Blizzard Out of Beta

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Steven Stavrakis, Editor In Chief

From the creators of the Starcraft Series and World of Warcraft comes Overwatch; a fast paced class based first person shooter with enough personality to go around.

Nearly a decade following the release of Valve’s historically popular Team Fortress 2 comes a new take on the casual FPS. With better graphics, intricate gameplay, and a torrent of characters each with their own abilities, Overwatch fills a desire that has been long growing in gamers both old and new. Amidst a market saturated with tactical shooters, such as Counter Strike or Battlefield, and MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena), like Dota 2 and League of Legends, comes what can be considered a happy medium. By combining aim and positioning aspects found in twitch shooters with the dynamic gameplay that results from timing and special abilities of 3rd person strategy games, casual games produce a climate of abstract and artistic situations that both of its additives are devoid of.

It could be described as the virtual equivalent of Dodgeball in a bounce house, it plays as a low pressure experience without heavy repercussions for mistakes, all the while maintaining the competitive edge that brings players back again and again.

With a variety of 21 playable characters, each unique in his or her abilities, Overwatch succeeds in bringing nuanced and subtle game mechanics to life. The characters are separated into classes based on these mechanics, producing four different designations in which a fighter can reside; Offensive, Defensive, Tank, and Support.

Offensive characters can be identified by either quick movement and high rate of fire attacks for close range, or slower movement and high damage output at longer ranges. Movement based heroes have abilities revolving around gaining positional advantages. Tracer has “Blink”, a short teleport which allows her to make the best use of her close range pistols, Reaper has a long range teleport “Shadow Step” to get in shotgun range, and Genji, who uses his ability “Swift Strike” to lunge forward and hack his enemies to bits. The slower characters benefit from abilities that help them out of bad situations as opposed to getting into them. Pharah has “Jump Jets”, letting her hop to safety when her rocket launcher can’t get the job done, Soldier: 76 has a high speed “Sprint” which prevents him from firing his weapon but allows him to make a quick exit, and McCree can perform a short “Combat Roll” away from any imminent threats.
Defensive class characters use the same formula, with half the heroes making use of deployments such as mines and traps and the other half using abilities that are less passive, i.e. Bastion can turn into a lazy Susan of death with a minigun and shield while Torbjorn can place a turret that targets anything in range.
The Tank class exists as a bullet sponge that can deal massive damage to those who get too close. Sporting large portions health, sluggish movement, and abilities that produce impenetrable barriers, these giants become the foundation for strategic ideas by using their immense presence to change the landscape of battle. Last on the list is Support; the “unappreciated” class, as they would call themselves. Most of the characters that fall into this category do very little damage on their own, relying on their teammates for protection in all scenarios. However, in return the support player has the ability to buff those that are around them with health, speed, or shields that make life in the arena a bit easier to handle. Players of the Support class often find themselves as the receiving end of the blame game when facing a loss because of this. Success hinges on the ability for better equipped characters to utilize the advantages that a Support player gives them. If they are unable to capitalize properly, Support will never hear the end of it.

But that’s what makes the game so energetic and different. The MOBA aspect of choosing characters that compliment each other combines with skill based aim; creating a spectrum of team play that can change drastically based on the personal abilities within the six player team. It’s welcoming to new players and rewarding to veterans and produced by a company that loves its followers. Blizzard has been supportive of their community, produced a game for a reasonable price, and made it fun. For that, they have thousands of people happily throwing money at them for a game they know they’ll come back to time and time again.