Cheers, Luv! The Cavalry's Here!
May 23, 2016 12:19 AM   Subscribe

Overwatch goes online May 24, 8AM KST. Releasing its first brand-new universe in almost two decades, Blizzard is launching a new game today. Borrowing and polishing gameplay and design elements from classic team shooters such as Team Fortress and Titanfall, Overwatch is one of the most eagerly anticipated games of 2016.

Overwatch might not have existed were it not for the spectacular collapse of Blizzard's earlier attempt at a new IP, codenamed Titan--and their willingness to dare again.

It features a relatively diverse cast of 21 heroes, though the character designs haven't been without some controversy--from sexualized poses to overly similar women's bodies--though Blizzard seems to be quite responsive to players' feedback.

As with any new universe, Blizzard has released a series of Pixar-esque animated shorts and comics highlighting characters and building a narrative--and are trying interesting marketing tactics, like partnering for fanart or unveiling giant action figures--on top of the usual corporate cross-promotion.

Animated Shorts: Comics: Oh, and by the way: cosplayers are already doing some magnificent work.

The world could always use more heroes!
posted by qcubed (104 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
This game is scary, stupid good. Mercy is by far my favorite but every character I've tried I want to play more too.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:51 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hmm. On one hand, I'd like for something to replace TF2 someday, as it's become a total mess of unnecessary and bizarre content. On the other hand, after diablo 3, it would be impossible for me to trust Blizzard less. Everything they make now has the stink of the MMO on it.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:52 AM on May 23, 2016


Upfront cost for game, no charecters hidden behind additional paywalls, no grinding for gear. This is not an MMO. It's a badass team shooter all the way.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:55 AM on May 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


The three part series from Gamespot is well worth watching. It's linked in the OP, just want to call more attention to it.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:02 AM on May 23, 2016


Played it during the open beta weekend. It was extremely professionally done but I didn't feel the magic. I think it had to do with every battle feeling pretty much the same. Maybe that was a result of the beta having limited modes and maps?
posted by Justinian at 1:21 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


There are 12 maps, 9 of them are played from either side (so 18 variations) and 3 of them are played in 3 locations (so 9 variations) making a total of 27 maps you have to learn every nuance of - all the good sniping spots, ambush locations, etc. There's a lot of variation, what more with 21 different heroes which you can swap in / out of at will during the game.
posted by xdvesper at 1:51 AM on May 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Mitrovarr have you tried diablo3 recently? The seasons are wonderful - short 3 month periods where the game gets extensively rebalanced and new exciting items get added - and everyone starts from scratch again with a fresh account. You compete on leaderboards for the highest and fastest clears and you can check the gear and spec other people used to get their time so you can fine tune your build. It partially recaptures the magic of leveling up and gearing a new character each season. And your progress - exp and items - get rolled back into you non season character so it grows in power as well.
posted by xdvesper at 2:14 AM on May 23, 2016 [5 favorites]




I made the mistake of playing this in open beta and am now waiting with bated breath. Blizzard must have known exactly how good their game was when they scheduled that. (They also did Battleborn a real dirty, boy howdy).

Blizzard is so intensely focused on getting every little rough edge sanded off and every piece of Quality of Life adjustment so completely polished that I will play their games just to admire the craftsmanship, but I never in my wildest dreams hoped they'd make a game in a genre I am interested in. This could be real bad.

If anyone wants to team up this week or afterwards, my battle.net login is the same as here, but with a hash and the numbers 1958 after it.
posted by selfnoise at 3:28 AM on May 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


FlyEaglesFly#11284

This game is best when you teamwork. Message me if you want to start a group!
posted by Drinky Die at 3:46 AM on May 23, 2016


For people who have played this and TF2, how does Overwatch compare? I'm interested for the neat character design but what I've seen looks just like TF2 with some extra spit and polish (to the point of having Payload maps where you have to get on de itty bitty kart comrades!!) and a different community (which tbh might be refreshing enough). I'd like to get into it but I can't justify spending £50 of my money on something I can play for free any time.
posted by fight or flight at 3:56 AM on May 23, 2016


For people who have played this and TF2, how does Overwatch compare?

It does and doesn't compare. On the one hand, they're both class-base shooters...on the other hand, any given class in TF2 is actually several classes because, say, Demoknight and Sticky Spam Demo play very differently even though they're theoretically the same class, while in Overwatch, each class is very what-you-see-is-what-you-get. The smaller team size in Overwatch pushes teamwork much more than in TF2 as well, since one bad / clueless / disinterested player is more likely to affect overall team performance in a 6v6 than a 12v12. Also, Overwatch doesn't have timed spawn waves like TF2 does, so newer players have a tendency to die, respawn, run in alone, and die again.

Overall I don't think the games are that similar. Overwatch doesn't have nearly the same levels of open-endedness or community support that TF2 does, which is both a blessing and a curse. Blizzard has committed to releasing new heroes and maps to keep the game fresh, hopefully at a reasonable pace. We'll see! I'm very hyped for it.

Oh, I'm NomsTiem#1236, please feel free to add me. I'll be out of town until Friday night but intend to spend the three-day weekend playing the game.
posted by Noms_Tiem at 4:06 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm Pendragon#2327 on Battle.net.

I played a lot as medic in Battlefield 2, I hope to do the same in Overwatch :-)
posted by Pendragon at 4:50 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Nthing Diablo III having been much improved from the initial version; the update, Reaper of Souls, changed several things (and the removal of the auction house and its many abuses likewise), and it's my go-to game during the endless agonizing wait for Mass Effect: Andromeda.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:53 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


For people who have played this and TF2, how does Overwatch compare?

I didn't play the open beta, myself, but all my other friends who were QWTF/TF2 diehards really, really loved it.
posted by tobascodagama at 4:59 AM on May 23, 2016


The game itself is amazingly polished. I literally have not played such a highly polished game, ever, even though it was only in closed beta when I tried it. Their netcode is brilliant, this is the first game I have EVER encountered that I literally don't mind playing on the US server (250 ping) versus the Australian server (40 ping). The way the engine prioritizes hits / dodges feels really fair and deliberate and predictable. And graphically - wow - I am playing on max graphics at 95 frames per second (144hz monitor) despite running a 5 year old Intel i5-2500 paired with a newer GTX-970.

For people who have played this and TF2, how does Overwatch compare?

I played TF2 in the early days when they introduced the first batches of special collectible weapons.

The map objectives borrow heavily from TF2 (payload is a direct homage) as well as the ability to switch classes on the fly. Many heroes seem deliberately similar to their TF2 analogs, eg Mercy = Medic, Soldier = Pharah, Widowmaker = Sniper.

The key difference - (1) the team oriented gameplay revolves around charging up your "ultimate" bar and unleashing it - it's very much like a MOBA in that respect, where the game plan revolves around checking how many ults your team has ready vs how many the enemy can bring to bear, then bursting all of them out at once in a big "push" that allows you to take / retake a point or objective. A bit like the TF2 medic getting ready an ubercharge, but in this game everyone gets a devastating ult. The Medic ult for example revives all her allies.

(2) They were also pretty big on giving many heroes more skills. The Sniper in TF2, for example, gets a standard loadout of a sniper gun and a submachine gun for close combat: both those weapons can be switched for other weapons, but you're really restricted to two buttons. You can swap the submachine gun for jarate to counter pyros, or razorback to counter spies, etc.

The Widowmaker (sniper equivalent) in Overwatch has a sniper gun which also features the same charge-up mechanic, but automatically switches to semi-auto mode when fired unscoped, giving her effectively the same functionality for close / long ranged combat. But in addition to that, she also has 3 additional buttons to hit - she can plant a Widow mine, which triggers poison gas when an enemy gets near (mainly as a way of alerting her to people sneaking up on her), she can use a grappling hook to whip away to safety or get up to ledges or locations other heroes can't get to, and her ultimate once charged gives you and your team vision of enemy players through walls. Utilizing your ultimate just as you prepare to "push" on an enemy held position gives you a terrific advantage in being able to instantly counter any ambushes / sneak attacks and also allows you to line up the perfect snipes as the enemy steps around the corner - they'll walk in a straight line since they don't know you can see them.
posted by xdvesper at 5:02 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


I played a lot as medic in Battlefield 2, I hope to do the same in Overwatch :-)

Mercy, the most orthodox medic character in Overwatch, is really satisfying to play - she has no sprint, but can boost towards an injured character like a jet-heeled Florence Nightingale.

She does have an offensive weapon, but if you are using it your teammates are probably not getting the best out of the character.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:19 AM on May 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm glad they are taking a chance like this (new genre for them, new universe, charging money upfront.)

Does anyone know how much of the TF2 community is playing it?
posted by michaelh at 5:29 AM on May 23, 2016


I thought that this video was a good overview of the sexualized design issue.
posted by Groundhog Week at 6:11 AM on May 23, 2016 [3 favorites]




I got kind of confused by the Anita Sarkeesian article because I thought Overwatch did a decent job of mixing up body types. And then I saw the picture in the article and realized several of the female characters are missing (I assume because they hadn't been revealed when the article was published). Zarya and Mei don't necessarily make up for the others but I think they help provide a much better balance of female body types to the game.

About the gameplay: I was a TF2 fan during the Orange Box days, and the best way I can think of to explain Overwatch is that it's Blizzard's take on vanilla TF2. This is hugely exciting because ever since TF2 introduced the concept of cosmetic items and weapons, it has drifted from its original simplicity and is now a cavalcade of loot. You can often be murdered by weapons you didn't even know existed with bizarre effects. Even if the game is still balanced (which is questionable), it's a chore trying to figure out what's going on if you haven't been playing the whole time, so if you want to do anything other than the equivalent of 24/7 2fort casual play, you're going to have a bad time.

In other words, nothing out there really plays like the original Team Fortress 2 did, not even Team Fortress 2 itself. Overwatch isn't a complete retread of TF2 (thank goodness), but it gets a lot of the same things TF2 got right: easily understandable classes, obvious ways to counter most classes, less emphasis on individual performance versus teamwork, fantastic art and sound direction. As long as Blizzard don't screw it up the way Valve did TF2, Overwatch could be a great evergreen title.
posted by chrominance at 6:42 AM on May 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


The future of the game is indeed quite fascinating, and part of that is the current iterations of Blizzard and Valve feeling like complete polar opposite companies ostensibly in charge of very similar games. Blizzard will always, always prioritize polish, functionality, accessibility and QoL over innovation, whether in terms of technology or gameplay. Valve... I mean god knows what Valve is these days, but as noted above TF2 has evolved in a wild and chaotic manner that has alienated many players. They are committed to experimentation inside the game and out, and at since the release of HL2EP2 totally and completely opposed to communicating in a reliable manner.

Even just looking at their animated shorts you can see it. Blizzards are technically amazing in the vein of a more violent Pixar but feel very safe, while Valve's are clever and shot through with odd humor. However, you can bet Blizzard hit every video exactly on deadline whereas who knows when Valve is ever going to do anything. They've been in the middle of theoretically publishing a TF2 comic series for like six years, right? Blizzard pumped out their character comics in a matter of weeks, but of course they're not that good.

In the end I trust Blizzard to run a service and provide a great experience, but I'd be sadder if (as kinda seems likely) Valve is done making FPS games.
posted by selfnoise at 6:54 AM on May 23, 2016


Punkey#11300!
posted by Punkey at 7:12 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


If Overwatch interests you but you're not big on competitive shooters there's a VS CPU mode that is much lower stakes. It's also a good way to practice the different characters.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:25 AM on May 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


So hmm, this game, it's very interesting, but I have heard so much about the whole paper/rock/scissors deal where you need to choose your character based on what will counter the enemy's character, and that is really unappealing to me. I can barely muster up the time to git gud with one character let alone be expected to switch between them all. On the other hand I have also heard that the skill ceiling with the actual gameplay is about knee high so that is right up my alley.

I really miss what TF2 used to be and I want that again, but I am not 100% sure this is the game to give me that satisfaction.
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:27 AM on May 23, 2016


I'm playing as it drops tonight and I swear to god if I see one more play of the game that's just bastion in turret form I'm gonna do something drastic.

/betavent
posted by Groundhog Week at 7:29 AM on May 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


the whole paper/rock/scissors deal where you need to choose your character based on what will counter the enemy's character

The best solution to this is to just pick Sniper or Spy 100% of the time and watch your all-Sniper team win every game!!one1!

That said, I have fond memories of time spent tooling around Valve servers quietly convincing everyone on Blu to go Medic so we can form UBER MEDIC OCTOPUS and wreck the day. All Pyro is a pointless existence, however.
posted by fight or flight at 7:34 AM on May 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Another good way to practice assuming they leave this in from the open beta: there was a weekly mode where you could play with characters that randomized after each death. That way you get to play a lot of different characters, and since you have no control over them other players are less likely to get salty over you not playing the character "right".

That said, the general advice I'd give is to just play around in the playground tutorial sandbox, find a character you like in each "category" (Attack, Defense, Tank, Support), then when you play online try and really focus on the objective. The one thing you can do in this game that will really annoy people is just kind of wandering off on your own away from the "point" and trying to get kills. And the way the XP system is set up, that's not even an effective way to get points.

So hmm, this game, it's very interesting, but I have heard so much about the whole paper/rock/scissors deal where you need to choose your character based on what will counter the enemy's character, and that is really unappealing to me. I can barely muster up the time to git gud with one character let alone be expected to switch between them all. On the other hand I have also heard that the skill ceiling with the actual gameplay is about knee high so that is right up my alley.

In casual games I haven't actually seen people switching a ton. That said, this is one of the first games with a lot of heroes where I enjoy playing maybe 80% of them. They're really well designed and accessible.

I'm playing as it drops tonight and I swear to god if I see one more play of the game that's just bastion in turret form I'm gonna do something drastic.

Bastion is one of those characters who I think will be less effective as the game's meta evolves. He's easy to counter but is definitely a sandtrap for players new to the game.

The best solution to this is to just pick Sniper or Spy 100% of the time and watch your all-Sniper team win every game!!one1!


I saw some teams with 3 or 4 Winstons that were FUCKING TERRIFYING.
posted by selfnoise at 7:35 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Winston + Zarya 4eva
posted by Groundhog Week at 7:42 AM on May 23, 2016


So hmm, this game, it's very interesting, but I have heard so much about the whole paper/rock/scissors deal where you need to choose your character based on what will counter the enemy's character, and that is really unappealing to me. I can barely muster up the time to git gud with one character let alone be expected to switch between them all. On the other hand I have also heard that the skill ceiling with the actual gameplay is about knee high so that is right up my alley.

Switching isn't mandatory, but it helps create viable team compositions when you're figuring out what heroes to pick at the start of the match. Most top professional teams don't switch at all over the course of the entire match: they've figured out a composition that works, and stick with it. This is an example of a team playing against Cloud 9 and they stick with their Genji + Tracer + Zen + Zen + Lucio + Symmetra composition from the start till the end of the match.

Some characters don't require much aiming at all which is nice, while for some of them, the skill cap is literally impossible to reach. Here's an impressive montage of Widowmaker plays - note that in order for her to score one-hit kills, you need to get headshots - this is a huge difference from Counter-Strike, where most professional plays involve using the AWP which kills on a body shot. This is like playing with the Scout, requiring you to hit a headshot which is such a tiny target.
posted by xdvesper at 7:46 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Some higher tier folks from Planetside (Recursion, OO) were trying this in the beta, and I think you're going to be disappointed if you think Bastion won't be abused.

Two Rheinharts, mercy with damage amp, and a bastion that deploys offensively behind the shield wall. Add Mr Flashbang Stun or Mei as crowd control/killers of fast moving things or whatever else you need.

It looked to be truly obnoxious to play against.
posted by Slackermagee at 7:49 AM on May 23, 2016


I saw some teams with 3 or 4 Winstons that were FUCKING TERRIFYING.

We got together a 6 person team during the Beta and decided to try an all Winston rush on Kings Row (Capture point). We wrecked them with the element of surprise and took 80% of the point in that first 30 seconds. But when they respawned, it because sickeningly clear that we were badly outmatched by this other team, and they quickly took us apart.

Still, I think that the fact that we were able to knock them off the point in the first place just shows the unbridled power of the Winston rush.
posted by Laura Palmer's Cold Dead Kiss at 7:58 AM on May 23, 2016


So far in the competitive scene Bastion has been a niche or troll pick, kind of like techies is in DOTA2. Serious teams won't be picking him in serious matches, he's way too easy to counter.

Say you have two Reinhardts, Mercy and Bastion deploy in a defensive position on a defense map - the other team can just pop their Hanzo sonar arrow to see their locations, then use his dragon ult, forcing their 4 man defense to relocate or die where they stand. The dragon ult doesn't cause friendly fire so your team can charge in during the ult and slaughter all 4 of them as they run (Reinhardt shield doesn't work against the Dragon ult, he can't move quickly while shielding, Bastion has next to no damage while moving). Same deal with the D'Va ult, toss it in and watch a defensive position break up and die while you swarm in. Tracer also scores a free multi-kill against a tightly clumped defense formation like that with her sticky bomb by triple blinking, ultiing and rewinding.
posted by xdvesper at 7:58 AM on May 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


This seems like a good place to remind y'all that MeFight Club exists and is a nice place for gamers who treat each other with respect. Not officially associated with Metafilter but fellow travellers, capably run by MeFi's own Stavros the Wonder Chicken. The two games the community has played together the most are Minecraft and Team Fortress 2, and a lot of people seem excited for Team Fortress 3 Overwatch.

I played the beta on PS4 and didn't love it. It's very good, don't get me wrong, and I think folks will have a lot of fun playing it. But the 6v6 setup means the game requires MOBA-level coordination on a team to really play well. Like agreeing which heroes to play at any moment, and which door to push, etc. (See xdvesper's comment above about team play.) And team play is problematic with randos, particularly on a console.

Team Fortress 2 worked pretty well as a pickup game where you just went in alone and did your thing, as does Call of Duty. Battlefield requires team play but the game design makes it pretty obvious what the team should be doing. I think Overwatch will only be rewarding with a coordinated team and that's hard to come by. Also I've already got League of Legends in my life for that kind of game and that's a jealous mistress.
posted by Nelson at 8:01 AM on May 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


The rheinhart/bastion/mercy business was them on attack or when pushing the cart.

They also weren't sitting still, Bastion's deploy time is fast.
posted by Slackermagee at 8:27 AM on May 23, 2016


I'm trying to read more about the overwatch-titanfall angle, because titanfall was probably my favorite shooter of the last 5 years. But the link in the OP doesn't show any images for me. Anyone have other sources or can comment more?
posted by rebent at 8:27 AM on May 23, 2016


I really admire how well the balance works in Overwatch. In short bursts and particular situations it seems like certain heroes are really powerful, but everyone has counters. I play a lot of Junkrat, and Pharah scares the crap out of me. So sometimes I'll switch to Hanzo or 76 so that something else rains from above besides justice.

I am a solo player at heart, but I enjoy the spontaneous team coordination that happens sometimes in games like this. And occasionally the overcoming of weird team compositions.

The last round I played during open beta was attacking Hanamura and it was ridiculous. My team was:

Me, as Lucio.

Bastion, who kept whining for heals while standing in my healing radius, somehow actually helped me capture point A, but who I don't think ever got to use his ultimate.

McRee, who was afraid to go through the gate at point A and just hung back the whole time.

Junkrat, who I didn't see until he helped me cap point B.

Two Hanzos who I never saw.

How we won, I'm really not sure.
posted by Foosnark at 8:29 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to read more about the overwatch-titanfall angle, because titanfall was probably my favorite shooter of the last 5 years. But the link in the OP doesn't show any images for me. Anyone have other sources or can comment more?

Lucio (support) can wall-run. D-VA (tank) rides a rocket-powered mech that can get nuked, leaving her on foot. Soldier: 76 (attack) has an auto-aiming Ultimate attack. There are no AI bots running around during the match, though.
posted by EmGeeJay at 8:31 AM on May 23, 2016


I'm trying to read more about the overwatch-titanfall angle

Blizzard had a "Project Titan" MMO that was cancelled early on. Not related to Titanfall, which is from a different developer.
posted by Foosnark at 8:31 AM on May 23, 2016


Oh nevermind, I see it now.
posted by Foosnark at 8:32 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


D-VA (tank) rides a rocket-powered mech that can get nuked, leaving her on foot.

Also, interestingly enough, if you're right under D.Va when she summons her mech, you suffer some damage. It's not an insta-kill like in Titanfall, but.
posted by qcubed at 8:50 AM on May 23, 2016


I'm trying to read more about the overwatch-titanfall angle

D.Va's mech titanfalls.
posted by Talez at 8:50 AM on May 23, 2016


Blizzards are technically amazing in the vein of a more violent Pixar but feel very safe, while Valve's are clever and shot through with odd humor

I feel the same way. Also, I remember reading way back in PC Gamer they initially built a realistic looking TF2 and I think it was a good decision to scrap that design and go for something really fresh and interesting. And it's now 11 years later and it looks like Blizzard is cribbing design from TF2, but also selections from American and Japanese pop culture. And it looks great and polished, but like a lot of Blizzard products I feel that it lacks a coherent vision, creativity, and risk-taking from what it's borrowing from.
posted by FJT at 9:03 AM on May 23, 2016


I only know this game by Roundabout meme and I think I'll keep it that way.
posted by nom de poop at 9:17 AM on May 23, 2016


Probably not for us. The Tracer ragestorm and hitting a wall of porny-misogynist fanart initially turned my partner off, although I think she's still moderately interested. And every time I get tempted by multiplayer gaming I end up reminded that multiplayer really stresses me out.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:33 AM on May 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


"building a narrative"

I never understand that piece. It's an arena game, so narrative doesn't really matter, does it? Is lore going to make players approach their fragfests any differently? But hey I'm not down on multiplayer frag jamborees, if some people ("you people") like those. What does bother me a little is when developers affix MP onto a SP game, but that's for another thread.
posted by scamper at 9:38 AM on May 23, 2016


I never understand that piece. It's an arena game, so narrative doesn't really matter, does it? Is lore going to make players approach their fragfests any differently? But hey I'm not down on multiplayer frag jamborees, if some people ("you people") like those.

My wife, who has neither the co-ordination or the inclination has the slightest interest in playing Overwatch. However, she loves the characters in it. She loves the stories. She loves the lore.

I think it was Jeff K who had the story of bringing in some elementary school kids to play Overwatch for testing purposes. They put a whole heap of girls in a game together and they fell in love with D.Va. Everything else was secondary. You just had 12 D.Vas flying all over the place. They found something to identify with in themselves and they loved it. People love to find out more about stuff they identify with. I think Overwatch is going to be a game with enough auxillary content being pushed out that even if you never play the game, you'll still be able to appreciate the world.
posted by Talez at 9:58 AM on May 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think there are a couple of different factors in play in terms of this game having "lore".

-Overwatch started life as recycled and repurposed content from Blizzard's canceled MMO "Titan" and MMOs tend to have a lot of lore stuff.

-There are a lot of multiplayer shooters one could play, so it behooves Blizzard to give potential players a multitude of hooks to get snagged on. It's hard to advertise something as "look, you can shoot things" and easier to have a character with a paragraph of flavor text to slap on the side of a Taco Bell cup.

-Blizzard clearly intends to sell in-game crates for cash post-release and having a sense of who your character is will entice players to gamble for skins, emotes, etc.

-Blizzard employs a LOT of people who do this sort of thing and even if none of the above were true, it would leak into the game anyway.
posted by selfnoise at 10:06 AM on May 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's not just RPGs though. Atari and Nintendo were wrapping multimedia storytelling franchises around arcade games back in the 70s and 80s, to the point where Miyamoto characters now get better image recognition than classic WB. Disney maybe competes because they never pass an opportunity to promote a princess, but Mario probably beats Pluto these days. And then you had Street Fighter and Mortal Combat with their own multimedia franchises padding out games dictated by timing and hitboxes.

Game designers quickly figured out that the pure mechanics of "you die when this rectangle touches that rectangle" are often boring. So they made one rectangle a person, another rectangle a barrel, and the rest is history. A set of formulas subtracting dozens of numbers is like watching a Windows 3.1 progress bar. A party wipe because at the end of a hard night, everyone charged the dragon naked and armed with pointy sticks is epic.

One of the things I think Blizzard, Nintendo, and WotC are really good at is realizing that different players want different things from games. Some people are number-crunchers. Some people want twitch. Some people want attractive character designs and animations. Some people want detailed stories. The trick is designing the franchise so that twitchers and story fans are both satisfied.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 10:37 AM on May 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


And with free shooty games and 30 years of saturation, there's no point unless you bring new style, mechanics, or both to the table.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:15 AM on May 23, 2016




Agreed that narrative matters a tremendous amount even in games where it doesn't matter to the actual gameplay in the least. Team Fortress 2 is a fantastic (maybe the best?) example of a game that is way better because of all the character building even though none of it is actually part of the gameplay. Blizzard is absolutely right to pick up on this and try to imitate it, even if their writers aren't very good at it. Trying at all puts them ten cuts above every shooter starring John Q. Griminfantryman, and it's going to result in a much stronger community for the game.

That said, Overwatch is definitely the Heroes of the Storm of the genre. It's very shallow, with each character being extremely simple and having a really low skill ceiling. An easy way to notice this is the "play of the game" replay: at the end of each game, it'll show somebody holding W while left clicking and the most interesting thing that will happen during it is that they'll press the ult key at some point. The game is celebrating this as the most skillful thing that happened during the game, and it's probably right about that. This is not to say that I think Blizzard screwed up, though; they definitely made exactly what they set out to make and it is extremely polished, and the low skill ceiling makes it a very light experience. They're very good at this. People who can't spend a lot of time playing games or who just don't care to put a lot of hours into getting good at them will not be left totally in the dust in Overwatch, and if Heroes of the Storm is any indication that means Blizzard is probably going to make a lot of money here.
posted by IAmUnaware at 11:32 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


I can confirm the importance of narrative and characters one can identify with--getting me (and, anecdotally, many women) interested in a multiplayer shooter is a hard fucking sell. But I saw some video with Zarya in it and immediately became the heart eyes emoji and now here I am with a preorder for a $60 game. The gameplay could be entirely the same, but if all of the characters in this were bestubbled dudes wearing all black and speaking in low growls about DUTY and HONOR I might have somehow assumed this game wasn't for me.
posted by almostmanda at 11:33 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Upfront cost for game, no charecters hidden behind additional paywalls, no grinding for gear. This is not an MMO. It's a badass team shooter all the way.

What, seriously? Did aliens replace the leadership at Blizzard or something?

I hadn't even looked into it before, Blizzard's entire output having been dumped in the mental bin of "things that are wrong with gaming", but now it actually sounds worth looking into.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:42 PM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Play of the Game for this thread goes to this comment for its combination of big, damaging backhanded compliments with massive cps (condescension per sentence)! Truly a turret-form Bastion of the keyboard!
posted by Groundhog Week at 12:57 PM on May 23, 2016 [10 favorites]


Yeah, some of us actually enjoy playing games. I was going to address the "low skill ceiling" comment but by the end of that paragraph I didn't even have the stomach for it.

The whole narrative/characters thing got tons of attention from cosplayers while the game was still in closed beta, and will sell a lot of BlizzCon tickets as well as copies of the game. It's smart and it's what Blizzard does. It's probably a big part of why I played TF2 as long as I did.
posted by Foosnark at 1:12 PM on May 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


What, seriously? Did aliens replace the leadership at Blizzard or something?

The game actually seems kind of hostile to a lot of the usual $$$ strategies. They clearly thought about it a lot, as evidenced by announcing the pricing model after it was already in closed beta. You really can't charge for characters when the game is designed around switching characters a lot. You can charge for skins, but in a first person mode the player just isn't going to see them that much (thus why the game has all the flashy stuff at the end of every match). If you charge for weapons or items you end up making a game with weapon swapping or items which they clearly didn't want to do.

Plus, Blizzard has felt a little gun-shy about this stuff ever since the D3 Auction House disaster. They certainly don't have the kind of insane post-sale market options that Valve has for, say, DOTA 2 (the compendium says hi). And you can see the potential for that stuff in Hearthstone.
posted by selfnoise at 1:14 PM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Re: lore

I think it's pretty obvious Blizzard is planning to make this their next movie after Warcraft.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:21 PM on May 23, 2016


I just sent a friend request to anyone who put their battle.net ID in this thread. Please don't be alarmed. :)
posted by selfnoise at 3:50 PM on May 23, 2016


Y'know, I think Blizzard is really smart for doing the Apple-esque "we don't do it first, we do it best" tactic. WoW completely dominated and destroyed the MMO genre. Mobas are notorious for difficult skill curves and toxic communities, and Heroes of the Storm seems to have made it more friendly (though I'm still a LoL player).

I'm a huge Magic: the Gathering player. Played on the Pro Tour and everything. And it's gotten really old hearing people deride Hearthstone as shallow, because it's actually a really deep game! Not as deep, perhaps, as Magic, with its 22 year history, but it's very, very good. Not just the light distraction I expected it to be.

I expect Overwatch will be similar. It seems light and fluffy, but maybe what's actually been done is that they've stripped out the cruft and we're left with a refined game that will stand up to the test of time!
posted by explosion at 4:03 PM on May 23, 2016


we're left with a refined game that will stand up to the test of time!

But not the onslaught of all the people trying to play it right now!
posted by Talez at 4:11 PM on May 23, 2016


I ended up buying the bloody game twice. Some friends I used to play MMOs with all the time on PS4, most everybody else on PC. Wanted to play with both groups. I am hoping using a controller part of the time and mouse/kb part of the time will not end up making me more terrible than I already am.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 4:26 PM on May 23, 2016


fine, I buy this even though Total Warhammer is out in... 7 hours. And I haven't finished Dark Souls 3 and I'm waiting for the Stellaris balance patch. So much game so little time.
posted by Justinian at 4:34 PM on May 23, 2016


Oh, note if you go to buy this: The $60 version the Blizzard site defaults to is the more expensive version. You can get it for $40 if you don't care about a bunch of crap like a Hearthstone booster pack, some kind of wings for Diablo 3, or... other stuff that means nothing to me. So save $20 if you don't want those things.
posted by Justinian at 4:36 PM on May 23, 2016


somebody holding W while left clicking

So, my TF2 Pyro skills will transfer straight over, is what you're saying.
posted by tobascodagama at 4:44 PM on May 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


yay play of the game in my first game :P PHARAH!!!
posted by Justinian at 4:47 PM on May 23, 2016


First pug that fills in for a disconnect, insta-lock widowmaker.

I truly wish I could vote to ban heroes from my own team.
posted by Slackermagee at 5:08 PM on May 23, 2016


Regarding the back stories, I find it a little rich the hoops Blizzard has gone through to make (most of) them "heroic":
- Hanzo is a reincarnated god who atones for "dividing the earth" by.... shooting arrows at people.
- Bastion is a memory-wiped war machine who shows is curiosity about life by....shooting people.
- Mei is apparently fighting against climate change by ... icing people?
- Torbjorn regrets that his genious was used to wreak havoc on innocents so he ... invents more weapons?
- etc
Forced motivation is less compelling than no motivation imho.
posted by Popular Ethics at 5:10 PM on May 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm probably never going to actually play it, but the design and peripheral media of Overwatch absolutely fascinates me. The quality level of the cosplays that have already appeared are jaw dropping too, to the point that I wonder if they had some inside help. I don't know whether that's to do with some thrumming kernel of creative potential or whether it's finely tuned Pavlov bells, but I am eating up every bit of art and interview they put out.
posted by lucidium at 5:44 PM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've been playing Mercy solid, but I don't think I've seen any other support heroes in all my matches so far. Got the most commends after one, which felt good. People in their first rush of excitement seem to have forgotten one of the cardinal rules of PVP: Kill the Healer First.

(feldspathic#1375)
posted by The Nutmeg of Consolation at 5:47 PM on May 23, 2016


I really love Lucio but he doesn't necessarily make sense in a lot of game modes. Other than that, I need to learn me some more characters.
posted by selfnoise at 5:51 PM on May 23, 2016


Does Tracer's voice actor seem wrong to anyone else? I might be way off base here but it sounds like an English person doing a poor attempt at a different English accent.
posted by clorox at 7:51 PM on May 23, 2016


Tracer's voice actress is Cara Theobold from Downton Abbey.
posted by Talez at 8:23 PM on May 23, 2016


I've been playing Symmetra and all the buttholes on my team walk by the teleporter entrance. TELEPORT YOU NUBS.
posted by Justinian at 8:32 PM on May 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


Man okay. I woke up this morning, read this thread, impulse-preordered just under the wire, thinking I could at least have fun playing against the AI and exploring the characters.

This is so good! So. Good. For anyone hesitant about playing online: because there's no direct display of kills or kill/death ratio, it seems very mellow. I've had a ton of fun with the support classes, Pharah, and Black Widow. This is too much fun.
posted by neuromodulator at 11:20 PM on May 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Played until 3 AM, now at my desk at work :-)

Won my first 5 matches, but noticed later that was against AI, so that figures :-)

Played mostly with Pharah, which is unusual because I'm more a medic/support guy.

Anybody who tried to friend me from this thread, I'm in the EU region so that probably means it's not going to work :-(
posted by Pendragon at 12:52 AM on May 24, 2016


Tracer's voice did stick out as off at first but it's grown on me. It's really over the top, but I think that's mostly the doing of the writing.
posted by lucidium at 6:16 AM on May 24, 2016


Mei is apparently fighting against climate change by ... icing people?

If applied to the appropriate lobbyists and executives, that could be a lot more helpful than switching to LED bulbs :P


It seems like the overall quality/competence of players is lower than it was during open beta, but maybe because there's actually something to this "level" thing afterall and it tends to weed out most of the players who just don't get it, or who spend 3/4 of the match AFK in the spawn room.
posted by Foosnark at 6:17 AM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Does Tracer's voice actor seem wrong to anyone else? I might be way off base here but it sounds like an English person doing a poor attempt at a different English accent.


That's exactly what it is, incidentally. Tracer's accent is a ridiculous cod-Cockney, and presumably deliberately written to be so.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:20 AM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love Pharah. She is an absolute beast. Especially if you re-map her hover ability to the bumpers on a PS4 controller.
posted by santaglue at 3:14 PM on May 24, 2016


I have fun as Pharah but I'm starting to think she's more powerful for consoles than PC because she relies mainly on splash damage and direct damage is easier to consistently land with m+k.
posted by Justinian at 3:18 PM on May 24, 2016


I was wondering why I thought Pharah looked so damn cool and then I realized that she's just Samus Aran with a Chozo helmet.
posted by selfnoise at 4:58 PM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


I now have a new favourite: D.Va. I have used self-destruct a couple of times to take out 3-4 players of the other team, which is very satisfying :-)

Only problem with this manoeuvre is that when I get PotG, you don't see the explosion because I'm running away as fast as I can.
posted by Pendragon at 11:06 PM on May 24, 2016


Well, it's been 48 hours and I've already seen OP complaints about every single character in the game. I really should just shut off chat, right?

I just had my best round ever with Junkrat, just absolutely shredding the attackers on Dorado payload. Of course I get PotG and the very first chat is "Junkrat is always PotG, wtf".

Also god damn Symmetra is ridiculously good. Talk about a character people sleep on. She's so good at blunting an otherwise effective attack on Payload, you just have to be constantly on a swivel putting turrets down, making sure you drop a teleporter as soon as you possibly can, and spamming her alt fire.
posted by selfnoise at 9:42 AM on May 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


There is only one hero who get's the most PotG's and that's Bastion. Just sitting in place and spamming the RMB get's you PotG :-(
posted by Pendragon at 9:54 AM on May 25, 2016


Junkrat's ult is basically off the chain. It's got the explosive power of D.Va, no countdown and can be steered in on the target while you stay safe behind the line. However, if you catch him exposed, he's toast. Another nice bit of balance.

I like the way the narrative puts him and Roadhog (a character I _really like_, despite the huge target area, slow movement, terrible ammo capacity and vulnerability to vertical attacks) together, because it makes a lot of sense - Roadhog pulls aggro off Junkrat with his hook and makes it dangerous to get close in to kill him.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:26 PM on May 25, 2016


As someone who uses Junkrats ult quite a lot... it makes a lot of noise and can be shot very easily and so I'd say it only survives maybe 50% of the time. I worry more about McCree's ult since in many cases you're already dead when you hear his bark.
posted by selfnoise at 4:48 PM on May 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is true on both counts - I guess I'm saying that a lot of multikill ults have a warm-up where you can derail them by killing the character (Farah in particular is kind of a glass cannon), or in the case of D.Va a warmdown where she is in her vulnerable form, whereas a well-shielded Junkrat can hang back and at worst not get any kills. It also works best when the opposition team is grouped/penned in near a sharp corner, natch - Junkrat plus Widowmaker (hit Widowmaker's ult to identify the targets, and have her snipe anyone who pops out to try to kill it) seems to be a combo with promise...
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:58 AM on May 26, 2016


Speaking of warm-ups I had a magnificent match moment last night which made me happy for hours. It was on Hollywood payload as Lucio and just at the first objective I encountered McCree just activating High Noon. Shot him, killed him before the ult activated, felt great. Then right at the end of the match, saw him again, "It's high no-aaggggh!!" Killed him again as his ult activated.

That must have been real frustrating for him. :)
posted by selfnoise at 6:36 AM on May 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Anything that frustrates McCree is fine by me. I hate getting killed by his grenade/fan the hammer combo, more than I'm bothered by Roadhog's hook or Mei's freeze or Junkrat's trap.

My #2 frustration is Pharah. When that glass cannon can catch you unaware or busy dealing with other threats, or when you're Junkrat and can't do anything about it anyway, she will just murder you over and over and over and over.
posted by Foosnark at 8:06 AM on May 26, 2016


Which hero is best at taking out Bastion's turret? I'm tired of Bastion trollers.
posted by Justinian at 9:02 AM on May 26, 2016


Deflecting Bastion with Genji is probably the most straightforward counter.
posted by almostmanda at 9:18 AM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Depending on the situation Junkrat can often lob grenades from out of the sightlines and that's usually what I try.
posted by selfnoise at 9:26 AM on May 26, 2016


Got a legendary skin from my level 9 lootbox !!! D.Va Junebug
posted by Pendragon at 9:38 AM on May 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Tracer counters Bastion's turret fairly easily, either blink over + pulse bomb + recall, or just blink wherever he's not aiming at the moment and shoot.
posted by mrgoat at 10:15 AM on May 26, 2016


I'm loving Symmetra on defense. Since a lot of teams don't coordinate rushes they often come into her turret spam one at a time. A couple games with Symmetra I've survived the whole battle and just run around putting shields on people, throwing out a teleporter, and spamming turrets on/near the objective.
posted by Justinian at 7:44 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I just did exactly that thing. When positioned right her turrets are a real problem. Also, she counters the crap out of Reinhardt because her alt fire goes right through his shield.

Tonight I lost four straight games, then won one with Symmetra on Hanamura while A: for some reason my mouse just stopped working after 45 degrees or so like I was a turret and B: somebody from my team spent the entire match talking loudly into voice chat about their dick.

I dunno, man.
posted by selfnoise at 7:54 PM on May 26, 2016


Interesting that Blizzard clearly feels they have the clout to skip Steam altogether.
posted by pharm at 6:48 AM on May 27, 2016


Which hero is best at taking out Bastion's turret? I'm tired of Bastion trollers.

Direct assault: Genji's deflect, Reinhardt shield with damage dealers behind him, Zenyatta ult with team members.

Flanking: almost anyone can kill him from behind. Of course, better Bastion players will be where you can't easily do that, supported by teammates.

At a distance, if you have cover: Widowmaker or 76, maybe Pharah (but don't try to take to the skies unless Bastion's distracted by other, tanky teammates)

If Bastion's sitting in doorways with a narrow field of fire: Junkrat grenade bounce, or Roadhog chain hook will pull him out of turret mode and expose him.

Or Junkrat grenades over a wall.
posted by Foosnark at 7:49 AM on May 27, 2016


Despite the fact that I'm terrible at FPS games, (being an old with poor WASD control under pressure), and had absolutely no intention of even paying any attention to Overwatch.

This thread though...

#1109
posted by Windopaene at 8:54 AM on May 27, 2016


I started trying to learn Tracer last night (I finallly got over the way she pronounces the word 'cavalry') and found her to be an effective anti-Bastion, at least on the Tibet level.

Tracer is one of those heroes where you feel as if there is a mastery level possible that would approach a sort of untouchable Kwisatz Haderach effortlessly glitching through a battlefield. But instead it's me spamming the teleport in panic.

Interesting that Blizzard clearly feels they have the clout to skip Steam altogether.


Blizzard's had an online service platform since 1996, so they've never needed Steam for anything. If anything, it's surprising that the rest of Activision still sells their games on Steam. Surely that 30% must be driving Bobby Kotick bonkers.
posted by selfnoise at 9:16 AM on May 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


Anyone playing on ps4 please add aadamm. Tired of playing with ransoms. I am casual/mediocre but that doesn't mean I don't want some tactics!
posted by neuromodulator at 8:19 PM on May 30, 2016


There's a lovely cartoon doing the rounds on Twitter (although I cannot find it currently), in which a dying Mercy asks Tracer to gather together all their team mates and have them carry her coffin, and lower it into her grave, "so you can all let me down one last time".

This is... relatable.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:20 AM on May 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


Comic.

Really bad teammates can be fun as Mercy. If they all die bunched up to ultimates all the time you are constantly being set up for a POTG res so the loss stings less.

It's semi-competent teammates where it gets frustrating, because you owe it to them to be up in the fight but they can't always follow through by watching your back well enough. Seeing corpses while you are respawning and out of range is the worst feeling as Mercy.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:45 AM on June 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


« Older WHY'D THEY MAKE THEM INTO SQUARES   |   Ah. You elect the person with the most worms. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments