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Overwatch: A First Look

It happened! Erm well, sort of. I got an e-mail confirming my acceptance into the Overwatch beta. I thought that my patronage had finally been repaid, and I was to be rewarded for my penance. This was not the case.

Last weekend, Blizzard held a stress test for their soon-to-be-released team FPS and it seems everyone and their grandmother got an invite. So I laced up my Nikes and turned down my sensitivity as I dove headfirst into a genre I’m notoriously bad at.

FPS games are a whole different beast. Of the top fifty or so games I’ve played extensively, maybe one or two are FPS games. I have a decent amount of time logged in CoD 4 (back when the series was original and good), and that was on the Xbox 360. I guess if you count Fallout 3, then that would be another (but let’s be honest: we don’t.)

Despite watching a lot of Counterstrike, I don’t really play FPS games. I grew up playing Starcraft: Brood War and that is the genre I stuck to. Somehow though, I knew in my heart I was going to love Overwatch and I was going to go real hard once it came out.

And go hard, I did. Over three days, I logged somewhere between 40-45 hours and I have a few things to report.

First: Overwatch is awesome. It plays as tight and smoothly as anyone would expect a Blizzard game would. It’s pretty and feels like most companies’ final products; but this is Blizzard and there are higher expectations to uphold. If you recall, I had a couple of reservations from watching streams and listening to the early beta testers and I’m happy to say that most of them were for naught.

Originally I was worried about the pay model. So far Blizzard has announced that the game will be released with all the current heroes included. The game will be $40 for PC and $60 for console players and will include micro-transactions for cosmetic items.

Hopefully this is the way the game remains. I don’t care how many skins you add to a game; in fact, I encourage it. Dota has more skins than anyone could know what to do with and it has never affected my ability to play the game. There was some dodgy wording when responding to questions about the pay model but they have never said that things like heroes or weapons would be pay-to-play.

The other thing I was really worried about was if the game would devolve into too much of a rock-paper-scissors match when it came to competitive play. There was a lot of talk about some heroes being “counters” to others and I was worried that games would degenerate into people changing every time they died. This would limit the skill factor in the game and make the game terribly hard to follow from a spectator standpoint.

However, I’m happy to say this is not the case. Yes, some heroes are strong against others, but mostly it boils down to some heroes are very defensive and can effectively entrench a position, and there are some heroes that are strong at breaking through these sorts of positions. Bastion is the easiest hero to call upon as an example. The half-robot-half-turret can hold down lanes like no other hero in the game. His forward facing shield and absurd DPS make him a destructive force at zone control. However, in turret form, he can only turn to face 180 degrees and heroes that can get behind him quickly and efficiently like Tracer, Winston, or Genji can cause real problems for him.

Unfortunately, this will relegate certain heroes to pocket strategies or conditional picks, though most heroes will suitable for most situations. Also with the exception of Mercy, who will likely fill the role that medic help in competitive TF2 every hero feels viable in certain situations. However, games will be decided by Mercy players.

I think I’m going through a bit of withdrawal. I reinstalled Bioshock: Infinite yesterday because it was the closest thing to Overwatch in my Steam library. For now, I will wait for my closed beta invite and dream of Zenyatta orbs and Reinhardt hammers.

 

Tyler Morse is a Contributing Editor to aybonline.com.

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