Score = 3/5
Game Type – Action, online first person shooter
Platform – PS4, Xbox One, PC
Developer – Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher– Blizzard Entertainment
ESRB – Teen
Review by: Kisho Wolfe
Logline: – BLAM! BLAM! SLICE!, Ultimate, Give me my loot box!
Welcome to Overwatch. The much anticipated online only multiplayer shooter from Blizzard Entertainment. You may recognize the name from the long running World of Warcraft and Starcraft series. If you’ve played either of these games, then you know Blizzard does good work. I’ve personally lost about a month of my life being engulfed in WoW when a school mate of mine put me onto it. Had to force myself to go cold turkey and kill the game, or else, I might not have graduated. It was addictive. So if you’re like me, you have high expectations for this new app. Overwatch has been in development for years, so the anticipation levels of everyone that has been following the makings of this game probably can’t be fathomed by those not in the know. But as I spent hours with what I knew was going to be something epic, my excitement started to dwindle.
The good… scratch that, the GREAT part about Overwatch is the obvious part; The characters. Holy Winston, Widowmaker, and D.Va, my friend!! There is a wonderfully diverse group of personalities here for the choosing. Twenty one different characters and all of them possess a unique look and play style. If you are going to be good at this game, you’ll want to master at least about four or five of them. If not, you’ll be rage quitting in no time, as this game is about countering that one character that keeps handing you your ass because you’re too stubborn to switch out your favorite character for one that counters them back. About thirty minutes into the game will put a stamp on the fact that Blizzard spent a huge chunk of their time on this aspect alone. Unfortunately, this is a double-bladed sword.
It seems that so much time was invested in these wonderful characters, that the rest of the game feels a tad like an afterthought. The subtle hints at background information on each hero leaves me wanting so much more from these characters in game, but in the voice of Robin Leach… I can’t have it. I’m forced to scour the web for lore if I really want it, which means, turning off the game to do so. I’m sure Blizzard will bank on these heroes in the branding world, but it seriously does nothing for the game by not including any story info inside of the game. No campaign, no power ups, no game-affecting upgrades to the actual game-play what-so-ever. It feels like Blizzard decided to put so much emphasis on the characters that our progression and rewards should be sated by voice lines, intro switch-ups, skins and sprays…SPRAYS! As in, to tag a wall. I understand they wanted to keep everything cosmetic, but give me something that alters the actual play time. Sure, the game-play is solid for the most part, so I suppose it can be forgiven… to an extent. This just brings me to the most frustrating part about this game.
The randomly generated loot boxes!! This is how you get all of the shiny new cosmetic items in the game. And to get the loot boxes, you’ll need to either pay for them with real money via the convenient payment option of the respective system format you are playing on, or spend hours leveling up your player level to earn a good ol’ box of randomness upon leveling up. You can see all of the wonderful wares and their in game coin costs as well. Most games give you actions or paths you can take to earn items in addition to purchasing them with in game coin, so this game will probably be the same, right?? Wrong. The only way to get anything is from, you guessed it, a loot box. Get a duplicate loot item? Great! Here’s a measly five coins to use toward whatever you want. Will your loot boxes give you enough flat out coins to buy that 1000 credit legendary skin you’ve got your eye on?…eventually. But not every box contains coins and not every box contains duplicates. Each character has fifty five items to unlock, so in essence, you could be spending hundreds of hours trying to get the stuff you actually want, versus the crap you do get. Many will contain items for characters you may not even use much, in which case, you’re still plugging away at the game, eagerly awaiting that next loot box hoping for a large coin drop so you can just buy one of the items you DO want. You want that super fabulous Smurfette blue deluxe skin(not in the game)for Mei? Nope, but you can have this nice dookie brown pirate skin(also not in the game) for Junk Rat! So what if you’ve never used that character a day in your life. Deal with it! The number generator does not care. You get what you get. Reminds me of the early days of Destiny when they were dropping random items for all three guardian classes and we went into a loud rage about getting crap we couldn’t use with the class of our avatar, until they wised up and corrected that little mishap. Maybe if enough people blow up the chat boards it’ll be rectified here as well…maybe.
The maps look good. Nice sight lines and choke points. The way the game plays, I think the maps would benefit from more architect hazards rather than just falling off the side. Something like cog wheels, or background pieces lining up with the theme of each map that’ll get you if you camp too long in a spot (I’m looking at you, Bastion lovers). Hopefully more maps are on the way, that can capitalize on this.
There’s two main game modes. Payload and Control. There’s combination variations of these, but they are pretty much it. Being a multiplayer only game, you’d think more game modes would accompany it. Maybe as a console gamer, I’m asking too much from a mostly PC game developer. I don’t know. How about give the payload itself some defenses, or even a health bar? Where’s the Deathmatch? Where’s the Capture the Flag, or a dozen other game modes that would set this game off. Overwatch in a straight up Deathmatch would be chaotically amazing, and given the choice, I’d probably spend most of my time in that game mode. And no, you have no choice in game modes. That’s also in an RNG format unless you’re connecting with a closed set of friends in a custom match set up. *sigh*
Overwatch, albeit supremely gorgeous as a sunrise, turned out to be equal parts great, as it is frustrating. The characters along with the fast and frantic game-play is amazing. The first time you suit up with D.Va in her cotton candy colored mech, you’ll quickly forget the fact that it looks like you’re riding around in a pink bubble.
Once the ultimate charges in whichever character you are controlling at the moment, you will bask in in the satisfaction of wiping out half of the opposing team in one shot. Unfortunately continuous disappointments in loot drops, in addition to the absence of having a way to tailor your loot progression is highly frustrating. The minimal amount of multiplayer modes, and lack of choice of which you want to spend your time in, is also something that carries the game into a sludge of staleness after one to two hours of consecutive game playing. This simply succeeds in compounding the frustrating RNG system as a whole. Kind of makes you question your life choices when you’ve just wasted an hour for a useless loot box that contains none of the items you’d hoped it had. The $60 price point for console gamers is more salt in the wound. PC gamers get it for $40, which seems a fair price considering the game has about as much depth as the kiddie pool. Better player control over mode selections could soften the blow of the loot situation, since we’d be selecting the game modes preferred rather than the ones we are forced to play like good little children.
Overwatch has an absurd amount of potential that it’s just not tapping into, and I only hope Blizzard doesn’t see this as a finished game, but builds upon it to make it as epic as it should be.