Overwatch is Blizzard’s objective based team FPS, and what it lacks in single-player content, it more than makes up for with in-depth map design, gorgeous art direction, and a variety of heroes and play styles. Born from the ashes of the failed game “Titan”, which was cancelled for not being fun, the developers of Overwatch strived to make it fun in every way from mechanics, to characters, to environments.
The heroes of Overwatch are divided into four classes: offense, defense, tank, and support. Certain heroes such as Widowmaker and Torbjorn are then put into the sniper and builder subclass, respectively. Each of Overwatch’s 21 heroes feel unique, even those in the same class. For example, while Mercy and Zenyatta are both considered support characters, they couldn’t play more differently. Mercy needs to stay close teammate in order to provide a healing or damage buff beam, depending on the situation. Zenyatta, however, must keep his distance from the action while maintaining a clear line of sight on as much of it as he can. He’s able to heal his allies with his long range orbs of harmony. His orbs of discords cause their target to take 50% extra damage, allowing your team to quickly dispatch traditionally difficult enemies. This diversity means Overwatch truly has something for everyone.
The diversity of characters in Overwatch stretches far beyond their playstyles, as each one has a very clear personality as well as a fleshed out and often times tragic backstory. From a nineteen-year-old Korean professional gamer, to a sixty-one year old German soldier who
lives for the glory of battle. Blizzard has made a few of these characters particularly memorable by giving them their own animated shorts. The most notable of these to date is the short entitled “Dragons” which focuses on the relationship of brothers, Genji and Hanzo. In the pre- game room on the attacking team, characters will often converse with each other and will sometimes reference events that happened within the game’s trailer or animated shorts. The most notable example of this is Widowmaker’s remark to Reaper: “Let’s hope it goes better than the time at the museum”, a clear reference to the game’s cinematic trailer. Although this game has no campaign, it has many stories to tell.
The maps of Overwatch are just as diverse as the characters. From the bright white architecture of Ilios in the Mediterranean, to the cold, dank slums of King’s Row in England, each map is as beautiful as it is dense with tactical opportunities. Because most characters have some form of extra mobility such as Reaper’s teleport, or Pharah’s jetpack, all the maps are built from the ground up with these abilities in mind, providing obstacles that skilled players can find ways around and gaps only certain heroes can cross to provide a short cut to the objective. Each map is linked to one of Overwatch’s four game modes, and is designed with that game mode specifically in mind. Ilios presents a king of the hill style game, providing an objective in between each team’s spawn points, and equivalent obstacles for each team. Hanamura features a more asymmetrical design as one team is given two points to defend, while the other is tasked with taking them. Gibraltar is a more linear map, featuring an escort mode in which one team must move the payload to the end of the map while the other must stop it.
While this game is not for those in search of the next great campaign, it does have something for everyone interested in a fun shooter with enough depth for the competitive and enough accessibility for the casual. There are some minor balance issues, but Blizzard is actively working to correct them, and they in no way detract from a game that fully realized everything it could be, even if the only thing that it set out to be was fun.