Overwatch has come to dominate the FPS landscape, and with a solid core gameplay loop, a colorful roster of characters and just enough content to charge full price.
Even tough this game has technically only been out for a week, it’s already a phenomenon.
“Overwatch is not really a game as much as it’s an event.” -Kotaku.com
As a multiplayer shooter, Overwatch follows in Team Fortress 2‘s footsteps pretty closely. Every match is some variant of “capture this point” or “defend this point.”
Overwatch’s cast of characters is staggeringly diverse, even within their basic classes of Offense, Defense, Tank and Support.
Take two Tank characters, for instance: Roadhog and Winston. Tank characters are identified by their massive size, and while both Winston and Roadhog are unquestionably large and have a ton of health, that’s about where the similarities end.
Winston is a hyper intelligent gorilla from the moon (seriously) with insane mobility thanks to his leap and a defensive shield that helps keep the team alive.
Not only do the characters feel vastly different in combat, but their animations and their speed (or lack thereof) give them an added flavor that most character-based games outside of the MOBA genre seem to lack.
One of the best things about Overwatch is that it encourages different play styles. If you prefer to rush into battle and soak up bullets, pick a tank character.
If you would rather find a perch and pick enemies off from afar, grab a sniper. If you want to make sure your team stays healthy, go for a healer.
The game features just three modes (well, four if you count the hybrid mode).
The first is Assault, which requires the attacking team to capture points on the map while the defending team tries to keep them from doing so.
The second is Escort, which tasks one team with escorting a payload to a delivery point, with several checkpoints along the way.
Finally, there’s Control, which is basically Assault with a single capture point, over which both teams will fight for control.
With its fun gameplay and an amazing charisma for standing out, Overwatch is the best candidate for the “best competitive FPS” title this year. Blizzard has done a gorgeous job working on this title.
Every match of Overwatch also has a certain feel and progression to it, depending on what your objective is.
If you’re defending against attackers, you start matches by setting up around the map.
You get one minute before the gates open and attackers are allowed on the field, though usually it only takes thirty seconds to get ready.
Some heroes are easier to learn than others, but even when I’m waffling around with a character I don’t fully understand, it always becomes an opportunity to gain a deeper appreciation of Overwatch’s many mechanics.
Overwatch’s sound design is also stellar. Characters will bark out things you can’t immediately see, like when an enemy is behind you, or when a turret lies ahead. You can tell different characters apart based completely on their footsteps, which means that, if you’re observant enough, you can catch an enemy sneaking up behind you. Your character will gasp when you are low on health.
When you’re not busy strategizing with your friends, you may want to take a minute to enjoy the beauty of Blizzard’s art direction.
The game is bursting with color and looks more like a new Disney XD show than a dark, gritty shooter. Even “scary” characters like the undead Reaper spout pop culture references and sport goofy alternate costumes.
Overall content is equally limited in Overwatch. Compared to competitively priced shooters, there are considerably fewer modes (just three King of the Hill variants) and no campaign mode to speak of here.
Even with 21 playable characters and 12 maps, it still ends up feeling like a barebones package against the competition, at least at the game’s launch.
The thing about Overwatch is, playing the actual game feels like such a small part of the overall experience.
Don’t get me wrong, Overwatch is an outstanding shooter, and Blizzard deserves recognition for making it. But it is the Overwatch fandom and its love for the characters that has formed a world so many of us will get lost in well after the game is turned off.