As the developers of such iconic games as Diablo, StarCraft, and a little franchise by the name of Warcraft, Blizzard clearly knows a thing or two about building experiences players love.
Their latest release is a dynamic, colourful FPS, bearing some similarities to the beloved TimeSplitters and the recent Battleborn, in its visuals at least. Overwatch is a big science-fiction adventure set on an alien world, filled with bizarre characters, a heap of awesome weaponry, and a decent helping of multiplayer modes – but is it any good?
Let’s check it out…
Take Your Pick
Overwatch delivers a nice selection of 12 maps, each set-up to accommodate one of four types of multiplayer mayhem. Assault mode sees players trying to take a number of points from others in a specific time, with one team attacking and another defending. Escort is, as the name suggests, based around either protecting or stopping a payload before it gets to its goal, while Control will be similar to any team-shooter veterans, based around teams fighting to retain their zone. Lastly, the Assault/Escort mode sees players trying to secure a point before helping to protect a payload.
While Overwatch is a multiplayer-centric game, single-player is available through custom matches involving AI-controlled bots. To be fair, these synthetic enemies tend to be fairly easy to beat, but this will be a welcome break for players looking to hone their skills outside of the PVP set-up. After all, competing against other players can make getting used to the gameplay itself difficult at first, which makes bot-based matches the perfect practice arena.
A Feast for the Eyes
One of the first things you’ll notice about the game is just how beautiful it looks. The characters, environments, and weapons are all brilliantly realised, with eye-popping colours and cartoon-esque dynamism. These make a welcome change from the muddier, grittier worlds many modern FPS games take place in. As we mentioned earlier, Overwatch definitely has a look and feel of TimeSplitters, and the fast-paced gameplay itself isn’t exactly a million miles away either.
Animations are fluid, and characters are easy to handle. Like the TimeSplitters trilogy, Overwatch features a terrific cast of disparate fighters, each with their own unique look and feel. Rather than grim-faced grunts aplenty, Overwatch presents such diverse characters as cowboy McCree, cyborg-ninga Genji, and masked merc Reaper. Each of these is more than just a different skin, though: they have their own weapons and their own abilities.
Reaper, for example, has the power to teleport (or ‘Shadow Step’) from one spot to another, and can collect fallen foes’ souls to top-up his health. Tracer, on the other hand, can use her ‘Recall’ ability to gain back the same health, ammo, and location she had three seconds earlier – handy if she gets in a tight spot. This variety works a treat both visually and technically: battlefields are a joy to look at, home to distinctive characters fighting with a diverse range of weaponry, and getting to grips with the many abilities means taking the time to master every character really pays off.
Characters are separated into four classes, made clear on the selection screen: offense; defense; support; and tank. This makes choosing your characters based on the type of role you want to play within a match easy, and when building a team, covering all areas is simple. Having a tank gives a team someone to draw fire and absorb damage, while including a support character ensures injured allies can be healed when needed.
Every character comes with 54 unlockables, with taunts, skins, and more all up for grabs. None of these affect gameplay, though – they’re only cosmetic. This means that, if you can’t quite get your hands on all the loot boxes (which contain four unlockable items each) through levelling-up, they are available by micro-transactions. Prices for these vary for players willing to pay, but for those refusing to invest any more money into the game, the loot boxes can be earned for free through heavy grinding.
However, this isn’t so much a problem thanks to the fun Overwatch packs in. It doesn’t totally revolutionize the FPS genre, but the abilities are a quality addition – think of all the first-person shooters you’ve played where multiplayer is simply a choice between characters with different skins or heights, but each handles exactly the same. This is never the case in Overwatch, and for those looking to try a multiplayer experience with a new angle, this is sure to hit the spot.
The competitive mode is still actually being worked on at the moment, after the beta phase’s response, and is currently unavailable until next month’s first big update. However, Blizzard is promising to keep releasing fresh content for the game over the years, which means Overwatch should only continue to get bigger and more diverse.
What do you think of Overwatch? Let us know!