In the 2040s, the Omnic Crisis ravaged the Earth. Originally created by the Omnica Corporation to bolster manufacturing and and economic equality worldwide by creating robots of different purposes, the Omniums, self-improving robot factories, were shut down after evidence of corporate fraud. However, the Omniums somehow managed to boot themselves back up and began to churn out combat-oriented robots to start a war of extermination against humanity. Despite some small victories, there was no way to stop the metallic murder-bot tide. Eventually, there was hope when the United Nations brought together several gifted and skilled soldiers to form a task force with the goal of attacking Omnic strongholds. This task force was called “Overwatch”. Together, this force of soldiers, scientists, and other oddities managed to put an end to the Omniums, bringing the Omnic Crisis to a close. Lauded as heroes, this group continued to protect the world for the next twenty years, adding more unique individuals to their roster. However, something became corrupt within the organization and after a violent clash between former teammates, Overwatch was disbanded. Now, with the world descending into chaos once more, some of its former members have decided that it is time to restart Overwatch and save the world from these new threats.
Developed by Blizzard for all modern consoles, Overwatch is a team-based shooter in the vein of Valve’s Team Fortress 2 and Blizzards first new IP in 17 years. Taking control of numerous heroes of different backgrounds, nationalities, and classes, players cooperate together to fulfill different objectives on numerous maps. Each character fulfills different roles in their own unique ways, possessing different abilities to aid them in combat. As the player levels up, they gain little rewards that can be used to customize each hero’s appearance. While the game itself is purely multiplayer, the story is told through numerous comics and animations that Blizzard is churning out.
Each hero fits within four classes: Offense, Defense, Tank, and Support. The Offense heroes are made for dealing heavy damage to the enemy team and are the primary source for this purpose. Among them are Genji, a cybernetic ninja; McCree, a bounty hunter and expert gunslinger; Pharah, a security chief with a strong sense of justice; Reaper, a ruthless terrorist that is best friends with Overwatch’s archenemy, Talon; Soldier: 76, the vigilante that will stop at nothing to find and expose the truth of Overwatch’s downfall; and Tracer, the cheerful British girl able to jump through time. The Defense characters specialize in keeping the enemy at bay by various means. They include the last Bastion unit with a love for nature; Hanzo, a master archer and brother to Genji; Junkrat, an explosive-obsessed psycho; Mei, a climatologist looking to save what’s left of the world’s environment; Torbjörn, a dwarfish man with unparalleled engineering skills; and Widowmaker, a sadistic and brainwashed assassin employed by Talon. The Tanks are the bullet sponges of the game that can dish out just as much damage as they take. Of them, there’s D.Va, a professional gamer turned mech pilot; Reinhardt, an honorable knight and the unshakable moral heart of Overwatch; Roadhog, Junkrat’s partner-in-crime and an unstoppable killer; Winston, a talking gorilla and a brilliant scientist; and Zarya, the world’s strongest woman and the pride of Russia. Finally, the Support class is responsible for keeping their teammates alive by buffing their different stats. Here, there’s Ana, mother of Pharah and one of the founding members of Overwatch; Lúcio, an internationally renowned DJ; Mercy, a staunch advocate for peace and a genius doctor; Symmetra, a gifted hard-light designer under the employ of the Vishkar Corporation; and Zenyatta, an Omnic monk that strives to bring peace to people and Omnic alike.
From a gameplay standpoint, all of the characters are called “heroes”. In-story, while most are genuinely good and heroic people that want to make the world a better place, a few of them are unrepentant killers and assassins. Junkrat and Roadhog are criminals, the Viskar Corporation uses any means necessary for the sake of the “greater good” and Symmetra has even expressed concern of their actions, and Talon does just whatever it wants, something Reaper and Widowmaker can get behind. On top of that, social instability is very widespread, mostly in the form of Omnic discrimination. Years since the Omnic Crisis, the Omnics have been able to gain self-awareness and most want peace with humanity, but because of their role during the Crisis, most of humanity still see and fear the Omnics as merciless killing machines. While one known city has successfully managed to have both humans and Omnics living together in harmony, the discrimination is still strong around the world.
There are a total of four game modes in the game across a total of (currently) 13 maps: Assault, Escort, Hybrid (a mix of Assault and Escort), and Control. At the beginning of each match, players are given time to choose what hero they want to play as and prepare. Each hero has their own weapons and abilities that can aid them in either dealing more damage, tripping up enemies, or assisting their teammates. For example, Soldier: 76 uses a standard pulse rifle that would be the standard in FPS games. His abilities include sprinting to get back to the frontline, micro-missiles to deal additional damage, a temporary helming beacon to heal himself and other teammates with it, and his Ultimate gives him Auto-Aim to gun down everyone in his sights. Reaper uses dual shotguns to deal massive damage up close, can become immaterial to glide across the ground and avoid damage, can teleport to get to hard to reach places or behind the enemy team, and his Ultimate has him firing his shotguns in every single direction, killing anyone within range. Each of their abilities and play styles reflect the characters, with familiarity of all of the heroes being vital in this game. As the player levels up, they earn Loot Boxes, chests that hold additional currency, emotes, sprays, skins, and other goodies to customize the heroes with.
The game is still early in its life cycle, so there is still plenty more to come. More characters, like the enigmatic Sombra, will be added, as well as more maps, possible game types, and more animated shorts to expand on the story. Even so, for what is available and for those looking for a new FPS experience that is very colorful and vibrant, this is something to pick up.