I have never been a fan of Blizzard. The company that makes insanely popular game series like Diablo, World of Warcraft and Starcraft had yet to make a game that I really enjoyed—until Overwatch.
Maybe it’s because I spent too much time in my youth playing Halo, a game where you live inside a super-soldier’s head and see through his eyes, that the floating perspective in other Blizzard games (including the ones mentioned above) has always felt so aloof and impersonal to me. When I play games I want to feel like I’m on a battlefield, not staring at a miniature model of one.
Overwatch lacks a lot of the bells and whistles of other games I enjoy, like the sprawling world of Dark Souls or the addictive loot grind in Destiny. But I can’t put it down nonetheless, and in trying to figure out why I came up with the reasons below.
If you’re on the fence, take my word for it: you will have fun in Overwatch, especially with some friends. If you need more convincing than that, read on.
7. IT IS A SHOOTER BY BLIZZARD
I mentioned that I’ve never been a fan of Blizzard games. That doesn’t mean I haven’t tried. I played several hours of World of Warcraft in college, but it didn’t grab me. I beat the campaign in Diablo 3, then never picked it up again. This always seemed like a club I wasn’t allowed into—or rather, I was allowed, but unlike everyone else I felt no need to go in.
Overwatch, though, is a game that comes with all the quality Blizzard is known for, combined for the first time with the gameplay of the shooter games I and so many other gamers enjoy. When Blizzard does anything, they do it right, and Overwatch just feels totally great to play.
6. YOU WILL NEVER FEEL COOLER THAN PULLING OFF SOME BATSHIT STRATEGY
Right now Overwatch has 21 different characters—all with totally different abilities and weapons—plus a handful of maps, a brief training mode, and that’s it. You can hop in by yourself and let the game match you with other players, but the best way to play Overwatch is with a group of friends.
You can have fun solo, especially as you learn how to play as different characters. But you will never feel cooler in your life than when you plan some insane strategy with your friends—"you and you, switch to Bastion, you go Reinhardt, I’ll do this, we all meet here, wait for the count"—and it actually works and you pull off something amazing.
5. EVERY MATCH CAN BE A MIND-BLOWING COMEBACK
In other shooters I play frequently, like Destiny, at a certain point you know you’re not going to make a comeback, like if the other team has too big a lead in points. In Overwatch, the tides can turn at any moment, and literally any match can end in a mind-blowing comeback that will have you and your teammates cheering and jumping out of your seats.
There was one game a couple of weeks ago that my friends and I are still talking about—where the other team completely routed us, all the way up to the end of the match, when we defended the final point for seven fucking minutes with the “payload” three meters away from the goal and we won. It was one of the greatest comebacks I’ve ever seen, and Overwatch has been meticulously designed so that that kind of thing can happen at any time.
4. SOMETIMES YOU JUST DO THE EXACT RIGHT THING AND IT FEELS AMAZING
A big part of why that comeback happened was that a teammate and I both switched characters partway through the game. When a match starts you pick which hero you want to play as, but you can switch basically whenever you want. With 21 to choose from (and Blizzard will add more over time) there’s often a better choice for the situation.
Taking the map, the mode, and your and the opposing teams’ makeup into account and choosing the exact right character, maybe even turning the match around entirely, is a great feeling. Every character has an “ultimate” ability that amplifies their powers or involves a special move, and knowing exactly when to use it is an art—though one that anyone can learn with a little practice.
3. YOU WANT TO UNDERSTAND ALL THE MEMES DON’T YOU
Well don’t you? This is the age in which we live: games as popular as Overwatch (7 million players and counting, according to Blizzard) become instant fodder for the internet meme machine, and Overwatch memes are literally everywhere right now.
Some of my favorites include Winston dooming us all by summoning an army of McCrees, this article about how bad the game is at picking which moment from each match gets replayed for everyone as the “Play of the Game” at the end, OK really anything related to Play of the Game, the Twitter account making fun of the names of people who play as Reaper, and the official Sonic the Hedgehog account trying to shoehorn the irrelevant blue hedgehog into the Overwatch conversation. Then again, if you haven’t played Overwatch, you probably don’t understand a single one of those. See what I mean?
2. WHEN YOU PLAY AS SIX TORBJORNS AND IT IS THE DUMBEST SHIT EVER
There’s lots of discussion in the massive Overwatch community about which characters should get “nerfed” or “buffed” (de-powered or powered up, respectively), but in my opinion there’s one character who needs a nerf more than any other: Torbjorn (or as I like to call him, Toblerone).
Torbjorn can build and upgrade a turret that swivels around to shoot at opposing players with high damage, incredible speed and pinpoint accuracy, and when he uses his ultimate ability the turret becomes super-powered. On a map where we’re defending against the other team’s offense, my friends and I will sometimes choose to all play as Torbjorn—that’s six Torbjorns and thus six turrets—and the results are literally stupid. But it’s also incredible fun (for us, at least).
1. WHAT WOULD YOU EVEN DO WITHOUT LOOT BOXES
Overwatch costs $60, and Blizzard has stated that new characters and maps will be added for free. The one thing you can currently spend additional cash on in the game is “loot boxes.” These are packs of small goodies—spraypaint tags for your characters to squirt on walls, alternate voice lines or poses for them, new costumes, and “gold” with which to buy these things.
You earn one loot box every time you “level up” by playing enough games (more points for winning, playing with friends and consecutive matches), or you can buy them for generally a buck a pop. And if you think that sounds like some shit you won’t care about, boy are you in for a nasty surprise. I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve stayed up later than I wanted to so I could work my way toward the next loot box, or how tempted I’ve been to pump a few dollars in to get more. I really want that punk Tracer skin.
Just remember: money isn’t everything. But Overwatch might be.
Mike Rougeau is Playboy.com’s Gaming Editor, in charge of all things video games. He’s level 34 in Overwatch and has a level 8 blood elf paladin in WoW, which is pretty telling. Follow him on Twitter @RogueCheddar.
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