Overwatch is a very unique game from Blizzard in that it was popular before it was even released. With the closed beta building such a buzz about it, and the open beta having more people take part in in than any beta before. But the real question is, is Overwatch worth all the hype?
Let me start off by saying this, I liked the game. It was fun, and very pretty to look at. You can tell Blizzard took its time polishing all of the levels and characters before releasing anything to the public. There are currently 21 playable characters in the game, separated into 4 classes (Offence, Defense, Tank, and Support). The issue I take with this is that not only have we seen this class system before, but that there are certain characters in each class that also seem very familiar. It seems like a lot of this game takes “inspiration” from the Valve game Team Fortress 2. And I use the term inspiration lightly as it borders strongly on straight copy and paste. From the art direction, and level design, to the classes and characters themselves.
For instance, the main charactes of TF2 are Soldier, Pyro, Heavy, Spy, Scout, Engineer and Medic. Now in TF2 the character and the class are one and the same, whereas in Overwatch you have multiple character types in each class. But the thing is, there is one character in each class that feels like a direct copy of a TF2 character, and the others are all watered down versions of the original. Take the Overwatch character Soldier 76. He is very clearly the Soldier from TF2 in both name and class. Torbjorn from Overwatch is very similar to the Engineer from TF2, maybe not in looks and name, but he is a support character who builds turrets and machines to help the team. Bastion, the “heavy” robot in Overwatch who can turn into a gatling turret is pretty much the Heavy from TF2 who walks around with a gatling gun. And Mercy, the winged healer of Overwatch is literally a copy of the Medic from TF2 in almost every way. It’s hard to deny that they directly copied major parts of Team Fortress 2 and pasted them into their game model. How Valve has let this happen I am not sure, but someone should be called out over it, that’s for sure.
The gameplay is solid, even though it only has 3 game modes; assault, escort and control. Which also feel exactly like their TF2 counterparts, but enough about that. The game modes are solid, and the game itself is just fun to play. The character animations are smooth, and the voice acting is very well done. My only complaint would be the speed of the characters is slow in comparison to other FPS games of this generation. Even Tracer who is one of the fastest characters in the game feels like she is dragging along as you move through the levels. I found this really annoying since a lot of what you do is run into a battle, shoot for a while and die, only to re-spawn and have to slowly trudge back to where you were. In the escort maps this is most infuriating. However all the characters are slow over all, so it’s not as if you’re being overtaken by someone else. In my opinion the overall game speed just needs a boost. It’s like playing Street Fighter II Turbo, and then going back to normal Street Fighter II… I want my turbo!
At the end of every match you rank up and earn Loot Boxes. Aside from the joy of killing all your friends in strange and creative ways, these are your motivation to play the game. They are filled with rewards like voice clips, sprays, and end poses. All of which can be equipped to your characters to customize them and make them a little more personal. In the end it’s cosmetic and doesn’t change the game at all. The nice thing about them, for now anyway, is that the loot boxes are free. In this case it’s unlike TF2 where the loot crates drop for free, but you can only open them with keys you buy at the in game store. But on the other hand TF2 is free to play, so you’re only paying for cosmetic upgrades if you want them.
Price is a good thing to mention as well. On a console you’re going to spend about $80CAD for this game, but on a PC it only costs $40-50. That seems a little unfair to the console market. For PC, it’s $40 for the base game, and $50 for the Origins Edition, which comes with extra skins and other Blizzard PC only goodies. When you buy the console edition you are buying the “Origins Edition”, but you don’t get any of the extras because they are all for PC games not released on console.
That seems like a pretty huge price jump for less content. And considering most games are now digitally downloaded on console, that means there is no extra cost to Blizzard for discs, packaging and distribution. The other issue is the whole game is competitive PvP, which is fine. But Battleborn, the 2K Games mashup of TF2 and Boarderlands, is almost identical to Overwatch in every way including price, but comes with a story (albeit an awful one).
My final thoughts are this. If you don’t have a Mac or a PC then it’s totally worth getting Overwatch now, otherwise you should wait for a price drop. If you do have those, then just get Team Fortress 2, because that game is amazing, fun and never gets old. If you have a console, then you can’t play TF2, but I would wait on buying this game. As awesome as it is, since Blizzard themselves say it’s really only worth $40, you shouldn’t be paying more than that for the game. Wait it out, in a couple of months the price will drop.