From Blizzard Entertainment, legendary designers behind the Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo franchises, comes Overwatch - a title that, in spite of it’s flaws, is so full of life at launch, that it’s hard to not be swept up by how great it looks, and how much fun it is to play.
Mechanically speaking, this mostly online-only, fast paced and frenetic, objective oriented, and class-based first person shooter looks and plays just as good as was promised. The level of artistry put into each character, map, and unlockable is astounding. Further, the rock/paper/scissors design of the incredibly varied characters and their weapons/abilities means the gameplay loop is almost always a blast - providing you have a reliable team, or at least a group of friends (not always mutually exclusive).
From the 21 quirky and unique launch characters (split into four classes: Offense, Defense, Tank, and Support), to the level of detail within each of the 12 included maps, the game has a distinct look and feel that lets everything work perfectly within the universe that’s been setup. Each map is locked to one of the game’s four different team based objectives (Escort, Assault, Assault/Escort and Control), and although this severely limits the ways you can play them, each one feels like it’s been finely tuned for that particular style of play.
Despite how much fun the game can be - and it can be an absolute blast with a good squad, the limited number of available modes is a point where the game begins to fall a little short in my opinion. As of writing this review (shortly after launch), not including the Tutorials, there are only four playable modes: Quick Play, Play vs. A.I., Custom game, and Arcade (a weekly, rotating setup with its own rules).
The game severely lacks any sort of team or free-for-all Deathmatch, Last Man Standing, or Capture the Flag - just to name a few. Even Custom Game doesn’t allow for any of these gameplay types, which I find, for a full priced game that has no campaign, to be awfully disappointing.
It should be noted however that ranked Competitive Play (where you can get Achievements/Trophies), along with new heroes and maps will eventually be patched in for free on all platforms. This is great, and a testament to Blizzard supporting the game and the eSport community post-launch, but I also find it to be like applying a band-aid to a gaping wound - there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done before I could possibly say it’s a complete game.
Sure there’s the question of whether any of these modes would work with a roster where no single character stands out as a jack-of-all-trades, but the same can be said for players who opt to play without interacting with their teammates - and from what I can tell, there are a lot of them.
If you don’t work as a unit, communicate, and switch lineups as the flow of the match changes, then no amount of going at it alone by sniping as Widowmaker, high-nooning with McCree, or teleporting with Tracer will pull a victory away from a unified team - they will easily counter you. At the end of the day however, that speaks to one of the best parts about Overwatch - the ability to switch characters mid-match while respawning or by returning to your team’s safe zone.
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