Despite Uncharted 4 going into the 2016 game awards as the most nominated game it was Blizzard's Hero shooter Overwatch that scooped the most awards as well as the most prestigious award of the night, the coveted 'Game of the Year' award. In their acceptance speech Blizzard's Ray Gresko mentioned "While we’ve been very happy with how the game has been received, we’re also extremely proud that this game and the world that we’re building has a message and it’s a message about heroism. It’s a message about diversity. It’s a message about a bright and positive and hopeful future. And these are all things that we really believe everyone needs a little bit of right now." Now although I appreciate and agree with the comments as well as the message that the game is making, I don't believe that from a 'gaming' perspective it should've been voted GOTY, before we go into my reasons though let's talk about my opinion's on what makes the standard for GOTY. So to give you a hindsight into my gaming background i have been gaming since I could remember with my first console being the Sega Master System, playing such classics as Alex The Kid, Golden-Axe, Streets of Rage etc, to which I swiftly moved onto Sony's Playstation and which thus introduced me to one if not to this day, the single most impacting, and one of the best story lines in a game to this day, and that was a masterpiece created by Hideo Kojima & Konami known as Metal Gear Solid, which in that time combined never seen before game mechanic's and gameplay as well as top-notch voice acting and cinematography and music. It was that good that they even added a feature after completing the game, for you to watch all the cut scenes and best moments again which felt like you were watching a blockbuster action film! Add on top of that more end game features like gaining a stealth suit or ammo pack depending on how you completed the game, all added to the replayability of the game despite a lack of multiplayer (A word which will be mentioned heavily later on). Fast forward to the modern-day and other games that you could say are in the same mould are games such as Naughty Dog's epic Uncharted series or their hard-hitting visceral title The Last of Us or Projekt Red's The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Now you may be noticing a commonality with all the games mentioned but if not I'll inform you, all the games mentioned are GOTY worthy all because (again my opinion) they all do something great, which is showcase great storytelling which inevitably sucks us in as viewers and gamer's into the world they have created, thus creating stories or memories that we then share and discuss with others. Now I will admit that perhaps my opinions and thoughts about games is probably very 'old fashioned' compared to many modern gamer's of this generation, but i argue surely isn't that why we all initially started to play games? to lose one's self in a foreign, mysterious world?, to be familiar with a cast of characters whom we may see similarities with or even care about them emotionally up until the credits roll? My love for games come from the one's which have resonated with me on a personal or emotion level, or may have made me feel like a bad-ass for a while, but for me a game which has great storytelling, characters, as well as being fun makes it a great game and one which is not over reliant on multiplayer or competitiveness, and yes some of the games mentioned do indeed include multiplayer but it's more of an added function/component and doesn't interfere with its core mechanic of great story telling, which leads me finally onto what this article is even about and that is Overwatch.
So you're probably thinking well Overwatch does have a story? and my answer yes it does indeed if you take the time to go to YouTube and watch the short-stories which, there is no denying are very good and some even thought-provoking (think Genji's story). But why does a game that you're paying $60 not include this? I mean when you start-up the game you're treated to a mini back story featuring the delightful Winston, which gives you a somewhat brief introduction to the world and the other characters but not enough in my opinion to warrant the price & for what is essentially a multiplayer only game. And I know that Blizzard have released regular free updates and cosmetics which is not a bad thing considering how many games charge for hardly any decent DLC's these days, but i just think that if they would've included a story campaign or even something similar to what Gearbox's Battleborn did, which despite being brief did allow us to understand some of the characters motives, and also understand the world in which they lived in a bit further. Even if Blizzard had included the short stories into the main game as a feature then that would've been slightly more forgiving of the initial price tag when the game was released. The gameplay of Overwatch is satisfying enough with each character having their own set of moves & abilities which i will say for the most part each compliment or counter each other's making for tactical and well-balanced matches, but after only playing around twenty or so games of 'escort the payload' the appeal and excitement quickly wore thin for me, and the fact that there are only three game modes in the game up to now each one feeling kind of the same, again doesn't justify in my opinion making this a GOTY winner especially with many more games currently out there with less of a focus on multiplayer having more modes to play than Overwatch does. And I've had people tell me that to experience Overwatch to its fullest is to play with a group of friends, and to that extent yes when I had to opportunity to do just that it was fun for a while, but nothing that has me hooked enough to sink countless hours into like other games have and this is especially felt whilst in solo play, in which you play with random's who seem to have no idea how to play as a team, well in my lobbies anyway! The reason for this lack of wanting to put in the hours into Overwatch is the lack of (in my opinion) customization or overall 'grind feeling' that I enjoy in most games. And yes there are skins, there are voice clips, and cool sequences, and graffiti art but if you're not a competent or competitive player than you can forget about seeing your characters 'play of the game' sequence or the other cool sequences often, especially playing in the competitive leagues which have been introduced. I would like to have seen more customization with the characters or indeed maybe added more weapon variants or attachments of some kind would maybe add more variety or depth to the characters as playing with the same load out constantly can add to the staleness of the game play but maybe that's something Blizzard will address in the future, and yes i understand that formula sounds very 'Call of Duty' but that formula still attract millions of fan's and hundreds of hours of their time, even if the game play isn't inspiring (ahem... infinite warfare). Also the level design although style wise they look fine and blends in well with the 'cartoony' art style that seems to be popular in gaming at the moment because of the similar game modes available after a few games there layout and surprises become stale and repetitive. Again something the dev's may address in the future. And let's talk about the impact Overwatch has had on the competitive scene & multiplayer scene, to say it's made an 'impact' is probably an understatement it's blown open wide the popularity & interest onto a gargantuan level with it featuring regularly in the top ten directories on Twitch as well as featuring frequently at many MLG competitions and fast tracking many content creators or streamers to major popularity and recognition in the gaming world. And that word 'popularity' is i think the biggest single factor as to why Overwatch won so many awards in 2016. From Female streamers who cosplay, to artists who do artwork for commission to professional players, Overwatch has every type of market covered in advertising and branding, and so in that respect Blizzard have been genius' without a doubt. But what does that say about gamer's mentality currently? That we're too easily influenced by what's popular at the moment? Or that we don't want to challenge our thoughts? Or be engrossed enough by a game to make us reflect or relate to the characters enough to care or feel like a 'Hero'? Going back again to what Gresko said earlier about how "..we’re also extremely proud that this game and the world that we’re building has a message and it’s a message about heroism". They may be a theme running throughout the game but I certainly didn't feel a hero playing as any of the character's because as mentioned there simply isn't enough depth or character support shown in the game to make me feel that way i compare this to the likes of Nathan Drake in Uncharted or even the 'Nameless Marine' in Doom & even Geralt from The Witcher and there's no contest in my eyes, those games each had taken me onto a journey one in which my playable character saved the world and in some cases even themselves (think Joel in The Last of Us) those are the feelings/experiences that leave a mark and those are the things that make something a GOTY for me, yes having a multiplayer component is a good addition to any game but when a game wins the top award for solely that reason and because of increased popularity then i think it's spells bad times for the future of gaming and our current mentality one in which we choose popularity over substance. Should Overwatch have won 'Best multiplayer game?' Absolutely! and indeed it did, it has certaintly raised the bar in the multiplayer & Esport catagories but should it of won GOTY? Well if you've read this far then you already know my answer!.
Do you agree with this article or not? If so what other game/s should have won? As always leave your comments below, and share! See ya all soon!