I have to admit I didn’t really like the look of Overwatch. The cartoony graphics and the fact it looked very similar to Battleborne which I’ve never thought was going to be any good put me off. Thankfully, my friends and colleagues raved about it so I decided to give it a go and I’m very glad I did.
The story – well, there isn’t one really. The game begins with a rousing speech from one of the Overwatch called Winston as he explains that Overwatch were once the purveyors of peace before the public turned on them and they were wrongfully accused and feared throughout the land. You’re then dropped straight into a training mode where you can learn the controls and some of the abilities of one of the soldier classes in the game.
There isn’t a single player story here so don’t expect to play through any kind of campaign. Similar to Star Wars Battlefront, you’ll only be going into battle with and against AI or online by dropping into a game or partying up with 4 others to form a squad and fight across many colourful maps based on locations all over the world. It’s a vibrant affair with a semi-cel-shaded look and, similar to Doom, the game runs super smooth. I’m really liking the way consoles running at 60fps really make a game feel more premium as you move through the levels
There are five classes to play as and tonnes of characters to choose from, each with their own unique abilities. There are so many combos that the controls have even been assigned a button so you can quickly see the controls for each character in case you’ve forgotten what everything does. There’s the standard balanced soldier class where you’ll be able to fire guns from range and also pop in close if needs be, there are snipers that fare better from a distance which can also get up high thanks to grappling hooks and the like, there are tanks that soak up loads of damage, usually do melee damage but can also put up shields, builders that can place turrets and level them up for more strategic play, and healers that can apply buffs to other characters and also keep them alive and revive team-mates.
What’s also great about the game is the fact that at any time during a round you can swap out to another character if things aren’t going well, or if your team is unbalanced. You’ll even get a hint about your team and what it could be lacking when you all select your characters in the lobby. It’s all very helpful for a more casual on-line gamer. To reward you for not swapping around too much, there is also a meter in the middle of the screen which fills up as you play. Once it reaches 100% you can then trigger your ability, whether it’s going into a kind of berserk mode, unleashing a salvo of rockets or having the ability to not miss anyone you fire at within sight. Whatever your skill or ability, there will always be a moment where you get a cool kill and feel like you’re bossing the game. There’s even a ‘play of the match’ replay at the end of the round where it shows the best play and makes you the star. People can then vote on who they thought the best player was based on stats on screen as the XP points are dished out.
Another cool thing for time poor players is the fact that no-one is rewarded with better weapons or perks for playing or rising in rank. Rewards are all cosmetic such as skins, tags or player icons which you can collect to try and get the full set. This means that anyone can jump in, even at level 1, and not feel that they are at a disadvantage playing someone at level 20 who’s had the game for longer.
Game modes all seem to be along a theme at the moment, that being controlling an area or staying close to a vehicle as you escort it from A to B to C. Whilst it’s fun at the moment, I do hope some new modes are added in future updates, along with all the extra characters we are promised.
Overwatch is a breath of fresh air. Being a PEGI 12 means that it’s not violent, and has that fun factor with a variety of characters that all have something to say in the heat of battle. My only gripes are the lack of knowing why everyone is fighting the first place and the lack of game modes at the moment. It will be interesting to see how the game evolves over the coming months. Overwatch has the potential to be truly great so it gets 9 out of 10.
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