Blizzard’s first new IP in 17 years is finally upon us, but was it worth the wait? Does the finished product differ much from the build I played during the hands-on event in April? Despite some minor niggles and a severe lack of modes, the game achieves exactly what it sets out to do; have you play a fun, fluid game of team-based shooting.
It’s in these vastly different characters where the depth of strategy comes. Will you be sneaking in behind the enemy with one of the aforementioned, or protecting your allies with tank character Reinhardt’s shield? Perhaps you’ll be using the higher ground to unleash Widowmaker’s sniping capabilities, or will you take on the unglamourous - but absolutely essential - role of healing the group with support characters like Mercy? There are so many options at your disposal, and the option to change character upon death means you can react to whatever situation your team is presented with.
Every map is crammed with small details, and a sumptuous colour palette - a true feast for the eyes.
Overwatch is a great looking game, the maps filled with a huge amount of detail and personality that'll have you coming back for more. The gorgeous falling Cherry Blossom petals in Hanamura, to the dimly lit streets of London’s King’s Row, to the post-festival atmosphere of Dorado - every map is crammed with small details and a sumptuous colour palette - a true feast for the eyes. The game moves along at a cracking pace, too, with no noticeable frame-drops. In addition, I’m yet to experience more than a few seconds of lag from my playtime; a real triumph considering my often abysmal internet! The rock-solid performance provides another string to Blizzard’s bow.
The sound design is another marvel; everything from the wonderful, amusing one-liners provided by the characters, to the rousing music as each match enters the dying stages. You get a sense of Blizzard’s sense of humour here, for instance when the resident Aussie, Junkrat, remarks post-death: “That’s a fine how’d ya do.” For those of you with a hatred for headsets, fear not - you don’t need to hear the commands/assistance of your chums as each character will voice their concerns - you’ll know to look out for life threatening turrets before you run into them, for instance.
With all of this brilliance there has to be some dung, mind; the severe lack of modes on offer at launch is a huge misstep. In spite of all the wonderful strategy on offer in each character, or in the core gameplay itself, if you don’t have much to play then video games can get dull quickly. The disappointment is only added to when you consider how lacking in originality these modes actually are.
In its current state I can’t see myself playing Overwatch for a lengthy period of time, and I fear many others will get sick of the capture points and payload game types swiftly too, which is a real shame. There should be more maps, characters and hopefully modes coming in the future, but to pay full whack for a game so lacking in modes is disappointing.
With this in mind I couldn’t help but feel what a waste of money the many animated shorts and comic book series have been. Have they enticed any players that wouldn’t have gotten the game prior? I’m not so sure. I’m left wondering why Blizzard haven’t created game modes with the origins of Overwatch in mind - could they have made scenario type modes that show off some story to give context to all the fighting? Take the Widowmaker short for instance; couldn’t they have tasked one team with taking out Zenyatta, and the other with protecting him with Tracer? This scenario mode would’ve been an excellent addition in my view, and something I think the game could really do with.
In conclusion, Overwatch is an addictive, fun, good looking experience that you’ll shovel down like a delicious meal. There’s no denying that the core gameplay is magnificent; let's just hope Blizzard give us some more game modes soon - if they do, we’re looking at a multiplayer classic (and I’ll add an extra point on, too!).