It was a nice breezy morning in spring. Retired from on ground action and set back to desk strategic duties I was planning my next move when it happened! It has been years, impatiently waiting for the call. I have had the taste of blood and revenge haunting me ever since. This sitting in the back lines safely was not working for me. That’s when I finally got the call. I was activated again. Time to join my partners in crime in the greatest battle of all times. Ah! Winston my old friend I am glad you are still around; I was finally called to reunite Overwatch. We have been waiting for the recall and that sweet voice of Athena.
By now you are probably wondering who we are or what is Overwatch. We are the last heroes, we are soldiers, scientists, adventurers, oddities. In a time of global crisis, we were an international task force of heroes banded together to restore peace to a war torn world. We all had one thing in common, we fought for the future. With time we successfully ended the crisis, and maintained peace for decades, inspiring an era of exploration, innovation and discovery. But after many years, our influence waned and we eventually disbanded. We became legends, simple tools for children stories. Then the Petras Act came in and any Overwatch activity became illegal and heavily prosecuted. Now when the world needs us most we are finally back with the sole purpose of ridding all evil.
Oh Blizzard, you have done it again. When your memory was slowly fading away you brought hope to us all with your courageous act of launching your first FPS game. Would it be wrong to start of this review with “This Game is Awesome”? Blizzard launched Overwatch on May 24th, its newest addition to their Battle.net family and first true IP from the studio. In my 15 years of gaming, this was the smoothed launch I have ever been part of. No surprised since the previous Betas went extremely well.
Let’s jump right in, shall we? Overwatch lets you control one of several heroes in competitive 6-person team shooting matches. You battle over objectives, take down the other team and achieve victory. In the next paragraphs, I will go in more details over the maps, objectives, different type of heroes and an in depth analysis of the game. Blizzard has done a great job targeting all gamers with this one. The gameplay is light, fresh and the entry level is not set on a high bar. Anyone can jump in and grasp the mechanics. It only takes couple of rounds with each hero to grasp the basics needed to have a fun match.
Before you begin a game of Overwatch, you will need to choose a hero to play. Maybe controlling a cannon-toting, genetically engineered ape from the moon appeals to you. Or, you might prefer zipping around as a teleporting, time traveling freedom fighter. No matter your playstyle, there is a unique hero for you. Mastering their abilities will be key to your success.
Similar to Team Fortress, the developer did a great job in capturing the best of that world and mixed it with a hint of MOBA. However, the notion that this is a MOBA genre is false. There is no creep killing, pushing lanes or item shopping. The fact that there are ultimate abilities led to this confusion.
This game starts off by giving you 4 basic game modes, your quick game allowing you to jump directly into action paired with random similar level players around your region. The VS Ai which Is more commonly used for training purposes. The custom game in case you want to play with your friends in a closed group. The Arcade mode that changes once a week and introduces a different set of rules that offer unparalleled fun and diversity. For example, this week its Hanzo and Genji heroes only with a 200% health pool and a 50% ultimate recharge rate. It’s good to note that there is a competitive mode that is expected to be release towards end of June and we believe this will constitute the eSport side of this game. Look at it as the ranked mode in other games.
In Overwatch, you have the choice between 4 playing roles. Offense heroes who are your main damage dealers. Their unique goal is to seek out engage and destroy the enemy. The defensive heroes who control the battlefield interrupting enemy attacks and fortifying locations. As a defense hero your job is to stop the opposing team’s advance. The tank heroes who soak damage and break apart fortified positions. They are best at closely grouped enemies and narrow chokepoints. Their sole purpose is to lead the charge. Last but not least, the support. They empower allies, healing, shielding them, boosting their damage and providing vital utilities. As a support, you are the backbone of your team’s survival.
Moving on to maps, in Overwatch, heroes do battle in diverse locations around the world. From the technological marvel of Numbani to the manufacturing powerhouse of Volskaya, each map has a unique layout and specific win conditions that your team must meet in order to secure a victory. The artistic finish of each map is phenomenal and Blizzard stayed true to the short animations they release. If you take a closer look at the Hanzo vs Genji short animation, you will notice shuriken and arrows scattered after their battle. In the game, you can see those same assets on the walls, floors …
There are currently 4 types of objective based maps with 3 playable locations. Assault, where attackers fight to capture a series of objectives while defenders hold them off until time runs out. Escort, where attackers escort a payload to a delivery point, while defenders strive to keep the payload from reaching its destination before time elapses. Control which puts the 2 teams against each other to hold a single objective. First team that wins 2 points gets the victory. And finally Assault / escort where attackers first capture a payload then escorts it to a destination while defenders attempt to hold them off.
I have said this earlier and I will say it again. Blizzard has done it again. This overhyped game is as beautiful as they come. The mixture between design and esthetics is phenomenal. It is a game that redefine skill based games. Instead of limiting skilled players to the game, it develops skills in all players. Everyone is valuable to the team, you might not be a good shooter but have excellent position and map senses. From all the great things this game provides the players, I must say that the backbone of its success are the excellent characters it provides. Every hero is uniquely mastered from design, to purpose and to the small unique traits it displays on the title screen. Every character is drawn to perfection. Every hero is so different that I cannot stop but wonder how they are all part of the same group. Despite the differences, the synergy created between these characters’ work marvelously. The combinations are infinite and the possible outcomes are extremely rewarding. The diversity in this game doesn’t stop there. Every single map is designed with their uniqueness. Tactical positioning and pre planning are keys to your success whether you are deciding where to place your turret or which angle to fortify.
Like many games, the first thing Overwatch does is puts you in a tutorial. There you will learn the basics. Every hero has different abilities. They are their unique powers and gear they use to defeat the opposing team. Different heroes have different movement. The abilities like most game recharge over time. The common thing between all these heroes is the quick melee attacks. Those a reserved for those close quartered battles where panic is the name of the game. You will find yourself 9 out of 10 times in a situation where the melee attack was the difference between you dying or surviving.
The ultimate abilities are what makes the big difference here. Every hero has a unique ultimate. From reviving your entire squadron to being able to annihilate all 6 members of the opposing team, planning and timing is what draws the line. For example, and as seen in the video on the side, I chose Tracer as an offensive hero. My ultimate ability allows me to place a bomb. The trick is to be patient and choose the moment where you will do the most damage possible to the opposing team. In this video I was waiting till they all gathered together before planting the bomb. The unique speed and tactical advantage I had over the other team allowed me to go in plant and out unharmed.
So yes positioning is a key art in this game. In this second video, I chose a defense hero, the infamous Widowmaker. A sniper by nature, positioning is obviously key. Here I found a nice hiding spot while the enemy was busy with the offense in my team and was able to take them out one by one. Obviously things like this wouldn’t work if my team was not putting all the pressure on the objective point. With time you will quickly realize that every hero has the chance to turn the tide of the battle. The game awards you at the end of each match by displaying the game of the day. Although I think this needs a lot of polishing as it doesn’t favor support heroes and usually goes with someone that had multi kills.
For all you cosmetic junkies, Overwatch doesn’t fall short. With every level, you receive a loot box. Each box contains 4 items that are randomly given. Skin, voice, introduction poses, sprays … And they are all tiered from normal grey items to legendary yellow items. Each item gives you a different experience with your character. If you are like me and you want them all, you can always purchase a bundle of 50 loot boxes just to look cooler on the battlefield!
From a technical point of view, this game is a smooth as they come. At ultra-settings, my FPS did not drop below 60 at any point. The matchmaking is accurate and fast and VOIP works perfectly with clear audio. To say the least, my machine did not heat up which is always a plus for me. On consoles, it’s all about how the gameplay with the controller. If Overwatch has a much better keyboard / mouse combo, the console versions do not have to be ashamed of their counterpart on PC. While the gameplay is a bit slower and less accurate for some characters like Tracer, Blizzard still succeeds in adapting its game for consoles, keeping Overwatch fun for the whole community.
Every match in this game is a different experience and I am sure that Blizzard is holding back on some info that will blow our minds in the future. Reading the comics and watching the short animations can only bring one conclusion to the table. There is a more in depth hidden agenda here. You find yourself playing 6 v 6 but where is the “Bad Guy”? Who is Doom Fist? Will we have a single player option? Where is this going? So many questions that we are sure will be unveiled at later stage.
Overwatch was reviewed using a PC downloadable code and Xbox One retail copy of the game provided by Blizzard Entertainment. The review was done on a PC running a Windows 10 Home, Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor set at 2.6 GHz, 4 GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M and 16GB of DDR4 Ram. The console part was done by Nazih Fares on Xbox One. The game is also available on PlayStation 4. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.
• Phenomenal map designs
• Beautiful and smooth gameplay
• Heroes play to every single style
• The Lore
• Heavy on Teamplay
• The humor and references to other Blizzard titles
• Play of the game needs a lot of work
• Not enough maps
• A bit inaccurate on consoles
• Although stable FPS on consoles, the graphic quality is relatively lower than PC