June 07, 2016

Overwatch - Review

Overwatch is the latest IP from Blizzard Entertainment of World Of Warcraft, Diablo and StarCraft fame. It is a 6v6 team shooter where each team has objectives such as escorting a payload through the map to an a destination within a set time limit or attacking and defending set points on a map in order to win the round. Sounds simple right? And it is a simple concept however in Overwatch the star of the show is the games 21 different playable characters and their vastly different skill sets. There are 4 different classes of character (Offense, Defense, Support and Tank) and each and every character feels balanced and polished, there really is something for everyone here, if you are not the best at aiming and shooting during fast paced action then you can play the healer as one of the support classes (trust me your team will thank you !) Don't like the idea of being a healer? Then you can get in on the offensive action by playing as Junkrat and toss exploding cricket balls, traps and mines everywhere. Razor sharp reflexes are not necessary to enjoy Overwatch or even become good at it, there really is a character and matching play style for everybody in this game and it would take a very long time to become proficient with every one of them.

Don't expect much of a story in Overwatch apart from the short video that plays when you load the game, this game is purely an online only team shooter, honestly though having no story does not detract from the charm of this game at all. The characters and art style are so charming and skillfully designed that they stand up and shine through this alone, in fact they shine so much that Blizzard has decide to make them the star of the title screen of the game, large size models of the characters randomly dominate the title screen as you wait in the queue for matches and they look absolutely fantastic, I seriously cannot fault the detail that has gone into the art in this game at all. If you really want background and story on the characters though Blizzard has released a series of videos explaining these in detail.

At the start of each round you choose which character you wish to play though you can choose to change your character each time you respawn after a death which adds a great tactical element to the game play as picking the right character to change to at certain points in battle can really bolster your team and lead them on to victory. Picking the right character to support your team really is a crucial element in Overwatch, too many tanks and not enough support or healers and your chances at victory will be slim, it is very important to watch the characters other people are picking and make your choice accordingly if you wish to have any hope of victory, being a lone wolf in this game will not get you very far. Each character has a set of different abilities and a super which charges as you kill people, some of these supers are really devastating and you get a warning they are coming from the sounds the characters will make when they let one off, hear one of these and it is best to start running!

One handy thing I did notice that pressing left on the d-pad brings up a screen detailing all of your characters abilities and what buttons they correlate to which is really handy when you are trying a new character for the first time. As you progress through the game you gain XP and levels, each time you level up you gain a loot box which when opened gains you 4 random items ranging from character skins and victory poses through to sound bites. Each character has a total of 54 collectible items, making the total amount of collectible items in the game weigh in at a massive 1,134. Loot boxes can also be purchased from the PSN store and I am sure Blizzard will make a killing selling these as the completionists amongst us will strive to collect every single piece collectible item in the game. The progression system seemed a little thin to me and it would of been nice to see more in depth customisation of the characters such as changing the look and shape of weapons they use and being able to customise super moves to look even more devastating than they already are.

The polished game play, graphics and audio is where this game really shines over other similar games such as Battleborn. Each character is so easy to pick up and play but will take a very long time to master and you will keep noticing subtle details about your character as you play, for instance I have played the Aussie grenade and mine throwing larrikin "Junkrat" quite a lot and I have only just noticed his weapon launches exploding cricket balls, it is subtle touches like this that make this games characters come to life. Having played as the vast majority of characters in the game more than once I can honestly say that Blizzard has done a great job balancing them and there isn't a single character that feels overpowered. Tanks may hit hard and take a lot of damage but they move slower than a turtle stuck in molasses, support characters may not be able to take a lot of damage but most of them are fast and zippy and can completely turn the tide of battle if their abilities are used at the right moment. Rounds and games are also very quick making this an ideal and satisfying game to play if you only have 30 minutes or so spare time to burn.

The game can get very addictive and I gained a chronic case of what i like to call "just one more round" syndrome, it became very hard to put the controller down, especially when close to gaining a level...Give me all dem loot boxes yo ! It's hard to say how this game will go where longevity is concerned given that I feel the reward system seems a little thin but Blizzard has promised there will be many free updates to the game in the future and given Blizzard's track record I tend to believe they will add a lot more content to this game, certainly enough to keep even the most hardcore players to keep going back and collecting more items or perfecting their strategies on new maps or game modes.

If you are into competitive team based shooters or are even just looking to get into the genre I believe you will have a blast playing Overwatch.

Thanks to Blizzard for supplying the game for review

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