Overwatch Review: Game of the Year?

For the first time in nearly 20 years, Blizzard has a brand new IP on the gaming market. Instead of an extension of the popular WarCraft or StarCraft franchises, Blizzard has introduced fan to its new first-person battle arena title Overwatch.

A mix between Team Fortress 2 and League of Legends, Overwatch is a title that aims to make this style of game more accessible than ever before while making it less unforgiving than typical MOBAs. And though this isn’t a typical MOBA, it has a lot of appeal to fans of the genre that could make the jump.

Modes

Overwatch doesn’t offer much in terms of modes, but it doesn’t really need to. Players can join quick games against other players across the world, take part in matches against CPU controlled heroes, create a custom game mode against friends or the CPU, or play the weekly battle mode that’s akin to the Tavern Brawl in Hearthstone.

Within the game there are different objective modes that randomly rotate. From a King of the Hill-like battle to escorting a payload, there’s enough substance to make up for the lack of specific modes. There is no single player or campaign mode which is different from all other Blizzard offerings.  Again, it may seem like limited offerings, but because the way the game plays – more on that later – it doesn’t feel repetitive.

Graphics

As many have come to expect from a Blizzard title, Overwatch is as aesthetically pleasing as any game on the market right now. From the level design to the individual weapons of the characters, everything about Overwatch’s visuals is incredible.

The art style is different than any of Blizzard’s other games, and, quite frankly, looks more on par with other modern day visuals than either StarCraft or WarCraft. Junkrat’s grenade launcher that is created out of random parts looks like it was really pulled from a junk yard while Reaper’s robe flows flawlessly in the air while running. I found myself — ultimately leading to my own demise — stopping to look around the environment of each map just to soak it all in.

Gameplay

The gameplay, as one would hope, is where Overwatch absolutely shines. Despite there only being one primary game mode that most play, the games never feel the same. Every character plays different thanks to unique abilities, and it keeps the game fresh in a dynamic way. And if things start to get out of hand with the current team comp, Overwatch allows you to change heroes at any time as well as allows multiples of the same character on a team. It allows for endless — and interesting — team builds. Seriously, there is nothing better than a team full Hanzos running around trying to headshot each other. It’s really a sight to behold in the game.

As far as actually playing the game goes, it’s accessible to anyone no matter what your skill level is. For those less experienced or that simply want a casual game, there’s no worrying about leveling up your abilities or killing minions or anything that one would expect in a similar game. You can load up, play the quick tutorial and hop into a game without feeling overwhelming. That being said, there is enough in the game that hardcore players will get their fix as well.

Skillful players will learn how to properly combine abilities to get the most impact while also learning how to work with teammates to clear out the enemy team in the best way. Whether you’re playing with five randoms or a team full of friends, there is never a dull moment with the way the game plays. To even make sure there isn’t a dull moment, each map seems to have a choke point at one place or another to make sure fighting is always taking place.

Another nice gameplay feature that may go unnoticed by many is the fact that characters automatically make call outs without the need for keyboard input or voice chat. It’s nice for those that just want to sit and play to not have to worry about calling things out manually.

The one draw back is that some heroes are far too powerful — I’m looking at you Bastion — while others just aren’t strong enough like Mei. But that’s a problem that Blizzards will fix in the weeks, months and years post launch. At least, that’s what we all expect to happen.

Verdict

rating

Overwatch went from being an anticipated game that fans hoped would compete with like titles to one that quickly became a contender for Game of the Year. It’s fast-paced action with a pretty simple learning curve make it a must play for any level of gamer.