NO SCREENSHOTS, because Lyn is a dummy and forgot to take ’em. 😥
Developer/Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One
Price: $39.99 for base game
Playtime: Approx. 26 hours
Overwatch has definitely been on my radar, but with the free open beta this past weekend I was able to experience it firsthand for myself.
Overwatch is a first-person shooter that pits players in teams of six against another team. With 21 playable heroes to choose from, players must take into consideration team composition as they take control of a point (king of the hill), deliver a payload, and of course, take out the enemy team. There is bound to be a playstyle for everyone – from Tracer, who darts in and out of the enemy lines in order to provide maximum annoyance, to McCree, who excels in one-on-one match ups, and more. In addition to their weapon, players have access to two abilities (with cooldowns), and an ultimate that is charged based on damage dealt (or support given for some classes). At the end of each match features a Play of the Game, and a chance for players to vote on those who stood out the most for recognition. As the player completes matches, which typically take around 10 minutes to complete, they earn EXP which results in a loot box per level. Loot boxes contain cosmetics such as skins, sprays (which players can grafiti in game maps), emotes, voice lines, poses, and heroic shots (which play if your character achieves POTG).
Let me just start off by saying that I typically do not play FPS games, as they are outside of my interest (and well, I suck at them). So the main reasons I was interested in Overwatch was really the Pixar-esque feel of the lore, setting, and character design… aaaand that it’s made by Blizzard, which definitely sets the bar fairly high.
Now, I have played Team Fortress 2 but never really got into it, so I had a bit of an idea of what to look forward to. I load into the game and start playing. …Guess what? Overwatch is really, really, really fun. I ended up spending the majority of my free time during the weekend and Monday playing this game, and the overall experience has convinced me to actually pre-order Overwatch.
So what did Blizzard do right? First of all, appealing to a wide audience. We can break them down to these categories:
- Blizzard fans who, regardless of title, will check out or even immediately pre-order simply because it is made by the company. This is where company reputation comes into play. Take into consideration that this is Blizzard’s first FPS game.
- Those who enjoy FPS games, especially with TF2 as they are similar. This is where actual game genre comes into play. A sense of familiarity with an established title gives interested players something to reference to and speculate on.
- Those who are interested in the creative aspects of the game, such as the art style and superhero theme. This is where creative direction comes into play. I give this bonus points because they have made it appeal in a way that attracts a younger/family-oriented/casual audience, without deterring too much of the typical gamer demographic (young adult males). Being an FPS game also buffers this.
Now one can definitely fall under multiple categories, but the important thing to take home is that this game, Overwatch, can definitely appeal to a wide variety of people – most importantly, those who might not have even played an FPS before.
This brings us to point number two of what Blizzard did well: accounting for that audience. Immediately entering the game I was put in a tutorial that properly covered the basics of gameplay. While it may have been a bit rudimentary for me, I can appreciate how well done the tutorial was in introducing FPS to new players. Futhermore, Overwatch also features other practice modes and AI of varying difficulty for players not quite ready to play against other people.
We then move on to point number three: actually having a fun and solid game. Why is it a feat nowadays to actually have a release that isn’t filled with bugs and glitches? I had a very smooth experience and did not face any lag or bugs during my playtime. But beyond that, I’m glad to say that I actually enjoy the gameplay behind Overwatch, despite not being the best at FPS. I feel like Blizzard has really hit the sweet spot of a game that is “easy to pick up, but hard to master.” The features in Overwatch aren’t overwhelming, yet the possibility and awareness of being able to improve pushes me to play just onnneee more game. Yes, there is also the stress and annoyance of having to deal with bad or rude teammates, but honestly, even that simply compels me to play even more (“I have to win”). Furthermore, as someone who cannot spare too much free time playing games, each match is the right amount
Point four: The expectation of paying once to unlock everything should be a standard, not singularity. Other games, please take note. This has a huge impression on me as I can pre-order knowing what I see is what I get. There’s no need to pay to unlock heroes or cosmetics, and that future updates are free. There is a contrary opinion in that players are constantly looking for the next fix, always on a bout of progression that may lead decision-makers to think that micro-transactions are king. But if I were to express my honest opinion, I think this shouldn’t be the case. If a game is truly good enough ,then a one-time purchase should be all that’s necessary. This sets a deeper impression on the playerbase that goes beyond milking the most out of each customer. I really don’t know where I’m going with this…but let me say one thing: that I’m actually playing the game because the experience itself is fun, not because I need to get all the skins or unlock all these achievements.
Finally, point five: having something for everyone. The varied cast of heroes and their different playstyles and roles in a team allows for refreshing gameplay that can appeal to those who like running into the front line, for example, or standing beside and helping fellow teammates. From the very beginning, I sought out Genji as the most appealing hero, and I’m proud to say he’s definitely my favorite to play despite his complexity (imo). If there is one caveat in this game, then it’s something that plagues a lot of games that tends to assign roles to players: practically no one wants to play support. But that’s a discussion for another Ramble (coming soon!).
In conclusion, I think it’s best to say that Overwatch was a game that I really did not expect to enjoy as much as I did. Yes, there was hype in the moments before the open beta (team OnlyWatch…) but actually playing the game has only cemented my decision.
Will I continue playing this game? A definite YES. This game is going to be pretty big!