With the recent release of Battleborn, a MOBA-styled first person shooter, labeled as a "Hero Shooter", I was skeptical of Overwatch at first. At a glance they appear similar. Blizzard has made great strides in the video game industry with World of Warcraft, but given their reputation, I wasn't sure Overwatch could do the same. Overwatch, however, exceeded all of my expectations, even in it's open beta.
The premise is relatively simple. Dubbed a "Hero shooter", players choose a character out of the 21 character roster and go head to head in multiple, objective based, 6v6 game modes to the best of 3 rounds. If you have ever played Team Fortress 2, you know the style. If you liked Team Fortress 2, you will adore Overwatch. Each of the 21 characters is entirely unique, and fill out a certain role to help your team. Whether you play a Tank character who have massive health pools, or a support character who is best powering up another character, there's plenty of variety to go around.
The maps, though repetitive, are well designed and play to each and every character's strengths and weakness's. Pharah, who has a jetpack and 6-shot rocket launcher, can fly up high onto a roof and rain down missiles to keep pressure on the opponents. Bastion, a robot who can turn into a mini-gun turret, dominates in narrow lanes and streets. Widowmaker, who has an assault rifle that turns into a sniper and a grappling hook, can quickly take a shot, move, and rain down a hail of fire. This means any map is viable for any character.
Balance was obviously a priority and never came as a second thought to the dev team. I never once felt like I was being killed because another character was over-powered. Every character has a counter character who does well against them. Bastion, for example, is very weak to sniper characters, such as Hanzo, who has a bow and arrow. Road Hog, who has a shotgun and a chain to pull others closer, can both deal and take massive amounts of damage. However, Road Hog is slow, and characters like Tracer, who can teleport and rewind time back about 3 seconds, can easily destroy him if they keep moving.
One of my favorite features is that there is no assists. Games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield reward players who did damage, but didn't deliver the final shot with assists. In Overwatch, however, any points you do in damage to a character is counted, and when that character is dead, any character who did damage to them is rewarded with 1 elimination, as well as a number telling you exactly what percent in health you took from them. This felt very rewarding, even when I was a support character who can't deal damage out like others, and kept me playing. Players are also rewarded a "Final Blow" point for getting the last shot off, which is even more rewarding. The game also watches you, and at the end of the round, chooses 1 player to show a "play of the game", which showcases the largest kill streak in a small 10 second clip.
Overwatch is a promising concept that I happily put 15 hours into over its weekend long beta. Each character is unique, and Blizzard has confirmed more will be added as free DLC. I can't wait to play the full game, which you can purchase on May 24th for $40 on PC or $60 dollars on the Xbox One and PS4.