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Overwatch Review

Overwatch, released May 24th by Blizzard Entertainment.

Overwatch Logo

Overwatch is a first-person team-based multiplayer shooter. It's similar to games like Team Fortress 2, but takes a different and unique approach. Rather than playing classes (like sniper, soldier, etc), you choose between 21 different Heroes that can fall into one of four roles; Offense, Defense, Tank, or Support.

Gameplay

It's fantastic to play. Movement is fluid and smooth, with each character feeling like they have their own unique weight. Shooting is natural and feels good, even if most Heroes don't go for "precision" shooting. Each hero gets two main abilities; anything from applying a shield, to shooting a rocket, to transforming into a turret. On top of that each Hero gets an Ultimate move that charges as the game goes on. They make the game feel really dynamic as, if used at the right time, they can turn the tides of the match.

As for the maps, there are four types of games: Capture points, Payloads, Hybrids of the two, and King-of-the-Hill. Standard stuff that builds off of Team Fortress 2's gameplay, but it works well.

All in all, this game feels satisfying to play and is very rewarding.

Overwatch Gameplay Rating

Graphics

This game is absolutely gorgeous. The world is very bright and colourful, each map having its own style and vibrancy, but still there is so much detail. All the characters are designed really well. How they look is very indicative of how they play and feel, the type of Hero they are. You can almost know exactly what this hero is about, their story, their abilities, their strengths and weaknesses, just by looking at them.

Overwatch Graphics Rating

Sound

All the music, all the sound effects, and all the dialogue, it’s all perfect. Very well designed. One of the best things about the game is that there’s actually a function to the sound. Not only does it give you a great spatial awareness of where enemies are around you in the map, but you can tell exactly who that enemy is playing, and what moves they’re using. Each hero's attacks sound unique. Especially the ultimates, it is very obvious what Hero is using their ultimate and from where, meaning you have time to get out of the way or prepare accordingly.

The only negative I can thing of is that the soundtrack isn't mind-blowing. It's okay, it matches the game, but I'm not going to be downloading and listening to these tracks out of game.

Overwatch Sound Rating

Design

Definitely the strongest aspect of Overwatch is how well designed it is. The world of Overwatch, and the characters who populate it, feel incredibly vibrant and alive. This game has character. Every location feels rich with story and background. Heroes will randomly interact with each other near the start of a match, giving some insight into their background relationships.

It's interesting, because Blizzard has outright said the story in this game is Secondary. They eventually want to build it up to the same level of depth as their other IP's (like Starcraft or Warcraft), but they never want that story to impede on the gameplay, nor force it on people. It's more something that is there for you to learn about if you're interested, or are paying attention.

In that there is a huge amount of mystery in the game. As you play you get inklings of the story of the world, enough to get you interested but not enough to really tell you what's going on. Blizzard then supplements this information with character comics, further descriptions, and fantastically animated short videos:

But you never get the whole story, and so the world feels massive with so much potential. And the more you get into the game, the more invested you become with the characters and the story, and the more engaged you become. You end up with a great experience that will keep you coming back for more.

Overwatch Design Rating

The Bad

The only bad things I have to say about the game are the server speeds. See, this game runs at a 20 tick rate. Tick rate is the frequency which the server updates the game state. This is different from latency (or ping), which is the time it takes from information to travel from your computer to the server and back.

Essentially with an online game, the Server maintains the gamestate. Clients communicate with the server to tell it all the actions that the they do, and the server holds the outcome. The rate at which this information is pushed to the server is the Tick rate. A 20 tick rate means that the server updates every 50ms. As comparison, Counter Strike Global Offensive servers run at 64 tick rate, which translates to 16ms updates. eSport tournaments run at 128 tick rate, which translates to 8ms updates. So, essentially, Overwatch servers run a bit slower than other competitive games.

Now something important to know is that for most people this doesn’t matter. You aren’t going to get much gameplay differences going from 50ms to 20ms, and honestly you won’t ever notice anything happening as Overwatch hides it really well. Personally the only time I feel like it effects me is if I'm turning a corner just as I get killed, where on my game I had already gotten out of their line-of-site, but on the Killcam I'm still clearly visible. Kind of frustrating...

What it does matter for though is for the competitive scene. For people who train hours a day professionally to get as good and as accurate as possible, those kinds of people will probably feel the effects of a slower tick rate when playing competitively and it could potentially discourage the whole competitive side altogether.

That’s really disappointing, because I think this game has a lot of potential to have some competitive play.

Overwatch should be getting a competitive Ranked gameplay mode at the end of June, so we’ll have to see if they have higher tick rates for those servers. Here’s hoping.

Overwatch Bad Rating

Final Thoughts

Overall, Overwatch is absolutely fantastic. It is such a joy to play, every character is rewarding and satisfying, and the game design is fantastic. At 40$, i highly recommend this to anybody who might be interesting in online games.

Overwatch Final Rating

Kyle

Kyle

I do tactile research—It's a touchy subject. Psych/Neuro grad student and creator of LittleGadget, a channel about Science and Videogames.

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