Recent years have seen a rise in both originality and inventiveness for the online shooter genre. Sequels for major games such as Call of Duty and Titanfall seem determined to differentiate themselves from one another.
Now, Blizzard has presented its take on an online shooter game. The result, Overwatch, combines the top trends, producing one of the best new games in the genre.
Blizzard’s method was the same approach they successfully used with both Warcraft and Diablo: to make the most well-designed and user-friendly game possible. Their aim was not to reinvent the wheel, but to perfect it as much as possible.
It’s clear that Blizzard has grappled with how to present the game, however. Until recently, it was uncertain if they would release it as a full-price game or a free-to-play one. Ultimately, this is Overwatch’s most considerable drawback since it does have the feel of the latter, yet costs $40 on PC. The game has no story movement, a relatively small number of multiplayer modes, and purely cosmetic microtransactions.
Overwatch’s strength is its characters
Thankfully, the positive aspects are virtually all the remaining parts of the game. As is usual for Blizzard, there’s a complicated history behind each of Overwatch’s 21 different characters, although you don’t learn much about that during gameplay. Much like Street Fighter, Overwatch’s approach to many backstories is to leave you to try and investigate it yourself.
The characters in Overwatch can be classified into four broad categories: defense, offense, tank, and support. With matches played in a team, having a nice mix of each is important, but mid-game changes are allowed, so it’s nothing to worry about. As has been apparent since the game was in beta, the most popular characters are the ones with the look and feel of a traditional first-person shooter like McCree, the cybernetic cowboy, or the shotgun-toting Reaper.
Each character has distinctive powers, three to four special skills that can be utilized on a brief cooldown timer, and one special ability that you can only use by building up a meter for achieving hits on opponents.
While there is an amazing variety of characters, the game still feels balanced. Whether it is in armor, weaponry or maneuverability, each character has enough shortcomings to make certain that teamwork is the only way to assure success.
The gameplay is very satisfying
Overwatch does not have deathmatches, though Blizzard has indicated that they may be coming down the road. In its place, six-member teams work together to protect areas, escort vehicles, and take over control points.
The level design is excellent, having 12 very diverse maps that are full of secret areas and shortcuts, along with obstacles and information that can only be taken advantage of by certain characters. The art design is fantastic as well, creative and greatly suggestive of later arcade games, creating the feeling that this could be a sequel to a forgotten Capcom or Sega game.
Overwatch is a multiplayer shooter that is among the best of them and is an excellent game. With a focus on variety, teamwork, and character, it moves the whole genre towards being more good-natured and inclusive. You won’t have more fun shooting people in the face anywhere else.