It’s been a long year, and an interesting one in gaming to say the least. There were so many titles released this year. Sadly, too many of those titles were misses or fell into the category of overhype and underwhelm. There’s one title though that I’ve been playing for 7 months since its release, almost daily. That game is of course Overwatch. Let’s just say there’s a reason Overwatch won Game of the Year and many other categories at the 2016 Video Game Awards.
Overwatch is an enigma in the shooter/fps genre of gaming. Blizzard has a penchant for making addictive games and Overwatch is no exception. I like to call it the Warcraft of FPS. There are so many reasons why Overwatch is such an amazing title, and I’ll detail what keeps me coming back.
Yeah sure, everyone will tell you that there is not real “story” in Overwatch, and they’d be kind of correct. But I bet if you asked about the Overwatch animated shorts, everyone would say they’ve seen at least one. They probably likened it to Pixar, loved it, and showed their friends. Overwatch took a unique approach with their story, and that was releasing the story through different media outlets. The most interesting aspect in-game was listening to dialogue between certain characters and on different maps. These little conversations would drop hints of character relationships and backstory, leaving the player wanting more. This would of course lead to players checking out the animated shorts (which have all been amazing) the created comics and interactions with Blizzard themselves. This form of storytelling created the first ever scavenger hunt for a character reveal with a company. With so many outlets, it’s easy to find story and have that story expanded on by the community. The best part though, is that if you aren’t interested in the story elements and you’re playing for the gameplay, it isn’t thrown in your face at all times. You can choose to avoid it and play the game without being affected by the story in any way.
Overwatch is streamlined. In that I mean it’s a game that’s great for newcomers and veterans of the FPS genre. It incorporates so many elements from MOBA style gameplay and mechanics to fps genre staples. Characters are split by category between defensive, offensive, and support (with builders and others being identified as well). Each character has their own set of abilities making team play and team composition a big part of gameplay. To make sure that everyone understands that, the game provides players with valuable tips when composing a team. As an example, if you’re defending and have no builders (characters that can create turrets to slow/attack others) or no healers a handy pro-tip will pop up in the corner with the suggestion to help gain a balanced team. There are a ton of characters to choose from, giving everyone a chance to find their niche and pick their main. The game is just ACCESSIBLE for everyone, if you’re not an upfront player, there’s a healer or defense character or sniper for you. If you’re in on the action, there are offensive characters and tanks calling your name. If you die, the game even gives you pro-tips on how to avoid death from the character that killed you. Overwatch is also balanced pretty well. For every character you can choose, there’s a character with skills that can counter that choice. Due to all of this, the game can go from quickplay fun to intense strategy for experienced players. Characters can be switched as well to keep up with gameplay. The best part is, the types of objectives (capture the point, escort the payload or hybrid styles) are all similar if you’ve played any other fps.
On top of that, there are plenty of game modes to choose from. Quickplay places characters within a quick match with each character being able to be chosen once. 6v6 is a no limits no holds barred match where you can double up on characters or choose to have an entire team of one character (that’s always fun). 3V3 is a PvP match via World of Warcraft. There are random brawls that determine the type of gameplay and characters you’ll use and it can go from coordinated to random. There’s special events for holiday periods which include different and new play styles. Halloween brought the first PvE events to Overwatch and it was a ton of fun.
Above & Beyond
Another reason Blizzard wins Game of the Year with Overwatch is their care and concern for the community. Overwatch has been an open letter of love and communication since its release. With regular interaction between fans and creators we were given an entire ARG to discover the latest character with regular back and forth between creator and player. Blizzard also gives updates with new maps and characters FOR FREE. This is a huge deal when coming from titles such as Call of Duty where you pay $15 for new maps and even more money to get weapons that kill on headshots. There’s also no season pass because everything is free as mentioned. It really makes you look at titles such as Battleborn which required payment or a season pass for new characters and no new maps. The constant work and balancing on the game with updates for free are really what keep me coming back. There’s been a slew of new collectibles, two new characters, two new maps, new media tying everything in and at least two seasonal events… All for free. These updates keep players coming back, and we can expect another new map in the new year.
In the end, Overwatch wins because it does something most games cannot accomplish. Blizzard has found a way to please EVERYONE. Free updates and new content, a ton of characters with unique playstyle, a diverse set of characters to appeal to every player, addictive yet familiar team gameplay and a ton of fun. If you haven’t played, grab five friends (or less) on a free weekend and try out some Overwatch. If you don’t love it, you can blame me.
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE. See you back here at WTFGamersOnly next year for even more gaming fun!