Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Overwatch has been riding its own hype train since its reveal at BlizzCon 2014, and for good reason. Blizzard is incredibly devoted to every one of its games so much that it’s actually very rare for the company to release a new IP, much less a new game all together. Just for reference, it took 12 years just for Blizzard to get a StarCraft sequel out, despite the demand for one for many of those years.
That said, Overwatch is a big deal, not just for the company, but to its legions of devoted fans that have poured countless hours into the likes of World of Warcraft, Diablo and Hearthstone. Blizzard has mastered the ability to make their games both accessible to casual players and incredibly deep for the hardcore, and it’s with great pleasure that I can say that Overwatch exemplifies everything that makes a great Blizzard game.
Your choice in levels and modes may appear somewhat limited, but the stellar level design and diverse character mechanics will make you forget that.
Overwatch comes with a roster of 21 characters and all of them are authentically unique in how they function. For every strength, there is a counter, and then a counter to that counter. Every level is built with momentum, verticality and strategic defending in mind. There’s almost always something to climb up on to get a better vantage point as the Widowmaker, an alternative pathway to duck into when you’re under fire, or a spot to lay down a turret as Tjornborn that can become a player killing Juggernaut just as easily as be blown to bits in an instant by the opposing team.
The game comes with four game modes, Assault, Escort, Control and a hybrid mode that combines Assault and Escort into one. While this may not sound like a lot of variety, it doesn’t end up mattering in the grand scheme of things. The point of Overwatch is to explore its characters, using their abilities to formulate complex strategies within simple game rules.
Yes, you are going to be pushing the same escort vehicle from Point A to Point B, but how you do it is what changes. Maybe you sit on the roof as Bastion in his turret form, mowing down enemies as you keep the payload moving. But if the opposing team changes things up and creates a choke point with a couple of snipers, you have to adapt as well.
Overwatch has a character for pretty much every conceivable playstyle. You can be a damage dealer and absorber on the front lines. If you want to hang back and pick people off from a distance, you can do that. If you find that your aim is a little off one day, you can change over to a healer or support character and still be the most valuable player on the battlefield. You can also be a support character and (if you are on your game) still be a killing machine while helping your teammates. Zenyatta FTW.
Overwatch is incredibly focused and runs like a dream
Blizzard has designed Overwatch to be a Team-based multiplayer shooter in its most purest form. There is no wasted exposition or half-assed extraneous details. There’s no campaign to give you backstory into the world or thinly executed horde mode that you’ll only play one time before forgetting about. Overwatch is an exercise in quality over quantity, not stretching itself out to try and achieve things it can’t. Limitations are a good thing, and instead of running from them, Blizzard has embraced them to iterate Overwatch into something great.
And if you are interested in the details about the world or its characters, Blizzard has you covered there as well. You can find a bunch of animated shorts on YouTube that give added depth to the characters and their world.
The game runs at 60 FPS on both PC and console platforms, but it’s worth noting that there are some subtle textures flaws that make it apparent that the game’s optimal platform is on PC (not surprisingly). However, the issues are not anything that truly detracts from the experience, and probably the biggest reason I noticed them is that I tried out both a PC and console version of the game.
I’ll make it really simple for you. If you like multiplayer shooters, you’re going to like (probably love) Overwatch. If you’re on the fence about multiplayer shooters, Overwatch is as good an option as any to push you over to the other side. Overwatch makes for a great game in both small bursts and night-long binges and is rewarding to both newbies and veterans alike.
You’re going to be hearing a lot about Overwatch for a long time to come, not just because the game is stellar, but because of Blizzard’s incredibly long track record of supporting their games post launch. You don’t need to wait for a sale, the game’s full price carries a ton of value both looking at today and with what lies ahead for the game. If you aren’t already playing Overwatch, you are missing out.