Available on: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
We played on: Xbox One
Folks. I have to tell you. Those Blizzard people? I think they’ve got a future in the games business. Overwatch is a big part of that future.
All kidding aside, Blizzard has built a stellar reputation for taking ideas that were pioneered by other people and perfecting them. They did it with the Real Time Strategy (Warcraft and Starcraft), the MMORPG (World of Warcraft), the action RPG (Diablo), and the collectible card game (Hearthstone). It was only a matter of time before they gave it another try.
The result is Overwatch, which represents not only a distillation of the multiplayer shooter genre, but is the first wholly new IP that blizzard has produced in more than a decade. I am pleased to report Blizzard has succeeded beyond even my most wild expectations. This game (and the world it is set in) is just plain amazing.
Overwatch’s basic formula is not much different from other competitive shooters. Players choose from a variety of different characters and play in 6v6 matches across a wide variety of game modes. The action is fast and each of the games modes is designed to force each match to end quickly. This means that no one should ever be stuck in a bad match for long enough to get frustrated. Even better? Any time you are killed you have the opportunity to respawn as a different character. This lets you, or your team, adjust to the play styles of the team you’re playing against. Is your team running low on damage? Switch from a support to an offense character. Does everyone keep dying? Fine. Switch to a support and heal away! This flexibility allows you to easily try new characters in real game scenarios and just bail on the character if it isn’t working out.
Characters with Style
And speaking of characters…they’re really the highlight of the game. Each of the game’s 16 characters is dripping with personality. Every frame of animation and line of dialogue helps to inform players about their role in both the game AND the game world that they inhabit. Tracer is a perky, almost jovial character. So she almost hops as she runs. Mercy is an angel. So her movements are graceful and smooth. (Unless I’m controlling her; then she moves like a one-winged goose.)
The artful design of the character’s personalities isn’t the only thing well executed about them though. Their gameplay abilities are also top notch. All of them are formidable enough that they almost feel overpowered when you’re playing as them. That is an impressive feat when you consider just how difficult it is to balance characters.
Overwatch is rated T with content descriptors for Blood, Use of Tobacco, and Violence. The game is all about shooting so the violence shouldn’t be a big surprise. Small amounts of blood can be seen when players are shot, but it’s not gratuitous. The character McCree smokes a cigar.
Overwatch is an amazing game and is a worthwhile addition to anyone’s library. This is especially true if you’re a fan of competitive shooters. This game is going to be a big deal for a very long time and it will definitely be worth it to jump on the bus with the rest of us.