Although news of the game has been weeks and months and years in the making, it seems like Overwatch came out of nowhere.
It all started with that viral story about the little kid fan-fiction-turned-fact Overwatch character. The story had a crossover appeal that could suck non-gamers in and was the sort of Nerd Win needed on the week of the game’s release. While you may look up what the game is and find that it’s a “friendly shooter,” the game’s massive character roster and non-storyline confuse what it actually is.
“So what is Overwatch?” non-gamers and peripheral players (like myself) wonder.
Well, thanks to Bobby buying it and piquing my interest beyond the above news pegs, I spent a hefty portion of the past weekend not playing the new Doom and fucking around with this insane melee machine. Overwatch is the anti-shooter genre shooter. It removes storyline and a general motivation to playing from gameplay and instead gives you a bunch of unique, attractive, bizarre characters with crazy weapons to jump in and start shooting each other.
This doesn’t seem confusing because it’s Capture The Flag with guns, like most modern games a la Destiny and Plants Vs. Zombies. Where the games differ is the confusion of too much information: Overwatch has twenty one playable characters—with more on the way—who each have unique weapons and unique specials and unique movements and come from four unique classes with unique personalities from unique countries. It is a United Nations of cartoony shoot em up styles and that makes for one of the strangest, most engrossing games.
When I first started playing, I just wanted to pick the gayest, daintiest characters—like D.Va—and skip around shooting people. Unfortunately, once you leave the practice arena and enter the game, you are treated to a rude awakening of death and strategy: there is nowhere to hide for you wandering around shooting. You—with these unique teams of six—have to work together in a synergy that complements each other in order to succeed. You might want to play as the sexy fun Widowmaker but, if there’s already a sniper like Hanzo, you might want to swap out. Similarly, you don’t want to create a team with three health people like Mercy, Lucio, and Symmetra nor do you want all tanks like Roadhog, Reinhardt, and Bastion: you need variety to succeed and the game forces you to constantly try new characters and get good at everyone.
It’s confusing, yes, but this is the type of game where seeing is believing. No, there is no story mode and, no, there is no local multiplayer and, no, there is no way to define yourself as a superstar with one character: you have to try everything out. There are ways to be a shitty player, yes, like always hunkering down into the human fortress that is Bastion—but all it takes is a savvy Reinhardt or Genji to cut through the bullshit. This is the type of game that seems impossible to master and, despite a small learning curve, will keep you sucked in for quite some time.
Now I just need more time to play Doom because Overwatch has sneak assaulted my video gaming.