Since Blizzard has opened the Overwatch beta, I have spent quite a few hours playing it among my (many) other games. Of course, part of the playtime was because I wanted to get as much experience with the game as possible before getting to writing about it. The other, much larger, part was because I found myself having fun.
To be frank, I internally classified Overwatch as “Team Fortress 2, No Hats” and wasn’t expecting much of it. After all, Blizzard has never made an FPS, this is their first brand-new IP in forever and the entire idea felt quite outlandish to me, like Nutella announcing that besides their delicious spread they’re now a manufacturer of nuclear warheads. Well, maybe not THAT outlandish, but you get the idea. Of course, after I started playing Overwatch, my opinion of it changed quickly. First off, yes, while Overwatch is a Team vs. Team competitive FPS, any similarities to other games, living or left for dead, are completely coincidental.
Of the 18 heroes available in the beta, I can’t really say there are two that are alike – or even similar. For example, in the “Offense” category, there’s the starting tutorial hero of Soldier 76. As the name may suggest, he’s your basic GI with a high-rate assault rifle, backup rocket launchers and a healing beacon with a small area of effect. Another hero in the same category is Reaper, a ghastly, dual-shotgun-wielding creature with quite possibly the most evil of motives. I say “quite possibly” because apart from what was revealed to us in past conventions, we have no idea of what each hero is about.
Lack of lore aside, Overwatch looks and plays silky-smooth already. For every character, attention has been paid to the finest of details: from Bastion’s clunking walk to Rheinhardt’s grunts, the way each hero sounds and feels is completely unique. Likewise, every character has a completely different skill-set and weapons or utilities to differentiate between them all. It’s true that both Rheinhardt and Bastion use a shield, but the former uses it as a mobile wall while the latter simply barricades itself and unleashes hundreds of bullets in moments.
The levels themselves are fairly simple but diverse in their appearance, each one taking place in a different country. So far my personal favorite has been the small Japanese town of Hanamura, where the cherry blossoms are only outshined by the explosions. The overall design of the levels is fairly identical – a “Ready Room” on either end of the map, multiple passages and walkways in the middle with a healthy sprinkling of health canisters scattered about. Getting back to the action after dying might be a chore at times, especially for the slower classes, but overall the maps feel fun and challenging in their own ways.
I wish I could tell you more about Overwatch but unfortunately there isn’t much to tell yet. Apart from the lack of any story or lore components, Blizzard has remained tight-lipped regarding practically every aspect of the game, except the payment model. We now know that Overwatch will not be free-to-play, but instead will be priced as a full game at $60. A limited edition, priced at $130, will also be available at retailers. All that’s left now is wait patiently and hope for more news as the release date of Spring 2016 slowly approaches.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.