Overwatch is a team based ‘shooter’, and I use shooter loosely because not all characters necessarily shoot. It’s a game that started with a berth of characters, separated into 4 groups (though this has changed since) and is a 6v6 vs. Each character has a number of abilities pertaining to their category (whether that be one of the 3 below), with each having a couple of abilities and each character having an ultimate ability. Since the release, the game has changed to a 3 category system with them being:
[The graphic above is from Overwatch’s Gamepedia – to learn more about each, click on the relevant name]
The game started off with 20 characters and has since added 7 into the mix, completely free! I think this is a massive plus, but then again it is important for these types of games to keep things fresh. A team consisting of 6 of these characters (with no duplicates in the competitive game type) would battle another team in a number of game modes. The game mode would be:
- Assault – one team will try to defend control points, where the other team will try to attack and capture them.
- Capture – both teams fight to gain control an objective marker.
- Escort – one team will try to push the payload while the other tries to prevent them.
- Hybrid – a mix of assault and escort.
There are other game modes in the Arcade game type, which change weekly and also change based on special events (World Cup, Chinese New Year etc.)
I think it’d be fair to give my reaction to the game and how I’ve felt from the beginning to end. This will essentially start with an outside perspective, but go into my positives and negatives of the game.
I think Overwatch having a price is something that everyone will look at and sit on the fence on. Some will say “look, I’ll get X amount of hours out of this, it is worth it” but then there will be the other side that says “look at a game like Paladins or Fortnite, they’re free and essentially get the same kind of update treatment”. This is one of the points that I can honestly agree with both on, because Overwatch is similar to Free to Play games Team Fortress 2 and Paladins, so how do you justify paying for it? I think one of the biggest pulls of the game is the fact that it’s Blizzard, and it’s sort of a premium based on the developer. Now that the game isn’t so expensive, it’s less of a big deal, but the idea of it being Blizzard is surely what gave it life upon release.
A more recent issue this game has is the toxicity online, which again is a bit of a mixed bag because there’s two sides to the coin. The first side being; which game isn’t toxic online? I think the answer is none, to be honest. The last time I played a game where I didn’t suffer any toxicity was Halo 3, and that was so long ago. The other side being that this is a MASSIVELY team based game, and if people want to be annoying, it’s so easy to spoil it for others. The game has tried so hard to make it so that the toxicity is less and less, which fair play to Blizzard, they have acknowledged it and are trying to fix it, but I don’t know how you stop it. I don’t think it’s possible, and unfortunately, it will be something I cover in my negatives for the game.
Let’s talk positives, because ultimately I do love this game. I’ve been playing it pretty much non-stop since day one.
This game is so incredibly diverse, not just with different nations, races and ensuring every voice actor represents the same country as the character they’re voicing, but there is a character for everyone. I think it’s important for a game that it does have something for everyone, that’s essentially the only real way people will enjoy it. If you aren’t good as a healer, then play a tank. If you can’t quite master Roadhog, play Soldier 76. I love that, I just love that no matter who you are, what kind of character you like, you WILL find someone you love playing.
Another positive is free content! All characters and maps are free, including new skins for promotional events and all the new game types. In fact, the game has only ever charged for the Breast Cancer charity skin for the popular hero Mercy, but even then all proceeds went to charity, so that was a win/win. No matter which way you look at it, free content is good and keeps the gameplay fresh and interesting with new heroes.
Now the third positive isn’t necessarily related to gameplay, but I love the lore of Overwatch. There’s a rich backstory about it and each of the characters that always makes me want a film or some sort of animated show or film to know more. Through animated shorts, comics and little bits an pieces in the game, you learn more about each character and why they are where they are. The animated shorts only come along once or twice a year, so when you do get them; you’re always left with a sense of wanting to know what’s next?, which I think is quite interesting.
This is the side of the game that I could go on and on about. I do love the game, which is probably why I’m more passionate about what it could improve, or the things I’d love to see from it.
The first negative would be that when it comes to balancing/releasing heroes, I can’t remember the last time I’ve said “Oh, this was important, the game is now well balanced”. Every new hero that comes out, goes into the PTR overpowered, gets a slight nerf, but then releases on console overpowered until Blizzard look at the meta (which characters are being picked more). It’s a massive problem, and means that we have to wait a period of time before that hero falls to a relevant, respectful power level. Along with that, the buffs and nerfs to current heroes always seem to make them unbalanced too. I would have thought the idea of the PTR is to ensure characters are 100% fine tuned, and that the player base from the PTR is positive to the changes, but it never seems to be the case and they always come out in some weird state.
The next, and the one that I’m probably most upset about, is the toxicity in the game. I had to have a discussion to see whether I can put this as a negative, as I know it’s something that is in every game, but it seems infinitely worse in Overwatch. It’s so important to have a good composition and the game requires you to be flexible with a character choice, because ultimately, it’s pointless being Hanzo if the enemy team has a Reindhardt, Zarya, Orisa etc. If a game isn’t going so well, there’ll be games where people change to characters that aren’t going to help you, that’s when you can tell people have given up (and believe me, it happens A LOT). I’ve played many shooters on console, and when it comes to people throwing games, sending messages and even on purposely demoting in competitive, this is the worst.
Overwatch can be unbelievable, games go right down to the wire and a good team setup, good ultimate combination and all around team play can give you a real sense of victory. I love winning, it’s cliché, but when games are so close and you walk out with a victory, there’s an unbelievable feeling you get. Likewise, when it’s a close one and you lose, you feel devastated, but you also kind of have an acknowledgement that you took a very good team right to the last second. It’s a fine margin, but it’s one I really love.
The game has a great art style, plenty of game modes, great (but could be better) lore, free maps, seasonal events and a lot more to bring to the table. If e-sports is your thing, it has a massive Overwatch League you can watch too. There are so many things to love and in the majority of cases, there will be something for you to love. It does have its negatives; the community, at times, can be toxic, but if you get yourself a 6 man team, you’ll not really have that to worry about. Blizzard has, and is, doing a lot to try and combat this with avoid a player, looking for group and endorsements, but it still has a ways to go.