Overwatch: 10 Interesting Facts About This Awesome FPS
This Intense, Fun Shooter Is About To Rock The World Of Team-Based FPS Games
When you think team-based shooter, you think Team Fortress 2. Valve's title has become a true staple of the genre, and until recently, its complex maps, engaging gameplay and diversified, fun classes sort of made it a one of a kind experience.
Then, Overwatch emerged from the shadows and said “Not anymore”. This new online team shooter, featuring a bright, colorful game world, a ton of unique playable characters and an emphasis on team play by working around your teammates' strengths and weaknesses looks like serious competition.
Heck, at that level it doesn't even look like competition anymore. Overwatch is like Team Fortress 3 but better.
It's every bit as intense and fun as it looks.
1. A New Blizzard Franchise
An entirely new universe with dozens of characters never seen before.
The announcement of Overwatch came as a shocker. The game is being developed by Blizzard, and not only is this a genre Blizzard has never touched before, but usually the company mostly expands upon their existing universes we're all familiar with: Warcraft, Startcraft and Diablo.
This is why, beyond the fact that Overwatch looks amazing, it's so exciting to see Blizzard introduce an entirely new franchise. Knowing them, we can expect a whole new world full of memorable, loveable and unique characters, and what's better than that when coupled with a polished and rich gameplay?
Galaxy Blizzard just got a new star added to it, and it's incredibly exciting to wait and see what their creative writers are going to come up with.
2. Twenty One Playable Characters, Each With Their Own Skills
Each playable character has a unique design - no military uniforms.
For a game that is still under development, Overwatch features an impressive cast of playable characters. Each has a distinct visual style and boasts a unique gameplay.
There are the traditional snipers, hit-and-run type of fighters and engineers. You can also play as a melee character and put more emphasis on pure offense or protect yourself and your allies from enemy fire with energy shields. Overwatch also has classes dedicated to supporting others and to healing.
There also are characters that look really out of place in a shooter! A Japanese bow samurai who shoots spiritual arrows still fits more or less the theme... But how about a robot monk who levitates around hurling energy beads at his enemies? Or the huge armored gorilla with glasses that goes HULK SMASH on its enemies. Pardon, I meant Winston Smash.
The gameplay changes depending on the hero you play.
3. A Combination of FPS And MOBA
Going for that pentakill next.
Blizzard took the team shooter genre and, as they always do, added something new and refreshing to it.
In this particular case, by creating dozens of unique characters with unique abilities and well-defined roles in a team, the developers managed to give a MOBA-like feel to their new shooting game, something rather unique you don't get to experience elsewhere.
Although there is no “core” or “nexus” to destroy, there are clear objectives and the game encourages you to work together with your teammates to beat the opposition rather than accumulate kills on your own. More so than in other shooters, you have to remember each class's unique abilities (they even possess an ultimate ability you must be wary of!).
Stragegy in Overwatch has a new depth to it. Victory is no longer secured by being at the right place at the right time, but by being with the right people at the right time to fight off the opposing team. Every hero's abilities are designed to be useful in a team, and the player must learn when is the best time to use them.
Where the Reaper appears, death quickly follows.
4. Diversified And Beautiful Maps
In the near future, London might look like this at night.
Even though a map in a shooter is merely an arena where two teams are trying to kill each other and thus what's imporant is their layout, with aesthetics being secondary, Blizzard's team worked hard to give to each battleground a unique feel.
The maps in Overwatch all have a unique theme. Your characters shall engage in battle on rather classic battlefields like urban streets and abandoned scientific complexes, but also in more exotic locations like an old Asian town where sakura petals slowly fall from cherry trees and an ancient sand-covered Egyptian temple.
Each battle scene is beautiful, and if you are quick enough, between two shootouts you might notice one of those easter eggs, private jokes and pop culture references that Blizzard likes to put in their games.
5. Four Different Roles To Fill
Each hero corresponds to one of the four main archetypes.
Thanks to the extreme specialization of each character, you can pick your favorite play style and dedicate yourself to it. There's no wrong way to play!
In Overwatch, you can choose between playing an offensive or a defensive character, but also a tank or a support.
As an offensive hero, your role is pretty straightforward: fill the enemy with lead. Hanzo is an example of an offensive character: his abilities are focused on dealing as much damage as possible.
Torbjörn is a prime specimen of a defensive character. His primary role is not to deliver killing blows, but to guard objectives or otherwise hinder the enemy's progression. To this end, he can build and upgrade automated turrets and also creates armor packs which his allies can pick up to absorb some damage.
Tanks are focused on taking the punishment so their teammates don't have to. Slow but heavily armored, they're equipped with force fields that can deflect bullets, but can also deal devastating blows with their weapons if the enemy makes the mistake of allowing them to get too close. With his huge hammer and equally huge shields, Reinhardt is one such hero.
Support characters are like medics from other games. They can heal and strengthen their teammates and even revive them, but their offensive power is not to be underestimated either. They make an extremely valuable addition to your team. Mercy is the iconic support character in Overwatch.
Witness the healing powers of Mercy.
6. Overwatch Has Several Game Modes, Not Just Deathmatch
Reinhardt stands his ground to give time to the objective to be captured.
Overwatch is not a deathmatch type of game. Each map has a unique objective or set of objectives that must be completed in order to win.
A game mode that is familiar to Team Fortress players is Payload, where one team must move a payload to the delivery point, while the opposing team must prevent them from doing so.
Point Capture is another mode. The attacking team must seize control of key objectives spread out across a map. The defending team must prevent them from doing so.
We can expect that Blizzard will not stop there and, similar to Heroes of the Storm, provide the players with a lot more maps, each complete with their own unique objectives.
Watch Pharah secure the skies.
7. Fast And Engaging Gameplay
You can change your hero if you die, making it easier to adapt to the current situation.
Overwatch features fast-paced 6 versus 6 matches. Each team has a preset starting point and when you die you will respawn close to it, causing the map to be roughly divided into “team A territory” and “team B territory”.
Of course, the area that your team controls changes as the game progresses. For instance in Point Capture, when the attacking team manages to destroy the enemy's objective and moves on to the next one, they will respawn in a new place closer to the new objective, and the defending team is similarly pushed back.
The action is very fast. When you die, it only takes a few seconds to respawn, allowing you to jump back into action almost straight away.
The game's fast pace is augmented by your ability to quickly adapt to any situation by changing your current hero to someone more needed. You could change to Mercy if you see that your team is getting decimated, or quickly switch to a tanky hero and lead the charge with your shields, then revert back to an assassin. You're not locked to one single character for the duration of the match.
8. Lore Lovers, Blizzard Has Something For You
The Reaper might look like a generic bad guy, but in truth he has a pretty interesting backstory.
Overwatch itself has an interesting background, and so does every character that you encounter.
They all have a real name, an age, an allegiance and a personality. Blizzard hopes to slowly introduce hints and details, both in game and outside of it, that will help you understand the motivations behind your favorite character's actions.
As the game progresses, you will draw closer to discovering the truth behind the dismantlement of the organization known as Overwatch. Although most of the game's lore is supposed to be discovered outside of the game, for instance through informational videos, articles and books, the maps are designed in a way that will also provide players insight into the game's setting.
Blizzard promises that the lore behind Overwatch will be developed to the levels of complexity of its other franchises, so watch out for it! After all, Overwatch did come from Titan, which used to be their next-gen MMO project.
Discover the real person behind the code name Soldier: 76.
9. Overwatch As Esport: Blizzard Learning From Its (Small) Mistakes
Given Blizzard's history on the esport scene, it is logical to assume that the studio is probably going to try and push its new franchise as an esport, especially given the generally competitive aspect of the FPS genre as a whole.
Devs say, however, that they will try to learn from the launch of their other esport games, namely Starcraft II and Hearthstone. Starcraft II was indeed built from the ground to be an esport game, which the developers think was a mistake from a marketing point of view because it detracted from the accessibility of the game.
They cite Hearthstone as a big inspiration for Overwatch. Indeed, even though the two games are not related in any way, Hearthstone was developed as an accessible fun game which also had competitive elements. The fact it was so accessible led to its increased popularity, which helped develop an esports scene around it.
This is how we should expect Overwatch to start out – an accessible, fun game playable in quick matches that will hopefully become popular enough to gain an important esports following.
10. Playable Soon™
Excited for Overwatch? Good news: you'll be able to play it soon™, and in this case we even have dates!
Join the Gamescom in Germany from August 5th to August 9th and you'll have a chance to play the first beta version before everyone else! Or you could sign up on the official game site for a chance to win a beta access, which should start in fall 2015.
Blizzard's (in)famous Soon™ has never actually meant this soon before!
Are you also impatiently waiting for Overwatch to come out? Leave your impressions of the game in the comments below.
In the meanwhile, there are a lot more First Person Shooters you really ought to try!