2016 seems to be the “year of the shooter” with so many first person shooter games being released. With some really great games like Doom and Battleborn as well as some not great games (I’m looking at you Homefront: the Revolution) and even a new expansion for Destiny coming out later this year. Of all the shooters this year though Overwatch is taking the crown for best FPS. Of course with Blizzard you would expect a game that is polished, addictive, and most importantly fun. So why is Overwatch so great? Tracer Let’s break down the game.
So what is Overwatch?
Overwatch is Blizzard Software’s first foray into the first person shooter genre. It takes inspiration from team shooters like Team Fortress 2 in which it is very similar to. Like pretty much all Blizzard games, Overwatch is very addictive to play and has a level of detail that makes it the best in it’s format. In the game you choose a heroe to play in 6 vs 6 battles against another team in 1 of 4 different modes. There are currently 21 different heroes to choose from and 12 different maps to play on with each mode having 3 different maps. Blizzard has promised there will be no DLC for the game and all new heroes, maps, and modes will be free for all players with no extra fees. Given Blizzards track record for supporting previous titles we could hopefully look forward to content updates for years to come. The entire game is PvP with no campaign mode (rumors of a co-op mode are making the rounds) but there are bot matches where you are matched with other players to fight AI heroes which is a good way to practice with your team or just try out a new hero to play. There is also a training mode with a practice range that is populated with robots and different types of terrain which helps get a feel for a character without worrying about your stats.
What’s so great about Overwatch?
Like all of their games; Blizzard adds an extra layer of polish and gives that extra little attention to detail. They listen to their fans feedback and make games the players want to play. And they’re very good at that. Overwatch is no different. Here are some of my favorite features of the game:
6 vs. 6 team battles: When asked why 6 vs. 6 instead of the traditional 5 vs. 5 or even increasing it to 10 or 12 on a team the developers stated (paraphrased) that it was the perfect balance for teams. When players were on a 5 vs. 5 team and 1 player dropped out or just performed very poorly it affected the entire team while players on teams of 7 or more felt like they had less of an impact in the match overall. This is a great reason to balance the game to 6 vs. 6.
Customized hero options: Not only are there an extensive set of options to customize, there are character specific options and custom settings for specific heroes. Let’s say you don’t like the circular reticle for Tracer and prefer the crosshairs that Bastion has. You can switch the reticle for just Tracer. There are also hero specific options like the option to automatically climb walls as Genji or Hanzo instead of needing to press the jump button a second time or having Lucio’s ‘Cross Fade’ ability be a hold instead of toggle. This makes it easier to switch between his speed boost and healing without forgetting which it’s set to. Besides these options you could change the reticle colors to a variety of different colors to make it easier to see where you are aiming, turn the reticle ‘bloom’ off, and customize all of the controls to whatever buttons you want.
Objective based matches: Overwatch has 4 modes of play that are all objective based. There’s the classic ‘control’ match which is your typical king of the hill, escort where you have to move a payload to a target destination, assault where you either have to attack or defend a base, and hybrid which starts out as an all out assault on the payload with an escort mission going to whichever team wins the assault portion. Making the game objective based gives players that aren’t necessarily the best at killing other players something to enjoy more in the match. Maybe you didn’t get the most kills but by playing support you got recognized at the end of the match for most healing or your tank was with the payload the entire time protecting it getting you recognized for the most objective time.
End of the game recap: Pretty much every competitive game has a recap at the end that shows information about player performance. Blizzard has greatly improved on the formula here in a number of ways. First, they found a way to reduce griefing in the game. Of course there will still be bad apples out there but with the recap system Overwatch uses there really is no way to tell which players didn’t do well. The reason is it only shows you your own stats instead of the entire teams stats or individual players stats for your team or the other team. There are ‘cards’ above your stats that show the most effective 2 – 4 players in the match on both sides so you could see when a player does well and get recognized for good performance. But it doesn’t show how many kills or deaths the other players get. In each of the main categories for stats like eliminations, healing, and objective time you could get a medal with gold meaning you did the best in the category, silver second best, and bronze third. So you could always see if you excel or improve in a certain area. On top of that it compares your current score to your career average and notifies you when you get a career best. It’s a fantastic system that makes you feel good about your results instead of feeling bad if you don’t do very well and a welcome feature of the game. This alone is what I think makes the game so accessible to so many players. You don’t have to be the best to enjoy it and feel like you accomplished something.
I obviously have a good opinion of Overwatch and have very little to complain about. It’s a game I didn’t realize I would enjoy so much. I’ve been having a difficult time putting it down to play other games. I would easily rate it as one of the top 5 games I’ve played this year.
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