Version Previewed: PC Beta
Available On: PC (current beta)
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Genre: Class-based FPS
Official Site: Overwatch
Release Date: Tentative
Location: Battle.net closed beta
The clock screams “OVERTIME” as I frantically swap to a tank hero. Our healer makes a clutch group res and I comeback as the attacker I was playing. The objective is a cluster of explosions, ultimates and gunfire. No side will stand down, this is the place to make our last stand….and then the game ends with the words “VICTORY” on my screen…and this was only my third game with Overwatch.
Recently, Blizzard’s new team-based FPS, Overwatch, had its first test weekend in which a large number of those with Battle.net accounts were given free access to the closed beta already offered to select players. I was chosen for such a key and from November 20th-23rd I put in enough time to get good feel for the game. Below are just some personal impressions I had of the game over the weekend.
After doing some research on some of the characters, I decided to start off with Soldier 76. All the videos and guides from people in the closed beta said he is a great character to start off with and since I am a bit shaky with mouse and keyboard in the FPS genre, I went with him. In my first game I went out with him, took aim at a red outlined enemy, pulled the trigger and proceeded to die from 3 other enemies focusing me down. I figured this was just my poor map awareness due to me being as new as one could be so I took my time the next time around and was able to score several kills before the enemy was able to push forward with the payload. Even with my playing what I perceived well, I never felt like I was doing more than point and click. This changed when I chose Roadhog.
Roadhog is a hero that wields a junk shooter that fires shotgun blasts and a chain with a hook for pulling attack heroes and supports away from their positions. After the enemy team had pushed the payload past the second checkpoint I figured this would be a good time to swap to a tank hero and see if I could hold down the line. Once I got into position I took aim at what appeared to be a smaller character skating around, threw my hook at him, pulled him and one shotgun/melee combo later and I had killed the opposing teams Lucio and removed their support from the fight. Once the enemy team had lost their healing and buffs, it was only a matter of time until we picked them off and took control of the payload. My move mattered, because of that one moment where we could make a drive we won that round and then the game mode swapped.
Overwatch shines in these moments where two teams battle in a war of attrition for victory. I found myself actually worn down a bit in the best ways after a particularly back and forth match where I wasn’t even let down in defeat. From swapping to heroes on the fly to counter enemy changes to landing a perfectly placed ultimate ability, Overwatch feels as if it has taken the best of games like Destiny and Team Fortress 2 and put them together in a unique and powerful package.
While Blizzard gets a lot right with this game, there are some issues in terms of balance and map placement. More than a few times did I encounter enemy teams all running the same character and be able to take full dominance over the map. They eventually pushed us back into our spawn and used their Pharahs’ ability to hover to bombard our doorways until they burned the clock down.
The issue above with the team of 6 Pharahs also ties in with an issue I had with one of the maps offered in the beta. King’s Row is a stylized downtown London that begins with a capture point and moves onto a payload should you capture the first objective. The problem I ran into was that due to where the Attacking team spawned, the Defending team had what felt like even more of an advantage than what the Defending team gets.
Defenders advantage in Overwatch allows them to have a full 60 seconds of freedom on the map to bunker down and set up defensive positions. Normally this entails building turrets and setting up snipers at choke points while the forward attackers go and meet the Attacking team at their spawn gate. The problem I found with King’s Row was that a team with several Mei players can block off 2 of the gates extremely well with her ice wall which forces the Attacking team to funnel out of the main entrance and into the grinder. One of my lower points with the game was around where my team tried several different team comps and over and over could not get out of the immediate area in front of where we spawned in. I could chalk this up to a superior team but this happened more than a few times and I won more than a few games by simply waiting for my opponents to funnel out of the gate. I will fully admit that maybe I’m just being out-classed but with the normalcy that I saw this happen I do hope Blizzard takes a look at maybe tweaking the gate positions.
Throughout my three days with Overwatch I can easily say that my issue with King’s Row did not tarnish my overall experience. From starting with Roadhog, to making my way up the chain of higher play heroes until I was playing Hanzo, Blizzard seems to do what Blizzard does best with a genre which strips it down to its core elements of what makes it fun. While balance issues are apparent, I have faith that Blizzard can iron those out for Overwatch’s hopeful release sometime this upcoming Spring or Summer. Until then I’m just going to hope the next beta (here’s how to sign up) they offer is soon and bide my time thinking of how many sweet Roadhog hooks I’ll be landing.
From Biloxi MS, college in Hattiesburg, lover of video games, B movies and suplexing bears through tables.