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The State of Overwatch-Review 1 year later

Overwatch is a definite hit with gamers winning multiple Game of the Year awards for 2016, but the game that players logged into at its launch is definitely not the game you will get today. As a former member of the video game industry, I can attest to the fact that video games are always evolving, especially massively multiplayer online games or MMO’s. New Characters, maps, skins, and now an entire professional league dedicated to Overwatch, Overwatch League, the game has come a long way since it’s release a little over a year ago. We are going to give you an up to date review of Overwatch as it stands. Don’t let the fact that the game has been around for a year detour you from jumping on the Overwatch bandwagon; the fun is just getting started!

Game Modes

Overwatch is a unique team based first person shooter, FPS, by Blizzard Entertainment, the makers of the Diablo series and World of Warcraft (WOW). Overwatch is a FPS with the flavor of a MMORPG in the sense that you have classes and specific roles for combat, like tanks and healers, traditionally found in RPG’s. The story of Overwatch is about a post apocalyptic group of rag-tag heroes who stop an invasion of Omnimechs, robots, bent on destroying earth and mankind. Post war, the members of Overwatch now fight each other? Eh, whatever. The story line is a little weak but the gameplay sure isn’t. Arcade and Competitive mode are the two main game options.

Arcade hosts several different game modes like Deathmatch, Free for All, 4 on 4, or Mystery Heroes and usually has seasonal games like the Summer Games or holiday themed games like for Halloween and Winter. These special themed game-modes are fun and temporary. During the summer games “Lucio Ball” was the main attraction, a form of 3-person street soccer game. Special skins, voice lines, and spray paints are usually available in the loot boxes for these events..

After a player reaches level 25, Competitive mode becomes available. Competitive mode keeps track of wins and losses on a global scale. This comes into play with Overwatch League, which we go into more details later. After a 10-match placement period, where you get your Skill Rating, SR, and you are placed into a skill tier, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Diamond, Platinum, and Top 500. Players are rewarded with a SR for wins. The tier levels are meant to separate the “good” players from the “bad”, however, this is a team-based game and players can sometimes catch a run of bad luck with terrible teammates.

The Competitive Game

Competitive matches are based on Seasons. The Current Season 6 is scheduled for 2 months. The length of a Season has been changing as the game evolves, Season 5 was 3 months long, and could be longer or shorter in season 7 according to developers. The reason for the change, they say, is to keep the Competitive games relevant and players engaged.

Two six player teams go head to head with each other to compete for SR in both escort and control point matches. If you lose you can drop in SR and drop in ranking. If players quit before a competitive match ends they are penalized with even more loss of SR and are banned/suspended from competitive play for 10 minutes. You do not get a replacement player for the remainder of the match. You can quit after 2 minutes without an additional SR penalty or being banned but you will get a “loss” and loose the SR for the loss. 5 vs 6 is not ideal but the match can still be won. So I encourage players to try and stick it out, the dropped out player can rejoin if they have a change of heart but like I said, you never know how a match can turn out. When it comes to the penalty, I’m all for suspending and banning players who bail on games, however, this is a no holds barred/no exceptions rule that could use a little loosening. Although the loss of SR for dropping out of competitive play is the equivalent to about two victories in game, it can suck when you loose connection due to technical difficulties, which happens rarely, but it does happen. An appeal/customer service option would be awesome but I can understand how logistically that might be difficult.

Players gain experience or XP and level up as you progress in the game, maximum level is 100. Medals and Cards are awarded at the end of every match for exceptional gameplay and achievements. Players get a “loot box” for every level they achieve which holds four items: gold currency, skins, voice lines, spray paints or player icons ranging from Common to Rare. These also change depending on the holiday or event with special themed items!

You also receive Competitive Points or CP which can be used to upgrade a characters weapon to “Gold” status. This does nothing but show that you have a gold weapon and must love the character that you are playing. You get an additional bonus of CP at the end of every competitive season.

For every 10 levels a player achieves, they are rewarded with a decorative border, which surrounds your characters portrait. The border resets at level 101 and you receive a star. After 5 stars you get a silver portrait and the cycle continues.

Communication

Communication is key in Overwatch. Voice game chat is available, however, you can also communicate via in game programmed commands, which allow you to call for support. I personally prefer this method because I was getting tired of listening to 12-year-old boys scream about needing armor or healing or telling me I was “doing it wrong” or what characters I should play to help them be better. It can get on your nerves. Be warned. Toxic players are something that you can and will run into while playing Overwatch. Blizzard has added a very easy reporting feature for helping to keep track of repeat offenders, spammers, and those who grief others and players are encouraged to use it.

The Characters

There are currently 25 playable characters in Overwatch representing different countries. This was not the original amount of heroes at release and more are rumored to be on the way. Recent add-ons include the character, Doomfist, a super-cyborg offensive character with a large metal glove that packs a few shotgun rounds and a punch that can send your opponent flying through the air. Each character has their own unique characteristics but are also broken up into specific classes: offensive, defensive, tank, and support.

Offensive characters deal a great amount of damage and are equipped with the ability to move faster then others. The drawback is their health pool is usually low and they are quick to die.

Defensive characters deal a lot of damage and are meant to clear areas and keep attackers at bay with traps or turrets. Their big draw back is a lack of mobility so playing up front isn’t recommended.

Tanks have an abundance of hit points or HP and are meant to be in the thick of battle. Tanks can take the brunt of assaults and can sustain longer in a toe-to-toe fights then the other classes because of their shields. Tanks however need the support of the other classes to be the most useful and shouldn’t stray far from the group.

Support characters are sometimes literally the lifelines of the team. Their ability to heal their teammates can change the flow of the game. Some support characters can even interrupt opponents.

Ultimate abilities are a special skill move that builds up overtime for each character. Each ultimate ability is unique to that character and can be used to turn the tides of battle. Some characters “Ultimate’s” pair well with others so, again, communication is key in some battle situations

A lot of players tend to favor one or two characters that fit their style of play and it’s an advisable strategy to try and get good at more then just your main. Every character has faults and attributes that can tip the scales of battle towards victory or defeat. Trusting your fellow teammates to play their best and you playing as hard as you can is all you can hope for. You should never request or try to bully another player into changing their character, it’s rude and presumptuous. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, it’s just a game after all.

Maps

Maps are based on geographic regions unique to the characters in game. Korea, Japan, China, Russia are just a few of the locations. A recent addition is an Escort map Jukertown, Australia. A post-apocalyptic fortress where the defending team is trying to prevent the attackers from delivering a pile of booby-trapped gold to the Queen of Junkertown.

Escort Maps

Escort maps are maps where two teams of 6 fight over a moving control point. As the point reaches destinations time is extended and play goes on until the package reaches its final destination or time runs out.

Domination Maps

Two teams of 6 fight over control points in a best of 3 match and try to keep the one point for the entirety of the allotted time.

Penalties

If you quit from a competitive match you are penalized by being suspended/banned from competitive play for 10 minutes and you lose 50 SR the equivalent of two wins.

Overwatch Leagues

About to begin its inaugural season at the end of the year Overwatch league is the professional carrot at the end of all this fun. If you think that you have what it takes to go pro, Overwatch is going to let you know. All players who are of eligible age and meet the requirements to play professionally are considered Free Agents in Overwatch league. You are being watched, via competitive play, to see if you are good enough to make one of the 12 spots in one of the 12 inaugural teams. This is a full time one year contract gig with a minimum of $50,000 for that year with the potential of earning up to 3.5 million with a guaranteed 1 million to go to the league champion team! So, your parents were wrong and playing video games is totally a viable way to pay the bills. Thanks Blizzard!

Overall

Overwatch is addictive and fun. The wide range of characters make it so that there is someone for everyone’s playing style. Take the time to try them all out for a bit and see which ones fit you best. As the months progress rumors of new characters have been making the rounds on the forum and the test server so we are sure to see more changes coming. The downside to Overwatch is the game chat and the toxic player who can ruin your fun while playing. Hopefully, with the new reporting system, Blizzard can start taking some sort of action soon. The automatic banning is harsh and could potentially welcome “griefing” by reporting players who others do not get along with. I do hope that something is done to help curb the negative toxic player that can ruin a fun game experience. I highly recommend Overwatch!

The next big event is Halloween and was just announced to be released on Ocotber the 10th! Check out the video below! See you in game!