Overwatch: To Buy or not to Buy





It's here! The long-awaited release of Overwatch is upon us.

And you don't own it. And all of your friends have been in the closed beta for months and months and you have sat, watching longingly from afar. Or maybe you didn't even know that Overwatch was a game before now! Either way, here you sit, staring at a $39.99 (or whatver your currency equivalent is) price tag and the button that reads, "buy now!" and wondering if that is what you should do. Well here's some of my views on the game to push you over that hump. (Or talk you down from that ledge if all that I have to say makes you decide for some reason Overwatch isn't for you.)

So here's what to know before jumping the tesla cannon on purchasing Overwatch.

1. It's got that Blizzard touch.

That's right. I said Blizzard. As in the company largely recognized for its success in the MMO realm with World of Warcraft, and the company that created genre-defining real time strategy games in its Warcraft and Starcraft franchises. Blizzard has had largely unmatched success in these games, and now they have decided to dip their magic into the first person shooter genre. What does that mean for this newest title from Blizzard?

It means polish. It means likable characters, thought-out design, attention to detail, and smooth gameplay. In addition to how good it just feels to play Blizzard games, they have also mastered the art of... well, art. This game is beautiful. I could talk about how this game looks, or I could show you. And since pictures speak one-thousand words, well...

D.Va sends her self-destructing mech into the midst of battle
Roadhog hooks a helpless Zenyatta
Mercy gives a damage buff to a rocket-barraging Pharah mid-flight

See? That's like, at LEAST 3,000 words. These screenshots barely scratch the surface of the detail in the art of this game. Every character has those intricate touches, every landscape has the detailed distant background, and an engaging, beautiful battleground.

2. You already have a favorite hero, you just don't know it yet.

Have you played nothing but Call of Duty games all of your life? Soldier: 76 is the hero for you. Love providing tactical support to your teammates? Play Symmetra and give out shields, place teleporters, and hide defense turrets to ambush unsuspecting attackers. Want to just leap around as a giant gorilla? Well, there's that, too! The point here is there is a hero for you. There is more than one for you, and eventually you would learn to be "comfortable" with most-all of them,

The general playstyle of each hero is easy enough to pick up and learn, but difficult to master. Which lets you pretty much never be useless in a hero's spot. You will always be able to do something. And with Blizzard's polish in every hero, it will feel good doing that something.

You wouldn't like him when he's angry.

3. Old dogs, new tricks

The FPS genre has had a standard of game modes that range from Capture the Flag, Payload, King of the Hill, and others. Call of Duty has thrown in a few unique game modes of its own, but other than that and select others, it is generally accepted that those modes listed are the exhaustive list. Blizzard does not really deviate from that list, and has maps that mostly have one team attacking and the other defending either a payload delivery or capture points. There are a small handful of maps that have no distinct attacker or defender roles with an all-out brawl for a single capture point.

I believe that Blizzard made the right call here, at least for the beginning of Overwatch's life, to not introduce new game modes, as everything else is so unique, it lends itself to experienced and inexperienced in the genre alike to be able to sit down and play classic game modes in Blizzard's new universe.

Also called upon from past games in the genre is the focus on different types of movement. In other games, players found creative ways to blast themselves around the map with rocket jumps, grenade launches, and other games introduced grappling hooks, and other forms of movement. Blizzard made that a focus of theirs in this game. Whether you're grappling around as Widowmaker, jetpacking around as Pharah, flying to players in need as Mercy, or just plain sprinting as Soldier: 76 (again, that's for you CoD players), you'll find you enjoy the smooth transition from point A to point B on the battleground.

4. It's brand spankin' new

There's something to be said about being the part of something new. It's a unique experience jumping into a brand new game. Even with the closed beta being in play since last year, there are countless others like you who are picking it up for the first time, which gives the game a life unlike any other. The meta is constantly evolving at the beginning as new strategies, team compositions, turret placements, teleporter placements, and many other unknown things are discovered.

This meta will be a quickly shifting one, especially at the start. The meta evolves quickly especially because you can shift heroes mid-game (which there's a whole strategy to in itself), the picks and counter-picks offer a depth not before seen in the FPS genre.

Another thing that I'll throw in this category is the length of games. They're not long. Usually ten minutes at most. There's a generous timer for the start of the game that can be extended by reaching checkpoints, or reaching overtime until a contested point is held for a brief period of time. It lends itself to quick play sessions, or hours and hours of play. (And if you have those hours and hours, you are rewarded bonus XP for staying with your quick match group for consecutive matches).

Reasons Overwatch might not be for you:

Though I can not think of many, it is important to bring up any potential cons for those who still hold the game in the balance of to purchase or not to purchase. So here are a couple of findings:
  • As in every game, there are the "toxic" players. I hate calling anyone toxic, but it can be that way for any number of reasons. Solo queueing is a crapshoot, and sometimes you get the raw end of the deal with players who stick to a hero no matter what your team needs, those who intentionally sabotage, and so on. It can dampen your experience and cause negative feelings towards the game as a whole. There is no avoiding it for any game, but it is worth mentioning as on a team of six, it's a large chunk of your gameplay if even one of those teammates turns out to be against you. (You can leave a match, but doing it too often, no matter the reason, results in matchmaking penalties).
  • Though I listed it as a positive earlier, it can be said that no new introduction of game modes can be a negative if you are tired of the tried and true game modes of payload delivery and point capture. 
  • Dying past the beginning of the game is incredibly punishing in the walk back to the battle. Even with the focus on making movement interesting and unique, it can just take some time to make it back to the fray, where your team was fighting without you the whole time. It, of course, disincentivises dying, but sometimes it just can't be helped and your found kicking yourself your boring, lonesome walk back to the battle.

It's true I really can not find many reasons not to buy this game. With its Blizzard touch, Overwatch is a truly unique team-based first person shooter, and is well worth your time. So, as you stand, looking at the $39.99 sized hole, take into consideration all the fun to be had and shared with others in the newest title to breach the FPS scene.

With that, here's a gameplay trailer. Hope to see you in game!







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