Overwatch (2016) Open Beta: Impressions

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Over the weekend, Blizzard opened up access to their latest shooter for PC, Overwatch. I played it for a bit over the weekend, at least enough to get a feel for the game, so I thought I would share my thoughts with you on it.

If you have been living under a rock and you don’t know what this game is, the most succinct frame of reference I can give you is that it is Blizzard’s answer to Team Fortress 2. It has a similar rendering style, although more high fidelity and is aesthetically pleasing in it’s cartoonishness and it’s diverse range of characters, from Pharah, the Egyptian woman that looks like she’s in the Samus suit and can rocket jump, to Bastion, a portable to turret, Genji who is basically Grey Fox and Torbjorn, a dwarf who is essentially the engineer from TF2, to Reaper who is the obligatory edgelord. Each character has their own weapons and abilities that make them feel markedly different, such as having differing default movement speeds, amounts of weapons and special abilities. For example, one of Genji’s abilities is to block bullets, McCree can empty his revolver as if in a spaghetti western, Mercy heal, Mei can summon a block of the Wall from Game of Thrones. There are about 21 heroes and each fit broadly into one of four classes: Offense, Defense, Tank and Support, which gives you some indication of what characters you might want to pick in particular match types or match circumstances, such as whether you are attacking or defending. It is a dynamic that works well most of the time, however, there are some balance problems. One notable problem is stacking of a particular class on defense, that being having four or more Torbs in one team. When a team I was on did this, it was a cakewalk and we slaughtered them. The same occurred the next round when the entire team went as Torb and we were resigned to the fact that we were going to get smashed, but we tried hard anyways.

In terms of maps, I didn’t play many, but the themes were varied: from the sunny Greek coast, to a Hollywood set for a western film, to Russia, to Egyptian themed maps, all blending nicely with character personalities. I didn’t play enough to be able to give you any sort of detailed breakdown of map layouts, but from what I did play, they were all enjoyable to play on and there was nothing that immediately

In each match, it is 6v6 and there are King of the Hill type modes, to modes that are identical to payload. Unfortunately, there is no server browser, so this all operates off of matchmaking. On the plus side, the matchmaking works quite well and consistently, unlike Rainbow Six: SiegeAnother positive is that the game performs well, as I am getting about 90 fps on average at around max settings at 1440p on a GTX 970. There is also a party system which works consistently well and the in game chat is comprehensive and allows you to talk to specific people, your team, party, or the server.

One thing that will inevitably come up in discussion of this game on message boards: who is the best waifu? Who is best girl? I am not going to get into that discussion here, but I will say that most players will find out who is their very own best girl, in addition to who is their favourite to play. My favourite to play is Pharah because of rocket jumping and being able to deal loads of damage.

To wrap up, is the game good? I would say yes, it played mostly quite well and is perfect for those who want to scratch that TF2 itch whilst avoiding the baggage that plagues TF2 as it stands today. If you have an itch for this type of arcadey shooter, I would definitely recommend looking into it.

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