So about Overwatch.
As expected, the crush of hype was too great, although when it comes to something new I’ve found that my threshold for resistance is really, really low anyway. I had some cash in hand, so I picked up three Blizzard Cash cards (fun fact: those things are made of sheet metal!) which was enough to get the mid-tier offering. I don’t know why it matters; I don’t play any other Blizzard games, and skins are just something I don’t usually deal with, but we’re talking about hype here…there’s no rationalization that can defend against it at this point.
Back when I tried the game in beta, I only gave it a half-assed try. I was already sick of the incessant chatter about it, and what I expected to find was an updated arena shooter game that had already been done several dozen times before. I tried a single bot game, playing with one eye on the action and one eye on Netflix, sandwich in hand, feet up on desk. I died a few times — maybe two — and declared that I now knew everything I needed to know about Overwatch. People only really liked it because it was Blizzard; otherwise, they could have been playing Team Fortress 2 or Unreal Tournament this whole time.
And now we’re here, launch day + 1, and I’ve only gotten to level 5 with my casual play style. That’s important: my casual play style. I’m not a competitive gamer and never have been. Competition stresses me out. I grew up feeling the weight of judgement of other people, and so I work really hard to avoid that whenever I possibly can. Competitive gaming tends to bring out the worst in a a very bad bunch, with people treating each match like it was the storming of Normandy or something. Overwatch provides some casual friendly modes such as custom games with friends and bots, and random matches with bots on one side, friends or randos on the other. I’ve only been able to play with randos versus bots, and while it’s not the most intense experience to be had, I think the fact that everyone realizes that AI mode is mainly for fun (although you do level) means that everyone is really laid back about it. Granted, I don’t know if it’s possible to lose a match vs AI so long as you try, so I expect most people are using it as a way to really test the heroes before heading off to playing real people.
Or maybe these people who are constantly playing vs AI are playing because this is the kind of thing they really want, and don’t want any more. I wouldn’t begrudge competitive players their own modes, despite a usual lack of mutual feeling, but I’m not ready for that just yet. I don’t know if playing AI is going to be something that really entertains for months on end, but there’s also the custom match creator which allows for all kind of mutations to gameplay, and which allows friends to take sides and fill the remainder with bots. It’s something fun you and your friends can mess around with, and maybe use to get better over time without the pressures that might make the game un-fun for you.
So far I think my favorite hero has been Pharah. She’s got a massive forward leap that allows her to get to high places, as well as a fuel-based hover mode that can keep her aloft after a jump for a higher vantage point, and that really plays into my years of training in Firefall. Her primary weapon is a rocket launcher which has some great range, and her special “E” ability is a small AoE crowd control repulsor missile which also does damage. Her ultimate power is a barrage of missiles that would do any anime animator proud. She’s considered “offense”, or “DPS” in a more common parlance, and that seems to be more my speed in this game. I’ve tried defense characters, but wasn’t much impressed with most of them, I’ve never been a front line guy, so the tanks are pretty much out of the question, and the support characters are good, I guess, but I can’t imagine trying to be a healer in a game where your targets are constantly jumping around to avoid being shot.