Review: Overwatch – A killer first-person combat arena

Blizzard Overwatch Box Art
Developer: Blizzard
Publisher: Blizzard
Released: May 24th, 2016
MSRP: $39.99 (PC), $59.99 (Console)

Blizzard once again does what they do best, which is integrating (not just tacking on) the things that worked well in other games into their game. For Overwatch, they seemed to pull from both the FPS and MOBA genres to create a great team-based first-person combat arena.

I’ve actually been itching for something like Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory for about a decade now, and since I’ve never really been into the Call of Battlefield Duty Heroes games, that doesn’t leave me with many decent choices. I was a fan of MAG and DUST 514 but neither one is really an option anymore. So when Overwatch reared it’s head, I watched carefully from the sidelines. After much watching, reading,and finally playing, I think I’ve found something new to absorb a big chunk of my gaming time.

  • Squad size – The squad size is kept small, which means that each player’s efforts have more of an impact on outcome (did anyone notice when I screwed up in MAG or PS2?) which is a double-edged sword I’m willing to accept.

  • Heroes – They are a mix of common classes and archetypes combined into familiar personas targeting different demographics. They best part is that they all seem inviting. The entire roster is made of characters that you can figure out at a glance which is great for new players learning the game and crucial to tactics and reactions in the heat of battle. And they managed to pull that off with nary a single red-headed archer to be found.  Familiarity seems to be the theme with Overwatch’s characters, with some very obvious nods to pop culture and common tropes.

Overwatch Roadhog nod to Mad Max
A Greater Australia “ROADR8GE” license plate as the belt buckle on a character that could easily be a relative of Lord Humungus or Immortan Joe
  • New Player Experience – Quick and basic, but it didn’t seem as rote as the usual “Press WASD to move around. Now press space to jump this pointless obstacle…” routine. I think it’s because they gave each step context, so the focus is on doing the task (watch and follow Tracer, go to the door) not on the way the task is done (use the mouse and WASD, press Space).

  • Maps – The maps are complex enough to offer staging points, ambush locations, and defensible positions, but not too labyrinthine that one simple gets lost regularly until they learn the map. There are several maps for each game mode, the four mode being:
    • Escort – similar to the Payload mode of Team Fortress 2 and Paladins, one team guards an object to move it forward toward its goal, while the other team attacks the guards to slow ro stop the objects movement.
    • Assault – one team is tasked with defending a location while the other team’s goal is to attack and seize it.
    • Hybrid – a combination of Assault and Escort objectives in one game mode.
    • Control – Both teams fight for control of multiple objective locations, increasing their control points the longer they hold a location.

  • Graphics – Stylized, polished, smooth, and everything you’d expect from a AAA game developer.

  • Performance/Stability – There are a few bugs, but so far nothing really gamebreaking. The list of bugs being reported so far is rather short, which is impressive considering the sheer number of people that seem to be playing Overwatch right now.

  • Gameplay – It’s a modern take on FPS gaming infused with the heroes and ultimates of MOBAs. Matches are quick, gameplay is responsive, audio/visual cues are exceptional, and there’s a cool set of screens at the end of the match to show off the best play, best stats in category, and a recap of how well you did.

Summary – 5 out of 5 stars

Hands down, we give this 5 of 5 stars. There really isn’t much I wish was done differently, and the quality of the game is leaps and bounds above most releases we’ve seen the past few years. If you’re an FPS or MOBA fan and you’re looking for a new arena for your team-based combat fix, you owe it to yourself to check out Overwatch.

A few more thoughts on the heroes before we wrap this up…

Overwatch Winston or Mass Effect Krogan
In other games, the brawny armored guy is a common sidekick. In Overwatch, he’s a main character. Either way, he’s a very familiar face. 🙂

Overwatch McCree is very Eastwood
“You see, I understand you men were just playin’ around, but the mule, he just doesn’t get it. Course, if you were to all apologize…”

Pverwatch reaper Hitman
If Hitman was a wraith, he’d be Reaper… and twice as badass.

the generic everymage, doubling down on thigh-highs and the hip-revealing dress.
the generic everymage, doubling down on the thigh-highs and the hip-revealing attire.