September 29, 2016

8-Bit Minute: Overwatch Free Weekend

A couple weeks ago, Blizzard let loose their latest and loudest I.P., Overwatch, for a free-to-play weekend. A quick look at OW's wrap sheet is all you'll likely need to understand my decision to skip this one - online only, multiplayer, first-person shooter? Pass.
But that was before literally* everyone I know became completely obsessed with the game. Before I knew it, I was drowning in Overwatch media - comics, backstories, animated short films and endless discussion of the game. I quickly became the Guinness World Record holder for Person Who Knows the Most About Overwatch Without Ever Actually Playing It*.
So when Blizzard released the game for a free weekend on PSN, I was out of excuses. I had to play Overwatch. So how'd it go?

The good news is I went into this with so much knowledge and influence regarding characters and the type of fighting I wanted to do. The bad news is I suck at shooting.

For anyone who apparently lives under a rock and somehow hasn't heard of OW: it's an online first-person shooter, but instead of just running around a map and shooting each other, there's an added objective. Some games you have to protect your objective (usually a vehicle or something similar), which is a defence game; sometimes you'll have to try to capture the objective - offence game; and sometimes you escort the payload throughout the map, which is sort of both. Your team is made up of 6 players who select from the (current) roster of 22 heroes which fall under the umbrellas of offensive, defensive, tank and support categories. The cool bit is you can switch characters any time you're in the "respawn" room, so you're not necessarily forced to stick with a character you suck at.
There are three types of play: quick play - the "for fun" version, competitive - for the hardcore folk who want to rank up, and brawls - which as far as I can tell is a 'specific limitations' version of the game. For the record, I only played quick play, so all my information is derived from there (you need to be a minimum of level 25 to begin competitive play).
You're dropped into one of the game's many maps (there are different maps for different missions), most or all of which are based on real-world locations like China, Greece and good ol' Route 66 in America. If you're playing a defensive role, you're usually given some time to locate your objective and prepare before the attackers are released (in which case you're trapped in your cage until time is up), and then the game begins! Shoot, stab, blow up, revive, piss off, and so on...
At the end of the timed match you're essentially graded on your work, shown a "play of the game" which pretty much is always the asshole who plays Bastion**, and asked to vote for one of the better players in the match.

Personally, I enjoyed the escort missions most. I played a whole lot of Reaper and followed that with a good few matches with Junkrat. They are my favorites so far. I did test out a number of the others in the practice field and was disappointed that I didn't really enjoy any of the tanks and could barely figure out the support characters (someone to support would help, I think.).

Now a full-fledged Overwatch genius*, I'm charged with the difficult decision of jumping on the OW bandwagon, or "so long, and thanks for all the fish."

Let's break this down.

The good:

  • Beautiful game. Kind of has a "Pixar" look to it, and it's very bright and colorful. Also humorous and light-hearted.
  • Lots of characters to choose from, and the way I hear it, they're only adding more.
  • Not the same mission over and over again, and not just hunt and shoot.
  • Controls are pretty straight forward and widely customizable.
  • The matches are relatively short. This is a good game to hop on, play a few rounds and then call it a night, if you're like me and don't have much time.
  • There is a massive community to trade secrets with. I'll have a ton of people to discuss the game with!

The bad:

  • I'm not great at FPSs. It takes me a long time to warm up and controls on a console are always erratic. (There is no chance of me playing on PC).
  • Like all online FPSs, I find the maps a bit crowded and difficult to look at when you're knee-deep in the game. Overwatch puts a LOT of stuff on the screen and it was pretty confusing for me at first, and just plain annoying after I figured things out. Sometimes I would die, reach into my bag of chips knowing I'd have a few seconds to respawn, but then would magically be revived and thrown back into the crossfire, only to die again. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW!?
  • My biggest gripe with the game is how much is looks like a kid's soccer match: two teams, 30 kids each, all on the field at the same time, all chasing the single ball. OW sends pretty much everyone to the same point to shoot each other, die, respawn, repeat. It would be nice if there was a reason to break up the group and go somewhere else. I'm sure this changes a bit for more experiences characters, but my weekend was up at level 6.
  • As with all online games, you get a lot of loud, mouthy retards in the chat. There's also a ton of deliberate sabotage and trolling in OW.

The ugly:

  • There are a lot of problems with character balance, but I know Blizzard is working hard to fix this.
  • The game is like, $60. That's fine for the people who are going to play it daily, but I don't think I'll be one of them.
  • Nobody I know plays on PS4. I'll have nobody to team up with. :(
  • I had a lot of trouble finding matches. At least 30% of the time I'd find a lobby and then get kicked out because there weren't enough people.
  • It's a little disheartening sometimes. There were matches that I did really well in, and yet I still couldn't reap*** the play of the game from the stupid Bastions. There are a lot of things trying to bring you down for such a happy game.

There are a million other things I could mention, but I want to keep this short.
Basically, the conclusion I came to is: I enjoyed the game while I played. I need a lot of practice. I will not play daily. It's not worth $60 for me. If the game should go on sale sometime down the road, Black Friday, perhaps? I'll pick it up then for a few nights of raging.

How do you feel about Overwatch? Am I missing out?

*Not literally.


  1. I haven't played Overwatch at all and without a PS4 or Xbox One to my name it's unlikely I'll play it anytime soon. I've been inundated by it as much as anyone else, though. I've watched a few Twitch streams and it certainly looks frenetic and fun. It seems like a game I would like, but it's nice to have a breakdown of how it works!

    With that many players a map, you're right - they should have asynchronous targets, so like 3 or 4 different targets to defend/capture.

  2. I've been addicted to OW since I played the Beta when it came out. I knew nothing of it until I played the Beta and I had to get it. I play on the PS4 normally with a few friends. I don't play as often as them but when I play its normally for a decent session. I'm not the best player but I still have fun playing. I love the look of it and all of the gameplay modes. I am looking forward to the new characters and maps as well.

  3. That is a great game! I was playing it for a long time. Quite fascinating and easy.