Overwatch comes out today!

Get hyped, Overwatch comes out in just a few hours! Imma buy it the second it comes out because I promised myself I’d never preorder again after the colossal disappointment that was Killing Floor 2, but if you’re hoping to score the Noir Widowmaker skin, you have a very brief window of time to obtain it right now. And this is a game to get in on the ground level, because I have a feeling this one’s gonna stick around for a long time. It took most of the good stuff from Team Fortress 2 and added things that make it appeal to even more players. And they made some super solid design choices that I thought I could cover in a brief video, the first of which being the fact that it uses an in-house engine.

Blizzard built this game literally from the ground up, something they’re known for doing, and there are so many reasons this is awesome. For one, it helps optimize the game because everything in there was handcrafted from scratch with Overwatch and only Overwatch in mind. This also means the game will be much more difficult for third party hackers to develop cheats for, you won’t get the problem like with multiplayer games made in Source or Unity where the hacks already exist before the game’s even come out.

But talking about more diagetic design choices, I love the fact that you don’t need to keep track of your ammo. Some characters have clips, some characters have cooldown, but there’s none of that relatively unnecessary inventory management where you need to worry about keeping your reserve ammo topped up, which lets you focus on killing people and accomplishing objectives. Loadout made the same choice and I loved it there too, I don’t think anybody enjoys having to scramble for ammo or die because they ran out, and this also frees Blizzard from having to give every hero backup weapons, leading to the interesting design choice where almost everyone has a single gun with multiple firing types, which eliminates the need for weapon-switching, a mechanic I didn’t realize could be eliminated and I don’t honestly miss.

For something less gameplay and more quality-of-life, something Loadout and even TF2 was missing, was riffraff physics models to mess around with in spawn. When playing a gamemode like attack/defense where one team’s trapped in spawn while the other sets up, every Overwatch map has all sorts of distractions for the offensive team like basketballs, destroyable props, jukeboxes, and even the characters carrying along idle dialogue. It keeps you from getting bored, and the only real example in TF2 happened on accident with the ball-kicking boots. And I love the ball-kicking boots for that reason but TF2 could definitely do well to steal this little design choice from Overwatch.

And lastly, I’m fascinated by the entire content structure where heroes release with locked loadouts and new playstyles are only formed by adding new heroes instead of weapons or swappable abilities for the old ones. It solves a real problem TF2 has where you can’t honestly be certain of what loadout any given player is using, leading to moments where you ambush a Scout while he’s reloading and eat a Sandman baseball for your efforts. It’s a system borrowed from fighting games and it’s an extremely flexible choice that will let them design new heroes with far more freedom than TF2 has designing weapons. If a certain hero or class of hero turns out to be too powerful, Blizzard can either nerf them or add a new hero that directly counters, resetting the meta in a way that lets fans of the old hero still play the way they like. It’s efficient, it’s modern and it works, which basically sums up the game as a whole. Oh, and also, thank god Blizzard has decided that every new hero and map will be released for free, this is honestly the best decision they ever made for Overwatch. No fracturing game balance by forcing players to drop microtransaction money in order to counter certain heroes, no fracturing the community with restricted premium DLC maps, no relying on artificial grinding to unlock heroes with an option to spend real-world money to bypass, none of that loathsome bullcrap that’s plaguing the gaming industry right now. The game’s 40 dollars and you get the whole game and the whole future game, and it’s sad how that’s a selling point in this day and age, but it really is, and its the main reason this game’s getting my money.
And okay, I feel kinda silly bringing up the artstyle, because everybody’s gonna say they like how unique the artstyle is in Overwatch, but I really the artstyle in Overwatch. It’s classy, it’s refined, and you can just feel the love poured into the map designs and the character models. This game somehow has that pet project feel despite being a AAA game, and that’s only reinforced by the sheer volume of high-quality peripheral content Blizzard’s releasing to support the lore. Comics, Youtube shorts, a graphic novel… it’s going the whole TF2 route and more importantly, it’s also doing it well.

That plus the fact that Blizzard has a proven track record of supporting their games long after initial release, and their pushes to ensure that Overwatch has a developer-supported competitive scene, it all reassures me that I’m going to get my money’s worth in gameplay from Overwatch and that it’s not gonna just die or get swept under the rug for a phoned-in sequel in under a year. And the game balance is nuanced enough that I can really immerse myself in the mechanics possibly to the same extent I’m still immersed in Team Fortress 2 five years later.

Hope you enjoyed this video, and if you get it, I hope you enjoy Overwatch. My shiny new Battle.net account is aabicus and you can add me if you like, and I’ll see you next video.

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