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Gaming News: Blizzard Announces Team-based Shooter “Overwatch”

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We go hands-on with Blizzard’s take at Team Fortress

Blizzard may have canceled Titan, but today it revealed that the company hasn’t given up on trying to create a first-person shooter by revealing Overwatch. Overwatch is being pitched as a team-based multiplayer shooter. In short, it’s basically Blizzard’s take on Valve’s popular Team Fortress 2 shooter. 



Meet the Reaper

The new IP takes place on Earth approximately 60 years in the future. Blizzard said it had been dying to do a highly fictionalized version of the future of Earth, but said they wanted to do it in the relatively near future.




While the story won’t be a huge component when you play the game (Blizzard says it hopes to create additional narrative elements outside of the game with things like Youtube videos), the premise goes that the 30 years prior to the game’s setting, evil robots take over and wreak havoc. Humanity then created a Overwatch strikeforce team which dispatches the robots. Over the decades, however, the strikeforce team ceases to exist.


While it sounds like a depressing scenario, Blizzard said that it wanted to create an upbeat environment as it didn’t want levels to feel drab and dreary, which could get tiresome to play. The game certainly has a unique artstyle from what we’ve seen and is almost a mixture of Disney meets Team Fortress with a dash of anime influence to it. One of the levels we saw also had a very BioShock vibe to it, albeit not as dark. 



Mercy doing her healing

Even though the game is pretty fast paced, Blizzard wants to provide non-twitch class characters with medic and engineer-like heroes. Blizzard says it wants to take a “less lethal” approach to the shooter meaning that players will die less frequently than most other twitch-based shooters. In this regard, again, it definitely feels much more like TF2 than Counter Strike.


Another thing that sets the game apart is that teams are composed of 6v6. Blizzard said teams larger than that got too chaotic from its tests, but that teams smaller than that put too much pressure on individual players to succeed, although Blizzard admits that this balance mechanic could change with additional community testing.


Like Team Fortress 2, Overwatch will not have a traditional deathmatch mode and will be an objective-driven game with modes like attack/defend, payload, and control points. 




While there are about a dozen characters to choose from right now, Blizzard says the game will have plenty more and that it will be a character-driven game and not a class-based one. Piggybacking on that notion is the fact that each player has multiple, unique special abilities, somewhat similar to characters in MOBAs. For instance, hero Tracer can teleport a short distance ahead by pressing shift up to three times with about a one-second cool down period in between each, can throw a bomb by pressing Q and can jump three seconds back in time (location and health) by pressing R. 



Hanzo using his bow

There’s a variety of other different characters with traits and attributes. The talking, space gorilla Winston and chivalrous knight Reinhardt are tanks that soak up damage and use a melee style of combat. Then there’s damage dealers like the dual pistol-wielding Reaper and rocket launcher-carrying Pharah. And for the non-twitchy players, there’s Torbjorn who’s basically the engineer of the game with his turrets and Mercy, who’s the medic. Blizzard wants to make this game appeal to the non-shooter crowd as the company realizes that many of its loyal players don’t play FPS games. 


There’s a bunch of other characters and while the amount of characters can seem overwhelming, like TF2, Blizzard is encouraging players to switch characters between lives. The idea is to pick the best character for the given scenario.


Even in its early state, the game is really fun and feels quite polished. If you enjoy Team Fortress and are looking for Blizzard’s take on the genre, keep your eyes on Overwatch. 


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