26th May2016

‘Overwatch’ Review (PS4)

by Paul Metcalf

overwatch

Overwatch is a game that I feel I am somewhat obsessed with right now. I’ve had my eye on it for a while, becoming jealous of the people lucky enough to be in the Closed Beta. Then when the Open Beta came around I played it on both PC and PlayStation 4 finding it fun on both, and I was hooked. Now it has been released, is that obsession still there?

What really worried me about Overwatch was a certain elitism around the game that I found was building up slowly. This came from the closed off nature of the Closed Beta, and the language used in some of the streaming done. Now the game has finally been released and everything has been reset, I’m happy to see that this feeling has dulled somewhat, though I’m sure there are those who feel many are “playing it the wrong way”. This comes from the very nature of how Overwatch is meant to be played. We are given two teams, and these teams have to be balanced to find overall success. This is done by choosing characters that are Offence, Defence, Tank, and Support. During the Beta phases this may have been easy to set up, as people were used to the game. Right now though many players just choose which is the coolest to use.

This is something I’m fine with, for the most part. I have enough of an understanding of how each player works and know which I am strong with. If a Reaper is needed for Offence for example, I’m happy to choose him. For Defence my choice is either Bastion or Widowmaker, and for Tank I’ll always choose Roadhog. Roadhog is turning into my personal favourite character and one I’m having the most success with.

During the battles you’ll be given the task of either defending something, or attacking. This could be an area of the map, or an actual moving vehicle which you need to either stop or move towards a destination. These rules are simple, and the only task you really have is to meet the objective in the given timeslot. What you get from this is a feeling of organised chaos, especially when big characters such as the Tanks get involved. Seeing two Roadhogs or Reinhardts do battle for example can be both impressive and hilarious, if timed right. More than once I’ve seen charters fly off the edge of a cliff thanks to a charge attack. If Roadhog uses his chain at the right time, he can even take a victim with him. This is the beauty of the characters, and there are plenty to choose from. If you’ve heard about the game at all you’ll already know of characters such as Trace, and Probably D.Va who is fast becoming a favourite. Blizzard have done well with their marketing to push forward the story of these heroes and villains, though the story (in the game itself” feels slightly sparse, and this is one problem I have with it.

If you are looking for the story of Overwatch, then you have to go looking for the Lore. This can be done through the shorts that have been released, and the online comics. My problem with this is that it should have been in the game, even if it is just part of the Heroes section where you unlock their latest costumes and emotes. Bloodborn is an example of how this works well. The story of the characters are slowly unlocked based on your experience in the game. It’s a shame that Overwatch didn’t think to do this (though it could be implemented in the future?)

When it comes down to character progression, at first the feeling of levelling up is very satisfying, as is being given loot boxes each time this happens. These loot boxes give extra outfits to the characters and other unlockables, which adds to the fun and really works well. These loot boxes can also be purchased through microtransactions, this can be useful for those who don’t want to grind their way through the levels. The problem I have with this levelling system is that it is purely cosmetic, and in some way a way to show off. Though I love the game itself, levelling up soon feels slightly empty (unless of course you unlock something impressive). There is no feeling though that your character has adapted to being a higher level, no new weapons, and no feeling of real progression. This is something that is simply “just the way it is” and while I’ll live with it, it is a shame that it feels so empty at times.

Where Overwatch works best is in the characters. There are 21 characters (so far) and each very distinctive in their looks and abilities. You’ll have your favourites, and you’ll also have times when you try out a new one and fall instantly in love with their abilities. This is the sign of a game that is going to keep going for a long time, and will adapt with the community who plays it. I know I for one plan on sticking with it.

So, the big question is does Overwatch live up to the hype that surrounds it? The simple answer is yes, but it does have its flaws. While the story may not be important to the game, it does deserve to be more of a part of it, not something you have to go hunt down. The progression system is lacking in many ways, and often feels like just a number. If you can live with these flaws (and it is very easy to) Overwatch is definitely for you, as I know it is for me.

Should you buy it for PC or console? Well that is for you to decide. This review is based on the console version, and I do plan on playing the PC version too. There will be many who say this is a game that has to be played on the PC, but I disagree. Overwatch flourishes on all platforms it has been released on, so enjoy it however you like, simple as that.

****½   4.5/5

Overwatch is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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