So if you’re a member of Xbox live, you may have noticed that this weekend users had full access (well almost) to the much discussed game Overwatch.
Now, I must admit that initially I didn’t care much for this game, I’d read about it and it’s uniqueness in comparison to other online multiplayer first-person shooters but took little interest because as much as I understood; it was an online multiplayer first-person shooter. Not something I’m usually happy buying into as I’m an old school, offline, campaign/story kinda guy.
So this is the first element I want to address it isn’t just a PvP game, there’s not a campaign to play but there is an option to team up against A.I, which for me is a big game-changer. As someone who has fallen behind with all the fuss of online multiplayer, playing against other people online who are just going to pulverise me isn’t something that strikes me as fun. Yeah, sure I play online occasionally but the frequency of developers leaving out a campaign is becoming more commonplace; just look at Star Wars Battlefront. This option to play against A.I gave me a flashback to the days of TimeSplitters 2 (2002). However, for the achievement/trophy hunters out there, most of them are only available in PvP, so bad luck there.
But the A.I mode isn’t the only reason that Overwatch is worth playing. The attention that Blizzard paid to the importance of teamwork is inspiring. All of the game modes are based on how well people work as a team, if everyone plays as a one man army then the team is putting itself at a disadvantage. For example, most of the game modes are based around capturing and defending control points, if everyone leaves the area they are supposed to be defending to camp outside enemy spawn points, sooner or later one of them is going to slip through and before you know it you’ve lost the control point. The games mechanics work not so much by penalising this kind of behaviour but rewarding the opposite. XP is earned not only by killing members of the other team but by defending control points, completing objectives and healing/giving power ups to team mates. Another way that Blizzard encourages teamwork is by offering a wide array of characters with a variety of abilities; each with their own advantages. This encourages players to play as different characters in order to give their team the upper hand. The game even goes as far to tell the team that there are too few, too many or none of a certain type of character, urging them to change it up.
Something that further excludes selfishness is the scoring system. All players get XP for damaging an enemy and there is no table stating who killed the most players. When a player kills another their name appears in the corner and that’s about it. They get no extra points, pick ups or anything and this is something very important that is often not addressed, particularly in MMORPG’s.
Meaning that Blizzard have successfully eliminating the phrase “u stole ma kill”.
If you do wish to see your K/D ratio and other career stats you can view them in the main menu but you and only you can see them. This is something that might give less confident players a chance to join in on the fun too.
Perhaps one of my favourite things (and not at the same time) about Overwatch is that you can’t change weapons, upgrade characters or generally put yourself at an advantage that might not be available to a lower level player. The only advantage players can give themselves is by working together as a team and combining character’s abilities. Pure genius.
This was a little irritating at the same time though as I felt like I had nothing to work towards apart from getting loot boxes after levelling up, the contents of which weren’t available as I was playing a free trial. These loot boxes allow the player to customise their character and can also be bought from the Blizzard store…and so the game that gave us hope by going against the grain conforms to what everyone else is doing; nice one.
Leaving ranting about legal cheating and lazy gamers aside I did find that the game became a bit boring after around 45 minutes of play. This is mainly because there are only 4 different game modes on offer; they’re fun and relatively original game modes; but there’s only 4 of them. All of which you can read about here. This is one of the only negatives that comes tied to the game and there’s no saying that more won’t be added but this makes a price of just under £40 difficult to justify, especially for someone that isn’t hugely into online multiplayer.
Finally, the skirmish mode Blizzard have added puts an end to boring waiting times. If the game takes too long to join a match then you are put onto a random map with some other players where you are free to kill random A.I whilst you wait; this makes the short waiting time go even faster.