In 2007 Valve released the Orange Box for PC and consoles. Containing Portal, Half-Life 2 (and expansions) and a game that many had almost forgot was in development: Team Fortress 2. The 50’s americana aesthetic was quite appealing and the fine balance of nine classes was highly successful. Over time, Valve made many decisions that split the community, namely going Free to Play and having a huge amount of non-cosmetic items that highly affected the balance of the game. Blizzard has stepped up to the plate and created a game to fill the niche for people who fell in love with what Team Fortress 2 was, rather than what it is now.
Overwatch consists of eighteen characters divided into four categories: Offense, Defense, Support and Tank. Offense bringing damage down upon your foes, Defense responsible for creating areas of difficulty for your opponents, Support for keeping your team going and Tanks for soaking up the damage dished out from opponents. Each character has their own unique attacks, modes of transport and special abilities resulting in a nightmare of balancing. Twelve maps divided into four groups determine the objectives of each team further adding to the complexity. The result? A magically well balanced game requiring the right combination of player skill, knowledge and teamwork.
Coming from Blizzard means there is a beautiful art design, drawing from anime and comic books as well as popular culture. A diverse selection of race and gender means that there should be a character or two that everyone finds appeals to them. Unlike the Modern Warfare or Battlefield series of games, there are no customizing systems to change how a character works, only cosmetics to change how they act. Skins, voice files, poses and sprays all can be changed after unlocking them from crates granted upon ranking your account up. Each match, you’ll be evaluated on your performance on a variety of metrics, earning additional experience for beating your personal bests.
In a sea of Free to Play arena shooters what makes Overwatch worth paying for? The requisite of teamwork and player skill is a huge draw, knowing that your opponent can’t simply buy their way to victory. The fine balance of characters, movement modes and map layouts ensures that mastery of the game is owed to the player, not their wallet. The polish on the beta so far has greatly exceeded that found in many released games and all the tie in media (cinematic movies, comics and so on) have really added to that value in terms of building on the world they’ve created.
At the end of the day, should you buy Overwatch? If you’re not turned off by multiplayer only games or fast paced arena shooters then you’re already ahead of the game. If you’re only looking for more of their excellent world building, then maybe skip the game and just watch all the media they release. Otherwise, I highly recommend the game. A few days with the beta (which of course is subject to change) has left a lasting and highly fulfilling impression.