Overwatch is probably in the top 3 most popular games in the world at the moment. Every man and his dog seems to be playing it, adverts are unavoidable and it seems to be in all ‘TOP 10’ gaming lists of the past 12 months. But what is it and is it actually any good?
Overwatch was a long time coming. It is the first, first person shooter from Blizzard who previously created such gaming juggernauts; the Warcraft series, Diablo, Starcraft and Hearthstone among others. So it’s fair to say that they have somewhat of a pedigree when it comes to creating massive online multiplayer games. Whether it is due to the quality of the games or the quality of Blizzard’s marketing team is a question I often ask myself but either way it doesn’t matter. Overwatch was destined to be huge no matter how good it was. This was emphasized by the fact that the open beta was played by almost 10 million people.
Part of what makes Overwatch so much fun is its fast paced, dynamic gameplay. Matches have the ability to flip in the blink of an eye and the large number of heroes to play as prevents the game from getting stale quickly. There are also several different online game modes to choose from; Escort, Assault, Hybrid and Control. All of this has been done to make each game feel like a new experience but personally I find it can get a bit too repetitive (although this is true for most fps games).
The stylization of Overwatch is unique when it comes to mainstream fps’s. It’s refreshing to see such colourful and cartoonish tones in what is essentially a violent game. It detaches itself from a sense of reality when most other games in this genre aim to be as true to life as possible. For that reason I find the styling to be the best thing about the game. The developers were probably struggling to come up with new ideas for a shooting game as they are pretty one dimensional but by choosing unconventional styling they have really managed to separate themselves from their competitors and probably pull themselves more of a younger audience who will grow up with the game, creating a sense of nostalgia for them every time a new one is released (clever marketing again, Blizzard).
This, again, is where Overwatch chooses to abandon the norm and go really far out with its design. It (currently) has a list of 24 playable characters of various classes. The more you play, the more bonded to your favourite character you will get. Each character has their own back story, fan base and even fan fiction (be careful when you search for it, there’s some really freaky sh*t on the internet).
Overwatch manages to be a very unconventional, conventional first person shooter with a lot of character. It isn’t afraid to separate itself from what everyone else is doing and has made a fun experience because of that. For me however, it just lacks the spark of a truly great game but it is still very, very good.