Overwatch went live this week in the culmination of two years of build up by Blizzard. The game is at it’s simplest a first person shooter where two teams of characters – heroes – fight over objectives. Blizzard is not exactly your normal game developer and as you might expect Overwatch is not exactly your normal FPS.
Load up and you play you and your team get to select your heroes – who I was very happy to find were all unlocked from the first play. Overwatch will prompt you if you don’t have what it considers a good mix but will let you go whichever way you want to. Want to field a team with six identical heroes and you can.
Wait times have traditionally been a problem in PVP games and Overwatch seems to have solved this by putting you in a free for all while you wait – although the worst wait time I’ve had is two and a half minutes.
Get into the game and you are given one of three types of mission. Escort has you accompany a moving payload with one team defending it and the other trying to stop it. Assault is a straight attack or defend and Control is king of the hill to control specific points.
After the game you get your stats and XP awards (even on losing) and the chance to vote towards who you thought was player of the game – including among the enemies. Then you do the same thing all over again on a different map with a different objective.
So lets talk stats – what’s in the game at launch? 12 maps, 21 heroes of four types and with 4 abilities each. That’s a lot to be thrown in at you and in combination it’s very confusing and chaotic to start off with but go with the flow and it quickly makes sense.
The game feels deep and the heroes well rounded and full of personality. Their play style is very carefully designed with something in here for every player but you don’t get the full impact of the game until you stop trying to play as one individual hero and instead start working as a team. At that point it turns from a good game to a great game.
Price: £29 – £45
Included in the box: Full game access. Blizzard have also committed to ranked play next month, more characters and more maps in the future with no extra charges.
Paid Extras: Ingame cosmetic skins can be purchased in loot boxes at costs from £1.59 for 2 to £31.99 for 50. These are cosmetic only and can also be earned by playing.
Blizzard was formed in 1991 and scored their first big hit in 1994 with the original Warcraft. They’ve been through a huge number of changes since that point including merging with Activision and currently have almost 5000 employees and an annual revenue over 1 billion dollars a year.
The design and UI of Overwatch is colorful and simple. Your health shows up in figures and a graph in the bottom left and your normal abilities, ammo and timers in the bottom right with your ultimate ability in the centre. By default the UI also shows the keys and helpful hints on your heroes abilities. Once you get a little more used to playing a particular character it’s possible to change their particular controls as well. For example Lucio by default can switch between healing and speeding up team movement, this can be changed between toggling and press to speed with healing left as the default background.
- Genre: First Person Team based PVP Shooter with an AI training mode
- 12 fixed maps that are used in different ways depending on the team orders. The maps are intricate and have numerous levels and sight-lines.
- Length of game: Gameplay sessions from 10 to 20 depending on map and how long things draw out.
- Style: Cartoony non-graphic but some violence.
- Immersive – fast paced and requires full attention.
- PEGI/ESRB rating 12
- Platforms: Xbox One, PS4 and PC
- Number of players: Two teams of 6 people. Some modes can have AI to fill in.
- Color blindness modes built in.
- Audio plays an important role with everything from different sounds of footsteps for different heroes to different pitches of healing beam depending on how fast you heal.
- All controls remappable and Xbox controller compatible.
- Difficulty settings: one difficulty setting but teams are assembled based on the the player’s level and the opposition is matched to that.
- Target gender: Unisex/gender neutral with strong female and male role models.
- Length of game – no level cap or time restrictions
Environment & People
Overwatch is available for £29 direct from Blizzard. They have committed to ranked play in the next month and more heroes and maps in the future and that the only extra costs will be for cosmetic items. That’s a steal.
Operating System: Windows 7, 9 or 10
Processor :Intel Core i3 or AMD Phenom X3 8650
Video :NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460, ATI Radeon HD 4850, or Intel HD Graphics 4400
Resolution: 1024 x 768 minimum
Memory :4 GB RAM
Storage: 30 GB available hard drive space
Internet: Broadband internet connection
Processor: Intel Core i5 or AMD Phenom II X3 or better
Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 or AMD Radeon HD 7950 or better
Memory: 6 GB RAM
Blizzard is company that tends to redefine whatever genre of game it decides to put out. I’ve dabbled with FPS and area PVP over the years but Overwatch is the first game I’ve ever played where it all seems to go together perfectly.
We’re a few days past launch so it’s hard to tell what will happen in the future but for right now Overwatch is brilliant fun, fast, furious, and a wonderful game at a decent price that is unlikely to drop further. Highly recomended for anyone with decent reaction time.