One word can sum up my first foray into Overwatch: Overwhelming. Yep. With Overwatch being a first person shooter I naturally skipped the tutorial and went straight into a game, picking a character at random and being totally lost as if I had just walked into an alternate reality where first person shooters are a game played whilst tripping out on LSD. I struggled for a few more games before shutting the Xbox down and heading to bed.
The next day I picked up the game and went straight to the tutorial, and things slowly began to make sense. This was no ordinary first person shooter. This was an alternate reality, though LSD was not a pre-requisite.
Overwatch is a first person shooter that rather than having one character with a couple of different specialist branches waiting for you to level through, throws you into a game that has 21 characters with a huge variety of skills and weapons. So whilst the FPS basics are there (run, point, shoot) you’ll probably be a better player if you’ve played fantasy games where the use of magic is commonplace.
Each of the 21 characters has a specific role so to really dominate your team has to populate itself with the right combination to work effectively. So the best approach is to pick a character and explore their abilities until you have them fine tuned. Then move onto another character from a different class and master that. Repeat until you have one character from each class under your control, then you can choose your character depending on what your team needs and the map you’re playing on.
Using your abilities will give you options you never dreamed of if you’re a COD player. One of the characters I picked early on could teleport themselves, either out of trouble or to a vantage point that no other character could reach. Sure, they could still shoot you, but any noobs wandering onto the arena below were fair game. It’s these abilities that raise Overwatch far above the standard mumble jumble of first person shooters, delivering an experience that keeps you on your toes, forcing you to think differently or die.
The 21 characters are not only vastly different in their abilities, but have each been individually designed so they look and feel like they have those abilities. And not only are the characters lovingly designed but so are the maps, though after playing for a couple of weeks you’ll start to wish the developers had put in a few more.
Overwatch isn’t a first person shooter that will please everyone. Some will struggle with the wide ranging abilities and quickly give up. But it is a game that rewards those that stick to it and learn. It’s a game that once you’ve gotten past the initial shock is pure joy to pick up and play for 10 minutes or 10 hours. It’s a breath of fresh air to a stagnant genre.
Rating: M Contains violence.