I’ve known about Blizzard’s colorful and vibrant first person shooter, Overwatch, for a while now. I remember everyone getting totally amped up about the game last November when the game was unveiled but I wasn’t as taken in my the initial gameplay trailers and character reveals as some fans where. After spending several hours with this weekends Beta Stress Test my opinion on the game has radically changed. Here’s a rundown of what I played and why I enjoyed it so much!
What I Played
I got the chance to participate in the Overwatch Weekend Beta Stress Test. Unlike the closed beta which launched at the end of last month the Weekend beta Stress Test is exactly what it sounds like – a slightly more limited version of the game designed to help Blizzard stress their network infrastructure and prepare the game for launch. Considering that this version of the game is a beta these impressions are based off an in-development version of Overwatch and may not reflect the quality or Broken Joystick’s opinion of the final product.
The Weekend Beta Stress Test includes:
- Access to all 21 heroes right from the get-go
- A limited selection of maps – Hanumura, Watchpoint: Gibraltar & King’s Road
- Non of the special skins included with the Origins edition of the game or the promised progression based unlocks that may ship in the final game.
- Is only run during select stress test weekends and can’t be played all the time like the closed beta.
Gameplay & Hero Impressions
I played a total of three heroes enough during my first few hours that I consider myself confident enough to write briefly about where I used them effectively and where I royally screwed up. While I dabbled around with other heroes during re-spawns these three where main go-to heroes. After failing spectacularly at playing any kind of support hero I ended up being proficient at one tank and two damage focused combatants.
This pro Starcraft II player turned mech pilot instantly resonated with me when she was unveiled at Blizzcon a few weeks back. I’m a huge fan of giant robot anime – specifically Neon Genesis Evangelion – so the fact that her overall design takes cues from that series pretty much sold me. Surprisingly while in her mech there are no reloads – you can just keep firing away although her fire-rate is a lot slower than other heroes. Her boost was also probably one of the few things that I got the hang of right away – using it to clear pits and other obstacles. I also found her boost useful when wanting to get past Reinhardt frontal shield. I think my biggest failure was my usage of D.va’s ultimate which allows her to eject from her mech and force it into self-destruct mode. This self destruct can do friendly fire and I can’t tell you the number of times I killed myself with her ulti.
Bastion is a robot that carries a light assault rifle by default but perhaps his defining trait is that at any time he can enter a turret mode which makes him immobile while increasing the amount of damage he can do. Being able to enter this sentry mode provided useful during periods of gameplay where I was asked to defend key objectives. Being able to enter and exit sentry mode at any time – with the cost being about a second and a half transition animation – means that you can move around the points you are defending to tactically place yourself against the rushing enemy team. His ultimate is also really cool – it turns him into a literal tank that can roll around the map. While in tank form he can do extra splash damage to his enemies, ultimately where I failed was the timing of this ulti. There were a few times where I should have performed my ulti a few seconds before I did and this cost my team some much needed extra fire power.
This assassin’s ability can leave him with literally no trace, a virtual ghost on the battlefield. Clad all in black it is no wonder that he is a gun for hire and his dual shotguns have more than enough stopping power when they meet their mark. Reaper was actually the first hero in the Weekend Beta Stress Test that I played around with. His dual shotguns unload rounds into enemies at medium and close range quite effectively. His shadow step ability allows him to teleport a short distance by placing a marker on the ground and then pressing the teleport hot-key a second time. I found this useful to reach elevated heights such as when taking out a Widowmaker or warping behind a tanks shield and taking them out from behind. His ultimate attack – Death Blossom – allows him to spin in a circle firing in all directions, not unlike one of Valla’s ultis from Heroes of the Storm. It took me quite a while to get used to how squishy Reaper can be when using his ultimate – you might think it’d help you escape a 3 vs 1 encounter but it most likely wont.
Overall: My Impression of The Game Has Drastically Changed
Overwatch’s colorful almost cartoon like graphics will catch your eye’s attention but it’s diverse line-up of heroes and solid gameplay is what will keep you playing. I focused my attention on the heroes during my short time with the game, getting to know how they played and differed from one another. Blizzard’s shift away from competitive Kill-Death-Ratio scoring and focus on objective completion keeps the game focused and light hearted. I never once found myself swearing at the end of a match because I had 25 deaths and 3 kills – like can happen in a really terrible Call of Duty match. Playing Overwatch with a friend is even better – my wife joined me for my entire time with the Weekend beta stress test today and I had a blast calling out to her to heal me, or having her ask me guard a position while she scouted. If you have friends to play with Overwatch is going to keep you glued. Here’s hoping I’ll have further access to Overwatch stress tests because I’m really enjoying the small slice of the game I’ve been allowed to play. In-fact in between my playtime with the game and writing this article I pre-ordered Overwatch on my Battle.net account because I was so impressed. Pretty damn impressive for a closed beta that is meant to test the servers and not a promotional “beta” of final code meant for marketing purposes. Great job Blizzard!