Thursday, June 09, 2016

Review Day: Overwatch

Over 7 million people purchased Overwatch globally in its first week of sales, which is comparable to everyone in the state of Washington playing at least 1 game. It's capturing a player base of unexpected people like Elon Musk while evoking moments where T-Pain expresses his love of gaming (language not safe for work). Even Rebecca tried a couple games against the AI as Winston, the gorilla scientist, and didn't have an awful time.

The game is essentially the same one it was when I reviewed in closed beta, and has not stumbled in the final polish stages at all. I've played steadily since release, and even reconnected with some old Starcraft friends who I hadn't been in a multiplayer game with since the late 90s.

The biggest negatives I see in other reviews are complaints about a lack of content, absence of progression, and purchasable loot boxes. None of these are as big a deal as they seem:

  • It's hard to understand how 12 maps and 21 heroes doesn't count for a variety of content, especially when picking a brand new hero you've never played before immediately refreshes things if your primary hero gets stale. And while Blizzard didn't include a single-player campaign, millions of trivial game modes, or an Ubisoft crafting system where you make a potion out of three tigers, quality is obviously emphasized over quantity throughout.

  • Some people have said that there is no sense of progression as you play, and want more unlockables, hero upgrades, or reasons to keep playing. In my mind, games with parts you can't play until you've unlocked them are the worst (remember Super Smash Brothers on the Wii where you had to play the single-player campaign over and over to get new heroes?), and getting better at the game and enjoying it are both solid reasons to keep playing. I constantly play "just one more game" because it's fun, not because I'm trying to grind up to some arbitrary experience level.

  • Some people have taken issue with the fact that you can pay real money to get a loot box full of random cosmetic upgrades, like new voice lines and character skins. These don't affect the gameplay at all and are just nice to have. If you don't want to buy them, you'll get a loot box for free every 6 - 8 games depending on how well you do.

The bottom line is that this is an enjoyable and accessible team shooter that just might be as addictive as a Diablo or a Warcraft to many game players. Make sure you buy it for PC because first-person shooting on consoles is uniformly awful.

Final Grade: A

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