Overwatch – Xbox One Review
I calculate our chance of survive at 32.33, repeating of course.
The last few weeks have seen two very similar FPS (Yes, FPS) games released on Xbox One. Battleborn by Gearbox (you can read Ash Cohen’s review here) and now Overwatch by Blizzard. Both games come from studios that are gaming royalty but is there enough room for both in such a short space of time?
The first thing to strike me about Overwatch was how stunning and detailed everything looks. From the menu screens, environments, right down to the 21 characters that are available. From the minute you boot the game up your senses are assaulted by wild, vivid colours. The levels are a mix of Egyptian, Japanese, Russian, Wild West, Gibraltar, Hollywood and god knows how many other architectural influences. Each one looks stunning in its own right and each level is significantly different from the one that came before it that you can’t but help enjoy each and every one. Each environment looks alive and lived in and nothing here is pedestrian so you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in a drug induced amine dream sequence one minute and feudal Japan the next.
Each of the 21 characters have their own unique abilities and it’s no exaggeration to say that specific characters in the right hands can dominate matches when they are in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing. Each character is filled with personality and with 21 to choose from it gives each of them a huge amount of individuality which helps them stand out from the crowd. Each character is part of a specific class, offense, defense, support or tank. Thankfully Blizzard have given each character a specific weapon/skill set so different from each other so no two characters are play the same. It’s testament to the sheer amount of development time Blizzard have invested in each character. It’s been a long time since I’ve have played a game where I want to play as pretty much every character. Sure I have my favourites but I’m more than happy to pick up and play as someone else if it benefits the end goal.
Overwatch allows you to change character each time you die. In fact they encourage it. This not only let’s you play as a different class that you might not usually play as but more importantly it allows you to change tactics on the fly. I’ve switched character half a dozen times during a match until I’ve found one that gets the job done. I’ve been in matches where we have been getting slaughtered but a quick change of characters can quickly stem the flow of death and balance things more in your favour. But trust me that as soon as the opposing team figure out what’s going on they will do exactly the same thing to try and claw back the advantage they once had. Overwatch keeps you on your toes constantly. Assessing situations and trying to figure out which character or class you need to switch to becomes part of the game and it soon becomes like a giant game of chess as you strategically swap characters depending on the current state of play. It’s a great system that allows untold flexibility during matches and it adds a fantastic dynamic to each game and it really forces you to experiment with different characters and classes.
Each character has his/her own primary/skill and two or more skills that can be used during a match with some needed to go through a cooldown before they can be used again. During gameplay you start to build up an ultimate meter which let’s you use your Ultimate Skill either against your opponent’s or on your teammates for various effects. You can build this meter up quicker by killing opponent’s, healing teammates, capturing points and any other action that benefits your team. Once unleashed the meter resets and you must build it up all over again. To help you get a good balance of classes on your team(each team comprises of 6) Blizzard have a splash screen that appears during the character selection process that informs you if you are missing a specific class or if you have to many of the same type. That might seem like it’s holding your hand a little too much but personally I love it. It’s a great little idea especially if you’re unsure about the balance of your team and how you can fit your character into the current lineup. Even when the game starts proper you still have the option to switch characters but only for a short time before battle commences.
When you start playing you are presented with four choices Quickplay, Practice vs AI, Custom Game and Weekly Brawl. Everything on screen is self explanatory apart from Weekly Brawl and I’ll get onto that later on. Quickplay will undoubtedly be the option the choose straight away and this contains all the game modes that are currently available to you. You don’t have any choice what game mode you get to play (hopefully that will change over time) because the choice of game is random. Payload tasks one team with escorting a bomb laden vehicle from one side of a map to another against the clock until it reaches its final destination. Point Capture sees the attacking team trying to capture two specific points on a map with the opposing team defending those points and trying to stop them from being captured. Control is all about domination as both teams push towards one Capture point and hold onto it until they capture it. Control is a best of three rounds with each round placing the Control point randomly within the map. Hybrid is a mix of Capture and Payload. The attacking team must capture a point within five minutes. When the point is captured a payload is unlocked at that location and the attacking team must push forward taking the payload with them to its final destination. Each game mode also has Overtime occurs when the attacking or defending team are contesting a Capture Point or Payload when the game time runs out. An additional eighty seconds of game time is added onto the match and it does when nobody is left to attack or defend and the timer runs out.
The Weekly Brawl mode which is inspired by Blizzard’s own Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft’s Tavern Brawls mixes things up. All the game modes remain the same but the matches include specific rules. The first week let you play Payload only which is great for figuring out the maps for that specific game mode. This last week has seen the Weekly Brawl set a rule where you can only play as specific heroes. As much as I thought I would hate being forced to play as a character I would never choose it does give you an insight into the different tactics you have to learn to use when playing someone unfamiliar. The week before we were only allowed to play as one specific class but you could pick any of that classes characters. Weekly Brawls will change weekly so who know what’s coming next apart from Blizzard. Blizzard have confirmed that Ranked Competitive Mode is coming sometime this month. This mode will rank players and place them into tiers according to their performance during matches. This is clearly Blizzard’s next entry into the E Sports arena and their purchase of Major League Gaming back in January shows how seriously they are pushing the medium. I can easily see myself watching competitive matches of Overwatch.
After each match you are rewarded points which allow you to rank up and unusually for this type of game your character attributes never change everything not earn is purely cosmetic and this way everyone stays on a level playing field. Each time you level up to a new rank you are rewarded with a Loot Box. Opening the box rewards you with four items of loot. You will find Skins, Emotes, Sprays, Voice Lines, Victory Poses and Highlight Intros. Each item is assigned a value common, rare, epic, and legendary. If you open a box and you already own one or more of the items you will receive currency instead which can be spent in the Hero Gallery to unlock the items you don’t own. Normally I find these sort of unlocks a total pain in the arse because it’s all about the grind. But in Overwatch I’m having such a blast I don’t care one bit. You can also part with your hard earned real world money to buy Loot Boxes but that’s crazy talk so I won’t entertain it here.
Overwatch is the most fun I have had gaming for a long time. It’s chock full of personality and shows just how much love Blizzard have put into the game. Unfortunately at this moment in time Overwatch has one downside and it’s the game’s lack of variety in its game modes. It wouldn’t be acceptable in any other game and it’s the same here. Even with that criticism Overwatch is very addictive and as we all know Blizzard are masters of adding new content to their games so I’m sure new modes are already in the works.
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Modes: Single Player/Online Multiplayer
Review code supplied by Krillbite