Arts & CultureVideo Games

Double Take: ‘Overwatch’ is the ultimate video game superhero fantasy

Mathew Brock:

Whether you’re tossing folks around as a jetpacking gorilla, shifting through the shadows as a shotgun-toting vampire or projecting weaponized tranquility as a robotic zen master, Overwatch fulfills the fantasy of being a zany superhero better than any other game to date. Yes, that includes all actual superhero games.

Overwatch is a hybrid team-based first-person shooter that features a roster of 21 unique heroes with their own personal sets of weapons and abilities. Both the characters and their abilities seem more at home in a multiplayer online battle arena than an first-person shooter, but the combination creates an almost unique new experience. Knowing which characters work well together and which counter one another is a vital part of the Overwatch experience.

It’s been a very long time since a game has captured my interest, both thematically and competitively, as much as Overwatch has. I’m usually not one to ride the hype train, but with Overwatch, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the ride ever since the first cinematic trailer debuted at Blizzcon 2014.

The game world is enthralling. Chances are you’ll immediately question why Saint Basil’s Cathedral is being guarded by an army of giant robots or why you’re hauling some strange device from a trashed military convoy down Route 66. The characters are as diverse as they are interesting, from a bulky female bodybuilder to a pro gamer that pilots a mech suit.

Much of the game’s story is presented outside of the game through a variety of comics and Pixar-esque short animations. They serve to flesh out the already fascinating world of Overwatch and slowly reveal more about the heroes and their stories.

I do have to say I am disappointed that Overwatch did not launch with a competitive game mode. However, I am confident that when the feature finally makes it into the game, it will have enough polish to be worth the wait. My only other criticism is that the game’s cosmetic-based progression system feels a bit like a treadmill. But in the end, it makes getting all those rare skins or emotes all the sweeter.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a lot more Overwatch to play.


Chris Berg:

Blizzard isn’t a studio that tends to tread new ground or invent new genres. Rather, it has a reputation for perfecting them. Overwatch is their first new intellectual property since 1998 and brings the iconic strategy and RPG developer into the realm of multiplayer shooters. While plenty of games out there may look similar to Overwatch, it’s hard to imagine any of them topping this sublimely constructed package.

At the core, Overwatch is a team-based multiplayer FPS with class-based mechanics, similar to Team Fortress 2. Players currently have 21 characters to choose from, each with unique skills. Teamwork is essential to success in Overwatch, with emphasis on selecting a well-balanced crew. Regardless of how you like playing shooters, there’s somebody in Overwatch for you to master.

Action is fast but strategically involving. The basic rotation of game modes will be instantly familiar to any aficionado of multiplayer shooters. But it’s in the characters that Overwatch’s hidden depth is uncovered. Every hero is designed with strengths and weaknesses that can be exploited against other players. Having trouble with the turret-based antics of the moss-covered robot Bastion? Unleash the sword-wielding Hanzo or Genji. Tired of being sniped by Widowmaker? Transition to the acrobatic ape Winston and lay down the pain. There’s a wise balance in everything to Overwatch.

Part of Overwatch’s charm is that regardless of how you play, there’s a sense of contribution to the objective. Points for completing objectives, making kills, healing, or contributing to a kill are all scored on the same system. So even if you’re not the greatest at landing incredible headshots or frantic map control, you may still be honored with the ‘Play of the Game’ – which stylishly presents the highest-scoring moment of play to the whole server. Every moment of Overwatch has been polished to a mirror shine, making up for the lack of overall content.

At $60 ($40 on PC), Overwatch commands a high price for a multiplayer shooter. There’s no single-player mode to be seen, and the total package feels a bit light. Yet Blizzard has promised that all future content for the game will be free of charge. This is an exciting proposition, and it’s easy to see Overwatch growing and expanding over the next few years into one of this generation’s most memorable experiences.

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Mathew Brock

Mathew Brock