Overwatch is a perfect example of a multiplayer shooter overcoming the deluge of titles that have inundated the market over the past 20 years and creating something wholly fresh and original. In the same vein as Valve’s Team Fortress 2 and other successful MOBAs like Smite and Dota 2, Blizzard’s Overwatch is a game that can stand among the best of them, comfortably taking its place among even the most elite team-based shooters.
Half MOBA and half class-based shooter, Overwatch finds itself in a category of its own. From its unique set of 21 playable heroes to its unabashedly beautiful art style, each element of this game feels like it was truly created out of love and passion by the developers. Another thing that sets Overwatch apart from other MOBAs is that most other similar titles are usually offered as free-to-play games, which lowers the bar to entry but means they are oft littered with with in-game transactions and microtransactions. Overwatch, on the other hand, opts to give players all of the game’s playable characters for a single price of $59.99 on console or PC. Instead of being forced to purchase each one separately, you have immediate access to all 21 characters and their abilities upon purchase.
Characters and Classes
In addition to providing all characters and abilities up front, Overwatch doesn’t attempt to shove some sort of superficial progression system down your throat, forcing you to play a class type that doesn’t fit your play style. The fact that there are so many different variations in play style is one of the strongest aspects of the game. What’s more, each character feels fully fleshed out and exists as more than just an avatar on a screen—each has their own style and unique personality. All of this helps bring the sheer brilliance and charm of this game to life. It’s also worth noting that Overwatch has one of the most diverse casts that any game has ever seen.
Each character is assigned to one of four different Roles: Offense, Defense, Tank, and Support.
Offense Role. The offense role usually has a high damage output and high mobility, which are strong means to attack an objective. This is the sort of role good for players who are looking to engage in more of a lone-wolf style of gameplay.
Defense Role. The defensive roles in the game are generally used to help defend an objective by combining a medium-level damage output with lower mobility. This particular class is designed for those attempting to defend an objective and can deal significant stopping force.
Tank Role. The tank role is primarily used to draw fire and protect the other classes, as tanks generally have high endurance. Oftentimes tanks can provide great protection to the group, as they can deploy shields and withstand a heavy amount of oncoming damage.
Support Role. Support characters are those that can heal and de-buff their teammates. They have a low damage output and are vulnerable alone, yet they are absolutely essential to victory.
While having every character and ability up front is great, I discovered that it’s something of a double-edged sword. There seems to be little to no reason to upgrade your profile except for the sake of doing so. I haven’t seen any incentive to level up my character’s profile outside of receiving a loot box of cosmetic add-ons to a character, which can alternatively be purchased via microtransactions.
While the game has an overabundance of colorful characters, the same can sadly not be said of its game modes. Currently there are only three game modes you can play: Escort, Assault, and Control. Escort involves one team attempting to get a vehicle from one point to another while the other team tries to stop them. This mode makes teamwork absolutely pivotal for success, as the attackers must have three team members at any given time to move the vehicle forward. Assault and Control are almost the same game mode, centering on a team needing to attack an objective in order to control it. The difference between the two is that in Assault, there is one Attack team and one Defender, whereas in Control, both teams vie for control of the designated location. While the game is simplistic in its design, it does offer a variety of ways to tackle the objectives; how a team is laid out and whether or not players opt to work as a team can make be the difference between success and failure.
I have personally put in a great number of hours into the game so far and feel that I have seen absolutely everything that it has to offer. The game is fun, but with limited game modes, it failed to offer me much excitement after I became acclimated to the gameplay.
It’s worth noting that before this game was launched, there was a bit of of a controversy over Tracer’s victory pose. There was an abundance of comments directed at Blizzard that were exploding over this pose, which accentuated her ass. Blizzard tried to put out the fire by releasing a new pose, and this seems to have quelled most of the complaints. It was a controversy that I and many others in the industry weren’t particularly certain needed to be addressed, as the issue wasn’t so much that Tracer’s pose was overly sexualized . . . it was her fucking pants. Seriously, those are some tight pants.
But even as the “controversy” seemed to be averted, it should be noted that Tracer’s new design was actually based on (ripped off of) a pinup character—a pinup that is equally sexualized as the original stance, if not more so.
So what exactly did this achieve? Not damned thing. Tracer, as a character, is inherently flirtatious and overly playful, but that does not necessarily mean that she’s oversexualized, especially given the fact that she was assigned one of the more colorful personalities the game has to offer and is rightfully a clear and obvious choice for the game’s primary face. The critics seem to be those who look past as the character as a whole and, based on this one pose, only view her as some ostensibly ostentatious trope that would glorify the objectification of women, when the contrary is instead true. Yet somehow, this change in posture is hailed as a moral victory by these same critics.
This controversy is ultimately meaningless. It has absolutely no bearing on what Blizzard has ultimately done, and what they’ve done is create one of the most body-positive games that the industry has seen to date. Several body types are represented, ranging from those of Aleksandra “Zarya” Zaryanova and Mei-Ling Zhou to the aforementioned Tracer, to Widowmaker, Mercy, Symmetra, Pharrah and Hana “D.Va” Song. And that’s just the female characters—their male counterparts are every bit as diverse.
Overwatch is a game that wears its heart on its sleeve. It’s a successful hybrid that beautifully marries the first-person-shooter genre with that of the MOBA. Aside from its tight mechanics, Overwatch also succeeds by incorporating several different body archetypes and cultures, and does so in a way that does not trivialize or marginalize the characters or their respective designs, almost as if challenging other games to do the same. Despite its limited game modes, the game certainly has the promise to become one of the greatest team-based multiplayer shooters of recent memory. It just isn’t there quite yet.
Final Score: 8.6 out of 10