Overwatch (PC) Review
- Superb cast of 21 characters
- Looks and moves incredibly well even on lower spec machines
- Wonderfully thought out level designs
- Satisfying team play keeps you fully engaged
Not so much?
- Only two real modes of play can get a little repetitive - more content is needed
- Loot system is unsatisfying
- A bad team can make you want to bang your head on the desk
Overwatch is a triumph of a game. For a studio’s first shooter title it’s incredibly impressive work.
verwatch is the game Blizzard decided to make after they abandoned their project Titan. Let’s put that in perspective – this is what they knocked-up from the ashes of Titan and it’s possibly one of the best team-based titles you’ve ever played….
I’ll leave the gushing hyperbole until later then, so we should go back to the basics first. Overwatch is refined chaos. A mish-mash of different shooter and MOBA ideas blended and tuned in such a way it just works.
You take control of one of the 21 characters on offer at launch. These fall into four loose categories of sorts. Attack, Tank, Support and Sniper. Where Overwatch shines is its characters. You’re bound to find at least a couple of candidates for your regular favorites here. Not only are there a solid cast of characters but each can offer such a different play style that you can enjoy one of the 12 current levels differently. For instance playing as the more traditional (almost Quake inspired) Soldier:76 is a great introduction to those more familiar with COD than Team Fortress. You have support characters like Mercy, a traditional healer very similar in execution to a medic in TF2. Then there are more outlandish characters like Junkrat who sort of scoots and hobbles rapidly around a level firing grenades as his main weapon.
Each character has their standard attack, as well as their class specific actions and a special. The special is slowly activated as you perform actions in the game (defending/shooting/healing/building etc) and can sometimes be a real game changer. For instance Bastion can transform into a small tank like structure and inflict some serious damage. The character specific actions are also on a cooldown, so someone can’t spam a specific character’s special over and over. For example Tracer (she from sooo much marketing) can execute a Blink action which will move her forward rapidly up to three time before you hit a cooldown. Or she can execute a single time-rewind that moves her back about 3s in game time restoring health as you go. Mastering these character specific trait is where the game really opens up for you. Blizzard, ever conscious of new players, has included a handy “difficulty rating for each character too which can be handy.
There really are a vast number of choices and play styles to get involved with that, even though the game has 12 levels, and only 2 real game types (defend or capture a payload/defend or capture a command point), you can repeat them over and over varying how you play as you do. On the subject of the levels each has been so well crafted and tuned that it’s hard to think of one that doesn’t shine through.
Overwatch has a bright look and feel to it. Not going as far down the TF2 route of cartoon visuals every level looks and feels great, with a strong theme present in each (London, Cowboy etc). The characters are all glorious to look at and animate incredibly well. It’s a real treat to watch in action. You’ll even get a reasonable performance from a none to beefy PC managing a solid frame rate even on my Macbook Pro at medium to high settings. Everything maxed out and V-Sync on with my GTX 970 fitted i7-4790k @ 4Ghz main rig. Frame rate was rock solid. Likewise the game sounds fantastic. All explosions and weaponry fire is well managed but it’s the small quips your characters throw out that help endear them to you over time. The musical score for the game is also a highlight.
Overwatch plays superbly well. The shooting feels incredibly satisfying and the varying specials and character specific actions keeps you swapping and changing regularly. A potential downfall is that here, more than most shooters many will play, you MUST work as a team to be successful. This is an alien concept to many that like to play modern shooters where more often than not the game encourages hero play of running off alone.
Here you form a key part of your 6-person squad. It’s so important to understand the team structure that Overwatch surfaces this at the character selection screen. If you’re missing Support it’s tell you. About to take on a defense round with no tank or builder? The game will tell you as such. It won’t stop you fielding 6 snipers, but it’ll make sure you know what you’re getting into. Worse case and you do have all snipers then you can easily swap class at your team respawn point and often it’s beneficial to do so to help adapt to the battle at hand.
Finishing levels will get you XP, which will level your profile. The main outcome from that is delivery of fresh loot crates for you to open. The issue is that each crate is full on random items so you might open 6 and not get anything for the characters you care about. These are all cosmetic items, so really have little impact on the game but still frustrates a little. Another small niggle is that the “Play of the Game” montage that shows at the end of a round nearly always favours bombastic offensive play even though a support player might have been the match MVP thanks to heroic healing of building efforts. It’s a niggle but does sometimes make you feel like support is a thankless task (and one that so many don’t do!). There is, at least, the ability to vote for one of 4 selected players at the end so support sometimes gets its props then.
Overwatch is a triumph of a game. For a studio’s first shooter title it’s incredibly impressive work. The trademark Blizzard look and feel shines through as does the huge amount of polish and fine tuning that has gone into Overwatch.
If I had to pick holes it would be in the fact many players just don’t get roles/support but that’s not the games fault – in fact it does more than most to balance this and surface the issues. This, the small number of play types and the random loot crate contents are the only real criticisms I can level. Blizzard has a superb track record for supporting games post-launch so I’m confident that Overwatch will continue to expand and grow hopefully leading to an even better game as time goes on.
This is one of the best team-based shooters available today and a hearty recommendation for those who enjoy good team-play.
Family Fiends Findings?
- PEGI 12 / ESRB T for Teen ratings – maybe a little overzelous and likely due to online play and mayhem
- First Person team-based shooter
- Weapons such as shotguns, rifles and pistols and other fantasy devices are used to “kill” other players – brief comic blood splashes
- No sexual content
- Online play is a required component