Preview: Overwatch Beta
Over the past weekend, the folks at Blizzard deigned to bestow upon the unwashed masses access to the Overwatch beta. After a year of watching it from afar (even fondly referring to it as Onlywatch), we were finally able to get our hands on it. If you don’t know anything about the game, here’s what you need to know: Overwatch is a team-based multiplayer FPS with 3 objective game modes: King of the Hill, Capture Point, and Payload. Capture Point has the attacking team trying to, well, capture points, while the defending team tries to keep them out of those points. Payload has the attacking team escorting a vehicle from one end of the map to the other, while the defending team tries to stop them, and can even push the payload back. To accomplish these goals, players choose from 21 distinct heroes categorized as Offense, Defense, Tanks, and Support. Each of these heroes is completely unique with almost no overlap in abilities, and each one comes with plenty of character. Each also comes with a special ultimate ability, which charges up over time and can be sped up hy dealing damage, scoring kills, healing, and the like. Even though it was only for a short time, with access to all 21 heroes and the 3 main game modes, there was a lot to takeaway from our weekend with the game. Here are a few things we learned from the beta.
Teamwork is Key
This might sound intuitive but in Overwatch, teamwork really matters. Teams live or die based on how they use the abilities of the different heroes to complement each other. Using Zarya’s Gravity Well without your teammates around isn’t going to help much, but combine it with McCree’s Deadeye and you could have yourself a team kill! Similarly, a Lucio that uses Sound Barrier just as an enemy D.Va or Pharah tries to use their ultimate can save his team and pretty often is the reason that team wins. Even without using mics or typing, the teams that do well are the ones that play unselfishly. A rampaging Winston might not get very many kills, but he does serve as a huge distraction, allowing the rest of your team to go about their business. It’s all about putting the team first.
Don’t Be Averse to Switching Heroes
This seems to be hard to fathom for many players, yours truly included for a while. One of the core elements of Overwatch is switching heroes in order to counter what the enemy team is doing. A lot of players have trouble with this, and I suspect it’s because the characters are so interesting and unique. It’s easy to get attached, but you’ll find yourself using the wrong hero for the situation often. For example, robot hero Bastion can switch into Sentry Mode, where it sits as a stationary turret in exchange for being able to deal massive amount of damage. If a Bastion is chewing through your team maybe switch to Genji and use his reflect ability to send his bullets back at him, or use Tracer to Blink behind him and shoot his weak spot to solve the problem. Blizzard had to give that advice out a lot over the weekend.
You’re definitely going to have your favorite heroes (if I can play as Lucio or Soldier 76, I will), but you’ll want to get some experience in with at least some of the heroes in each role so that you know how to best counter whatever the enemy team throws at you.
Everyone is Balanced… Mostly
Knowing how to counter goes a long way towards not feeling like any character is overpowered. Most heroes can be effective without feeling invincible, and there are only a few ways to score a kill in one shot shy of using an ultimate. However, I anticipate some tweaks coming in for some characters, specifically Bastion and Torbjorn. A quick trip to Reddit showed me that I was not the only one having a bit of trouble with the two, and that they were in fact a large source of debate among Overwatch players. Despite knowing his counters, if a Bastion spots you before you spot him you’re probably going to die, and that’s just not fun. It doesn’t take much skill to sit there a fire at people as they come around corners. And if you do get behind him, he can very quickly turn 360 degrees, so if you’re not quick enough or are using a squishy character you can find yourself dead anyway. I don’t actually have much of a problem with Torbjorn, whose main function is placing turrets. I can see where people are coming from, however, as his turrets lock on immediately and have very long range, making it difficult to take them out without taking heavy damage yourself. Still, these being the only two balance problems of any significance is pretty impressive, and Blizzard is reportedly working on it as I type.
You’re Not Going to Want to Stop
I’m going to be honest, I didn’t have much interest in Overwatch before this weekend. I decided to give the beta a shot since some of my favorite Youtubers were playing it, and it ended up eating most of my weekend. If I didn’t do well on my finals, I have Blizzard to blame. I went from uninterested to a definite pre-order within the space of a few matches. There’s something special about this game, and it’s given me a sense of fun I haven’t gotten from an FPS in quite a while. I miss it so much I’ve spent the past few days watching videos of it and reminiscing about the good ole days when I could play myself. I know it was just a few days ago, but it feels like forever. I can’t remember what I was playing before Overwatch, and I’m not sure what to play now. All I know is that two weeks is too long to wait!
The game will be available for purchase on May 24th, and you can pre-order it from Blizzard right here. On PC, the normal game will be $40, and the Origins Edition, which comes with extra skins and some goodies in other Blizzard games, will run you $60.
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