So, the new Overwatch Beta eh? Not a bad bit of jazzy FPS action! Let me take you through my first impressions when I played Blizzards shiny new FPS.
“Wow, it looks fecking good” Was my first thought after starting to play for the first time; from its roster of funky looking characters to the eye poppingly interesting and detailed environments , it all seems very neat and has been crafted with care. The game seems ultra clean, colourful and there’s no blood or super hyper realistic explosions or even over the top epic battles on horseback… No no no, this game leaves all that behind to get to what we love about FPS, that being the challenge and of course a little eye candy never hurt anyone!
I started out with the training modes first, with those being the standard control walkthrough ‘Training’, then the ‘Shooting Range’ which lets you try out abilities and weapons from the roster of characters, before completing my training session with the good ol’ ‘Player Vs AI’ mode. There’s a ‘Custom Mode’ which allows players to ban certain characters and maps, along with setting certain points for victory. It basically lets you to explore more individual tastes and set up some interesting fights. Brawl Mode is interesting; it really throws you out of your depth but everyone is in the same boat so you end up with quite a fun ball of chaos in these game types. Every time you die you spawn with a new character so the game is constantly keeping you focused and on your toes. It really good fun if you’re not sure who to pick or want to master most of the characters, this is good for when you come up against them in game, it’s always good practice to know your foe.
Overwatch is a breeze to pick up from the get go, especially if you’ve played any First Person Shooters before, however, to become masterful and fluid takes time and practice and the only way I was going to get better was in the Online Multiplayer.
In Overwatch, there’s four classes to choose from when selecting your character: Offence, Defence, Tank and Support, currently containing 21 characters of all shapes, sizes and with quite varied abilities. During the beta, I practiced with Mercy and Reaper in my first sitting. Mercy is a great support character for people just getting into the game as she doesn’t demand too much technical prowess and she has enough weight as a support to cause some problems even in a beginner’s hands. The controls are simple enough and you can hit F1 at any time to check them out. Mercy used a staff as her main weapon and has a heal on one mouse button and a damage booster on the other which makes for near perfect switches between the two. She also has her Ultimate ability ‘Ressurect’ which is damn useful if your teams spawn point is a distance away. She also has a great mobility option, and that’s the Guardian Angel skill which allows Mercy to grapple another character and float right over to them to supply that much needed support. I really enjoyed playing her, there’s a real sense of achievement when you help push the tide of battle and the options you get as Mercy are almost just as varied compared to the Assault class or Defence Class characters.
Reaper is a more run and gun sort of character and I had a lot of fun with this guy. He has a teleport ability and a couple of short range shotgun pistols to wave about, so he’s an interesting mix between mobility and power. He has his mobility ability Wraith Form which allows him to become like the shadows and dance right out of danger, or if you’re a bit gutsier getting close enough to that cocky sniper to crack him one over the head. Reapers Ultimate doesn’t really take much skill to pull off though, just patience as he spins full 360 with both shotguns out just going hell for leather on everything around him. It is really satisfying when you get multiple kill streaks in this game. The sound effects and music only boost the excitement and intensity when you’re winning and the game has a very polished feel when it comes to delivering cool gaming moments too, like the Victory pose your team forms into at the end of a match.
The beta allowed you to level up as you play, unlocking new skins for characters, voice lines, sprays, along with victory poses. All are very cool but are unlocked through Loot Boxes which you earn every time you level up. You get four random items; with some rarer than others but, you also get a chance to earn some in-game currency too (which I’m sure you will be able to buy when the game gets its full release). The game has held up well to the stress tests that Blizzard were running during Open Beta, I played over the three days and had one or two lag filled games but overall a good server experience. The character balancing seems very good at this stage but there are a couple of odd exceptions which hopefully after the beta feedback will change before the games release. They all look so superbly crafted too! All with a bit or a lot of character, lots of different races… Good creative characters that you’ll start to love… In a FPS! It’s been so long since I’ve using a gun wielding character without a beard!
Overall, Overwatch has shaped up very well and Blizzard just cease to bring out those top quality games. The games characters and four classes are balanced well and the game modes that we can see seem to work very well with the design of the environments, however more creative game modes would make this game. It really would suit a more unorthodox approach to its game types to keep breaking away from the high budget, testosterone fueled, beard wielding flush of FPS we’ve had over the past five years. More characters would be great and almost necessary to keep the games meta fresh and evolving, also it’s fresh and diverse look could help bring in other gamers into the genre. I can’t wait to get my hands on the full game, when it finally comes out next month!
If you want to find out more, you can take a gander at the character roster here
Aaaaand, if you’d like to have a quick look of what Overwatch looks like, you can find all of the screenshots and videos here on the official website , along with the pre-order page on the blizzard store.
See you on the battlefield! GL HF!