Overwatch is technically Blizzard’s second foray and attempt into the FPS genre. The first was their indefinitely-shelved Starcraft: Ghost. The introduction trailer showed a cartoony side of Blizzard in a different light. In fact, I almost thought that partnered with Pixar for the animation.
Now as a little known fact, I used to be an FPS addict. Counterstrike was my main game of choice as I ascended the old competitive leagues of the now-defunct Cyber Athlete Amateur League. The highest I ever reached was CAL-Premier. Team Fortress 2 is a game that I’m almost certain inspired many of the elements in Overwatch.
My first hero was the Widowmaker because I valued that capability. In my youth, I was one of the few players on my team that adequately wielded the AWP (a sniper rifle capable of killing anyone with a single round in the torso). Even though she’s marked as a defensive specialist, she is quite capable of being used offensively to pick off defending players who are hunkered down. Her mines can be deployed in strategic locations. My years of playing Goldeneye multiplayer and dominating my fellow classmates at school involved the creative placement of proximity mines. Most players tend to aim their crosshair slightly down and have easy line of sight to the sides of doors or hallways along with any mines placed on the ground. I definitely nailed the shots I should’ve made but there were a few clutch ones where I simply could not connect.
I blame lag.
Tip: Place your mines up such as in ceilings or just behind the doors facing downward. If your enemies run through, they won’t expect mines to detonate down.
Unfortunately, in my first match, I was out-widowed. I’m getting too old to reliably use a reflex-based hero.
Then I realized we had captured the initial payload objective and were now escorting it to its final resting place. We didn’t have any tanks and I decided to activate Reinhardt to see what his capabilities were. Reinhardt is an excellent pusher capable of giving your heavy hitters enough time to clear the way. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the best at timing and deploying my protective wall. I was letting my team down in that aspect and it’s also hard to communicate with the team what you want everyone to do since there are no microphones. Reinhardt’s such a beast though especially if you can land a successful pin. It can lethally neutralize a fair number of heroes in one shot especially when followed up with that hammer of his.
By far, Pharah is the hero who managed to click well with me. It’s like using the original Rocket Launcher in Unreal Tournament. I just wish I had the capability to queue up and fire multiple rockets at the same time (but that would be overpowered). You have to compensate for the missile speed of the rockets and “lead” your shots but when those rockets connect, they would almost always flatten anyone they came in contact with. In fact, due to the splash damage nature of her main weapon, you don’t even have to be that accurate! Barrage, her ultimate ability, did not feel powerful at all. I fully expected to carpet bomb an area but it seemed like I was simply peppering my opponents instead. They didn’t do enough damage to really make a meaningful impact. It shouldn’t be that difficult to use since all I’m really doing is pointing in a direction where the opposition is and unloading my arsenal.
Naturally, the game is still a tad buggy. Our entire pod of computers happened to crash just before the match ended but the crew members there were gracious enough to provide us with an additional round.
Will eSports work?
I’m not sure. The matches I played seems a little too fast paced. I’m not sure how shooters in general translate to the eSports scene largely because there is so much action and movement that it’s almost hard to keep up. Counterstrike did excellent in this department but their gameplay is based on individual rounds: When a player dies, they’re out for the rest of the round. With Overwatch, you constantly respawn after several seconds with the ability to change your character in-between game play. Counterstrike can be easily explained because it’s a more tactical shooter and casters can explain every strategy or team position as they go for those not as experienced. But Overwatch might be a little more difficult to pull off. The narrative can be harder to grasp and explain to all but the most veteran of players.
While the business side of things was not up for presentation, I have to go out on a limb and assume that either they will charge a small base cost for the game or go the free to play route (and subsidize it with the sale of hats). Either way, I’m sure this will be an easily accessible title for many players.