For a game that feels like it’s been in a beta state for generations, Overwatch is finally nearing its release date. Thankfully, for those of us not lucky enough to go hands on with it at various trade shows or during the lengthy closed beta period, Blizzard finally opened things up this past weekend on all platforms, letting the general player base get some much needed hands on time with the shooter.
After spending a good amount of time with the open beta, I’ve been able to formulate some opinions on the game.
To be fair, Overwatch is a game I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while and it’s one that I’m all in on once it launches. I pretty much made my mind up about it even before the open beta kicked off.
Thankfully, I was right about it. Overwatch is massive amounts of fun, and the biggest tell comes from the visual style it exudes. Overwatch uses a diverse and varied color pallete, going with a more stylized look for the world and the characters that inhabit it. This works remarkably well and may even remind some of Team Fortress 2, another visually appealing shooter.
Speaking of characters, there’s 21 to choose from making up 4 categories: Offensive, Defensive, Tank, and Support. Unlike most multiplayer based games, every character is available right out of the box and each one is truly unique. Each one not only looks different, but each plays different as well, ensuring that players will absolutely find the one that fits best with them.
From a gameplay perspective, it’s fast and furious as players partake in various objective based modes like Payload, Point Capture, or a mix of the two. The gunplay is very fast and most players will see the death screen quite often during the short 3 minute matches. In addition, players have access to training modes, play against the AI, or take part in unique weekly brawls that feature different rules or modifiers to help mix things up. For the sake of this beta, the brawl type was a randomized character on each respawn. Certainly was a good way to try out the cast.
All in all, I had a great time with the game. It’s lightning fast, and doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t. Still, I can’t help but feel like something could be missing.
As I previously mentioned, most multiplayer games these days feature a robust progression system, which helps hook players into repeated play throughs. Overwatch is the exception to this general rule. Well, technically they have a level system, but it’s pretty basic as each level rewards a loot box full of vanity items for random characters. Players looking to level up specific characters, develop skills, or have a deeper experience won’t find it here. What you see is pretty much what you get.
The other nagging feeling I have is that there may not be enough to do to sustain a long lifespan, especially on console where players have access to a lot of other shooters. As of right now, there are really only three core game modes, Payload, Capture, and a hybrid of the two. Blizzard has stated a ranked mode is coming not too long after release, which is nice, but doesn’t solve the low game mode issue out of the gate. Still, the gameplay is rock solid, so that could be enough to keep coming back over and over. Also, don’t be surprised if more things to do are added over time, especially through DLC.
To be fair, I’m not saying this is a bad way to do things. Some games pull this off extremely well, with Team Fortress 2 being the best example. That’s another character-centric shooter that focused purely on gameplay rather than robust, flashy extras most shooters launched with. You don’t need me to tell you how that game is doing. It’s been almost 10 years and that game is still going extremely strong. I have no doubt Overwatch will go this route as well, especially with the PC crowd.
In the end, I’m still very excited about Overwatch. It’s rare these days for a game to strip away all the fluff and focus on pure gameplay. The character roster is extremely diverse, the visuals are gorgeous, and it’s just downright fun. Hopefully some of the little things get worked out over time, but ultimately, gameplay is king in this one.
Did you get a chance to try out the beta? Let me know what you thought in the comments.