Video Game Preview: Overwatch

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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) Blizzard has always been great at taking genres that others do and refine them with their signature style. They made Warcraft by working with concepts from earlier real-time strategy games. They took ideas from games like Everquest and made the immensely popular World of Warcraft. They even worked with ideas from real-life card game Magic the Gathering to create Hearthstone. Overwatch is their first attempt at a first-person shooter, and it definitely takes ideas from games like Team Fortress 2 and Evolve to create something unique and fun.

Between May 6 and May 10, Blizzard gave the public a chance to try out the full game during a beta test on Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC. Figures released by Blizzard stated that the beta had 9.7 million players, beating out the beta numbers for popular games like The Division and Destiny.

Easily the best part of Overwatch is the characters. There are 21 to choose from, and they all feel completely different. Not only do they have different stats, but they also have a wide variety of abilities that stay true to their visual design. For example, my favorite character Roadhog is an imposing man that looks straight out of Mad Max. He has slow movement, high hit points and a slow range shotgun, but makes up for his speed with a grappling hook that can pull people into close range. He also has the ability to heal himself, making the strategy of hook-shoot-hide-heal incredibly effective. No character stands out as objectively better than another, showing a very delicate balance on Blizzard’s part.

The maps and game modes are also simple, yet elegant. There are basic attack and defend modes, as well as a mode where you escort a vehicle as it travels along the map. While maps aren’t huge, they are all visually diverse and intricately constructed to create perfect combat points and allow you to strategize with your teammates.

The biggest complaint I have about the game is that despite the fact that the characters are all wonderful, I don’t really understand what brings them all together. I started to look into some of the videos that Blizzard has created to flesh out the world, but the designs are so diverse in their style and tone that I don’t quite buy that they all belong in the same universe. The lack of a single player story mode probably means that there won’t really be any opportunity to give that exposition.

This game wasn’t even on my radar until the open beta, and now it’s actually got me quite excited. I don’t know if I will be willing to put down the full $60 for game, as I’m someone who really likes a meaty single player campaign too, but I could definitely see myself grabbing this at $40 or less and having a lot of fun with it, especially if I could find some friends to play along with.

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