Overwatch has taken the gaming world by storm.
If you haven’t been keeping count, Overwatch is Blizzard’s third attempt to completely co-opt a genre by outdoing everyone else in the field. The first was Heroes of the Storm, the second was Hearthstone. Now shooters are under siege.
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Heroes of the Storm hasn’t quite overtaken Dota 2 or League of Legends, but it’s easily one of the most accessible and watchable MOBA-style games on the market. Hearthstone, as you’ve probably heard, has dominated the online collectible card game world since the minute it went live.
What’s fascinating about Overwatch is that it’s entering arguably the most crowded field in all of gaming: online shooters. Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Halo, Battlefield and, oh, right, Call of Duty have already staked their claim to the tune of tens of millions of gamers all around the world.
Counter-Strike has custom maps and has been an established eSport for as long as any game in existence. Halo changed the course of console shooters forever with massive, epic campaigns and fun, distinctive multiplayer. Call of Duty introduced progression into the world of online shooters and preemptively killed any game that didn’t follow the formula (RIP Titanfall).
Overwatch has a Quick Play mode, a Play vs. AI mode and a Weekly Brawl with slightly modified rules. A planned competitive mode wasn’t ready for launch, and actually, Overwatch is surprisingly bare-bones at launch.
Before you get angry at me for pointing this out, let me make myself clear — I do not think that the number of modes a game contains directly correlates to the value of the game or the amount of fun one will have with it. What I do think is that FPS players have certain expectations from developers in 2016, and that Blizzard doesn’t have to play by the same rules as everyone else.
Having only invested a dozen or so hours into Overwatch over the past week, I already feel like I’ve seen everything there is to see. That’s not to say that there isn’t plenty of fun left to be had, but because I’ve been conditioned by other games in the genre to keep working toward that next weapon upgrade or character unlock, I’m having trouble finding motivation to return. Not even the draw of another loot box is enough to keep me online for one more round.
Furthermore, despite Blizzard’s trademark attention to detail, the layout of the maps often leaves something to be desired. Many of the maps feature impromptu choke points where players continually rush at one another, attempting to kill enough members of the opposing team to press forward to the objective.
It’s a shame, because the gameplay is nearly unrivaled in the genre. The weapons feel weighty and impactful, the Ultimate abilities are powerful enough to change the course of a match and traversing the maps is consistently enjoyable.
But I can’t sit down and play Overwatch for hours the way that I can with Rocket League, Counter-Strike or even Blizzard’s own Hearthstone.
Does this speak to my individual needs as a gamer? Absolutely, and you might disagree with everything I’ve written here, but it’s hard to deny that Overwatch is a shockingly slim package for a full-priced game. In the months to come, Blizzard will surely make the package more appealing with new modes and characters, but for now, I’m having trouble reconciling the price with the product.
I’ll have a full review in the coming days.
Overwatch is available now for PS4, Xbox One and PC.