Overwatch: Our Experience

After the dust has settled and the gaming world knows much more about Blizzard’s new offering; Overwatch, it is time naturally to delve into our deepest, darkest thoughts and offer some opinions based on our experiences. But we are not going at it alone as TheGamingBear and HalfShelledHero have decided to team up and bring you lucky readers a discussion based write up on our impressions over the recent beta.

As a starting point we decided to both offer are thoughts, expectations and hopes on Overwatch and what we hoped the beta would provide us…just so both didn’t start spouting nonsense from the off, leave that till later.

HSH: I first heard of Overwatch when I started playing Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm a while back. I am a HUGE Fan of Blizzard Entertainment as I have been playing their Diablo series for about 17 years, so when I saw they were producing a FPS game I was a bit intrigued. I have never been a big fan of FPS games like Call of Duty, Battlefield, etc. though I had played a few of the COD games simply because some of my friends were playing them. In the middle of COD: AW I basically had it with that franchise and FPS in general. It wasn’t fun anymore (the small amount of fun I did have playing with friends) and I felt like I was wasting my money, so I gave up on COD and FPS forever… or so I thought. I started watching gameplay, theatrical trailers of Overwatch and something happened that never happened before… I was OVER the moon about a FPS. True, I hadn’t played it, but the ONE thing I can count on Blizzard for is a GREAT game. I always believe and “TRUST” Blizzard when it comes to producing a great game so when the Open Beta was announced I couldn’t help but preorder to get the early access. Hell, I even paid in full a month ago for this game. That’s how much I am ALL IN on Overwatch and Blizzard

GB: My story is a little different, I had not really heard or seen much about Overwatch until recently. I’m not exactly a Blizzard fan, in fact I’m not sure I have even played one Blizzard game, but I do enjoy a good FPS, but these days I tend to prefer team and objective based FPS’s as opposed to the standard just kill everything. Its premise interested me but I didn’t want to read too much as I’m more of a discover as you play kind of guy and don’t like to be told everything before I play a game.

HSH: Before going hands on, there were a few things I was looking for in this game. 1) Having the Characters not only look different but play different from one another. I have played so many games where there is a BIG character pool, but aside from a special move or something like that it was all the same and that really brings the game down. I was hoping this wasn’t the case for Overwatch (but as a Blizzard fan boy if you will, having played Diablo and Heroes of the Storm I had a good feeling they would nail this one). 2) Could Blizzard make me fall in love with an FPS. Would Overwatch feel like the same old point and shoot experience where the best “killer” in the game takes over, game after game after game? I was hoping Blizzard would be able to change that. The last thing I was looking for and probably the most important 3) Could Overwatch…

GB: This guy has a lot to say, going to make a sandwich I think…

HSH: While you’re at it, make me one too! I might be a minute! As I was saying could Overwatch keep me coming back for more. With a week to dive in and play as much and as often as possible, I wanted to see how long I could play before I really didn’t have the urge to turn it back on. Like with the COD franchise, after playing 5 maybe 6 games it was like “…. how is everyone still geared up to play, I was starting to get bored 3 games ago”. So Blizzard had a lot to stand up to as they tried to make me not regret paying for Overwatch before I even had it.

GB: I was hoping Overwatch would offer something new to the genre, something that offered a fresh, enjoyable alternative to the general norm of FPS games. For example, Splatoon is arguably one of the most unique and fun filled FPS I have ever played, so I was hoping Overwatch would set off similar vibes, reactions and emotions within me. I had not preordered the game but I was hoping the beta would impress me enough to buy it.

gm pic 1
Our expectations were relatively high when loading up the beta. Mei seems pretty confident that we would not be disappointed (Screenshot source: Polygon)

 

HSH: So to my surprise the Open Beta was actually released the night before May 3rd around 7PM EST (12am GMT) and I was right there waiting to play (the PS4 servers had an issue coming on which lead to me being impatient and a bit rude, my apologies).

GB: I saw your numerous riot inducing tweets! I had unfortunately had to wait a couple of days more for the open beta and the only issue I had was a slightly long wait for it all to download (though this wasn’t too bad I was just being impatient).

HSH: Haha I like how impatient this game both made us. Once I got into my first game, seeing, feeling and experiencing everything myself for the first time it was truly amazing. After the first few games, myself and a friend I was playing with said the same thing at the same exact time “man this game is frickin’ awesome!”.

GB: It took me a little time to get to grips with Overwatch myself and I found it a little overwhelming at first. It’s not the most accessible game to begin with, but I could see how much fun it could be.

HSH: It definitely is fun! Everything I mentioned above I was hoping for, Blizzard knocked it out of the park, out of the state, out of this country, and out of this world! I have logged in over 22 hours, 182 games played (100 of those games are wins!) Booya!

HSH Stats
I played a few more games after this picture was taken, right before they sadly closed the beta :.(

GB: Such a bragger :p

HSH: Haha I couldn’t get enough of this game. Overwatch is not an over obsessed K/D, “its capture the flag but I want a high kill / death ratio no matter if my team losses or not” cluster duck that FPS games are now a days. As a matter of fact, you DONT see anyone’s K/D except your own which is marvellous! Like I keep saying, the game is amazing, but what brings it up a whole other notch (as if it were even possible), getting to play with friends, including GamingBear here…

GB: I’m a friend? (wells up) …

HSH: Well a casual acquaintance :p anyways, playing with friends/casual acquaintances really makes the experience a lot funnier and much more cooperative & overall a lot more FUN! Ill go more into detail in a bit because I want to know Bear’s side of things, but Overwatch is the BEST FPS game I have ever played, hands down.

GB: Wow where do I go from there? Haha well as I said it took me a little while to get into Overwatch but after several games things started to click, I started to understand how the different characters played and how to get the best out of them, well some of them, still think Winston is useless, which is a shame as he is a freakin’ space chimp! It became immediately apparent you need to throw out most of your preconceptions and ideas on how to play a FPS, and this turns out, is not a bad thing. Like HalfShelledHero says there is no emphasis on kill death ratio’s and players are not ranked after each round on how many times they killed an opponent. It’s a team game, one where points can be achieved in numerous ways and I love that, it sort of reminds me of Battlefield to an extent, where players can obtain points for not just killing others but performing team tasks such as healing and blocking shots. I didn’t put quite as much time in as HalfShelledHero (seriously I think that he just wakes up, games, sleeps, and occasionally eats) …

HSH: Hey! What do you want from me? I got a busy life style… I’m busy Gaming xD! You know aside from running HalfShelledHeroGaming.com, and running the MLD, and playing for the Elite, and beating the Dodgers, and running my Graphic Design business…

GB: He’s off on one again….

HSH: … taking care of my dogs, and watching my NHL Playoffs, and making dinner for my family, and sometimes running to Target during the day, maybe I will stop at Burger King on the way home, WAIT! Hanzo & Genji are BROTHERS?!…. What was I talking about again?

GB: I haven’t a bloody clue you lost me at dogs! Anyway I put enough time into the beta that I felt I had experienced what Overwatch is about and what its strengths are. A couple of aspects that really stood out for me and set this game apart from other FPS’s are the characters and the settings. Both are varied, interesting and give Overwatch a unique, strong identity.

HSH: Before I harp on about the characters and maps I want to just jump back to a point you just made about the End Game vote system.

GB: If you must.. haha no but I digress please continue.

HSH: I like that players are not ranked on what their K/D is. Healers who were the back bone of the team, players who stuck it out in the objective for the longest time, players who blocked the most damage, had the most objective kills, etc. Like you said it is a team game and the players of the game take a VOTE as to who was the most effective in the game, if you get 5 votes it’s a big deal as the word “EPIC” is yelled out and your player’s scorecard stands out. Some may say “but what does it really do? Do you get anything from it?” Some players want something extra from this, I don’t think it needs anything because it will have people only voting for themselves (which a small population I have run into have already started doing. If they are not up for a vote, they don’t vote at all… grow up or get out!). I know when I get voted for, or when I vote for someone else who I thought did a fantastic job, when we get EPIC, if feels great.

GB: I hope you voted for me, because I DEFINITELY voted for you when you appeared on the rankings screen… The voting system is quite an interesting end game event that keeps you engaged between rounds and although it doesn’t seem to have much importance or any bonus, it feels good when other players appreciate your efforts and by the same token annoying when some don’t vote, I mean come on now! Overwatch is at its best when you work as a team, going alone in Overwatch leads usually to your death.

gm pic 2
At the end of the round, players are shown that rounds best performers for which they can vote for. (Screenshot source: heroesofstorm)

HSH: What did you think of the maps in Overwatch? For me, King’s Row, Route 66, & Hollywood were my favorites (but they are all pretty great). Every single map looks so beautiful and well put together, it doesn’t matter how many times you play in one of these maps it just feels great.

GB: Yeah the majority of maps are fantastic. I was impressed by the sheer number of them! I liked Route 66 too and other personal favorites were Ilois & Hanamaura (but I am a sucker for Japanese architecture and a good blossom tree). I just love the visual style used, it’s fresh, bright and inviting, and the way Blizzard has seamlessly incorporated this look into the levels only adds to the experience. I do have an issue sometimes with the maps when respawning, sometimes it seems to take ages to get back into the action and in objective based scenarios time is crucial.

gm pic 3
The pleasingly stereotypical traditional Japanese level; Hanamura is so vibrant and colorful and adds to the enjoyment of the action (Screenshot source: Overwatch.wika.com)

HSH: Yeah, I do agree on that. Sometimes it does take forever to cover ground trying to get back into the thick of things. But maybe they intended it to be that way, make it that much more important to stay together as a team and not get eliminated.

GB: Yeah completely get you on that one; dying in Overwacth seems much more important compared to other FPS, well trying not to die that is. You really feel that, not only are you missing out on the action and fun but also your absence is having a negative effect on your team’s performance (probably positive when I get KIA to be fair).

HSH: Haha come on you did good, you act as a great decoy if nothing else! You are right about the visual style being “fresh, bright and inviting” and it’s not only the maps that look great, the characters themselves and the skins you can unlock are simply fantastic! Yes, some are just a recolor, but so what?! It goes into differentiating between players using the same character.

GB: I agree with you on the skins, I had quick peak the other night and some of them were fantastic and changed some of the characters so much it almost made them look like a new character! It’s great and gives players a way to personalize their favorite character(s) making them stand out.

HSH: In one game my team had three Tracers, one was the norm, one was green (that was me!) and one was the “Sporty” Tracer (black with a Sporty font spelling out Tracer). But on top of the recolors, each character had 2-4 badass skins! Being able to unlock these in your loot boxes and landing one of those GREAT skins will make you want to play that character even if it isn’t your favorite at the time. For instance, I was Reaper for a good amount of the time I started Overwatch, I tried out Junkrat a couple times but didn’t have much luck. I unlocked his (1000) gold skin “Fool” (I think it was called) and it made me want to use him. Now he is one of my favorites and a go to character for me when my team needs a PUSH!

GB: Oh them loot boxes, they are a great incentive to levelling up. Hardcore FPS gamers may argue you are only getting artificial, decorative additions nothing substantial such as new weapons, etc but that’s not the point of Overwatch, it’s all about the characters and style as well as keeping things balanced and accessible. On the subject of skins my personal favourites are Mei’s “Yeti” skin and Bastion’s “Overgrown” skin; the latter reminds me of the robot from Studio Ghibli’s Laputa: Castle in the Sky… and that can never be a bad thing.

HSH: Like I said there were a lot of great skins, but if I had to pick a few to highlight then I would go with Reaper’s “Nevermore” Skin, Zenyatta’s “IFRIT” skin, & Junkrat’s “Hayseed” skin. I would honestly like to highlight them all but Bear won’t let me :.( he is so mean!)

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GB: Dammit man someone has to keep you in check! Speaking of characters, I mean how great and varied is the cast?

HSH: I was a bit worried that most of the characters would be played the same. Luckily that is 100% not the case! Each character, looks, sounds, and feels different! Each character is better at something than another and once you get a good feel for the characters you can then start strategizing even more! For instance, I was Zenyatta, the omnic healer and an opponent was Reinhardt. I couldn’t get to him and I ran into him often, instead of pounding my head into a wall trying to beat him, I simply changed to Tracer and used her quick speed to get behind Reinhardt for some quick kills. The cast is so diverse and amazingly wonderful that if you are going to tell me you couldn’t find one character you liked, your lying to me and yourself. I have MANY favorites, and I am always switching when needed.

Characters
The vast selection of Heroes you can choose to be in Overwatch!

GB: Yeah the game really encourages you to change characters, I find different characters useful in different situations. For example, Symmetra I find is great when defending an area with her frustrating sentry turrets that grab and slow enemies down, allowing your teammates an easy shot and her team teleport special can be vital in getting back into the action quickly. But when it comes to attacking I need to switch it up and go for someone more offensive and/or supportive. The character lineup has plenty of variety and allows me to do adopt many different play styles. I could distract and confuse opponents on the front line as Tracer or provide an effective shield as Reinhardt, allowing my team to “push the line”. The options are great and I don’t feel there is any character in the lineup that is completely useless, although I have to say Winston doesn’t seem that great, although I’m sure if used well he could be an asset on any team. Plus, all the characters look great and each feels unique of course! A testament to great character design. Do you think any characters need changing? Or tweaking?

HSH: Well I heard a lot of people complaining about how strong Reaper is when he is right up in your face. What people seem to forget is, Reaper doesn’t have any attack options besides his basic and ultimate, his side abilities are his wraith and teleport. Just because a player tends to kick your ass in one game with a certain character, does not make it a case to nerf said character. It just means they were better than you and you need to get over it. That being said, I second your Winston claim. I could not for the life of me gain any ground while using Winston, I thought for a moment, “Man, he just isn’t strong enough” but throughout my time in nearly 182 games, I saw plenty of players using Winston effectively and to the point where they changed the momentum of the game. I honestly think that the characters are perfect the way that they are. The only thing I could really suggest doing is to add MORE Characters through DLC and MORE amazing skins.

GB: Completely agree with you on that one, I don’t think anyone character is over powered and each character has strengths and weaknesses. I don’t think I would change any of them either it’s amazing how balanced Blizzard has managed to make them all from the beginning. I can’t wait to see further additions to the roster too. With all that said and done, I’m going to play devil’s advocate here and be a little critical. I’m still slightly ever so skeptical in determining if this game feels like a full game. I mean there is only a few multiplayer modes, although those modes are quite engaging.

HSH: You’re right. The one drawback is that while there are many maps there are only 2 (or 3) game modes that are played on them. I would hope that the finished game (due later this month) would have another 1 or 2 additional game modes but my gut tells me there won’t be. Still that being said, I never found myself being “bored” of either game mode because it really is just so much fun. Maybe it is something a DLC will cover. A new map, a new character and a new game mode, something to the effect of that.

GB: Yeah I hope we get some worthwhile free dlc. A lot of multiplayer games of late seem to be released in an almost unfinished state and relying on future DLC to bolster the experience. While I don’t mind this, if the updates and additions are not frequent then a game can become boring quite quickly. Luckily I don’t think this will happen with Overwatch thanks to its varied roster and large number of maps already on offer. I think the beta is pretty much the finished article in terms of what we will see on release although I wouldn’t mind a few little surprises come launch. Another small gripe is how the game doesn’t seem to employ or utilize any of the backstory Blizzard has created.

HSH: Yeah, your right. Through the whole animation trailers you see bits of the story. If you had watched those you can see it in the game, but I want to know the WHOLE story, I want it to come alive in the game.

GB: Yeah definitely, I mean they didn’t necessarily have to give any context or back story but the fact it’s there and hasn’t really been implemented in a visible way is slightly disappointing as its quite an interesting story.

HSH: Maybe it will be in the final product, but once again I doubt it. I would LOVE for them to make a full animated movie like they did with the shorts. That would be great.

After much rambling and “discussion” both of us decide to offer our final summaries on the beta and Overwatch.

GB: After playing the beta I can safely say Overwatch is a highly enjoyable and downright fun game. The unique varied characters, interesting maps and the action packed gameplay packed with numerous ways to play are the main selling points for me. Blizzard has provided a colourful, characteristic multiplayer game that’s got style and substance. It does need a bit more meat added to it in terms of modes but I think I can safely say I will picking this up at launch.

HSH: I agree with everything Bear just said, I am pleased that Blizzard has rewarded my faith with a game that is even more awesome than my previous expectations. We are just under 2 weeks away from release and I’m craving to play more! The wait between the close of the Beta and the games release has left me feeling slightly empty inside but I know this will soon be cured. I can’t wait to play this game again and knowing my friends loved it as much as I do makes it that more exciting to me. I love you Blizzard.

GB: I sort of love you too Blizzard!

Over to you folks now, did you play the Overwatch beta if so did you enjoy and why? Maybe you didn’t quite get into, thats cool. For any thoughts, opinions, comments on Overwatch please don’t hesitate to comment. Thanks for reading, you can see more quality gaming content on both The Gaming Bear and HalfShelledHeroGaming – there will be lots more Overwatch stuff to come from both of us. Thanks for reading, until next time have fun and play games.

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