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Geek & Sundry gets Hands On with Overwatch

Geek & Sundry gets Hands On with Overwatch

Since it’s been announced, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on Overwatch, and we were lucky enough to visit the Blizzard offices to take the time to play through a few rounds before release. In a market saturated by military shooters, Blizzard wanted to create something that stood out, and I feel they’ve accomplished that. With a roster of 16 heroes to play with, they have a play-style that fits anyone. We even had a chance to pick the developers’ brains about the game, so now it’s our turn to pay it forward and tell you our favorite things about Overwatch so far.

Diverse Roster

When Blizzard first announced the game at last year’s Blizzcon, people raved at how cool and different each of the heroes looked. The roster is filled with a range of races of all different shapes and sizes. The added bonus to this is that they all play completely different too! The roster is broken up into four roles. Offense roles do high damage and are used to help push the objective. Defense roles are able to protect the objective and set traps for foes. The tank role is exactly what it sounds like: high defense and disruption. The support class heals and buffs its teammates.

Within those roles there are different ways to play. If you want to defend a point, you can use Bastion, who has the ability to run and gun with a sub-machine gun or sit on the point and turn into a manual turret, or you can use Torbjorn and create a sentry turret on the objective or armor packs to make your team’s tank stronger. Heroes aren’t married to their role, though. Take the Widowmaker for example, she can be either offensive or defensive as a sniper. You might be wondering about balancing in a game with 16 different heroes, but fret not, Blizzard is already thinking about this. Every hero has another hero that counters it in some way, so if you’re getting sniped constantly by Widowmaker, you can choose Tracer and zip behind her faster than she can shoot.

Easy to Learn, Difficult to Master

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Blizzard tends to develop games that are approachable to everyone, but challenging for competitive gamers. Overwatch relies on 4-5 abilities using the Q, E, Left Shift, and mouse buttons. There are no secondary weapons and most heroes only use the left mouse button. There are no grenades, supply drops, or weapon upgrades. This isn’t going to operate like a MOBA, so you’re not stuck with the hero you pick at the beginning of the game. You’ll be able to switch out heroes that aren’t working for ones that do.

When playing one the maps, it was clear to see that there are many approaches to attack the objectives. Usually, your enemies sit outside the base and engage at the start of the match, but after a while other options became available. One match started off with two of us playing as Soldier: 76, making a beeline for the objective around the fray. This disrupted their initial plan of blasting us all from the spawn, and made a few of the heroes pull away to deal with us. The possibilities are endless when the game goes public! We’ll see hidden routes, amazing hero combos, and ways to use heroes that we’ve never seen before.

Deep, Beautiful Maps

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The Overwatch team let us play on two different maps during the test, Volskaya Industries (pictured above) and Numbani. We managed to snag a few seconds during the fray take a look at these gorgeous levels. Numbani has the attacking team sitting in an airport terminal, and if you look up you can see the flight statuses displayed on the screen. The cities shown are major cities in our world, some of the flights are canceled. Are the cities with canceled flights under siege in the world of Overwatch? Are they the reason for the fall of the Overwatch? Are we reading to much into the map? Only time will tell. You also get a sense of the time period as well. Much of the high tech objects featured on the map seem attainable, making it feel like the near future. The architecture also feels familiar to what we currently use. You may be wondering how someone can play a competitive game while taking in the beautiful landscape. The answer is simple, have your team carry you to victory… or rage at you post game.

Best Kill, not Final Kill

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One of the coolest features in Overwatch is the best kill cam. At the end of a match instead of displaying the last kill that took place, the game will show the best one from either team. This means that you aren’t stuck in slo-mo watching someone accidentally killing someone as a grenade ping pongs in the opposite direction of said player. Instead, you’re watching an awesome multi-kill that took crazy skill or even crazier luck. It even helps you learn from your mistakes. After watching McCree’s ultimate take out a whole team for an ace, everyone evaded him when they heard his ultimate trigger. It can also be funny, like when the kill cam showed Erika looking down sights with Widowmaker and her would be killer stopping for a second to take that in. It’s an awesome way to diffuse competitive players from cut-throat attitude that games can put us in. The Overwatch team talked about how players at PAX would go from intense gaming to excited applause at the end of matches.

Getting our hands on Overwatch made us extremely excited about the game. We love the way it looks, plays, and rewards players. It takes the best parts of shooters and make it better all while adding it’s own twists to the genre. All the hype surrounding this game is well deserved and we can’t wait to hear more news about it at this year’s Blizzcon!

Are you excited about Overwatch? What are you thoughts about it? Let’s hear from you in the comments!

Screenshots and Feature Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment

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