Blizzard, the company most famous for its long term MMORPG superstar World of Warcraft, has stepped out of its comfort zone this year with its release of Overwatch, a first person shooter that has worked its way to quite a few of the “top 10” lists of 2016. If you haven’t heard of Overwatch, you must be living under a rock, but you can refer to the trailer linked above for a good idea of what the game is.
Thankfully, Blizzard offered an open beta for gamers to check out the game before purchasing, and I got a chance to try it out for myself. This gave me an incredible insight into what the game would be, much more than I feel I’ve gotten from other betas. Most games can be taken at face value, with information hardly deviating from what you see in the trailers- minus the highly inaccurate cinematics that we all know we won’t see in the game itself.
Overwatch offers a new kind of experience. The different playable characters don’t just have different voices and poorly fleshed out backstories, they are completely different. They move differently, operate differently. The game itself follows Blizzard’s MMORPG history, and incorporates classes in a way I’ve never before experienced in a first person shooter. Each character can be classified into 4 different types; offense, defense, tank, and support. You will be told during match making whether you need more of a certain type, and the amount of a type of hero needed is highly dependent on game mode you’re playing in that moment.
Speaking of game modes, there are quite a few different kinds, though they hardly deviate from the usual FPS game modes. The maps are also quite beautiful and offer plenty of places to go, whether your hero builds turrets, snipes, or needs a place to hide nearby to heal tanks or offensive players.
While I am highly impressed by Overwatch, there are some downfalls. I’ve heard more than a few people complaining about OP characters, though this may be fixed before official release. Matchmaking can take quite a while, up to a minute including the amount of time given to choose characters, though some of this too may be a server problem that will be resolved post-beta. When it comes to game modes that require building and protecting an area and you happen to be on the offensive team, you’ll be waiting thirty seconds while the other team is allowed to prep, and that may be too much for certain gamers.
The largest problem I can see, though, is less of an issue with the game itself and more of a type of player. The amount of specialty in each and every character may make certain gamers less enthusiastic when joining the game, and they may be put off by the amount of work it will take to find the proper character for yourself. All the time I spent during the beta, and I still don’t feel as though I found a character I truly “loved” and would love to play on a regular basis. This will take hours, and with very little to encourage the less involved players, they may give up before finding their sweet spot when it comes to who they play best with. Also, since the teams operate like a guild would in an MMORPG, with each character playing a very important role on the team, finding a good team may be the best way to play, which may be hard for those gamers who are less social or whose friends who aren’t interested in the game.