Bookmans Recommends : Overwatch From Blizzard Entertainment
By C’loni Bailey (Asst. Manager at Bookmans Mesa)
It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to sit down and really play a video game. I spent the past few months prepping for Phoenix Comicon, so when Overwatch came out in mid-May, despite the hype I overlooked it. After Phoenix Comicon, I finally had time to relax and decided to see what all the fuss was about, so I picked it up on PC and boy am I glad I did!
Overwatch is Blizzard Entertainment’s first foray into the world of FPS (First Person Shooters). The video game titan best known for the massively popular World of Warcraft, as well as Starcraft and Diablo, has always been at the forefront when it comes to online competitive play, dominating the MMORPG (Massive Multi-player Online Role Play Game) and RTS (Real Time Strategy) genres for decades. Overwatch demonstrates that Blizzard is ready to dominate the shooter genre as well, combining FPS and the newest online genre, MOBA – Massive Online Battle Arena into one incredibly fun and well-polished game.
I’ve never really been interested in shooters. I never got into Halo or Call of Duty and the closest I’ve come was the Mass Effect series. Shooters can be incredibly intimidating for the uninitiated. The combat can be frenetic and overwhelming, especially when playing against far more skilled players online so I was pleasantly surprised at how easy Overwatch was to pick up and play. Each hero has no more than 4 different abilities and the controls were simple enough that after just a handful of AI matches, I was confident enough to try my hand at playing against other players. Learning to play was incredibly fun and even losing was made enjoyable by the game’s bright, colorful setting and charming cast of heroes. For new players, Overwatch provides an intro tutorial that walks you through the basics of gameplay and allows you to try out each of the 21 heroes available and get a feel for how they play. From there, players can practice their skills in team matches versus AI, choosing between Easy, Medium, and Hard modes that determine how challenging the AI team will be. Once players feel comfortable with the controls and become familiar with the layout of the twelve available maps, they can move on to Quick Play which pits them in a team of six against another team of players that match their skill level.
In place of generic classes like warrior, healer or rogue, Overwatch gives players 21 unique Heroes to play as. In each match, players will choose a hero that best fits both their play style as well as their team’s needs and can even switch heroes on the fly if there is another hero better suited for the conditions of the match. These heroes are divided into four roles: Offense, Defense, Tank, and Support. Each hero has at least 3 different skills that while simple to pick up, offer plenty of room for strategy and technique. Every single hero feels different. They each have their own personality, backstory, abilities, strengths and weaknesses, and learning to play multiple heroes is the core of Overwatch. While some players may like to pick one or two heroes as their “main”, the Quick Play teams and maps are randomized so you never know what your team composition will be and there may be instances that you will need to pick a different character in order to balance out the team. Or everyone can just pick Junkrat and unleash utter chaos on the battlefield.
With such a variety of heroes to choose from, you never know who you’ll wind up liking until you try them all. My main four heroes are not at all who I thought I would end up enjoying, but jumping in and testing them out against other players is the only way to get a feel for how each hero plays. So far, my four favorites are Pharoah, the Egyptian soldier with flying power armor and a rocket launcher, Bastion, a robot with a gatling gun who can also turn into a tank, Mei, a painfully adorable scientist with a freezing gun who can build ice walls to block attackers, and Mercy, a winged doctor with a staff that heals people and boosts their damage. Each single hero plays completely different and knowing which hero to use and when is half the battle.
The setting of Overwatch takes place sixty years in the future when man and intelligent robots called Omnics are fighting for control of the world. Overwatch is a task force put together to stop the Omnic Crisis (as the conflict is known) but eventually fell apart. As the players join the game, Overwatch has regrouped and is once again fighting for peace between human and Omnics. The gameplay takes place in various locations all around futuristic Earth, including the Temple of Anubis in Egypt, idyllic Greek vacation spot Ilios (seriously, I’d love to vacation here, minus all the shooting), and classically beautiful Hanamura in Japan. Besides gorgeous locales, each map features one of four types of missions: Assault, Escort, Control, and Assault/Escort. These missions define what the objective is for each map, for example, Hanamura is an Assault map, meaning one team defends an objective while the opposing team fights to capture it from them before the timer runs out. The variety of maps, objectives, and hero combinations make each match feel unique. No two fights play out the same and that makes replaying the same missions much more enjoyable because you never know who you’re going to go up against and where.
Overwatch is bright and colorful with an incredibly charming cast of heroes and features the polished visuals and gameplay mechanics that have come to define Blizzard’s work. It is a wonderfully enjoyable game that is easy to pick up and learn even if you’ve never played a shooter before and filled with enough skill and depth to keep skilled players entertained for hours on end. Even if you have never considered playing a shooter before, I highly suggest giving Overwatch a try. You just might like it! I highly suggest giving Overwatch a try. You just might like it!
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