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Overwatch Review - 'l'll just leave this here'

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First section by The Gareth Woods (Xbox One), and second section by Han "Lola" Cilliers (PC).

"I hope that this review is not like most reviews. I’m not going to spend the next 500+ words telling you what you already know. That Overwatch is Blizzard’s first new IP in a long LONG time, that it’s a team based MOBA hybrid like the love child of Dota and Team Fortress. I’m not going to tell you that it’s pretty as a picture and as much fun as you can have with your clothes on. I’m not going to tell you all that because you can read that in EVERY other review on the internet.

A game doesn’t average 9’s, and 10’s out of 10 on every review site if it doesn’t ace it in the normal areas – graphics, gameplay, and innovation – which Overwatch does in spades.

What I do want to talk about are two elements which often go unmentioned in many reviews. How does the always online/multiplayer only element work in South Africa on our less that first class internet? Then secondly I want to discuss the difference in solo versus team experience.

Next-gen shooter vs. third world internet

Let’s be honest here, this is not the first always online game we’ve seen from Blizzard or other major studios nor will it be the last. Always online games might have their issues, but they do combat one huge problem that was prevalent in games like Diablo 2. Preventing low-level hacking - because character profiles are housed online and integrity checked compared to older games, where once a few smart anarchists with too much time worked out what numbers to change in what files on your PC the games become a mess of artificially strengthened characters with invincible armour and 100% hit accuracy. (Don’t get me wrong many EVEN more intelligent anarchists are STILL able to get around these online restrictions, but their job is MUCH harder).

Even with the benefits that always online games bring to balancing, fairness and moderation / accountability they don’t consider 3rd world internet when they are designed in Silicon Valley studios with internet faster than Usain Bolt.

Many have experienced the near unplayable nature of many online games while as a South African one either needs to grow accustomed to the unfair disadvantage of high latency on European servers, petition local ISP’s to setup local servers or resign yourself to playing LAN or bot matches (depending on if you actually have any IRL friends and if the game even has this feature – as many games don’t even allow local area network lobbies).

Overwatch I’m glad to say is different. I’ve played probably around 200+ games, and I can say with all honesty I must have had only around four maybe five games where there was noticeable lag, and that may have been me YouTubing cat videos on another device or my phone updating Candy Crush while I was playing. Sure those 4-5 games were completely unplayable with my character rubber banding across the map like a drunk pinball in a machine. However, it made me appreciate how effective the net code was on Overwatch to allow for such low latency despite the presence of no local South African servers and remember this is an FPS – if ever there is a genre where LAG is MOST noticeable it would be here.

So to those who are worried that latency might be an issue I can assure you that this was not the case. I will add that I am on a standard 10meg ADSL line (while crying myself to sleep with dreams of FIBRE).

Solo play versus team play

The next topic I wanted to discuss is that of solo play versus team play. As someone who plays a LOT of MOBA’s, I totally understand the highs and lows of team based games. My experience in Overwatch were not much different to my time in games such as DOTA 2, League of Legends, and Heroes of the Storm, and can easily be summarized as “the game is better with friends.”

I know this seems like the most basic and obvious statement, but in the same way, that the game is better with friends, I can’t explain how bad and infuriating the game can be playing solo.

In a team you can synergise strategies; the timings of your ultimate abilities; when and where to attack or defend; heck even who to draft to ensure the best chance of winning. In solo queue, you can watch five other guys all pick Bastion or an Offense hero because they want to kill things (because those are the “only heroes that can”) and inevitably lose.

So if Overwatch had to lose any points in my book is that you need to play in a group. If you happen to queue solo and get paired with some great guys or girls who are friendly, team orientated and most of all know what they are doing, you send them all a friend request and NEVER leave that party because honestly enough matches played solo with “teammates” throwing the games (whether intentional or not) can really ruin your enjoyment of the game. It can be tough enough with six enemies rather than 11.

Double the score

I know I promised this wasn’t going to be a review, and the most stereotypical thing to do in a review is to give a rating out of ten at the end, so I’m going to do something a little different…  I’m going to give TWO scores (OH HOW UNIQUE, what a freaking hipster this guy is).

Take away the flawless graphics, the awesome character design, the vibrant, brightly colored worlds, the nearly limitless play-styles and the fun character customization you’re still left with a game worthy of an 8 out of 10 by any reviewer’s standards.

If you play Overwatch with a bunch of friends, it can be one of the most fun, exciting and unique gaming experiences ever and deserving of a 9.5 from me.

However, I must add that if you experience the desperation that is several solo queued matches in a row the game is a 7.0 because while Overwatch is still butt loads of fun, as action packed and pretty as a Saturday morning cartoon and a thoroughly unique experience – it’s just better with friends.

Hmm, maybe that’s the problem… I need more friends."

Find out how you can win a copy of Overwatch (Xbox One) below and then read Han "Lola" Cilliers' review section.

 

In my beta impressions, I covered why Overwatch is the most fun you can have online, why it's easy, and terribly addictive. I still feel the same way about the game, if not to a higher degree than before. I don't need to expand on "Overwatch, the local experience," as I agree completely with Gareth. Lag is the least of your worries - a good team, on the other hand, is vital. I played my second Quick Match last night with a group of random locals from the Overwatch Facebook group, and after we settled the fact that I am not, a seven-year-old boy, things progressed very nicely to a big win.

For this section of the review I'll focus on the following two aspects:

  1. How Overwatch fits into my unique lifestyle
  2. That which appeals to my nature as a gamer

1. Sometimes all you need is a Quick Match

I have an extremely busy and demanding schedule. I'll not bore you with the details, but let's just say I get up at 4 am every week day just to fit everything in. I can't imagine where people with a partner and kids get the time to play games.

Enters Overwatch.

Overwatch is not a hard game to play; but it's the damnedest thing to master, (more about that in the next section.) Within a few hours of playing, you'll be able to grasp the game mechanics and be a "credit to team," as TF2's Heavy would say. Oh if only his Sasha could meet the "Whole Hog."  If you follow the "5 Golden Rules Every Overwatch Player Should Know" you'll end in the MVP line often enough without having to spend weeks getting good at a hero.

So, after grasping the basics, it becomes the most natural thing to grab a Quick Match (anything from 8-20 minutes) whenever the opportunity presents itself. Which for me is the 30 minutes before I start work, sometimes over lunch, and in the evenings before I make dinner. I get my daily gaming fix without upsetting the household or neglecting work.

Overwatch is a gamer's paradise for busy people; because sometimes all you need is a Quick match.

I want you to notice two things in the image below:

  • One match clocked in under 8 minutes, and the other under 12
  • I managed MVP while still on level one and level four, with teammates from levels twelves to nineteen.

I rest my case.

overwatch times.jpg

2. Still my Matryoshka doll

As I've stated before; the more you play Overwatch, the more you'll notice the finer nuances of the game. That's why I call Overwatch my Russian doll. There are so many layers to this game that I can't imagine the time it'll take to master it. And I mean master to the level of perfection.

The second thing I want to talk about is how precisely Overwatch fits my nature as a gamer. 

I adore a proper challenge. I am fascinated by perfection, and I will work it 'till I've conquered it. At the moment, my obsession is with Mercy's Guardian Angel ability. Not to aid my teamies (although it does, naturally) - I'm using it as a tool to stay alive. You know, for those times when you hear Junkrat's RIP-tire, or any enemy "ultimate warning" for that matter. Talking about that oddball Junkrat, he's become my second most-played hero, and with him I've now mastered "the hunter lays a trap for his prey."

Each hero has more layers to master than any game has the right to demand. Our watch will never end!

And that's just playing solo, executing proper, competitive team play is on a whole new level and something I've yet to experience. However, given the similarities between TF2 and Overwatch, I have a pretty good idea. I best stay far away from that addiction.

From those who need to know such things: I am currently at level 26, and I was on level 20 at the end of the beta.

That's all from me. Unlike every other game I've reviewed, I'll continue to play Overwatch after the work is done. Because I can, and the next 10 minutes are open.

Overwatch image credi

Han: Twitter / MWEB GameZone: Twitter | Facebook


"sometimes all you need is a Quick match"

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