It’s not often that a development studio gets a lot of attention for diving into a new genre but considering the pedigree on show, it’s worth noting that Overwatch is the debut in the First Person Shooter genre for Blizzard Entertainment. With games like World of Warcraft and Diablo under their belt, Overwatch has a lot to live up to. Having played Overwatch though for dozens of hours, it seems like Blizzard have once again made a game that is infinitely replayable.
Overwatch is a class-based First Person Shooter that not only features elements from other games in the genre but in other online games in general. In terms of content, there isn’t a massive amount of content found within. There are 21 characters and a few dozen maps and very little else. There is no campaign, no deep story, no challenge modes, and basically just feature competitive gameplay. Despite this, I have put a few dozen hours into the title and feel as though I have only seen the top of this gaming iceberg.
Maps in Overwatch are reminiscent of old-school arena style shooters. Each map has a distinct personality and are asymmetric in nature. There are excellent sniper positions on high walkways as well as alternative routes in order to shut down any player that’s dominating any given area. Each one feels different and that’s not just because of the look of the map. Some parts feel like open arenas which other areas are multi-leveled and are excellent for fast, up close combat.
While this would be fun in of itself, it’s the characters that really make Overwatch shine. There are 21 characters broken into four groups: Attack, Defence, Tank, and Support. While they make be broken down into four types, every single hero feels different to the next. This means that it feels like you’re learning 21 different classes rather than just four.
It sounds overwhelming and in the beginning it may be as the start of the match allows you to choose from any of the characters but chances are you’ll find one or two that you’ll feel comfortable with almost immediately. It’s from there that you start to slowly learn the abilities of every character even if you’re not playing them.
You may be running around the map as Soldier 76, which is based on the military-type shooters of recent years like Call of Duty, and then be pulled in by Roadhogg ad then shotgunned in one single hit. As frustrating as it may be, you now know that should a played get into a position where you can’t get close enough to them, simply changing to him at your spawn could counteract this reign a player may have at mid-to-long range in a certain area of the map.
When you consider that there are 21 heroes all with multiple abilities that are more effective against different heroes, you can begin to imagine how deep the gameplay becomes just from a one-on-one perspective. Then there are abilities that are excellent companions to other heroes and then you really start to see that chances are you’ll always b learning new stuff within the game. Having played a few dozen hours of the game, I’m still learning new things with new heroes and trying them out for the first time. This is a game that becomes infinitely replayable.
Visually, the game has an excellent art style that is impressive to look at within being too technical. There’s personality from everywhere you look from signs to the interactivity on certain parts of the map, to the decoration and even the characters. Everything feels incredibly well-designed and there are honestly not one weak aspect to the overall design in terms of maps and characters.
The fact that there are no duds in the 21 hero roster is nothing short of spectacular. You may not play as them but you know so much about them just form playing the game. Sound is also excellently used to know what’s going on in your surroundings. When you hear something like “High Noon”, you pretty much know to start out of the open.
I could talk about individual aspects of the game that make it better but every single mechanic, visual cue, audio cue, and design choice compliments each other flawlessly to create one of the greatest shooters in years. I could write 2,000 words on experiences that make this game feel so fresh and unique but they’re my experiences. I honestly suggest you go out and play this game to experience one of the best online games in years. It’s definitely a game to be experience to truly understand why I’ve fallen for it in the way that I have.