The robot and human compendium has always been an interesting topic explored by a lot of sci-fi and fantasy authors, and the videogame industry’s latest sweetheart, Overwatch, has hit the nail on its head when it comes to crazy robots and evil masterminds fighting against each other. The world had descended into chaos and war between man and machine when a group of heroes with extraordinary abilities joined forces and formed Overwatch, an organization that helped the world restore peace between the artificial Omnics and humans themselves.
Now, years after the organization was disbanded, crime is on a rise and former members are coming together once again to fight for the world they all love. In Blizzard’s FPS title, you will take their fight with you alongside nine other players in relentless 5v5 battles and many other game modes.
It isn’t an easy task to find a game that manages to create perfect equilibrium between a MOBA’s character balance, and the fast pace of a first person shooter, but Overwatch certainly manages to do just that. The blend of new characters constantly being added to the game and Blizzard’s play-to-progress approach have allowed this well-known title to make a name for itself both as an eSport and as a casual game.
Although some claim Blizzard ripped off the idea of the game from Valve’s Team Fortress 2, Overwatch offers a unique set of attributes and game modes that completely differ from TF2’s often static mechanics. Overwatch’s characters are so unique that cycling through all of them makes gamers feel as if they were playing entirely different titles altogether, as each one suits a different playstyle that gives the player a sense of reward when mastering the abilities and attributes of each hero.
The resemblance to a MOBA offered by this title is so uncanny that many of its heroes have also made their way to Heroes of the Storm with virtually the same abilities and just a few minor tweaks to fit different camera mechanics. Blizzard has also added Overwatch maps in HotS, and they work incredibly well.
But Overwatch gameplay is surely its main attractive and it has changed the eSport scene for the better.
The way characters move and attack is not only fun, but also surprisingly well balanced. The only exception to this rule comes when a new character is introduced into the game, as the lack of testing usually translates into poor balancing, which usually takes Blizzard a week or two to fix. It isn’t a major issue in this game though, because new characters aren’t allowed into its competitive game mode until they are properly dealt with and players get used to their mechanics – certainly a fine feature to have and one that other big companies should start taking into account.
Characters are divided into four categories (Offense, Defense, Tanks and Supports) that define the function they play in a team. As we told you before, every character feels different and absolutely unique, even if you compare two heroes from the same category. You have very mobile Offense heroes like Genji or Tracer, slower but deadly assassins like McCree or Reaper, and versatile utility killers like Soldier 76 or Doomfist. The game truly offers plenty of options to choose from and a feeling of uniqueness unparalleled by any other triple AAA shooter.
Blizzard has also worked wonders with the game’s lore. The comics released are very good reads and incredibly fun, while they also manage to give players plenty of insight into the world of Overwatch and how it changed after the Omnic Crisis. Characters have in-game dialogues related to the game’s lore itself, allowing the players to understand the motives behind the actions of those who are evil as well as those who work for the common good. Watching them interact with each other is incredibly fun and keeps each match as fresh as it is possible in a first person shooter.
The game has two main modes that set the scene for epic battles to unfold: Quick Play and Competitive. Both modes take players into different arenas set on various countries around the world (and the Moon!) in thrilling 5v5 encounters. The Competitive mode ranks players according to their skill level using the famous ELO system present in most MOBA’s while Quick Play offers a more relaxed style of play oriented towards the casual player base.
Overwatch also has other casual modes categorized under the Arcade tag. They have very different rules and players usually have a true blast playing them, given how varied and entertaining they are.
All of these make the game appealing to all audiences, certainly explaining its crazy rise to popularity over the last year-and-a-half. That and Blizzard’s brilliant reward system that has managed to integrate microtransactions in the game without turning it into a Pay-2-Win title, a la EA with most of its games like FIFA and Battlefront 2.
Overwatch could definitely use some improvements, especially in the competitive matchmaking department. It can often pair players with really bad teammates, which create really unbalanced matches. It doesn’t happen enough to make you quit the game, but it can turn competitive play into a frustrating experience from time to time.
Our thoughts on the game
If you’re a fan of MOBA’s and shooters, you MUST try Overwatch. It’s incredibly easy to get hooked into and you can spend hours playing without getting bored. Be warned, though… The community can often be really toxic, so if you aren’t a patient gamer, we advise you to stay away from Competitive Play. Regardless though, the game is really well done and the balance it has makes each character a viable option in battle – you’ll have a chance to win even if you don’t feel like picking a character from the current META.