So I was given the opportunity by Blizzard to participate in their weekend stress test beta. This game has resurrected (for me) the concepts of team based play in shooters. Now before you spout off other FPS that required teamwork to achieve total victory, hear me out. Most modern triple A shooters embrace the lone wolf concept in which a single person can literally make all the difference. Games like Call of Duty come into mind. I’ve been brainwashed by the montage, highlight, lone wolf mentality that plagues the gaming community.
This game requires you to be the team player. You are one person in a squad of six defending or attacking the objectives. The attacking team is only given a limited of time to achieve this. You are given a selection of 21 heroes that are divided into four roles: offense, defense, tank, and support. Hero abilities varied widely from one another. For example, Mercy, Lucio and Zenyatta have healing abilities. Their forms of healing differs from one another. Mercy and Zenyatta have a direct approach to their healing. Lucio’s healing is a passive AOE around him. Every hero has an ultimate ability that can change the flow of a game if used properly.
Synergizing hero abilities grants me the most pleasure. My current favorite hero is Mei. Her Endothermic Blaster can freeze people in place allowing my teammates to give them the smack down. Her ultimate is Blizzard, an AOE ability that slowly freezes enemy in place. This move synergizes well with heroes ultimate like D.Va Self-destruct, which can dynamically change the flow of the game.
The game plays like League of Legends or Dota 2. Overwatch gives you a good selection of playable characters, but you are no restricted to just one. You can change characters on the fly to deal with sticky situations. The enemy team has four Bastions on their team? Switch to Tracer or Reaper to flank them. Need shields? Winston and Reinhardt are tanks that can deploy shields for defensive and offensive plays.
The biggest issue of the game is in game stats and hero balancing. I feel in game stats are important to see how you are progressing with certain characters. Knowing what you are doing wrong is the most important step in progression. Without that information, a player is doomed to make the same mistake again, further imprinting it in their game play.
The last issue will be hero balancing. Anyone who has played games with an extensive roster of heroes knows it’s going to be a nightmare to balance. Balance is entirely subjective. It depends on the players skill. For example, one of the biggest controversy is the power of Bastion and Torbjorn. Bastion and Torbjorn have powerful defensive capabilities, able to hold off enemy players from taking the objectives. Casual players will see these two champions as unfair. Bastion turret mode is too strong and Torbjorn turret is too strong. Stacking these champions can make the opposing team life miserable. Players with a high skill cap in shooters see them as under powered. A decent team will adjust to the challenge. Switching to Tracer and Reaper and flanking them is one way of handling it. Switching to D.Va and using defensive matrix as a cover to rush them is another and so on. This game isn’t about the individual, but how the team must adjust to overcome obstacles. I say the hero balance in this game is phenomenal, although certain heroes need tweaking.
I had a blast playing the stress test. I hope Blizzard will invite me for the closed beta. I’m like a junkie. They have given me a taste and I want more.
Here’s a commentary on the game I uploaded on Youtube.