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Overwatch game: Shaking Things Up for Shooters

by Daniel Boylan

 

 

 
Overwatch game: Shaking Things Up for Shooters

There’s about to be something of a renaissance in the first person shooter (FPS) genre. Blizzard Entertainment is joining the shooter space this year with the very intriguing Overwatch, a genuine contender for the crown when it comes to online multiplayer shootouts.

Track Record

The folks at Blizzard have given the gaming community a lot over the years, not least of which is the super addictive World of Warcraft, which has become one of the most successful games of all time with over 100 million accounts created since its US launch in November 2004. It has also grossed over $10 billion, the highest any game has ever made, making some of Hollywood’s highest earners look like chump change by comparison.

World of Warcraft is far from their only achievement though, with other standout games such as the Diablo series, Hearthstone and the Starcraft series draining hours from people’s day like a thirsty gaming vampire. Let’s not forget retro hits such as Rock N’ Roll Racing and The Lost Vikings. The company is also indirectly responsible for the infamous battle cry “Leeroy Jenkins!” which remains one of the funniest moments on YouTube.

New Kids on the Block (of FPSs)

Surprisingly, considering the popularity of the online shooter in recent years, Overwatch game will actually be Blizzard’s first attempt at an FPS. It seems they’ve been biding their time until they felt ready to deliver an experience that’s different enough to what’s been and gone. Unlike most other recent entries in the genre, it promises a much more diverse roster of characters, each with their own individual personality and set of skills. The graphical style and general art direction stand out among FPSs too, with a much more colourful palette than the typical greys and browns of more “gritty” peers. Your eyes aren’t going to know what hit them if you’re used to the likes of Call of Duty, Battlefield or any of the Tom Clancy games.

 

Story
The backstory of Overwatch game is simple enough to get your head around: The Overwatch game was formed to bring peace to a war-torn world on the brink of destruction. It comprised of a medley of soldiers, scientists, adventurers & oddities from all over the globe – each one ready to dish out their own brand of justice. They succeeded in putting an end to the crisis and helped keep the peace for a time afterwards, but as the years went on, Overwatch’s influence had significantly waned and the legendary task force was disbanded. Now Overwatch is gone, but the world is still in need of heroes… They should really make a movie out of this too, I know I’d go see it.
 

Roles
At its core, Overwatch is a team based shooter which presents you with a choice of 4 roles: Offense, Defense, Tank and Support. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to foolishly go in guns blazing straight to the frontline – if this is the case, Offense is definitely the role you’re going to want to play. The characters designed for this are usually quick, with the ability to deal greater damage than the likes of a Defense character. Their increased mobility also makes them perfect for scouting out the area ahead.
 

 
Considering the Offense strategy alone is likely to get you blown to smithereens quite fast, it’s definitely advisable to have a varied team & that’s where Support heroes come in. They have the ability to heal their allies, enhance the abilities of the team, not to mention hamper the abilities of members of the opposing team.
 

 
 
Tank heroes have high endurance and are perfect for protecting their reckless Offense pals like me; without these guys on the battlefield there’s no way I’d stand a chance. But hey, without players like me there wouldn’t be anyone for them to run around looking after right? That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it…
 
 

 
 
Defense can be just as essential to victory as the rest of the crew. Those in the Defense role are best used to form the back line of a squad, guarding important locations and preventing objectives from being taken. There’s no point in having nothing but Offense on the team if all your objectives are being taken while you’re up front.
 
 

Abilities
It’s not just the extra colour and wide range of characters that make Overwatch stand out from the crowd though, there are some amazingly inventive abilities to get your hands on here. These are 10 of my favourites so far:
  1. Blink – Tracer has the ability to zip horizontally through space & appear a few metres away with her Blink ability. You can have up to 3 of these stored and they regenerate after a few seconds, very handy for outmaneuvering your opponents.
  2. Recall – Tracer also possesses the ability Recall, which allows her to jump backwards in time a little, restoring her health, ammo & position on the map to what they were a few seconds earlier.
  3. Dragonstrike – Hanzo’s powerful Dragonstrike is an interesting one, summoning a Spirit Dragon which flies through the air and even through walls. Don’t get in its way or you’ll be devoured in a flash.
  4. Infra-sight – Widowmaker has a Recon Visor which gives her Predator-like heat vision, this allows her to see the heat signature of foes through walls and objects for a limited amount of time. The ability is also shared with allies giving the whole team a significant advantage while activated.
  5. Ice Wall – As the name suggests, Mei can generate a large wall of ice that blocks enemy attacks, obstructs their view & stops movement. Very handy for defending an area.
  6. Total Mayhem – Junkrat looks like he came straight out of a Mad Max movie & he’s obsessed with explosives, this ability proves that. He drops a bunch of live grenades when he’s killed to get some posthumous revenge on his killer. Who ever said revenge was a dish best served cold anyway?
  7. Crossfade – Lúcio uses his music to energise both himself and any nearby allies. He has 2 songs he can use, one of which boosts movement speed & the other one recharges health.
  8. Deflect – Genji might be a cyborg ninja, but there’s definitely some Jedi in his programming as this ability allows him to send oncoming projectiles hurtling back at his foes with the lightning fast swinging of his sword. The force is definitely strong with this one.
  9. Graviton Surge – Zarya is able to use her Particle Cannon to launch a gravity bomb which sucks enemies towards it, causing damage while they’re trapped inside.
  10. Resurrect – Mercy is able to radiate energy which brings any nearby fallen allies back to life at full health, infuriating the entire other team in the process. This one is bound to cause regular arguments.
 
With a lot of players claiming they’re becoming bored with the same old same old when it comes to other shooters, it will be interesting to see whether Overwatch can catch their attention when it hits the shelves this year. With everything I’ve seen on it so far, my money’s on yes.
One of our own in-house gaming experts and reviewers, got his hands on Overwatch BETA for PS4 over the past week. Michael’s been trying out all the available game modes available in Overwatch BETA and put together this short gameplay and review video. Understand all you need to know about Overwatch before it’s launch.
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