch is the price tag. It’s $40 on PC and $60 on consoles. Why the difference, you ask? Well, that’s because console owners are forced to buy the Origins Edition version (which is the only version available), that adds 5 character skins and some Overwatch-themed items for other Blizzard games. PC players have a choice between the basic game and paying an extra $20 for close to no content. And given the overall content contained within Overwatch, it can feel like a cheap jab at the player. Coupled with this are loot boxes that can be bought with physical real-world money. Loot boxes contain in-game character customizations that are dished out at random. You’ll earn a loot box for every level you gain, but it becomes tedious and drawn out as you level up because each additional level will require more experience. Now, these customizations are seemingly worthless; they add absolutely nothing to the game other than ascetic appeal. You’re not forced to buy loot boxes, but microtransactions seem out of place in a game that players shelled out $60 for. For for impatient players, the instant gratification might be worth spending real money. The legendary skins are pretty cool. Still, this is behavior I’ve come to expect from free to play games.
Overall though, the issues aren’t that jarring. They don’t take away from the grandiose experience or the fun we’ve had with the game. It operates best in short burst sessions with friends. And if you can get past the $40-$60 price tag, you’re likely to have a fantastic time. We’re sure that Blizzard is going to add new modes, maps, and even characters somewhere down the line too. So hop on and play with us!