Overwatch hands on: crazy characters, crazy fun

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Anybody who’s spent time with me knows that I really dig Blizzard. Ok, that’s a bit of an understatement – I love them! When I first saw them announce Overwatch in November last year though, I felt absolutely nothing. A shooter… really? What are they thinking? That’s not a RTS/MMO/Card game! I wasn’t sold, not in the slightest, and no amount of gameplay footage I saw post-reveal persuaded me otherwise. You know what did? Playing the game…something I got to do at Gamescom. My 30 or so odd minutes with Blizzard’s brand new IP not only eliminated any doubts I had for it, it also made me want it rather desperately…

I didn’t experience Overwatch behind closed doors. I had to make the time to get my hands on it. At a rough count, Blizzard had set up around 200 stations for both public and media to play the game. Thus, there were no scheduled times. I had to resort to dashing off to the large stand when I had a free moment between all my other appointments.

I’m glad I did, because I ended up going back to play Overwatch another two times, dragging Alessandro with me on both those occasions simply to confirm that I wasn’t being a Blizzard fanboy for giving it such high praise. I’m happy to report that I am not being helplessly biased – he was equally enchanted by the game after his time with it too.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about why I fell in love with the Overwatch after my three brief sessions, and no immediate answer came to mind. The title isn’t doing anything drastically different, at least not in terms of core gameplay.

I mean, the two confirmed game modes are payload, where a team has to push a vehicle along to it’s destination while the the other defends, and point capture, which, as the name implies, is about a team attacking a point while the other protects it. These two are hardly innovative and different from what we have seen in other similar titles like Team Fortress 2.

What Blizzard are nailing however, and I think this is where I became infatuated with Overwatch, are the visuals, and the characters. The latter in particular, really caught my attention. There’s just something about the way the characters move and play that has sealed the deal for me, convincing me that Overwatch is really something special.

PEWPEWPEW

Pharah for example, comes equipped with a rocket launcher. Being a fan of titles like Quake and Unreal, I was immediately drawn to her. Her one ability, jump jet, launches her high into the air (it’s essentially a rocket jump, without the rocket).

I can’t even begin to properly explain how ridiculously satisfying that ability alone is. In the one map, there is a short building in front of the capture point where the defending team all horded, picking off people silly enough to try run around it.

As Pharah, I was able to launch over the building and glide over the enemies, raining sweet rockets from above, raking in a ton of kills in the process, and gaining momentum for my team in the process.

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Another character I tried was Tracer. She comes equipped with dual pistols – handy for riddling enemies full of bullets. Her real strength is her speed though.

Tracer’s abilities are all about dashing in and out of combat. The one called blink, comes with three charges that replenish fairly quickly. Using one “teleports” Tracer a short distance in the direction she is running. Chaining all three together means she can cover a lot of ground quickly, or be an absolute nuisance to an enemy as they attempt to get a clear shot at her. Again, I can’t really effectively explain how much fun this was.

I would dash around a corner, fire a fire shots off, and dash backward to safety. That or I could just run in, guns blazing, and make use of her other ability, recall, which rewinds her a few seconds back in time, and back to safety.

DJ

Honestly, I could spend the rest of this preview going on about the other characters I played (Widowmaker, Hanzo, Soldier: 76, and the newly unveiled, Lúcio), but each section would be the same: all are varied, all are fun. That’s really all you need to know.

I can’t wait to get the game, I really can’t. My only real concern is that there may be a lack of South African servers.

Even if that’s the case, I’ve seen the sort of network wizardry Blizzard have pulled in their other titles like Heroes of the Storm for example, where playing on a European server feels almost entirely lag-free. If they can apply the same magic to their shooter (in the event of no local server support), I would be so happy!

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If you, like me, were skeptical about Overwatch, I implore you to swallow your doubt. I’m convinced Blizzard have a winner on their hands here!

Get excited… Overwatch is going to be spectacular! Were it not for the fact that I know I am a shameless Blizzard fanboy, this would be my game of the show. I enjoyed it that much!

Last Updated: August 12, 2015

Matthew Figueira

Defence of the Ancients? More like Defence of the cabbages! Have you seen my head? I look like a Merino Sheep on pole. NO SHANGE only SHAPPIES! :D

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