Overwatch Review: We're in this Together
It's been just a few short weeks since the Overwatch beta. At the time I first installed the beta, I knew very little about the game outside of what little tidbits I'd seen on various gaming sites. I was in for quite the surprise, as the match took off much of my time for the few days it was available. Despite my newfound interest in the game, I still went in a little bit of hesitation. Overwatch seems like a match I would enjoy with its colorful graphics and charming characters. Without letting these factors sway me, I went into Overwatch with a clear head. Blizzard Entertainment has an excellent track record when it comes to their storied history, so it will be interesting to see how their first real AAA console title will turn out.
As a multiplayer online game, Overwatch doesn't offer much in the way of a story. The game's opening cutscene mentions the Overwatch, a group of peacekeepers, once saved the world from the “Omnic Crisis.” Since then, the agents of Overwatch have found themselves betrayed by the world as a whole and have even been labeled as criminals. Sadly, there isn't any further explanation of the story, and it certainly doesn't explain why the agents of Overwatch are killing each other. Since most of the game's story is contained in videos and material from outside of the game, the game's world and lore feel like one of the package's biggest missed opportunities. Hopefully, this is something that Blizzard will flesh out in future updates, but given the multiplayer nature of this game, I won't be keeping my hopes up for this.
Thanks to the experienced team at Blizzard, you can rest easy knowing that the game has fantastic and tight controls. The game honestly feels like it was built with consoles in mind, and uses a fairly standard first person shooter control set. Gone are standard FPS conventions such as a sprint button and certain mechanics change based on which character you're currently using.
As of launch, Overwatch offers three game modes. These modes are Escort, Assault, and Control, a fourth mode is available but is a combination of Escort and Assault. While players who are into Team Deathmatch game modes may find themselves disappointed, I feel that game is more entertaining due to the lack of such a typical FPS game mode. This may just be a personal preference, but it's nice to see things shaken up, even if the match modes tend to blend a bit. All in all, the game may have a limited number of match types, but that is something that Blizzard will fix thanks to updates and the rotation of the weekly brawl playlist. Thanks to these things, I feel that Overwatch will have plenty of longevity to keep it spinning in my console for quite a while.
Due to the nature of the expansive roster, I find the game boils down to more of a matter of balance than that of the gameplay. A game can have the tightest gameplay in the world, but without proper balance, it doesn't matter in the end. Overwatch manages to keep itself fairly balanced. The twenty-five heroes are split into four distinct classes, each representing a typical MOBA trope. While this class structure may lead you to believe that each of the characters within a class might be similar to each other, I can assure you that isn't the case.
Thanks to each character having unique abilities and ultimate moves, no two characters play alike. This allows each character to have its checks, and no one character feels stronger than any other. There are some instances where certain combinations of characters can feel incredibly unbalanced and, despite the game advising against it, teams made up of more than one of characters like Bastion or Torbjörn can feel nearly unbeatable. However, even a powerful combination of characters can be overcome by a good team working in unison. In this regard, Overwatch seems like it encourages teamwork much more efficiently than other titles within the genre.
Overwatch features bright and vibrant visuals, and its bright palette makes it stand out against other games that were available during the last couple of generations. I find the visuals a welcome change of pace when compared to the drab and darker visuals of other titles. While music isn't very noticeable during matches themselves, the music that is here seems to fit the maps well, and each character voice over and sound effects round out a robust package of visuals and audio.
Overwatch managed to go from a game that wasn't even on my radar to an early front runner for my pick for Game of the Year. Even with its small amount of game modes at launch, the game's selection of twenty-five heroes offers up a lot of variety and will give Overwatch a lot of longevity, especially when put compared to other shooters available on the current gen consoles. It has become one of my favorites of 2016 and probably even one of the best I've played on the Playstation 4. Overwatch comes with my highest recommendation and is a game that is well worth the price of entry.