Jump Into the Addictive World of Overwatch

Blizzard's anticipated shooter lives up to the hype


In a year of very good, very addictive games—the best yet for the PS4, by far, and we’re not even half over—we get another title to add to the must-play list. Yes, boys and girls, after you’ve played Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Tom Clancy’s The Division, Doom, Far Cry Primal, and Dark Souls III, and maybe even before a few of those titles, you simply must spend some time with Blizzard’s fantastic Overwatch, an addictive, multiplayer shooter that has already enraptured millions of gamers worldwide. This is already one of the most talked about games of 2016, with thousands of fan sites, message boards, and even a weird amount of fan fiction. What’s so engaging about Overwatch? As much as any game in a long time, it’s almost impossible to stop playing. One more match. One more character to try. One more strategy to employ. One more loot box to earn. Just. One. More.

It Doesn't Do Much, but It Does It Right

Overwatch is such a simple game that it almost seems thin at first. There’s no campaign. It’s a multiplayer shooter through and through. And there aren’t that many maps (I’m hoping for many more given the game’s incredible success). Sure, there are a couple dozen characters to try, but how entertaining could that be? We all saw that strategy collapse in Battleborn, a game that looks even more inferior in this title’s increasingly long shadow. But Overwatch is one of those games that gets more interesting with each match. You’ll figure out new strategies—and you really do need to play as a team to succeed—and find your favorite characters. Very few multiplayer games have ever been this dense in terms of team strategy and individual experience. You really must blend the two to succeed, changing the way that one approaches the multiplayer experience.

It's All About The Characters

Overwatch is a game built around squad-based combat. At the beginning of each match, you pick a character, and the interface notices how the entire team is forming. For example, it will note if you don’t have enough support characters or have too many. It’s telling how to succeed, and how you’ll need a balanced team to win. You’ll also notice that you can chance characters mid-match, and you should. If you’re getting your butt kicked, switch to a support character. Mix up the strategy with turrets or healers. And, of course, find your favorites. Mine are the ice-shooting Mei and the incredibly inventive Lucio, who can mix it up and provide speed and health boosts to teammates. Much has already been made of the deadly Bastion, who can turn himself into a turret and is arguably unfair. I’ve noticed most players don’t pick him lately, almost as if to balance the playing field a bit more. Overall, there are four types of heroes—Offense, Defense, Tank, and Support. The winning team is pretty much guaranteed to have at least one in each group.

The Playing Field Matters Too

Of course, cool characters are nothing without a cool arena in which to play. The map design in Overwatch is essential to its success. They’re not visually elaborate (and, again, I wish there were more of them), but they’re detailed, containing just enough alleys and sightlines to make each match feel new. That’s something unique about Overwatch. The 21 characters and 6 maps may not seem like a lot, but when you consider all the various combinations of the heroes and locations, along with the individuality of different player strategies, each match feels new. And that’s what we want most of all from a multiplayer shooter: variety. We want to feel like we’re in control of our game, but that it’s just a little different every time we jump in. Overwatch does that as well as any multiplayer shooter I’ve played in the PS4 generation. It’s a game-changer.

Disclaimer: Blizzard provided a review copy of this title.

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