For anyone who plays First Person Shooters (FPS) like Cara Delevingne in the latest COD advert: I salute you. Have I ever looked like this while playing an FPS? No. No I haven’t.
Turn the camera away from the sleek silhouette of one of Vogue’s most sought after supermodels and you’ll find me; juddering up against a platform that’s too high, feeling like there’s a gun strapped to my face, while someone repeatedly shoots me in the side of the head.
I’m looking at you SuperGreg03.
So after being hypnotised by the colourful, gummy bear exterior of Overwatch, I was a little disappointed when I realised it was an FPS and thought, oh well, it’s not for me then.
OR WAS IT?
Trusting in Blizzard’s competency to make a well-polished game, as well as the 7 million uptake within the first week (it now has more than 10 million players) I shut my eyes and hit Buy: 7 million and 1.
For those of you who haven’t yet been introduced to the world of Overwatch, it’s nice and easy to pick up in terms of mechanics. There are a range of characters to play from which fit into four different classes: tank, healer, defence and offence.
It’s not cross-platform and so I’m playing on PS4 – away from the hardcore PC players.
The characters are fun and have their own personalities and little catch phrases; one of my favourites being Zarya, who advises you in a thick, Russian accent to “stretch before engaging in rigorous physical activity”, and also, if you play her enough, you can hear her say, “I want to hug you like big fuzzy Siberian bear.”
I want to hug you too Zarya.
You then need to take down the enemy team while fulfilling a simple objective e.g. occupying a specified area or transporting a payload vehicle from A to B.
Each team starts from opposite ends of the map and the defending team will get a head start in order to set up.
The last (sort of) shooter game I played was Splatoon – which I still love even though the Splatfest themes are getting a little barrel-scraping. And if you’ve played this painfully bright game, you’ll know there are a range of weapons specifically designed for people like me who can’t aim. Paint rollers, buckets and rather patronisingly, the sloshing machine which is like a washing machine that whirls paint in the general direction of the enemy team – it’s almost as if Nintendo pats you on the head as it hands it over…
But nevertheless, they’ve understood that not everyone in this world is born with the gift of hand-eye co-ordination, and like Splatoon, Overwatch grants people like me a little Mercy – GET IT!? (I’m here all week.)
To help, there is a sensitivity setting which you can adjust to avoid that panic-stricken swinging motion that noobs do when they’re trying to aim before inevitably trying to flee into a nearby wall.
And after a bad day, who doesn’t want to take a rocket launcher to someone’s face? Exactly.
There are also characters that are much easier to play as they do a lot of the aiming for you. Mercy – a healer – is one of the easiest characters to play in my humble opinion because she pretty much aims for you. Stay behind a good team, think about your positioning and don’t fly in to rescue any rogue/suicidal players, and you’re on to a winner.
Bastion – defence – turns into a turret and if you get your positioning right, is great for beginners as he has a very controlled aim and often gets Play of the Game purely by projectile vomiting bullets at people. There are some characters however like Widowmaker, and Soldier 76, who are harder to aim, but the characters who possess things like rocket launchers and grenades like Pharah, do area-wide damage so as long as you’re aiming in the right general direction, you can hurt enemy players more easily – and after a bad day, who doesn’t want to take a rocket launcher to someone’s face? Exactly.
Like any shooter, positioning is particularly important in Overwatch. The maps are well designed but can also be quite intricate, so finding a spot where you can shoot but can’t be shot is quite rare, and really comes down to knowing the maps inside out.
Additionally, there is also no mini-map so your awareness of positioning comes from recognition alone.
Luckily there is a practice mode so if you just want to get to know a few areas first, you can do it without the hassle of impending death.
On the face of it, Overwatch is a fun game which you can pick up and put down. However, as you start to progress, having a well thought out combination on your team is really important, as is knowing the characters and their counters.
Being able to change character mid-game is an advantage if you know all of them well and there’s someone on the enemy team who needs taking down, but a team that is always changing may break the balance and be weaker overall.
However I think it’s good that what comes across as a simple shooter has a lot of depth to it as this is the sort of thing that keeps players coming back.
Just got shot in the face? Want to see that again?
Overwatch has a Killcam feature which is undoubtedly infuriating. Luckily you can turn it off and subsequently avoid any uncomfortable conversations with your insurance company.
I guess it’s good if you wanted to see what actually happened amidst the mayhem of bullets and camera wobbling and also gives you something to watch while you hope for a raise, but it can come across as the game just going, Hey! Remember how you just failed? – let’s see it again!
Play of the Game is also quite a nice feature – if you’re good. It’s where everyone gets to sit and watch how awesome you were at the end of the game before high fiving your ass and throwing medals at you.
It can also be kinda humiliating however: I once got Play of the Game and it was only because we were playing against the computer in easy mode, and I think the rest of my team were AFK. The playback just consisted of me looking really confused, while drunkenly trying to aim at an NPC who was stood stationary, right in front of me. The camera swung wildly from side to side before finally I got him on the fifth attempt.
Noob vs Overwatch: Can it be done?
Before I started the game, I admit, there was a part of me that thought I would slowly but surely get better and finally realise my dream of being one of those people who can aim; but just like when I got my nose broken at school with the basketball I failed to catch, my aim continues to be terrible and I still get hit in the face.
However, there are lots of positives about this game and even though I’m not the demon sniper I’ve always wanted to be, I can still feel like I’m very much part of the game and get a good amount of kills too.
The game is easy to pick up and put down so if you just want to play for 10 minutes, you can.
There’s a friendly voting system at the end too so even if you didn’t get Play of the Game, you can still vote for those you thought did well and that includes healers – so it’s not all about kills.
As you level up, you also get handed lots of lovely loot including skins and new phrases. And if you don’t want to wait, you can just buy these from the shop.
There have been a few moments where I’ve found the game to be a little disheartening – like when the defending team use their head start to just come and stand outside your door and shoot you every time you try and leave the base alive. But with a little careful thinking and good character choices you can get round it and progress so it’s not too bad.
Noob vs Overwatch: Can it be done? Yes, yes it can. Go forth, and in the words of Zarya:
“PEACE THROUGH SUPERIOR FIRE POWER”.