Looking Into Overwatch

A few days ago, Blizzard announced a new franchise for the first time in years—Overwatch. And it. Looks. Awesome.

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Blizzard detailed the game in a press release:

“The action of Overwatch takes place in a technologically advanced, highly stylized future earth. In a time of global crisis, an international task force of soldiers, scientists, adventurers, and oddities known as Overwatch had come together to restore peace to a war-torn world. After many years, the group’s influence waned, and it was eventually disbanded. Overwatch might be gone now . . . but the world still needs heroes.

With an emphasis on accessibility and pure fun, Overwatch brings Blizzard’s signature easy-to-learn, hard-to-master gameplay to the FPS genre. Harnessing the power of their hero of choice, players will join forces in teams of six and battle each other across a range of futuristic global locations, from the hologram-lit streets of London to a bazaar in the shadows of a high-tech Egyptian pyramid. Every battlefield is iconic and built to highlight each character’s unique abilities, and fights can shift from streets to rooftops to open skies within the span of a breath.

“Overwatch is our take on a vibrant, near-future universe with amped-up characters and action-packed team-based gameplay,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “With every new Blizzard game, we look at our favorite aspects of a genre and put our own spin on things. Our goal with Overwatch is to create an awesome FPS experience that’s more accessible to a much wider audience while delivering the action and depth that shooter fans love.”

The heroes of Overwatch each bring their own distinct weapons and superabilities to bear. Here’s just a glimpse of the numerous heroes that will ultimately fill Overwatch’s rosters:

The heroes of Overwatch each bring their own distinct weapons and superabilities to bear. Here’s just a glimpse of the numerous heroes that will ultimately fill Overwatch’s rosters:

  • Tracer, a former British test pilot who shrugs at danger, can execute impossible acrobatic assaults thanks to her ability to teleport, drop energy bombs, and even reverse time.
  • Reinhardt, a hulking German soldier in battle armor, can charge great distances and pin his enemies to a wall or slam the ground with his rocket hammer to knock them off their feet.
  • Hanzo, a bow-wielding Japanese mercenary, has the ability to scale walls with his bare hands, fire off a tracking device that illuminates nearby enemies for his team, and unleash a huge spirit dragon that does grievous damage to all enemies in its path.
  • Symmetra, an Indian architech, manipulates light and energy to shield her allies and damage her enemies—and she can turn the tide of any battle by building a device that instantly transports her teammates to the front lines”
This game is already being hastily criticized as a “TF2 Clone” because of it’s similarities with Valve’s immensely popular FPS Team Fortress 2. For example, some of the “heroes” in Overwatch are similar in gameplay and aesthetic to the ones in TF2 (i.e. a healing character with a germanic accent, a support character that builds), and the game modes announced for the beta (Payload and Point Capture) seem to be essentially identical to ones found in TF2, even with the same names (Payload and Capture Point). But with these similarities, it’s important to acknowledge that the game’s only JUST been announced, and there’s a lot we don’t know about it quite yet. On top of this, Blizzard has added a ton of new interesting gameplay mechanics like time reversal, energy shields, and thermal vision.

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An interesting and distinctive feature of the game is the heroes—they each have their own set of roles (Offense, Defense, Tank, Support), abilities (including an “Ultimate Ability”), and background lore, not unlike a few popular MOBAs. Much like in MOBAs, players will have to choose and use their hero’s abilities wisely to complement their teammates’ heroes. This has led some to classify the game as an FPSMOBA, a fairly new genre coined by Gearbox to describe their upcoming game, Battleborn.

It looks like the beta (which is scheduled for sometime in 2015) will have 3 maps and 10 playable heroes, and I can’t wait to play it.

If you’re interested, you can learn more about Overwatch and its upcoming beta.

Posted in Articles, PC