Please welcome back guest writer Eris Esquire for some thoughts on “Overwatch.”
Despite growing up with the original Nintendo system, I don’t have a huge bank of memories of the “Duck Hunt” dog taunting me for my lack of skill with the light gun. My mother didn’t want me killing a digital representation of a living thing, so I had to play the skeet shooting game mode instead. A little over 20 years later, I had to make an affirmative decision that I couldn’t play “Borderlands 2” any more because the mouse-chucking rage it caused turned me into a monster that I didn’t recognize. Shooting things has never been my forte. I don’t really play shooters.
Guys. Guys. I goddamned love this game. It’s my favorite first person shooter where I don’t have to shoot anyone.
The basics of the game are that it’s a team-based shooter where you pick a specific hero to play to help your team accomplish its goals. If you’ve played “Team Fortress 2,” you’ll be familiar with the class idea that “Overwatch” uses by dividing each of the 21 playable heroes into one of four different roles: Offense, defense, tank, and support. If you like shooting people and getting kills, you’ll have fun with the offense types and even the defense characters like the snipers. If you’re like me, you will instantly lock in one of the tanks or support characters on the Team Assembly screen and let your teammates go hunting for glory, smug in the knowledge that you are performing a vital function that these short-sighted fools would be lost without.
And then you spend a solid chunk of the game being the only person standing on the control point you’re supposed to be trying to hold while your teammates run around the map trying to get a kill that will in no way help us actually win.
Get on the point!
Ahem. Sorry about that. The beta just wrapped up and I’ve got a little leftover salt in me from all the totally winnable games I saw go to hell for the sake of someone’s kill-to-death ratio. This is actually a good way to get into what makes “Overwatch” different from other first person shooters. The game has a healthy collection of detailed, fun to play maps that are tied to certain win conditions, almost all of them involving controlling a point of some kind. In some maps, one team is tasked with controlling the big, obviously outlined point for a certain amount of time while the other team needs to keep them off it. Some maps have both teams trying to assault the same point, king-of-the-hill style. Other maps are based on moving a “payload” (usually a car or truck of some type) to predefined points on a track. Then, there are the mixed maps that have a payload and a control point. Switching between maps and goals every round keeps the game from getting stale, especially since entire rounds take less than 15 minutes to play.
Please note that none of these game modes award victory for number of kills. Stop chasing fleeing enemies. Get on the point. If it’s a payload map, consider the payload a moving point. Just get on it.
The modes are pretty basic, right? Nothing splashy or hype-worthy there. Well, I disagree, but I’ll follow it up by saying that the real meat of “Overwatch” is in the roster of colorful, genuinely diverse characters you get to play. And they’re all useful! Blizzard took the thing I’ve always liked best about games like “League of Legends”—playing as a character with a cool backstory and unique powers—and brought it into a first person game. Here’s a sample of who you can play:
- A sentient machine gun turret with Disney Princess-like bird summoning powers;
- Iron Man, but an Egyptian Woman;
- A gorilla;
- Don Quijote, but German and actually good at his job;
- A petite Chinese climate scientist and her backpack robot;
And my favorite:
Indian technomancer Beyoncé is named “Symmetra,” and she is a perfect example of what I love about this game. I am not good at shooters like this. I have the reflexes of a sedated iguana, and my mouse hand starts going all over the screen in terror as soon as there is a an enemy in view. I will never see an enemy coming, and I will not be able to hit that enemy on the off chance that I do notice them. But Symmetra—my glamorous princess of perfectionism—doesn’t need to have good aim. She is about map control and, in a game where the objectives are always about map control, that is a damned good thing. Yeah, the developers gave her a gun that does a surprising amount of damage at close range, but her real role is to place little turret buddies around the map that do damage to anyone walking past them. Put two or three of those little guys in the right choke point and you will feel like the most useful human being in video game history. I don’t even have to be alive to get kills. My turret buddies will live on and fry the shit out of my enemies while I wait to respawn.
It’s a polished, colorful game with fast combat, a variety of strategies, and plenty of female heroes that I can play, some of which I can be effective with even after my inevitable death. What would I not love about this game!?
P.S. Eris’s Tips for Fun No Matter How Bad You Are:
- If you are playing the hammer-wielding tank, Reinhardt, and the other team has a Reinhardt, be sure to rocket propel yourself into him at the first opportunity. He will be doing the same to you. It’s a way of asserting dominance, much like what rams do in the wild.
- So far, the game has had built in voice chat on by default. Unless you’re playing with friends, turn that shit off. You don’t need that energy in your life.
- The flatbed on the back of some of the payloads is there so you can jump up on it and spam your “emote” pose. Half the fun is rolling into the enemy team’s base in a heroic pose and immediately getting shot in the head by a sniper you didn’t see. Well I laughed, and I’ve been both the poser and the sniper.
- Having a turret built on the payload and protected by Winston’s shield dome is called “The Super Monkey Death Ball.” At least, it should be.
- Everyone’s mad that the camping son of a bitch playing Bastion got the play of the game, okay? That’s nothing new. It’s not a hot take. Even the guy who played Bastion feels bad about it. No one needs you complaining about it in match chat.