In her last editorial of her first “Memoirs of a Gamer” series, Ellie Zoe takes a look at Blizzard’s mega hit, Overwatch.
I’d like to hope that putting such a recent game (with only a single series entry) at the top of my list would show just how dear this franchise is to me. Overwatch is the game that I always go back to. It doesn’t matter what else I’ve been playing or for how long, I will always find time to play Overwatch. Whilst the gameplay itself is fantastic, all of the characters and lore around it legitimately excite me – and have really started to consume both my life in and out of fandom, and the funds in my bank account.
As long as you don’t go in to public voice chat, Overwatch is a joy to experience. It’s one of many recently released ‘hero shooters’ – games that offer a number of pre-established characters with defined aesthetics, back-stories and abilities, as opposed to a game that perhaps offers you a few customisation options and a handful of weapons to pick from. Overwatch feels as though it has a little edge over it’s competitors though, with all heroes having vibrant designs and well defined play-styles. That’s not to say that there aren’t other games that manage this, but the cast of Overwatch always tends to feel a little more memorable. If you’re even moderately familiar with the game, you’ll likely be able to recognise characters by silhouette alone.
I often find other shooters more than a little dull. I can get excited about a new game for a couple of days – but it all just tends to blend together after that – there aren’t ever really any memorable moments. It also doesn’t help that as other players buy or unlock better weapons, it’s far harder to make any sort of impression in a competitive environment. Overwatch manages to combat both of these issues with ease. Having access to all characters puts everyone on an even playing field – money doesn’t determine your likelihood of winning or losing – only your skill as a player and ability to work as a team does. Overwatch is also a game built around creating lasting moments and memories; the Play Of The Game system selects and records a particularly impressive moment from every match and shows it to friend and foe alike. You can of course save them, and upload them to social media for some excellent bragging rights.
Characters come out every few months, and the spacing between them makes releases feel like a genuine event. Blizzard love to tease, and will release little snippets of information about upcoming heroes through art, lore, videos and even map updates. For example, the Numbani map received significant visual updates to reflect the impending arrival of Doomfist. At the time of writing, Wrecking Ball has just released – a hamster character that rolls around in an an oversized, weaponised ball. He can attach a grappling hook to the majority of surfaces and swing around, as his name suggests. Every hero feels as if they could be useful in a given situation, as the abilities are so widely varied. Some of them don’t even have guns. Whilst the competitive meta can dictate which characters are more viable than others from season to season, I’ve never seen an instance of any character being outright cast aside and completely unplayed.
Another major part of Overwatch are the customisation options. Whilst you’ll never have a hero that’s truly unique to you, there are a number of parts you can select from to stand out from the crowd. Alternate character colours and skins, voice lines, emotes, victory poses, highlight intros and even sprays are interchangeable, providing of course that you’ve unlocked them first. This is where many would argue that the main fault with Overwatch lies. You can’t outright buy a cosmetic item. You have to either be lucky enough to unlock it in RNG loot boxes, or have saved up enough in game currency (which also can not be bought) found in said loot boxes to purchase the items you want at fairly high prices.
This is made worse when you realise that the most sought-after skins and items are often only available as timed exclusives – leading plenty of players to funnel their hard earned cash in to purchasing loot boxes in the hopes of winning the items they want in what is for all intents and purposes – a lottery system. As far as faux pas go though, that’s the only major one Overwatch really makes – and I can’t say it’s ever directly hindered my enjoyment of the game. Blizzard are fairly caring for their community aside from that, supporting cosplayers and artists and releasing plenty of quality merchandise to appease collectors such as myself.
Whilst other games release, and pass, Overwatch feels like a constant entity. I struggle to tire of Overwatch, and it’s always there to play and cheer me up if I’ve had a rough day, or need a quick game to enjoy with friends. Speaking of which, I can’t begin to count the amount of friends I’ve actually made through Overwatch. Blizzard are notorious at keeping games alive far longer than other companies, so I doubt we’ll see the end of Overwatch any time soon. I’m not going to complain though, as I’m bloody loving it. Though that doesn’t mean I can’t still be upset with all the changes made to Mercy. Poor Mercy, she deserves better.
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