Late to the Party – Overwatch

Overwatch Tracer SplashLast week I finally bit the bullet and picked up Overwatch, a game I’ve been super interested in after watching a bunch of Funhaus videos. I played the beta, enjoyed it, but let it go by the wayside. Now that I’ve put a week or so into the game, I thought I’d talk a bit about my thoughts with the Xbox One version.

I want to start with my biggest complaint, and that is that the story for the game and characters is being told outside of the game. There’s a bunch of animated shorts and comics that flesh out the world, and also the Heroes that you play. Since I was away from the game from launch until now, I had no clue about anything – I had to go on to the wiki to find out anything about the characters and story. On one hand, I understand that this isn’t really a game that depends on the story to drive the content – just pick a Hero and go to town. But Blizzard is one of the better developers out there at fleshing out a world and making the characters feel real, so I would have really liked to see something in game explaining it all.

Beyond that though, Overwatch has very quickly become one of the most fun games I’ve played this year. Even playing it solo, I’m having a blast pretty much every game I play. The only one that I really got annoyed with was a match on Numbani where the Defense team posted outside our spawn and just kept sniping in our doors – it took nearly the whole first phase to get out to the point. It’s a game that I absolutely understand is more fun with friends in a party to coordinate with. Even with that though, the roles are all pretty clearly defined where solo players should easily be able to have good teamwork. Each game mode feels similarly enough where you don’t have to play a few games in that type to get it under your thumbs, while still shaking up what team comp you should bring in. An escort match requires different Heroes and play than a control or hybrid match. Going in at level one, I certainly felt a little overwhelmed because the rest of the lobby was a bit higher ranked than I was, but the game does a great job of teaching you as you play that it wasn’t a learning curve at all. That of course is dependent on which Hero you play.

Overwatch Reinhardt

Of the handful of Heroes I’ve played so far – Reinhardt, Roadhog, Widowmaker, McCree, Reaper, Zenyatta and Genji – I’ve enjoyed every one, for different reasons. There’s a lot to dig into with the Heroes, and that really is why I haven’t tried some like Symmetra or Torbjorn since I see their learning curve a bit more intense than others. For me though, the most fun Hero I’ve played has to be Reinhardt – I have loved every game with him. I don’t normally like a support style tank, I usually lean more toward a Roadhog style, able to dish out a bunch of damage, but for whatever reason, Reinhardt has just been exactly the character I needed to pull me in completely. I just wish he had a little bit less reliance on healers or health packs. I also know that I’m coming in to the game at a little weird spot with the meta – on the competitive side of things, Zenyatta and Lucio are pretty much the most important characters on any team – and I need to learn the balance a bit more still. It boils, to me at least, back down to what I mentioned earlier – the roles that each character fits into is where that character will perform the best. The ones that are able to break their mold, those are the ones that are a little too strong – when a support/healer character like Zenyatta can dish out more burst damage than a number of other characters, that’s a problem. Same can be said with D.Va – a tank Hero that can dish out more sustained damage than almost any other Hero, with limited weaknesses. I don’t know when the next patch is inbound – I would expect maybe with Gamescom this week we might find out; we know that a new short is coming soon based around Bastion which might mean patch too. If that’s the case, I really hope that Zenyatta and D. Va come back to the pack a bit. We’re getting closer and closer to the fall deluge of games, with a superb lineup on deck, but if you haven’t picked up Overwatch yet, I think now is a perfect time. It’s a damn fun game, especially if you like old-school style arena FPS.

Advertisements

Weekend Recap – Overwatch Beta, Battlefield 1, and Black Ops Black Market

Over this past weekend, we were graced with a good selection of gaming goodness to enjoy. I thought I’d talk a little bit about the two games with new polish that I played over the weekend along with my early thoughts on the Battlefield 1 announcement. We’re still a month out from E3, but we’re already getting some big bits of news.

Black Ops 3

Let’s start with the quick hitter – Black Ops III put out a hotfix going into the weekend that added in a new feature to the Black Market. Treyarch put out Contracts – eventually they’ll be daily and weekly features, but for now there’s just a featured Contract. Complete it – win 75 games – and you earn a weapon bribe for the Black Market along with 10 free rare supply drops. On top of that, Season Pass holders were gifted that same prize upon logging on this weekend. I was super lucky with my packages, netting the HG-40, Brass Knuckles and MVP baseball bat, but I know that there were lots of people who only got the one guaranteed weapon. What I really like with this new patch is it looks like Treyarch/Activision have heard the arguments from the broader community about supply drops. It’s early on with the new elements of the Black Market, but if this is a way for Treyarch to reward players with rare supply drops or even gear bribes for completing the Contracts it is bound to up the level of engagement with the Black Market. It’s a positive sign from a publisher that tends to not back down on secondary purchases like the CoD Points are. If it’s an early signal that Activision is going to be a little more flexible omoving forward, that is a great sign for their other big games – Destiny, Infinite Warfare and soon Overwatch. We just have to hope that it is the start of something.

The other quick thing I want to talk about is the Overwatch beta. I played a good handful of games with a few different heroes and I have to say, I think it’s a very fun game. It is drawing comparisons to Battleborn, mainly because they both are dropping close to each other and both are hero shooters; but I actually think the two games are really different. Battleborn is a lot closer to a MOBA, both in terms of game modes and the way the heroes have to level up each match. Overwatch is a lot closer to a game like Team Fortress. It’s an arena shooter, just each hero has their own powers and roles. Widowmaker is a lot of fun if you just want to focus on killing the enemy team, Bastion is basically a built in Play of the Game hero, Mei is awesome for crowd control and power plays and Zenyatta is a really great hybrid support hero. Overwatch wasn’t really on my radar aside from a couple stream clips I had seen going into the Beta, but coming out it’s a game I could definitely see picking up.

Finally, let’s talk about that Battlefield announcement. Not even a full week removed from the Call of Duty announcement, EA and DICE came out swinging and reignited the military FPS wars. Sort of. I’ve never seen the two franchises as direct competition – they appeal to two different markets. That said, I think there’s a lot to be excited about with Battlefield 1. This is the first time that a major Triple A shooter has gone back to the First World War. I’m really looking forward to the opportunities that the setting presents, especially in terms of set pieces in the campaign. The multiplayer side still has a couple questions that I think need answering – it’s going to have to be a slower pace across the board, and Battlefield  has always been relatively slow paced outside of time to kill. The games are long, and with technology that’s older than any game we’ve played yet, the weapons/vehicles are going to be a tricky thing to nail. I have three hang-ups going in though – two directly relate to the game, the third is more about the developers/fanbase. As sson as the Call of Duty trailer dropped, there were a number of DICE developers casting shade on the looks of the trailer, saying it looked like a ten-year old game. Firstly, saying that is utterly ridiculous – ten years ago we were playing Oblivion and the first Gears of War, which looked nowhere even close to that good. Secondly, at least from that trailer, we got wehat really looked like gameplay. The Battlefield 1 trailer was all pre-rendered footage. Just because it says “game-engine footage” doesn’t mean that it’s showing actual gameplay footage. DICE pulled the same thing with Battlefront – which definitely doesn’t look like that first trailer did in-game. So maybe cool the jets a little on that, especially when your trailer looks a lot less polished than the Infinite Warfare trailer. The other issues I have are more directly related to the game. Firstly, that name is dreadful. Battlefield 1 – but it’s actually the fifth main series game. I get that the “1” is in reference to the WW1 setting, but take a page out of your own playbook – call it “Battlefield 1918” or something along those lines. That not only draws the focus to the setting, but also acts as a throwback to the first Battlefield game. Secondly, DICE really hasn’t proved to me that they can do a campaign at the highest level consistently. Bad Company is usually put out there as the example of the franchise doing it well – but that was almost ten years ago! And it’s the only one – Hardline wasn’t terrible, but it sure wasn’t on the level of some of the other FPS campaigns. So the campaign is a question mark that I have, but one that I really hope DICE answers. I have a feeling E3 will be plenty exciting this year.