There’s a reason I don’t play many games online. I don’t like ruining other people’s fun, I don’t want to let the team down, I don’t want to be ‘that guy’ who drags the entire team into a loss based on my abject incompetence. So when Overwatch was announced I largely ignored it. It wasn’t for me.
So why am I having such a blast playing Overwatch?
I don’t like competitive online games. I suck at them, I get anxious about playing with strangers and I hate the feeling that I’m either going to get yelled at for sucking, or that I’m actively ruining other people’s fun by being sucky. It’s the reason that I avoid DOTA, the reason I never play COD and even the reason I’ve never raided in Destiny; a game I otherwise absolutely love. And yet here I am, talking about a game that is literally designed to be played with scary internet strangers. So why am I in love with this game? It’s simple really, Overwatch does a fantastic job of making its players, good and bad feel like total bad-asses.
It’s Not You, It’s Me.
You don’t have to be a stud to feel like one in Overwatch. Every single player in the match can have an impact, they can do something that’ll change the game. It might be as simple as clearing a control point with an ultimate, or as difficult as single-handedly beating back the opposition on Escort.
The difference between Overwatch and other games is how it handles it’s players successes and perhaps more importantly, how it handles their failure. It doesn’t point it out that failure for the world to see. The only people who see your stat-line at the end of the game is You. I no longer have to fear being lambasted for my middling performance, I don’t have to worry about my K/D ratio being too low or my time spent defending the objective being in the toilet. Alleviating the stress of sucking goes along way to making Overwatch a pleasurable experience to play, but it doesn’t end there.
Blizzard have gone further too, with their ‘Play of the Game’; a unique post-game clip that highlights your awesome. It’s truly astonishing how one tiny detail can make the player feel bad-ass, and whilst it isn’t perfect it does go along way to making the player feel fantastic. In Overwatch even the worst player can make a game-changing play that deserves credit, and Play of the Game does just that.
Character, Charm and Style
With 21 unique characters you’re bound to find 4-5 that suit your play style. Personally, I tend to run with D Va, Reaper, Mercy or Torbjörn, although I recommend trying as many as possible to give yourself the best chance to win. Ain’t nothing as annoying as needing a healer whilst everyone is running around as McCree amirite?
Each of the 21 characters offers a unique way of playing the game. Different maps require different character abilities and different game modes require different team set ups. Being able to twist and turn with the game is vital to success, and its probably the one area I wish Overwatch was better at; teaching it’s players how best to use the hero they’ve chosen.
Overwatch might not be the most visually detailed game out there, but what it does well it does really well. It’s bright and colourful, each map brings its own unique setting and aesthetic, and there are hundreds of skins available to customise your hero.
After years and years of muddy brown military shooters, are we finally seeing a return to something more interesting. With Splatoon, Battleborn and now Overwatch, I certainly think we might be.
So in summary, I think Overwatch is pretty damn good. Only time will tell if it has the legs to sustain me, but after the opening week I’m still constantly thinking about it when working, when writing and basically whenever I’m not playing it. It’s got the perfect balance between success and failure, and with each game taking roughly 8 minutes to complete, ‘One More Match’ is a thing.
Eventually we’ll likely need to see some variation on game modes, maybe a few new characters or some fun themed events, but for now Overwatch is an absolute blast to play, and I look forward to spending much more time doing just that.