I’ve never been that fond of the genre, mostly because of its domination by military shooters with a fanbase of shrieking twelve year olds (and twenty year olds for that matter) and its color pallet that seems to consist entirely of shades of brown.
Overwatch on the other hand feels like the energy drink fueled fever dream of a Dreamworks animator who spent their free time making mods for Team Fortress 2. And man, is it a cool fever dream.
That seemed odd at first, but when I took a closer look at more of the games heroes, I understood why.
The heroes of Overwatch are all incredibly diverse in terms of both design and play style. You have characters like Tracer, who’re light, quick and based around getting in and doing damage. You have characters like Hanzo, a long distance bowman who fires incredibly slowly but can pick off targets from incredibly far away. And you have characters like Zarya, a tank who can use her laser to do steady damage, and throw up protective barriers around herself and her allies.
The variety here genuinely feels like someone took a look at the classes of Team Fortress 2 and decided to expand on them drastically. Though they do fall into distinct categories, attack based fighters meant to do damage, tanks meant to absorb damage, and support characters meant to heal and buff their allies, no two characters play exactly the same.
Special attacks range from detonating the characters mech suit, to launching a giant dragon made of energy at attackers. It’s just the kind of game where what would otherwise be horrific violence is offset by cartoonish, over the top powers and wackiness.
To me, the feature that switches things up the most is the ability to switch characters in the middle of a match. Upon dying, players can switch who they're playing as. That might sound weird, but upon playing, it becomes very clear how vital this is.
In one particular match, my team was meant to be attacking an enemy area, and we were getting absolutely curb stomped. So, after my millionth death, I switched to Reinhardt, a big dude in an enormous suit of armor and a giant hammer. One of his special abilities was to erect a moveable shield, so, shield in hand, I provided cover for my squad as we slowly crawled our way into enemy territory.
We won with about ten seconds on the clock. And it was a blast.
My biggest disappointment with Overwatch is that despite all its interesting sounding world and heroes with cool backstories, there’s no real story content. There’s a few things that can be garnered from looking at the level design and listening to the chatter between specific characters, they are co-workers after all, they do know each other, but I can’t help but wish that there’d been at least a short campaign to give these personalities time to shine.
The game proper launches on May 24th, and even if you’re not big on shooters, I’d still recommend giving it a go, if only for the colorful art style, and zany, over the top characters.