Thursday, 7 July 2016

Review No. 122 Overwatch - PS4 (12+)

Strong Points:
Extremely well polished
Likeable and distinct characters
Great graphics style
Accessible for beginners while also challenging enough for pros
Lots of unlocks
One change or elimination can change the course of the battle
You really feel like your helping, whatever you do
Physics objects!
Interesting story...

Weak Points:
...That hasn't been fleshed out fully yet
No single-player mode/campaign
Some choke points on maps are a bit one-sided (especially with Torbjörn or Bastion involved)
Some heroes can be seen as slightly 'cheap'
Arcade brawl mode is a good idea but at the moment just limits the heroes available
No cross-platform play
Different updates per platform
Play-of-the-game isn't refined enough
Not enough communication options on consoles
Some ultimates are a little more 'ultimate' than others

Never enough maps are there?
Lots of maps look like they have potential flanking paths only to double back on themselves

In-depth Review:

Release Dates:
World Wide: May 24th, 2016

Left Analogue Stick: move character
Right Analogue Stick: move camera
R2: primary weapon
Up D-Pad: spray
Left D-Pad: information on character
Right D-Pad: switch weapon (if available)
Down D-Pad: conversational commands
X: jump
O: crouch (if available)
Square: reload (if available)
L1/R1/L2: unique abilities to each character - see in-game

Now, Overwatch is a good game, and I'm reviewing it solely on that instead of the promise of better things to come from Blizzard via in-game patches. I mean, games should be complete when released with extra, fan-wanted things added in later and I think Overwatch is mostly complete albeit without a singleplayer experience.

The characters are what make this game and 21 (22 now with Ana) diverse characters not only in playstyle but personality is nothing to laugh at. From fast-flying Brit Tracer who has the ability to travel in time to Brazillian musician Lucio who supports the team with his beats and Bastion the mech who can turn into a turret or tank, there is a lot of variety in the game. It's all balanced as well (for the most part) with each character being able to counter another given the right circumstances.

Each character fills different roles, again not only in their 4 sectors (offence, defence, tank and support) but individually. Both Bastion and Widowmaker are technically defence characters but one is a giant mech with a high fire rate but slow movement, while the other is a high-precision sniper with fragile defences. Both technically fill the same general role but couldn't be more different in how they play. This is true for all the characters, allowing you to play any way you want or need to.

Of course, this game is all about teamwork to counter the enemy an enemy and sadly, consoles (which is what this review is for) has limited capabilities when it comes to communicating. There's the basic communication wheel allowing for commands like group up and healing and a mic option (although I've never seen anyone use it) and that's about it. I'd be able to get by except for 2 reasons: some maps have certain chokepoints which are difficult to beat without coordination (especially if they can set up turrets/Bastion) and the insistence of people to not switch hero during the match. It would be nice if the game popped up a hint saying 'switching hero could help' here or something.

Talking about maps, there are 12 in total with each group of three filling the roster for each mode. They are all vastly different in style and location, each with their own secrets and physics objects to abuse. They're also all located in real-world locations such as Hollywood and China, with some such as the aforementioned Hollywood even changing the finish screen. Of course, more maps would be nice as but I'm fine to wait if they're too this quality and detail.

Another thing Blizzard took a detailed look at was the art style of the game. It looks basically like a Pixar film, with bold and lively colours and character models brimming with personality. The animations also help this with D'Va reconfiguring her suit using the buttons on the joysticks or Reaper throwing away his guns after they've run out. This personality extends further with conversations between characters happening every so often when playing, adding further to the backstory of the characters.

Sadly, this backstory doesn't extend very far. Yes, there are short films on YouTube and plenty of info on the wikis but not much in-game. No single-player either, which is a shame as it would've been nice to have explored the backstories of these characters further.

Quick-play is where you'll spend most of your time and it offers the core original experience very nicely. I've experienced no lag or disconnects and am regularly connected to games (probably due to the 10 million players). You can also play against AI to train or do a Taven Brawl-esque mode where the rules are changed every week. Sadly, this doesn't seem to extend past a limit on what heroes you can choose. Competitive is also out now and I personally like the set up of multiple rounds and the scoring system. It will be interesting to see if they can push competitive to the level of CSGO or Hearthstone but taking a look at the amount of competitions at the moment I think there's a good chance there will be. You also get Golden Weapons after getting so many Competitive Points, which is cool.

Talking about these Golden Weapons, they are just one of the many ways you can customise your heroes. Be it voice lines, skins, highlight intros or sprays, there are plenty of ways to add even more personality to your characters. You get these collectables via Loot Boxes which are in turn given out for levelling up or you can buy them yourself with microtransactions. Personally, I believe that Loot Boxes are acquired fast enough without the need for microtransactions so I'm not too bothered about them but it is annoying when you start building up a collection, just how many duplicates you get. These duplicates do net you coins which can be spent on collectables so as to take the randomness away but coming across enough coins is tough.

Conclusion: in an age of bland and grey shooters, Overwatch dares to do what games are meant to do - have a little fun. And it's paid off for them. Really well.

Rating: 90%

Thanks for reading, Satamer.