STAFF REVIEW of Overwatch (Xbox One)

Monday, June 6, 2016.
by Brent Roberts

Overwatch Box art When you hear the names of companies like Blizzard Entertainment and Activision, your mind starts to draw up images of dungeons, epic quests, massive battles, tons of loot, and even more dungeons. Blizzard's latest game, Overwatch, delivers only a few of these; however, this fact could quite possibly be one of the greatest gifts to gaming. An online multiplayer only experience, Overwatch is Blizzard's latest attempt to take on the FPS genre, and while the beta was good in terms of establishing a courting phase of the game, the final product is just shy of a fantastic masterpiece. This is thanks to Blizzard following the "K.I.S.S." rule, which is Keep It Simple Stupid. So without any more adieu, let's answer the big question: Is this game worth the purchase?

Simply put, and without question, Overwatch is a must have purchase. For starters, the backstory is so comically thin that it means you literally have nothing to concern yourself with, well, that is nothing except kill every enemy you see. That's right, this is the special sauce if you will of Overwatch. It doesn't try to overload you with a plethora of menus or a bombardment of options; it keeps it simple as you only need to kill your foes as you and your teammates try to stay alive and rule the level.

Now even though the core principle of Overwatch is incredibly simplistic, the available character roster is far from it. Coming in at over 20 characters, what Overwatch lacks in multiplayer levels or game types, it more than makes up for with its stable of unique characters, who are over the top, original, and should I say, somewhat stylish.

Normally in a class based shooter game you have a very in-depth and complex control schemes, but that isn't the case in Overwatch. Pressing RT fires your weapon, and buttons such as RB, LT, LB, and more, means that your attention is more focused on the game instead of making sure you push the correct button. I will say that there is a definite learning curve when it comes to almost dumbing down the gameplay controls, but they made it perform like a Ferrari.

I have a favourite in-game character named 'Reaper' who is essentially Death, but with two handheld shotguns. This dual wielding beast has his main shot (hold RT to auto fire your shotguns), a teleport feature (press RB), which allows him to place a marker and instantly warp to that location, and an ability to morph into some form of mist (press LB) that can travel at accelerated speeds while allowing him to not take damage, but he cannot deal damage while in this form as well. His unique power is straight out of Diablo 3's Demon Hunter, where he spins like a top with his arms stretched out firing both shotguns over and over again while chanting "Die... Die... Die...", because what else is Death himself going to say?

Each individual character has their own abilities and feel, but they also pack an individual power that can greatly shift the balance of the game instantly. This power is unlocked only after a circular meter in the bottom center of the screen fills up, and once it does you simply press Y and watch your character literally dominates the battle or insanely supports their team. This power lasts a short time so make sure to use it wisely, otherwise you will have to wait through for it to recharge. If you get killed almost right after using your power, you only lose a small percentage of it, so when you respawn your meter will be still charged at about 80-90% or so.

When you are talking over 20 unique weapon variants and individual powers, as there are that many characters, I cannot stress enough how important it is to go through the training simulator so you can test out each character before jumping online. In doing so you will not only learn the characters basics, but you'll also notice just how beautiful this game actually looks. Each character model is incredibly designed and the levels themselves give off a slight cartoonish feel which plays right into the fantasy setting. From different outfits, phrases, poses, and more, Overwatch has some very stylistic aspects to its presentation.

Remember now, Overwatch is a team based shooter. I know that a very slim amount of you actually care about the whole "team" aspect, but let me tell you why that's probably not the best method going forward. When a game actually packs in a class for a healer, you know that you're going to be needing some assistance in battle. The healers in Overwatch not only act as a real time healing station that can be done over some distance, which helps to keep you safe, but they can do more as well. If you prefer playing healers, give Mercy a try, as a simple press right on the D-Pad whips out a pistol that Dirty Harry himself would feel lucky to own. Hold down the RT with this pistol and watch as this healer starts dropping bodies in her wake.

Not only can the healer class heal you in real time, but they can also increase the damage you deal. Now you can have some of the weaker character’s start hitting the big boys with some oomph, and also have big boys hit like an atom bomb. Sometimes, being a healer isn't the worst thing in the world, and Overwatch almost teases you to play as one.

Now don't get me wrong, among all the good you'll find just a few problems that lurk under the hood. For starters, the time it takes to find matches is decent, but it could be better by connecting under 15-30 seconds. You'll also find a load time when selecting your characters, then waiting another 30 seconds as the game itself loads, add all this together and you're waiting a good 1-2 minutes before you even fire a shot.

When a match starts up and a few kills are exchanged, trouble starts when a couple people drop out. The game automatically kicks you out of the match as it finds a new game because the number of players dips below the minimum threshold. So instead of playing and allowing more people to join, everyone is kicked back out and you start the search process all over again. This is hands down my biggest complaint. Given that the game itself has its core centered on online connectivity, this is what you would consider a slightly important issue.

Now, I know some may disagree with me on this, but I'm not a fan of microtransactions for cosmetic items. Overwatch offers a range of prices all the way up to $39.99 for a set number of Loot Boxes. These Loot Boxes would be most similar to Halo 5's REQ packs. Each Loot Box offers things like stances, outfits, sayings, and more, and they are obtained through your performance in the game and by leveling your character up. Or you could just plunk down $39.99 and get 50 boxes in one go.

Despite a few drawbacks, which aren't deal breakers, Overwatch is one of the best games I've played this year. It's simplistic nature really allows you to just pick up a controller and shoot everything in sight. This is easily a game that will drain countless hours of your life away thanks to its quality, execution, and simplistic core. Blizzard seems to have understood that to make a great game you don't have to complicate it. If you want to game up with me, or anyone else on XboxAddict, send us a friend request! Until then, DIE... DIE... DIE...

Fine tune the connection issues. Maybe drop the player count limit so more people could still play and wait for others to join.

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.3 / 10
Sound: 8.5 / 10


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