Overwatch beta review: Refreshing gameplay with polished yet simple detailing adds up to an absolutely brilliant experience

Blizzard’s upcoming first person shooter, whose beta was scheduled for a closure on 9 May, Overwatch recently concluded its open beta on 10 May and according to the developers, they received an overwhelming 9.7 million players trying out the beta version, so much so, that they even extended it by a day as a “thank you gesture”. The game will be Blizzard’s first IP in a long (really long) time. The game is built upon the spoils of Blizzard’s scraped project Titan and will be the company’s first shooter game. So, how does Overwatch actually fair against expectations? After trying the game (on PC), here’s what I feel about it. Interface The first thing that grabs your attention and attracts you to the games is its simplicity in accessibility; just clicking on the ‘Play’ button from the battle.net will take you inside the game. Once you are inside the game, the options are highlighted pretty clearly, just choose what you please, click and voila! No framing, no delays. Just like any other game, your friends are listed on the ‘social’ and other options include your choice of game mode and more. While you pick your character in a match, the interface drops hints (which are not really subtle) that helps you in coming up with a balanced team. Stressing on the point again, the screen looks absolutely clear, bright and vibrant without a single complicated tributary network of options. Characters Now, this is where Blizzard’s Overwatch takes a stand to rise above all. The game currently has 21 unique, playable characters to choose from and each one of them is absolutely different from the other. From Tracer, the time jumping adventure to Zenyatta, an orb wielding robo-monk (YES!), the 21 characters are segregated into four classes: defence, offence, support and tank. Each character has a couple of basic spells, one ultimate spell apart from their basic attacks (an alternate basic attack for some) and each of them brings something unique to the table. The trailers might seem a bit cartoonish for some, but once you start playing, you will realise that the game is nothing like that. Every character has been detailed carefully keeping every aspect of it in mind. You can clearly differentiate and recognise each of them after just a few tries. Everyone has a different mode of attack, which furthers strengthens their individuality. Overwatch 2 (2) Lighting and Sound As mentioned already, each character is different, thus each ability and attack sounds different, making it easy even for a new player to recognise. The sound helps you keep a track of enemy’s ability, availability and positioning; all of it with a pretty subtle background score. As for the lighting effects, yes that has been done well too, except for some parts maybe, where it just gets a bit too bright and the shading could be amended a little. Gameplay Overwatch shifts its paradigm from your traditional shooters like Call of Duty or Counter Strike. Over here since the re-spawn time is not much; the goal is not just about eliminating the enemy (which is fun though) but sticking to the objective. Further shifting from its contemporary shooters, who resort to 5 vs 5 gameplay, Overwatch has a 6 vs 6 player mode. Although the game takes its cue from the famed multiplayer shooter, Team Fortress 2 it is much more fun to play. The key to win the game here is sticking to the objective rather than the kills (but trust me, it is absolute mayhem throughout the map, always). Currently there are 12 maps which feature multiple varieties of objectives, like assault, escort and control. From tastefully cherry tree-decorated Hanamura to snow clad Volskaya Industries, each map has something new to offer, fabricated in a way to fit the play styles of every character. The initial tutorial pretty much covers the basics of the game and lets you jump straight into a match. Overwatch 2 (1) Concerns Although, Overwatch is an absolutely refreshing game to get your hands on, there are few things that raise concerns. Firstly, the leaver-busting system of the game did not look in place. Players kept quitting matches in between games, leaving their team in problem, while Blizzard’s MOBA, Heroes of the Storm substitutes the leaver with an AI player, there is nothing of that sort in Overwatch, neither does it seem like a strict leaver-penalty system is in place (yet). I hope Blizzard adds it with the launch. Secondly, as mentioned by a lot of players, the modes of the game ‘might’ be a bit imbalanced, which makes defending quite a bit easier than attacking. Thirdly, the game, in the beta had no signs of ranked or competitive gameplay, which might disappoint some players who want to play with other players of same skill level to earn ranking. Hopefully Blizzard will implement this sooner or later (the sooner the better, though). Lastly, the game is devoid of any single-player / co-op campaign mode, like one of Overwatch’s contemporary Battleborn has. Final thoughts Despite of some (very minute) drawbacks, Overwatch definitely stands out as an immersive, fun to play game (which becomes more enjoyable with friends). The game servers are pretty sound, providing a stable game indulgence. The revenue policy for the game seems to be a one-time-pay, wherein once you have purchased it, the future content (heroes, maps etc) that will be released would be accessible at free of cost, which actually sounds really good. The matches have time limits, thus making them short with amazing experiences. So, if you want to try out an action packed, multiplayer online shooter with cyborg ninjas, Russian snipers and shotgun wielding evil fiends going absolutely berserk throughout, you should definitely get your hands on the game as it’s worth every penny. Overwatch is scheduled to release on PC, PS4 and Xbox on 24 May, 2016.