Overwatch has been a rather strange phenomenon. The game isn't even out yet, but it has been in extensive beta testing for quite some time. There is already a huge community, and tons and tons of videos online of the game. It has been a fairly closed affair on the playing side though, leaving many to look from the outside in as the stress and balancing tests took place. Luckily, we are inching the game's eventual release though, and with that there is an impending beta for those who pre-ordered the game. Soon all those who really want in, will be in, and not long after that, the game will actually just be out.
I was lucky enough to be invited out by Blizzard last week to have a go at the title, specifically on console (in my case on Xbox One.) And oh boy, iI can tell you that I am gagging to get my hands on it again.
Before we get into it, let's go over what the game is. Simply put, it is a role based arena shooter. There is a set of characters, all with their own strengths and designated roles. To succeed you will have to create a balanced six man team, filling all the gaps with various characters to make a well rounded group. There are four classes, Attack, Defence, Tanks and Supports with specialists at certain abilities divided in each group. A match can play out several ways, be it vying for control of a moving truck, attacking and defending a base and a couple other variations.
Now, there is an influx of character based online games going now, partially inspired by the run away success of the Moba genre. Overwatch really stands out as something different from the brief time I spent playing it. The characters feel unique, the to-and-fro of battle and the success of well thought out tactics makes me think we could have an incredibly strong multiplayer experience on our hands. As a man who is really over on character based arena games right now, Overwatch is right up my alley.
The game has been seen almost exclusively as a PC title thus far, because, well, it's the only platform the game has been played on. But Overwatch is coming to consoles as well, and I have to say, I really did not have any problems with the console port of the game. I haven't been playing the game on PC, so I can't say too much about the comparison, but there was nothing about the performance I experienced that caught my eye as negative. In fact, the art style of the game is so vibrant and beautiful, that the game always feels like it is popping. It really does look fantastic.
This was all on the Xbox One too, which generally struggles a little more than the PlayStation 4 at performance. It ran great, and if you don't have a big expensive computer to play the game on, the console version of the title should feel just fine. It really will be fascinating to see how well the console community picks up the game too, especially with your Call of Dutys dominating the online shooter space. Can Blizzard break that by introducing a hyper-stylised, colourful multiplayer experience? Well, we'll have to see.
Now, I leave you with a story from the event. An event that has now become known as the 'Monkey Party'. In a game, you can have more than one of the same characters on a team at anyone time. One of the game's most famous characters, Winston, a hyper-intelligent gorilla, is a hulking presence on the battlefield. So, why not six all at once? This is a ludicrous risk we all partook on our team, and I'll tell you what, once you 'Monkey Party'…etc. For added effect, have all of your team hide at a choke point at the start of a math and then demolish the first person who comes through with 12 ape fists of fury. It's a hell of a sight, and was just one of moments that really sold Overwatch to me as a great time.