I personally didn’t think I would like Overwatch. I was never into World of Warcraft, I didn’t love multiplayer shooting games and the characters were weird and not typical. No, see my style was always RPG games, so I could build to be stronger than my enemies. Final Fantasy X is one of my top favorite games of all time, clocking in an embarrassing 224 hours the summer it came out. I only bought Overwatch because I had a couple of friends who bought it and it was the only thing they would play. I bought the game, downloaded the hefty day one patch and started a journey that began almost two years ago.
I mained a Hanzo at first, thinking that I was good enough to headshot everyone that I saw but quickly learned that I was not fit to see through the dragon’s eye. As I played through the original characters, I was amazed at how different each one was and what they brought to a team. I once played a match where my entire team was Torbjorn and somehow, we won! For people who don’t or have not played this game, it is about balance and how to play as a team. If your team is strong, you are strong.
Overwatch has the mechanical smoothness and balance that people crave when it comes to an online multiplayer and from day one, I was hooked. Now I lead the charge, exploding through the crowds as DVA and loving every match I play (even if I lose because my team is riding the struggle bus) and it’s all because this game is the best of the best. And other companies should take notice.
Overwatch is the product of Blizzard, who has been blazing paths in online gaming since the early 2000s. Blizzard originally started as a small company out of California, called Silicon and Synapse, created by three fresh graduates out of UCLA. Creating games about the Lord of the Rings and Chinese Chess, Michael Morhaime, Allen Adham, and Frank Pearce started a company that would revolutionize online gaming for decades. The original Warcraft game came out in 1994, becoming a massive hit around the world for its creativity and replay value.
Since its inception, Blizzard has been responsible for games such as Starcraft, World of Warcraft, Diablo and, of course, Overwatch. Starcraft is huge all over the world, spawning huge tournaments at events such as PAX and E3 and are currently a game that has players who can do so professionally. South Korea houses some of the best Starcraft players in the world and have been televised for a number of years, due to its popularity. However, Overwatch is starting to crowd into that space of being one of the most popular video games on the planet.
As I have played through the game, free updates have come through every couple weeks; adding additional maps, skins, themes and mini games to the already solid gameplay. They often coincide with the season, holiday or special event happening around the world. For example, we have gotten skins based on Halloween, the summer Olympics and now, the brand new “Overwatch League”, which made its debut this week. Games like Rocket League and Overwatch are now getting professional teams in cities across the US and people are watching others play these games in huge numbers. The Overwatch League, which encompasses 12 different teams, in 12 different cities, has them play multiple days a week and is broadcasted online on Twitch. If you own the game, you can get notifications on the game when teams are playing, which is a pretty cool feature. My own city, Boston, is represented by the “Boston Uprising” team, with their own colors and themes of blue and yellow. In the game, as a way to promote the teams, each player who has logged in recently has been able to get one free skin that matches the same as the players who play for your favorite city. It is a really cool beginning to a sport that garnered over 10 million viewers to watch these teams battle it out.
So why is Overwatch so good? To be honest, I am not sure. There are a lot of deciding factors for me. Honestly, after being burned by the Destiny franchise for well over $250, I love the fact that Overwatch was $60 and I have gotten a ton of new content for zero additional dollars. I know that Blizzard and Activison work together but, I feel like Blizzard is a company that prides itself on quality gaming and getting people to keep playing their product for a long time. Are there micro-transactions in this game? Yes. Do you have to buy them to access new content? No. They are purely cosmetic and you have the chance to get most of the things you might want in lootboxes. Bungie has released two unfinished products in Destiny and Destiny 2, asking for $40 for expansion packs and leaving anyone who bought the core game in the dust if they don’t want to buy the expansions. Not cool.
The other aspect to this game that I love is the actual gameplay. It keeps me coming back because it is balanced. It works like it’s supposed to and the game looks good at all times. I have never ran into a match where I felt like I was outmatched because of a character’s abilities. I have never played a match and lost because of a glitch or lag. New characters are tested repeatedly to make sure they are fair and they’re also working to make the old ones even better. Overwatch is the game that people can pick up and play and be successful, even if it means you are healing the team while the others do damage. It’s just that kind of a game.
As the future of eSports expands, I hope that other developers take note on what is making Overwatch so successful. In a year that has released some amazing games, I find myself coming back to Overwatch when I am bored of them. Dynamic characters and listening to their community has helped Blizzard go from three dudes and $30,000 to a multi-billion dollar industry giant with theme parks and conventions dedicated to the products that they make. It is absolutely insane and it’s also the reason why I feel Overwatch has become, and will be, the gold standard for all video games going forward. I can only hope that the inevitable sequel will be half the game the original has turned out to be. Basically what I am saying is, if you have not played Overwatch, you need to. It is everything a video game should be and so much more.