Review

Review: Overwatch (PS4)

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In multiplayer the first person shooter genre is filled with veritable titans of the industry, like Halo and Call of Duty, that absolutely nail the mechanics of what they are attempting. In fact, this perspective and type of game is filled to the brim with high quality experiences, so much so that it makes it very difficult to make a game that can stand with those titans with any sort of longevity. It’s fitting then that out of the ashes of a game called Titan itself rose Overwatch, because it does indeed stand head and shoulders with, and in my opinion surpasses, those experiences.

Overwatch is quite simply the most fantastic multiplayer online experience I’ve ever had. 

At a Glance – 10 / 10

I have to give Overwatch the absolute best score we can give in gaming, because it truly deserves it. This is a masterclass of first person shooting, and multiplayer gaming for fans of any genre, one that even people like myself that typically only play single player games can enjoy. It looks awesome, it plays butter smooth, and most importantly I’ve had fun in every match I’ve played, win or lose. I cannot recommend Overwatch enoug,h and if you have the slightest interest in this game I say indulge your curiosity and pick it up; you won’t be disappointed. Simply stated: Overwatch is a masterpiece and one I look forward to enjoying for a long time yet to come.

High words of praise indeed, but certainly deserved. From the first time you boot up the menu of Overwatch it is simply brimming with a high level of detail and a patented shine of polish that Blizzard is known for. You can jump in from that menu to play against AI in order to polish your moves, or try out a new character with no pressure, peruse your character unlocks, or you could jump directly into the online fray; the meat and potatoes of the experience obviously.

The game looks gorgeous as well, with bold and beautiful designs leaping off your screen with a fantastic art style that is applied across the stages and the characters. Every stage is varied and instantly recognizable, something not easily accomplished in a first person shooter. As for the characters,  the artwork above speaks for itself.

Overwatch originally looks like it might be a character driven FPS MOBA game, but that isn’t the case at all. Instead Overwatch is a team based objective laden game, very similar in feel to Team Fortress 2. You have four classes of characters to pick from: tank, offensive, defensive, and support. Offensive are usually quick characters that roam the outskirts of the battle field taking down opponents as quickly as they can while defensive, as the name implicates, are characters that are good at holding points and protecting objectives. That doesn’t mean they don’t pack a punch though, the defensive characters are some of the most powerful in the game as anyone who has gone up against the turret transforming gameplay of Bastion can attest.

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Tanks and support characters are even more vital as tanks thrive in the thick of the battle and protect your party from damage or buff them with helpful abilities and support keeps your party healthy, thriving, and usually packing an extra punch in battle. Using these classes well together and finding the weakness and strengths of each will ultimately lead to success in a match, and there are so many viable combinations that it’s a lot of fun finding out what works.

Finding out what works is so much fun because there are 21 characters currently to choose from, all with their own unique playstyle and abilities, and you can change them on the fly throughout the match. This means that nothing ever gets stale in a match, and no strategy is set in stone. Youu are constantly reacting to the other team, the pace of the match changing dynamically throughout. Clogged up at a chokepoint and your team is getting mowed down by Bastion? Change to Genji, and get behind his defenses to destroy him. Defense point pushed back to the final stop and you need to dig in and hold on? Get a Bastion and a Torbjorn, and dig in with turrets of death.

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You are never tied down to a character you picked that just doesn’t end up working, so you are free to experiment and try new combos to see what really works for your team. Because of this, there is never a dull moment, and even when you lose you can’t wait to try again and see if playing just a little different will win the day.

There are a few different types of matches as of right now. One involves attacking or defending a set of 2 objectives, which is simply as easy as taking a control point and keeping team members in that control point for a set period of time. Another is an escort mission, which involves defending and moving forward a vehicle through a series of checkpoints until you reach your destination. Meanwhile, the other team is pushing back against this, and the last push especially tends to be more brutal as the chokepoints close in and it becomes more and more defendable the closer you get to the goal. Each week they also have a special type of battle, the first week was essentially cranking all your abilities way up and the cool downs way down so you could rapid fire Ultimates. It’s wacky and fun to see and these types of matches swap out every week. It may seem that the lack of a ton of different modes would hurt Overwatch, but instead because of the wide variety of characters it never makes anything stale. There is never much waiting between matches, though if you have a full team of 6 obviously you’ll be waiting longer than playing by yourself. Matches usually last between 3 to 5 minutes though occasionally overtime on escort missions can push that closer to 10 minutes.

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In my opinion one of the best things about Overwatch is the way matches end. You won’t see your traditional screen that shows you who was at the top of the kill / death ratio and who really sucks. Instead you’ll be treated to a Play of the Game video which will highlight a player and usually involves pulling your team’s bacon out of the fire by murdering guys. Then you’ll see a list of 4 players who did the best at what their class does, be it healing or turret kills or how much damage they absorbed with their shield. The players then vote on you and if you reach 5 or more votes you’ll be termed epic and get some bonus experience points. You’ll be rewarded experience based on whether you stuck through the match, medals you earned, whether you got epic and of course whether or not you won. This feeds into a level meter and each level you gain you’ll be awarded a loot box. You actually open these, which is sort of genius of Blizzard because it makes it more exciting than just being handed some random stuff on the award screen after the match. All of the rewards are aesthetic only: skins for the characters, new catch phrases, spray-paint logos that you can adorn the stage with, and new victory poses and emotes.

You aren’t awarded things like better guns or perks like you see in a lot of games which means there is nothing to set apart Jack the Noob from Jill the Uber Destroyer of Worlds besides how well they play the game. This leads to one of Overwatch’s greatest strengths and something Blizzard tends to do extremely well, even in the notoriously difficult to breach MOBA genre; it makes the barrier of entry to Overwatch very low. Everyone with any level of experience can pick up and play this game and there are multiple and very deliberate design decisions that make this possible.

First, because there is no rating at the end of the match for all to see players that may not be the best at the genre (i.e. Me) don’t have a feeling of shame every time they end a match and you are actively encouraged to work as a team as a result. Because of this I’ve actually gotten far better at Overwatch than I have at any other FPS before it, simply because I haven’t been overly frustrated with myself and given up. If you are doing poorly as a character you can swap out, meaning that even if you suck there is always the hope that with a different character you won’t. Even better, because the characters playstyles are so varied there absolutely will be a character for you and there are characters that are very easy to pick up and play for people who may not be experienced in the genre.

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Typically one doesn’t talk about the review score for the game, they simply assign it. When there is a ten out of ten given, I find myself actively seeking things wrong with a game, and failing to find anything that was detrimental to my enjoyment reward it this score. There were some bugs with the PS4 version (the version this review is based off of) the first day where you couldn’t join parties with your friends, but they were squashed within 6 hours of finding them, and this was a day earlier than I should have been able to play the game anyway.

On top of that every small niggle (and they were all tiny) is offset by the realization that this is the first week of a game and it feels like one that’s been honed over a long period of time like the fine-tuned Halo franchise. Blizzard has a history of making their games infinitely better as time goes on, just look at vanilla World of Warcraft compared to today, and Overwatch will be no different meaning this game will just continue to get better; something I hadn’t thought possible. New characters, maps and modes will be incoming and Blizzard has stated they will all be free. As I sought for a reason why I should give this game a lower score I realized I was pressuring myself to lower it, something I would never do on a game that I thought was poor seeking to give it a higher score out of pressure.

For these reasons and all those outlined above, I have to give Overwatch the absolute best score we can give in gaming, because it truly deserves it. This is a masterclass of first person shooting and multiplayer gaming for fans of any genre I believe, one that even people like myself that only play single player games mostly can enjoy. It looks awesome, it plays butter smooth, and most importantly I’ve had fun in every match I’ve played win or lose. I cannot recommend Overwatch enough and if you have the slightest interest in this game I say indulge your curiosity and pick it up; you won’t be disappointed. Simply stated: Overwatch is a masterpiece and one I look forward to enjoying for a long time yet to come.

Final Score: 10 out of 10

 

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