So. Blizzard made a first person shooter. It’s not really a genre that they’re known for (mostly they’re best known for real time strategy games and dominating the MMORPG market), so that kind of piqued my interest. How did they do?
Pretty well, actually.
The game follows a group called, well, Overwatch, that was formed by the UN to stop a robot uprising called the Omnic Crisis. They go strong for about 30 years or so, but then are disbanded. But when another Omnic Crisis is sparked by a terrorist organization assassinating one of the Omnics’ leaders, they’re called back into action. The story isn’t really explored in the game (which is pretty much all multiplayer team matches at this point), but there is information online about the backstory, and Blizzard did put out four animated shorts that give insight into some of the characters (which you can watch here if you are so inclined).
As mentioned above, the game is mostly multiplayer matches between two teams of six. Characters are sorted into different groups depending on the role that they play: offense, defense, tank, and support. Matches also have different goals, such as trying to defend or attack a certain point, or escort a payload to its destination. Each character also has different “ultimate” skills that can be used once fully charged; for example Tracer can throw sticky bombs at opponents and Mercy can resurrect fallen comrades.
The art style and characters designs are also interesting. Let’s face it; most modern shooters have earned their reputations for being “brown” and just visually uninteresting. Overwatch manages to avoid this by giving the game a very colorful, cartoony look rather than going for photorealism. Personally, my favorite characters are Zarya and Mei. Zarya has a body type that we don’t’ see too often on women in really any medium, and Mei is just plain adorable. That said, there are some designs that I don’t care too much for, particularly Widowmaker.
Plus the game has a talking gorilla named Winston. Talking gorillas make everything better.
Overwatch is seriously a lot of fun to play. This is actually high praise coming from me, since it’s not a genre of games that I play very often, mostly because I’m terrible at them. I do like to play Mei and Zarya (as mentioned above), but I don’t really do very well as them. I discovered that I’m apparently better playing a support role on the team, since the best I’ve ever done in a match was when I played Mercy, a character focused more on healing teammates than dealing damage.
I do think that the game could do better at presenting the backstory. The details I mentioned above I mostly gleaned from watching the shorts and going to the Overwatch wiki. However, Blizzard is planning to add updates with new content to the game; for example the game is going to be getting a competitive mode this month. I really think it would be a good idea for Blizzard to maybe add some kind of story-based single player mode as well.
Overwatch is currently available for PC, PlayStation 4, and XBox One. It runs for $59.99 for the Origins Edition (which contains some extras, not just for the game itself but for World of Warcraft and Diablo III as well), but you can also get the standard edition of the game through Battle.net for $39.99.
To conclude, Overwatch is just plain fun. It’s really a breath of fresh air in a medium obsessed with making everything hyper-realistic. I really think the people behind the game really cared a lot about it, and it shows in the final product.