Overwatch: End of Beta thoughts

Or, why a stationary mini-gun can be absolutely OP…


rosterSo Open Beta for Overwatch ended a few days ago. I came to the party late, because as usual I didn’t get a closed beta invite (more on beta invites in the next article), so I had to make do with the week long open beta.

I had already pre-purchased the Origins Edition of the game several weeks prior to the Open Beta starting, and as a result I got into it a couple of days early, ahead of the general Open Public Beta.

So, was it worth the money…?

Well, let’s see what I thought of the various elements of the game.

Roster

There are 21 “heroes” in the Overwatch roster as you can see above, all of which are hugely varied, both in terms of their abilities and their aesthetic. Each character has 3-5 different abilities, plus an Ultimate ability, and in this manner it’s more akin to a MOBA than an FPS, but it works, and it works well.

Some of the characters, such as Tracer, are very fragile, but she makes up for this by being a very fast mover, as well as having the ability to rewind 3 seconds to her location and health level at that time.

Others have more HPs, but are slower with shields and/or armour to protect them, such as Reinhardt with his armour and shield, or Roadhog with his tonne of HPs and a self heal.

Roles

There are 4 different roles in the game:

  • Offense – The ones who can potentially score most kills.
  • Defense – The characters that can lock down an area.
  • Tank – The high HP characters, who can generally take more of a beating.
  • Support – Mostly healer characters, and vitally important for a strong team.

I didn’t have 1 single favourite character, but I’ll give my favourites in each role.

Offense

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Definitely Tracer. She’s not an out and out lethal character, but she’s meant to be played in a more disruptive manner to the others. She’s best played tying up enemy players, and distracting them from their attack on the objective, or pulling them away from defending and taking them out whilst they’re isolated.

Defense

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Normally this will be Widowmaker, the sniper class. I love nothing more in an FPS than taking on the sniper’s role, head-shotting enemies from halfway across the map.

I would say though, that I would personally switch Tracer with Widowmaker in the class system, as Widowmaker is more offensive and capable of easier kills than Tracer, whereas Tracer is best used more in a controlling and containing role.

Secondarily to Widowmaker I’d have to choose Junkrat.

ScreenShot_16-05-05_18-53-06-000He’s just so much damn fun to play, and is effective in both defense and offense. He’s the grenade spamming class and can throw out mines and bear-traps and is just absolutely insane. Imagine DC’s Joker if he was Australian…

Tank

Definitely Reinhardt…

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A big beefy german dude in chunky metal armour. Carries a massive fucking hammer and generates a very meaty electronic shield that takes a hell of a beating (it has 2000 HPs!). Excellent for breaking stubborn defences down and decimating the opposition. Which is exactly what I did for the PotG above when I broke a stern shield/turret chokepoint defence then went in and solo-killed THEIR ENTIRE TEAM

Luckiest moment with him?

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Check out my HPs….

Support

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I hated Lucio at first, but playing him several times led to him becoming my favourite. He doesn’t have a direct heal, per se, but he does heal allies passively if they’re nearby him. He can switch between passive healing and movement speed boost auras by hitting the Shift key. He can also boost either aura with his E ability, and throw out shields to nearby friendlies with his Ultimate.

Secondarily to Lucio, Mercy is Overwatch’s equivalent to WoW’s Priest class. The ubiquitous straight up healer, she can alternatively boost an allies damage with a right click of the mouse.

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Game Mechanics

There are no ammo pickups to worry about (unless you count the scraps Torbjorn uses to build and repair his turret), and each character has infinite ammo for their weapons and other equipment. This is only limited by the clip size per weapon.

The game is 6v6, and the game is an objective-based game, be it capturing or defending a specific area or defending a payload, Overwatch is more about what you can do together as a team, rather than concentrating in any way on any individual’s Kill/Death ratio.

Which works well. I was miffed at first that there was no “proper” scoreboard, but having played it for the week, I came to appreciate more what Blizzard are going for here, and I’m glad, because it differentiates it slightly from its most obvious inspiration: Team Fortress 2.

The game does desperately need more than effectively 1 game mode, but I’m not sure that a Team Deathmatch mode would work terribly well here – anyone favouring a support character would get short shrift in that particular mode.

Something like CTF would work wonderfully IMO, and it’s set up perfectly for it. There would of course be balance issues around the likes of Tracer, but nothing insurmountable, and ensures all classes would get decent use.

Aesthetics & Sound

I absolutely adore the game’s art. It’s gorgeous:

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Both the environments and the characters look stunning, and the animations and sound design are both well up to par with the art.

The maps are for the most part well laid out, and enough of them that playing a series of 10 minute matches (the average) never seems to get boring.

The music is also fitting. It’s environmental for the most part, and fits well in the background. And of course there’s the excellent theme tune we’ve all heard in the trailers.

Balance

Balance is mainly fine. There are some small niggles, such as Bastion being completely OP in his turret form if he’s defending from a corner and has a competent team with him – I’ve seen him cut through so many enemy players in his alt-form it’s unbelievable. Sure he has a weak point on his back, but if the player using him covers it well enough?

But mainly it’s balanced well. As I said earlier, one example is Tracer fragility, but she’s fast, blinks about all over the map and can rewind 3 seconds if she’s taken heavy damage.

Some characters do have Ultimate abilities that will make you shit your pants if it’s on the opposition team though.

If you don’t have a McCree on your team and you hear the words “It’s High Noon”?

HIDE. FAST.

But in comparison to the likes of McCree, Widowmaker, Zenyatta, Mercy, Reaper etc, some of the other characters’ Ultimate abilities seem very lacking. Tracer for example only has a sticky grenade that can actually kill her if she’s too close to it, and is pretty hard to stick to enemy players. Compare that to Junkrat’s mine he has on a short cooldown and can detonate it in player’s faces if you’re quick enough.

Soldier 76’s Ultimate is similar to McCree’s, in that it will auto-target enemies, but where McCree’s is an auto-headshot and therefore a kill on any enemies on screen, 76’s is an aim helper, but you still need to empty a full clip into an enemy to kill them. Especially tanks.

Rewards & Progression

Progression is made by earning XP, and you get this for completing matches (especially consecutive ones), winning, defending and capturing objectives etc etc. Earn enough XP and you gain a “level”, just like an RPG, and each time you level up, you get a loot box.

Loot box rewards in Overwatch are ALL cosmetic items bar currency. There are no weapon upgrades, no new characters or additional abilities to be unlocked via the reward system.

Skins, sprays, voice lines, emotes, poses, intros for your PotGs, all of these are the rewards that you can earn from the loot boxes that you get every time you level up.

And the only thing you can spend the currency from loot boxes on? The same rewards you’d get randomly from the loot boxes, so if there’s a particular skin, or an emote you’re really hankering for? Save up that currency until you have enough and you can unlock it manually.

It’s a nice system, and isn’t Pay 2 Win in any way shape or form.

I can easily see expansions adding more of the cosmetic items, along with new maps, game modes and new characters too.

So, thoughts?

Beta is now closed, and the game launches properly on May 24th. Any rewards earned or progress made during beta will be wiped, and everyone will start with a blank slate come launch.

That’s 2 whole weeks without the ability to play, and it’s agonising now that I’ve had my hands on it.

I’ve loved every minute of the beta, and even the games where I was on the losing side were enjoyable in a way many team based FPS games aren’t.

I’m definitely glad I made the purchase now, and will be playing this probably every day after release. It’s a lot easier to do, given that quick-play matches will generally only last 10 minutes or so. But the game can also be played with friends in a group, and it’s absolutely riotous fun when played like this, especially if you’re all on voice comms 

If you like FPS games at all, especially if you’ve enjoyed TF2 at any time, especially when it was first released, I thoroughly recommend you buy this.

Thank god Titan got cancelled, eh?

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