Overwatch Review: Maybe I Just Don’t Get It

Overwatch, the new MMO team-based shooter from Blizzard Entertainment came out to rave reviews, with some even calling it the game of the year. In May. We’ve been playing the game since the servers went live, and not only do we disagree with all of that, we cannot figure out WHY Overwatch is getting this kind of love. When looked at as a whole, Overwatch is a criminally barebones online-only shooter that has zero substance when you get past the numerous characters and well-designed maps.

Overwatch does come out of the gate very strong. Players can choose from 21 different characters, in four different classes, and matches dictate that players play their role/class to succeed. Characters can be switched out on the fly at safe-houses, or after a death, which all but dictates that teams can constantly evolve depending on the situation. This is what Overwatch does very well.

Overwatch Review

Where it fails miserably is in tying any of this together in any discernible way. The intro of the game shows the genius gorilla character, Winston, talking about a world gone bad and the need of the heroes of Overwatch to come together and fight for the side of good. And then all of that is abandoned. Overwatch consists solely of online multiplayer matches with three different objectives: escort, control (objective defense), and assault (capture the territory). Sometimes, missions will mix these objectives, but it still boils down to those three objectives and that’s it.

That’s the game.

There is no semblance of story; no explanation why a team of six gun-toting Reapers is fighting another team of six gun-toting Reapers who are trying to escort a futuristic limousine through the back lot of a Hollywood movie set. If all of these characters are the “heroes of Overwatch,” why are they fighting each other? Of the game’s 12 maps, divided by the type of objective of the match, and one practice map, players will see and do everything the game has to offer in under a week of playing.

Overwatch Review

In regards to characters, each of the 21 character skins has both high points and low points, and finding the balance of what works for you is key. There are damage dealers, healers, tanks, and support, and a team made up of a solid team of these is essential for maximum fun. I’ve played each of the characters, some more than others, and have found good skills in each. Very quickly, players will identify which characters best suit their play style and they won’t deviate much if at all after that. And if you get on a team of players who all want to deal damage and have never — or will never — play a healer, you might as well just quit the game and wait to join another more balanced team.

Overwatch Review

Blizzard tried to add substance by giving players over 50 unlockables per character in the form of skins, emotes, sayings, poses, etc., but most if not all are cosmetic at best. Even leveling up does nothing to make the character stronger. It just shows that the human player has been putting the time in. Essentially, it’s worthless.

The biggest crime here is that Overwatch does play like a charm. The controls are smooth, the graphics and character designs are gorgeous and pop off the screen, and the actual gameplay is some of the best I’ve ever played. But a game cannot be fully measured by one component, and the lack of a story, background, or reason sinks the game down to head-scratching levels. I’m not trying to dump on the millions of players who play Overwatch all day, every day, but I just want more in a $60 supposed-AAA game, and Overwatch is not that.

Overwatch Review

Even with amazing play control and the ability to play multiple characters in a match, Overwatch misses on almost every other front. The lack of ANY additional content and story all but guarantees that the game loses its luster after a week or two — at the most — of solid play, and all that’s left is a online forum to chat with friends while shooting people, and honestly, there are other, better games out there that offer that. Overwatch could have been revolutionary; it could have been game changing. But instead, gamers got a barebones shooter with zero legs, and that’s a real shame. If you are still playing Overwatch a month after launch, kudos to you. You must have found something of value. I have moved on and I don’t really miss it.

Overwatch is available now for the Playstation 4 and Xbox One. This review is based off a PS4 copy of the game purchased at retail.

Overwatch Review
out of 5

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