By: TAYLOR CUSICK
According to Blizzard entertainment, “the world needs heroes.” That’s the slogan for their newest project titled Overwatch. Recently, I got to sample those heroes by gaining access to a weekend only stress test beta, and damn do I miss them.
For those who aren’t aware, Blizzard sits atop the Mt. Rushmore of the gaming industry. Blizzard put Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) gaming on the map with its World of Warcraft series, and have achieved success with every title released since then.
Their mobile/PC hybrid trading card game titled Hearthstone is frequently near the top of the downloads list on apple and android stores, respectively. Blizzard is such a behemoth in the industry, it has its own convention that scales nearly the same size as the San Diego Comic-Con. I’ll leave it at that.
Overwatch is Blizzard’s next big thing. This will mark the first time Blizzard has ever attempted a dive into the First Person Shooter (FPS) genre of gaming, and based on my experience, its making quite the splash.
In Overwatch, you play as one of 21 unique characters, all complete with their own abilities and background story. Your character will also periodically speak to you or to those around them. This is one of my favorite subtle details of the game because it really helps to build the character/gamer bond that most players are looking for.
Players compete on teams of various sizes in maps with various objectives. In less vague terms, some maps will require you and your teammates to escort a cargo load on a track to a certain location, all while the enemy teams objective is to stop you from doing that in a certain amount of time. On other maps, your objective might be to capture certain locations from the enemy team, while their objective is to hold you off from doing so for a certain amount of time. While this may sound slightly repetitive or dull, let me assure you, it isn’t.
For starters, the game is visually breath taking. Running it on a pretty modern gaming PC, I felt as though I had been pulled into the Pixar/anime-esque world Blizzard has created. The combination of characters and the scale of their abilities keep every match feeling fresh and new.
One of my favorite characters was Zenyatta, a unique support character who manipulates special orbs to hinder enemies and assist allies. Also, he just so happens to be a robotic monk whose words have been echoing in my mind since the beta ended “embrace tranquility.” However, I don’t think my mind will be anywhere near tranquil until the final version of the game releases on PC, Xbox One, and PS4 next spring.
Overwatch is a game that will appeal to a very wide audience. It abandons the traditional “point and shoot/aim and throw” style of most in the genre, and it’s unique art style along with distinct relatable characters makes for an immersive experience that will have players wishing they could plug into their systems matrix style.
I played roughly 24 hours of an unfinished version of Overwatch during the three days I was allowed access to the game, and it’s a good thing it hasn’t released yet because I probably wouldn’t have made the time to write this article. It’s just that good.
If you’re a fan of Blizzard games, or a fan of the FPS genre in the slightest, Overwatch is a must have. While the game doesn’t release until next spring, it is available for pre-purchase. Like most console games, it joins the fight at $59.99, so plan on saving back some of that sweet Christmas money.
For more info, check out Battle.net/Overwatch. (Special tip, while supplies last GameStop is giving out a free poster when you pre-order Overwatch for any system. You only have to put down five dollars!)