Overwatch, Blizzard Entertainment's newest IP, just released on PCs and Consoles within the last week. Ive played some of the open beta and a handful of hours since the game's launch (my gameplay videos can be found here), and I have to say that it is quite a testament to good game design from the very start.
But what is it exactly that makes Overwatch so special, in a sea of multiplayer competitive games? Is it the cool characters? The fast and exciting gameplay? The use of abilities over weapons? Or is it something else?
Immediately upon looking at the character select screen, we're greeted with 21 main characters, 21 individuals who could easily get their own games and story arcs. They are diverse and exciting, they remind us of super heroes and soldiers, of mercenaries and champions. They are the characters we will learn and grow with from here on out, and they are as varied as the countries of the world.
Beyond that, Overwatch plays as smooth as silk. I run it on my PS4 and have only had one or two minor issues of losing connection, but I blame my router, not the game. It's gameplay is engaging and skill-based, not dependent on progression and loadouts like Call of Duty or Team Fortress. It focuses on cooldown management and team coordination, and you always leave a game feeling like there were dozens of other ways you could have handled the situation other than how you did, whether you won or lost the match.
Choosing a hero to play is a very fluid choice; when you're new, you'll pick based off of aesthetic. This guy looks cool, I wanf to play him. As you play you'll learn that you need to know multiple characters rather than just one, so you'll start to pick based on role. This guy was a Tank, let's try a Support character now. Eventually, as you grow in skill and talent and learn the game's ins and outs, you'll pick based off of the situation in your current game; the enemy team has an entrenched Bastion, so I'll play Roadhog to hook him out of cover, or a Hanzo to snipe him from a distance, or a Genji to reflect his damage back to him. The diverse character roster and the freedom to change at any time to any character is part of the learning curve, but master versatility and you'll win more games than you lose.
The only real drawback I can think of for Overwatch is the lack of single player story modes. Blizzard does such an amazing job breathing life into their characters and world that I lament not having a way to explore that world and those characters on my own, in a story specific to those characters. Until such a time as those may become available, I will simply look in every nook and cranny of the multiplayer maps for those bits of story.
Overwatch combines fast-paced, low-entry gameplay with memorable characters and skill-based progression, making it one of the best multiplayer games I've played in years. As long as you're fine with just multiplayer options, then this game is definitely worth a purchase.