Developed by Blizzard Entertainment
Review on the PS4 version
When I played the open beta of Overwatch a few weeks back, I instantly fell in love with the game. While the gameplay and mechanics are all very solid and functional, what really drew me in were the characters and the aesthetics of the game. In the AAA video game environment that we have today, filled with edgy realistic games with bleak and gritty plots and environments, it’s refreshing to see a game like Overwatch be so unapologetically hopeful.
Overwatch is a multiplayer class-based shooter where two teams of six battle as a selection of different heroes, all with different weapons and abilities. As I’ve said in a previous article, it takes a lot of design inspiration from Team Fortress 2, but streamlines those elements to make for a faster paced game that’s a little less complicated. The teams and maps are much smaller and the game goes out of it’s way to help players build a better team and teach them how to play each specific class. I’ve heard complaints about how restrictive the classes play here, but I personally found it more welcoming and less frustrating. I think the sheer number of different classes help prevent them the game from feeling or getting stagnant while still allowing for more strategic play when it comes to team builds.
Again, the visual design of the game is really what does it for me. The characters are wonderfully built from both a functionality perspective and an aesthetic one. Each character is very easily recognizable from first glance, allowing the player to respond quickly to whatever class and play style the enemy player may have. Their appearances also help convey what kind of class you’ll be playing as; i.e. bigger characters usually can take more hits, smaller ones not so much. It’s also just fun being around these characters, even Tracer with her annoyingly fake British accent; and that’s kind of a problem for me.
It’s possible Overwatch has done too well of a job of developing it’s characters. I found myself really liking these characters and I wanted a single player story mode to learn more about them, but the game only offers multiplayer. Normally I wouldn’t mind that so much, but through promotional material and little bits of dialogue between characters, it’s clear that Blizzard has developed an entire story and world that we can’t fully experience. Perhaps wanting more of the game is one of the better problems to have, but there you go. What isn’t one of the better problems is that this is another multiplayer only game that’s being sold at full price. It wasn’t too long ago you could get a good single player and multiplayer experience for the same price, so I think it’s fully justifiable if someone was hesitant to spend the cash on a game with outside variables, like toxic players and connection issues, that can completely ruin the experience.
I also have some potential problems regarding balance. There’s no cap on how many of one particular class is allowed on a team at one time, which can lead to teams being way too strong or extremely underpowered. I didn’t see any teams made up entirely of snipers, like TF2 usually ends up with, but I did have a match against an entire team of turret builders. Turrets are so frustrating in this game; they have ways to be countered, but a turret in the right spot always leads to a bad time for everyone on the opposite team. Case in point: Bastion. For those of you who haven’t played yet, Bastion, a robot character who can transform into a ridiculously overpowered gun turret, is to Overwatch as button mashing is to fighting games.
Even after some particularly frustrating matches and more than a handful of rage quits, I still found myself wanting to play more, which has to be a good sign. If you’ve enjoyed class-based shooters, especially TF2, I highly recommend this game. Overwatch is available for Xbox One, PS4, and PC and is available now
Written by Remy Williams May 27, 2016