Over­watch

Tech Advisor - - Contents - Chris Martin

Over­watch is Bliz­zard’s lat­est mul­ti­player first-per­son shooter (there’s no sin­gle-player mode), and while it’s by no means flaw­less, we had great fun play­ing it.

Char­ac­ters

There are 21 char­ac­ters to choose from, each of which be­longs to one of four classes: at­tack, de­fence, tank and sup­port. The lat­ter is the least rep­re­sented with just four, which is a shame. With so many heroes there’s plenty of vari­a­tion, even within each class, and you’re bound to find one to suit your per­sonal style of play. You can also switch char­ac­ter dur­ing a match, so you’re not stuck with a hero un­til the end.

Unlimited switch­ing means you can try out lots of heroes within one match or make tac­ti­cal sub­sti­tu­tions based on what’s hap­pen­ing at any given mo­ment. If you don’t want to plunge straight in, you can ei­ther play matches with the game’s AI or use the train­ing ground to hone your skills be­fore play­ing real peo­ple.

Each hero has a com­pletely dif­fer­ent make-up, in­clud­ing their pri­mary weapon (some have a se­condary fire) and abil­i­ties. For ex­am­ple, Sol­dier 76 can throw down a bi­otic field to heal al­lies who stand in it, while Tor­b­jörn can build a tur­ret. You’ll want to choose a team con­sist­ing of char­ac­ters with dif­fer­ent skills to have the best chance of suc­cess. You can check your cur­rent hero’s skills at any time. You’ll no­tice that they all have an ul­ti­mate abil­ity. Dur­ing reg­u­lar play you’ll charge up a me­ter by, for ex­am­ple, hit­ting en­e­mies or heal­ing other char­ac­ters if you’re play­ing a sup­port role. Once this hits 100 per­cent you can un­leash it when­ever you want. The me­ter re­mains fully charged if you die, though not if you switch char­ac­ter.

Lev­els, maps and game modes

Over­watch cur­rently has 12 maps and they cover four dif­fer­ent game modes. This isn’t a huge amount, but is a nice bal­ance of be­ing able to play them reg­u­larly enough to learn them well, though not so of­ten it feels repet­i­tive. Matches last around 10- to 20 min­utes on av­er­age, which is a happy medium be­tween get­ting stuck in and it tak­ing too long.

The first mode you’ll en­counter is As­sault, which has one team at­tack­ing to cap­ture an ob­jec­tive, while the other tries to stop them achiev­ing this un­til the clock runs out. Next up is Es­cort, where you must pro­tect a ve­hi­cle on its jour­ney while the other team tries to stop you. The third mode is Con­trol. This ‘best of three’ game will see your team both at­tack­ing and de­fend­ing a point on the map. To win, you’ll need to fend off at­tacks un­til the game’s me­ter reaches 100. The fi­nal mode is a com­bi­na­tion of As­sault and Es­cort: the at­tack­ing team must first cap­ture the pay­load via a point be­fore it can be taken across the map to the des­ti­na­tion.

There are three maps for each mode and you’ll ro­tate be­tween them. Each is set in a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion around the world, in­clud­ing Lon­don, Hol­ly­wood and Nepal.

One of our only com­plaints about Over­watch is that we’d like more vari­a­tion with the game modes. A cap­ture the flag mode wouldn’t go amiss and Bliz­zard is also the kind of de­vel­oper, which should be about to bring some­thing com­pletely new to the ta­ble here.

You can se­lect Quick Play in the menu to jump into a match, and as well as the afore­men­tioned AI and prac­tice modes, there’s a weekly brawl op­tion. This might in­volve, for ex­am­ple, ev­ery­one play­ing the same hero with 50 per­cent health, cooldown times, and so on. The rules change each week. We’ve also been told that a com­pet­i­tive mode is com­ing soon.

Game­play

As well as the above set­ting the game up nicely, Bliz­zard has done lots of lit­tle small things to make Over­watch as fun as pos­si­ble – for veter­ans and new­bies alike. Some of which we’ve men­tioned, such as the abil­ity to change heroes through­out a match.

You can, for ex­am­ple, heal other play­ers via sup­port char­ac­ters or packs around the level, though you will die. Spawn times are quick though, so you’ll be back in the ac­tion in no time and there’s enough of a gap in which to de­cide whether to change char­ac­ter.

You won’t need to run around find­ing ammo. Ev­ery char­ac­ter has unlimited re­sources, which en­sures the ac­tion is fast-paced, though you still need to reload your weapon.

Af­ter the fun is over, we found our­selves think­ing ‘just one more match’ whether we’d won or lost.

To avoid play­ers leav­ing when the game isn’t go­ing so well there is a leave penalty. Once a thresh­old

is reached you’ll get a 75 per­cent re­duc­tion in XP un­til you get back be­low the thresh­old.

At the end of each match play­ers are awarded medals – gold, sil­ver or bronze – for the team mem­bers with the most kills, ob­jec­tive time, dam­age done and other stats. You can also check how you’ve done on a per­sonal level, over­all and how you’ve done with each char­ac­ter you played. You can also vote for the best player of the match from a few au­to­mat­i­cally se­lected bases on dif­fer­ent things.

Al­though you can’t level up dur­ing a match, you will gain XP points from each game you play. You will grad­u­ally level up your Over­watch ac­count and when­ever you reach a new level it will af­fect the play­ers you’re matched against. You’ll also get a Loot Box, which con­tains four ran­dom items such as skins and vic­tory poses. With 54 for each hero to col­lect, you can spend money buy­ing boxes if you can’t wait to level up. It’s a shame you can’t spend in-game credit or real money buy­ing the ex­act item you want. Also on of­fer are achieve­ments, tro­phies and por­trait frames.

Ver­dict

Bliz­zard has done a grand job with Over­watch. It’s fun, fast-paced and ac­ces­si­ble to a wide range of play­ers of dif­fer­ent abil­i­ties. A great range of heroes and well thought out maps makes for an on­line shooter that’s up there with clas­sics such as Unreal Tour­na­ment 2004. We’d just like more game modes, bet­ter play of the game selec­tion and an­other sup­port hero.

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