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Overwatch

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    Rin-Coconut
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    Overwatch

    Rating: 5.0 – Flawless

    Overwatch

    Overwatch is a very popular online multi-player first person shooter game, and odds are, you’ve seen this game pop up somewhere before.

    Now I feel I should give some background on me as a gamer since it shows the quality of this game. As fans of my reviews will know, I basically only play Japanese games, and only occasionally play popular games. Very few Western games interest me at all, Overwatch is only the 2nd Western game I’ve played in years (not including The Sims which I’ve been playing since I was a kid). I first learned of this game through that whole controversy regarding Tracer’s hindquarters, and a large amount of rather suggestive images of D.VA completely filling my social network feed. D.VA is honestly what piqued my initial interest in the game (all that fan art is great advertising!). Much later on I was able to try out the game prior to getting my own copy and to my surprise the game was a lot more fun than I imagined it would be, and as I played it more I saw how well made it really is. Also I should note, I haven’t played much Western games in the past few years, but I used to play Call of Duty a lot, so I do have some experience with these Western multiplayer FPS games, not as much as other reviewers probably, but some stuff I’ll say in the review isn’t baseless.

    Gameplay
    I feel like I should start with the most important part first. This game is online only and is always multi-player. There is no single player campaign or offline modes. If you don’t have internet, then you wont be able to play it.

    The game provides you with a tremendous amount of characters to play as who are all labeled as heroes. The heroes are categorized into four groups: attack, defense, tanks, and support. Attackers deal tons of damage, defenders are obviously good at defending, tanks work as basically shields that can also deal damage, and support helps with healing or buffs. The characters though are extremely diverse, each character plays totally differently, and two characters in the same group can play nothing like each other. Also skilled players can twist the parameters for characters and use them in other brackets (using a defense for attack for example). The characters all have diverse skills and playing styles but the weapons fall into a few categories, you have single shooters, multi-gun shooters, melee, beam weapons, turret makers, and also a sniper and bomber. Having such a variety means it will be easy for you to find a character who matches your playing style, and with such a diverse group it makes it easier to form strategies and change the roster against unexpected turns of events. Each character has a few special moves or abilities that come with a cool down period after being executed. These can be special attacks, buffs, or special movements such as jetting around or grappling hooks. Each character also has an ultimate attack that charges through the match. These special attacks can be enormous damage dealers that can quickly change the course of a game. Some ultimates are also non-attack based such as buffs or seeing enemy locations. Some players choose to main as one character, and some players play a variety. For those like myself who main one character, make sure to be quick in character selection as each character can only appear once on a team, if someone else chooses them then you’re out of luck, but its really easy to quickly nab your character before anyone has a chance. People might hate character hogs, but its for the best of the team if you’re awesome, right?

    The game takes place in the form of online matches, in most game modes this means you’ll be in teams with other players. The game provides a few modes of play: quick battle, arcade, competitive, and custom matches. The matches then have a variety of goals for the players such as capturing and transporting a vehicle called a "load" through the map, defending the load, capturing or defending bases, and fighting the other team to try to capture the same base. In arcade there is often mini-game styled matches and things not present in quick battle such as death match. Sometimes there are even battles where multiple people can play as the same character which leads to some crazy matches, especially if an entire team plays as the same character. These arcade modes change daily and weekly. Competitive is similar to quick battle but a lot more organized and you have to be a certain level to play it, competitive is an endeavor and takes place every two months. The custom matches are mostly just for chat and people have made their own game modes within it by changing the parameters around and coming up with self-governed rules. I personally dislike the custom mode since when I played in it nobody followed the rules they set which really defeated the point. All of the other modes, and all of the match styles, are a lot of fun though. My personal favorites are transporting the load and defending the base.

    Now I should point out some things that really made the game stand out to me. The first is that its actually designed to be a team effort. In other online games I’ve played, nobody actually played as a team, it was always just a bunch of lone wolfs going crazy on each other. Overwatch tries to get the players to play as a team, and the matches work out best when you cooperate and work together. The variety of the characters and all of the brackets makes it easy to form structured teams before the match even starts. Sadly, sometimes you can get a team of lone wolfs or people who just don’t carry their own weight, but when you get a team of dedicated players who actually all work together, its a tremendous amount of fun. I’ve even had teams where half the players were newbies and we dominated because the team had such great chemistry. Another very nice addition is that you can vote to stick together after the match, so if you got a great team you can keep playing with them (as long as they also opt in to stay together). The team aspect makes this game a ton a fun and even more addictive, especially when the enemy team is just as put together as yours, then you get some really intense matches. Something else to note is the actual maps, attacks, and so on. In Call of Duty there’s a lot of campers, 360 no scopes, quick scopes, and so on, and its as if the game is actually promoting these kinds of players by giving them maps they can do this in. The maps in Overwatch seem very thought out to prevent this kind of trickery. You wont cheaply get sniped at every corner, and all of the spots players may hang around at are legitimate defense locations, which you can actually overthrow if your team is skilled and organized enough. Also the use of points that players must take or defend, with multiple routes to get there, helps significantly cut down on campers. I found the team aspect, the map design, use of points, and the attacks, all make for a very well rounded game that you can actually play and enjoy. Each time I died I didn’t feel robbed, I felt like I was just going up against good players. If you look in forums and the sort, some players feel some characters are unbalanced (too strong), but if you’re skilled enough you should be able to go up against any character with any character, and also some characters are designed to be able to be the crux of specific categories to make the teams as a whole more balanced (I play as D.VA and can’t handle fighting a Tracer at all if 1 vs 1, its just the way it is, everyone has a weakness.).

    The game also has a tremendous amount of unlockables. You can get all kinds of skins for your characters, some are simple color changes but some drastically change the appearance of your character. There’s also designs you can place in the maps, character dialogue, emotes, winning poses, and highlight intros. Each time you go up a level you get a loot box, and each box contains 4 completely random items and occasionally game money. Sometimes there will be a special event with limited edition unlockables which is cool if your characters get anything worthwhile in the event (not all characters will get stuff).

    For downsides, main would be when you get bad players which is no fault of the game itself. Bad players are lone wolfs (this goes against the way the game is meant to be played and creates weak points in your team), people who don’t take initiative (if I just cleared all the enemies in a base and nobody on my team goes in it and sets up defense, that’s a problem), and people who just have it out for certain characters (sometimes a healer will just flat out refuse to give me heals and buffs). Its a pain when these things happen, but thankfully its not too common, the most common though is Mercy players not healing D.VA players, its usually 50/50 for me, they either never leave my side or just leave me to die. On the other hand Windowmaker and Moira players tend to be very friendly with me, Widowmaker can’t heal, but Moira players tend to always be very supportive of everyone in the team, and I love it when I get a Moira player on my team.

    All in all, the gameplay in Overwatch is a tremendous amount of fun and is highly addictive. Its amazing to play an online game where the players actually work as a team and form strategies together. Even if you don’t use mics you can organized by waving to characters and clicking the dialogues for group up, ultimate ready, and so on.

    Story
    Well this game doesn’t have much of a story at all. You briefly get told the background of it in the beginning, and some characters very vaguely mention details occasionally if paired together or placed in a specific map, but this hardly counts as anything. This game has no legitimate story and is entirely gameplay focused.

    Characters
    This game has a tremendously diverse line up of characters. There’s characters of all sorts of nationalities, appearances, fighting styles, and personalities, there’s even some robots in it too. You’re bound to have at least one favorite and almost all of the characters stand out. There are some characters that get played a lot more than others, but you will see every character get played quite a bit. Also, D.VA is bae and is the best girl!

    Graphics
    The graphics in the game are great, a nice combination of cartoon-y and realistic. Everything looks like how it should and each map has a good design and unique aesthetic. The maps are located allover the planet and there’s even a map on the moon. The characters all look great too and so do the weapons, explosions, gunfire, damage, and so on. All around great graphics, zero complaints here.

    Sound & Music
    The game is pretty devoid of music and the little bit of music that is there I just wasn’t feeling. Menu theme is a simple ambient loop, and there’s a variety of short tracks throughout the game, such as short themes for each map. Just wasn’t feeling any of it really. Also the obvious use of mastering 8kbps and/or webcam audio into "sci-fi sounds" was pretty funny from a sound design point of view. A very useful thing about the sound is the sound effects. There’s a quiet ticking sound when you shoot an enemy, and this is a useful indicator when you’re trying to take down a flying enemy or a group of impeding enemies out in the distance. All of the regular sound effects such as explosions and gunfire are all great. Basically, sound effects are awesome, music was lackluster. Wont comment too much on voice acting since I’m aware that I’m extremely biased when it comes to voice acting (Japanese is best!), but I do really like how some of the non-English-as-a-first-language characters will sometimes speak in their native tongue, its really cool and the voice actors do a really great job on this.

    Over(watch)all
    Overall, the game is a tremendous amount of fun. I personally found the game to be very well balanced, and a tremendous amount of fun. Wide variety of characters and playing styles and roles, teamwork and cooperation, usually friendly players, numerous modes of play and goals, unlockables and special events, extremely fun and addictive gameplay, for the most part devoid of problems similar games have, ability to stick with team members, all in all, this game was much better than I expected and is a tremendous amount of fun.

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