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We Played ‘Overwatch’: Here’s Our Beta Playthrough Review

A few big gaming titles are getting their release this May. One highlight is Blizzard Entertainment’s upcoming game, Overwatch. Yesterday, it announced an Open Beta available between May 5-9 (this entire weekend!). We played it.

Overwatch

Overwatch is a new team-based multiplayer first-person shooter featuring matches with two teams of six. There are 21 selectable fighting characters to choose from, all with a wide variety of powers and skills, from sniping and hovering to healing and blunt force attacks. It takes time to cycle through them and experiment, but fortunately, it’s very easy to change characters, even during a match. Depending on your play style, there should be something here to meet your needs. That said, most of the combat is up close and personal, with small confined areas and choke points to defend and attack. There are some elevated spots, and plenty of nooks and crannies to grab a breather, but to get the points to level up, you have to jump in. Yes. You die a lot.

There are four game modes:

  • Assault: Teams must capture specific locations on the map and defend them while defenders try to hold off the attackers.
  • Escort: The attacking team must escort a cargo vehicle (on a fixed track) to a specific point on the map before the clock ticks down, while the defending team must stop them.
  • Assault/Escort: The attacking team must capture a cargo vehicle and escort it to its destination while the defending team tries to stop them.
  • Control: Teams must capture a specific location and keep control (Kill of the Hill) until their score reaches 100% in a best of three format.

Here’s our gameplay of Assault with a few various characters.

Overall, the game is fast-paced and fun to play. The character depth and variety is surprisingly good and offers a lot of options for both individual attacks but as expected, even more so for team strategies. Once you get past the run-and-gun spell that overtakes you from the start and begin talking with teammates and using powers in concert with each other, it definitely gets better.

There is a rich training and single-player suite as well, which allows you to populate a match with ‘bots’ to help hone your skills, and you can even create custom matches with friends only and load that up with bots as well. These bots are all customizable, too, allowing you to create maps with a variety of opposition and team mates.

It’s all very small, simple and accessible, something that seems a little out of place in the Blizzard catalog, who created some of the most complex and innovative real-time strategy, massively multiplayer online role-playing titles in gaming history. Perhaps with an on the future and the dramatic effects mobile gaming has had on the market, this new colorful, drop in and play game is something that is meant to appeal to a wider less-niche audience. Admittedly, after playing a few hours, it lacks the greater depth and motivation to play that their other titles inherently have, especially after cycling through the characters and settling on one you like. But that’s most certainly the point and the game’s longevity will come from the team-based possibilities that games like Valve’s Team Fortress 2 (of which this games borrows a few pages from) managed to capture.

Available on Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC, Overwatch is a team-based shooter that has a lot to offer for players who enjoy multiplayer games, whether it is with friends or strangers. With a lot different maps and many heroes to choose from, this should scratch the itch for a long time to come.

Overwatch’s full game release is set for May 24th.

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