Overwatch Beta Game Review

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Blizzard launched a brand spankin’ new multiplatform FPS called Overwatch. It was recently in open beta for several days, and formally releases later this month on May 24th. There has been a really huge amount of hype around the game, especially due to Blizzard’s reputation for putting out quality games and the fact that they don’t often release games on consoles.

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Although I’m not much of a FPS player– I’m REALLY bad and I’m really more of an RPG-genre traditionalist– after watching a few friends play a little of the game, the flashy and fun style really drew me in and I decided to give it a whirl.

Let me tell you: while this game might look easy to play, it is definitely a little more than I bargained for as a casual gamer. I struggled to understand what my team was doing and select one of the twenty one (!) playable characters that could best support my team’s goals. After failing miserably at figuring out the controls and which character to pick, I stopped and did a little reading about the characters and tried a few training rounds. If you’re willing to invest a little time in the game, these actions are well worth the effort to better understand each character’s abilities and special traits.

There are four different classes of characters in Overwatch: Defense, Offense, Support, and Tank. These are fairly standard roles, although it’s a little bit of a generalization to think that an Attack team would only be comprised of Offense, for instance- one would hope that a team would be well-rounded.

I tend to gravitate to the support characters, and attempted to chose one that was ranked as “easy”. The game actually has difficulty rankings for each character displayed with the character’s controls and abilities. The general controls remain consistent (which is nice), with slight variations for each character.

Onto the good stuff: character gameplay. I’ve spent quite a bit of time with Mercy playing support and I enjoy the versatility of the character. Mercy can heal and improve the attack skills of her team mates, but you can also switch to a blaster type weapon and do some damage. Her special ability allows you to resurrect fallen friends which is kind of neat, although difficult to time. My husband loves to play as Lucio, who is a really cool hero that can glide along walls and provide a support song (like a bard, but as a Jamaican DJ instead!) The creativity of the characters is so cool. D.Va drives a tachikoma-looking mecha, and Mei’s ice skills are really fun to play with. As Mercy, I usually ended up following around a Reinhardt on the team. With Reinhardt’s huge barrier shield I was able to find cover while healing Reinhardt and other teammates, and also doing some attack damage to try and cover Reinhardt’s exposed sides.

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These handy charts map out each character’s abilities.

Other fan favorites: Hanzo, the archer is one. He’s pretty interesting because he literally shoots arrows, and while the combat is not as rapid as characters who shoot guns, it’s surprisingly smooth. He also has a really powerful special ability that is definitely something to look out for. I’ve also experienced death many times at the hand of Junkrat’s special ability, RIP-tire, many times now. I love how the game’s “tip” is to listen for the RIP-tire being fired up, but it’s impossible (for me) to figure out where it’s coming from until too late because it comes barreling in out of nowhere. Widowmaker is the star sniper of the game. There are usually some pretty good vantage points, but I’ve definitely gotten my butt kicked when sniping due to lack of cover!

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Hanzo on the bow.

Something that’s kind of hilarious is when all team members choose the same character. My experience is this tends not to be a winning combination, but some forums I read pointed to teams that had all Meis or all Lucios with hilarious results.

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There are some really nice small touches to the game that are worth mentioning. For example, while you’re assembling your team, the game will let you know if there is anything significant missing from your team composition so that you don’t have to figure out who all your team is playing as and recall which kind of character they are. It will say “no support hero” or something like that. You can choose whether or not to you want to take these suggestions into consideration, but I love it. I also like the “play of the game” recap at the end of each round and the peer voting you can do for the best achievement selected out of four achievements people have accomplished.

Overall? If you haven’t played this game, I highly recommend it and will be buying it when it comes out! If you’re willing to put a little time and effort into understanding this game, it will go a long way and you’ll have so much fun.

Sarah Wiezel

About Sarah Wiezel

Agent Sarah writes on Tuesdays for Agents of GUARD and covers Arrow, console games, anime, and whatever else sounds appealing at the moment. She has a day job in the software industry and thinks cereal is overrated.