Overwatch Beta: First Thoughts

Welcome to the land of Overwatch [official site] beta thoughts. It is a land populated by shooty guns, caveats, health packs, potential excitements, potential concerns and the knowledge that a big old Overwatch presentation is going to take place at BlizzCon, 2am GMT on Saturday so I’ll probably have a bunch more information to factor in as I continue playing.

Blizzard’s team-based shooter currently allows you to pick a character from a roster of eighteen. It’ll be twenty-one by the game’s Spring 2016 launch. Each has a different skill set but they’ve been grouped into classes – tanks, defenders, supports and offence. In each match one team plays attack and the other is defence. You’ll either be capturing/defending fixed points on the map or protecting/advancing a payload.

I’m going to put all the beta caveats here in a lovely box so you can read them before we go on:

  • It is a beta
  • The characters and maps and abilities and interface and goodness knows what else are all subject to change because it is a beta
  • It is rather unlikely but I guess if they really wanted to they could get to the end of the beta and decide they wanted to turn it into a dinosaur sim after all and scrap all the assets and programming and materials they have made up until this point because this is a beta
  • It could change a lot
  • Because it is a beta
  • Overwatch is in beta
  • OVERBETA IS IN BETA
  • BETAWATCH IS OVER
  • WATCHES ARE IN BETA
  • DKAWFWAESF
  • Okay so.

    My interest in and excitement about Overwatch has oscillated a little. I started off not particularly engaged – the videos made the combat seem a little weightless and I didn’t really get an idea of whether the game was going to be fun so I watched the stream of videos and character bios trickle out without being drawn in. Then I was at Road to Blizzcon a month or two back and had a good time with the hands-on demo kiosks. Demo kiosks tend not to be representative but I’d had a decent enough time, racked up some kill streaks amidst the deaths and noted some characters I wanted to spend an evening playing to find out how they worked.

    Upon gaining access to the beta it was a bit more of a bumpy ride in terms of finding that spark. I think that was partly because any time a beta like this opens people are trying to find their feet – the game isn’t stable yet so it can feel like people are behaving erratically or you’re either stomping or being stomped. I was also trying out some support characters at the time because I was paired up with a friend and the game feels really bad at rewarding or recognising support characters. I’ll get to the specifics of that a little later.

    Having played a lot more matches solo, I’m starting to find that interest again. I’ve got some favourite characters and fellow players seem to be playing more consistently – there have been fewer of those wild swings between success and failure as your teammates change. I’ve even had some nail-biting finishes with our side only just stealing a victory demonstrating a more evenly balanced matchup. So this is a post written while I’m feeling cautiously positive about the game but not fizzing with excitement.

    When you boot into a game you’ll pick a character. There’s a bit of guidance towards team composition in that the interface will tell you if you have no supports or tanks or whatever but you can choose who you fancy. Once you’re in the game you can switch to a new character if the current option isn’t working for you or the team needs a different set of skills. You can switch when you die or if you go back to the spawn point. You’ll lose progress you’ve made towards your ultimate ability though.

    Looking at the roster, I’m going to pick out my favourites and explain why:

    Zarya

    Zarya’s a tank character. She can deploy a shield around herself with the left shift key to help stay safe. E places a shield on an ally so she can block some of the damage they take. Her gun has a short-range beam that damages or you can right click for an explosive charge. Her ultimate ability (it’s assigned to Q by default) is Graviton Surge which basically creates a gravity well, sucking in enemies caught in its radius and doing a bit of damage.

    I love playing as Zarya because she suits my playstyle. I like being ranged and the explosive charges she fires let me loop shots up and into various doorways where I suspect enemy snipers might be lurking. The shields let me have an element of support play so I’m keeping an eye on allies and trying to keep them safe as well as being able to mitigate damage I might be taking so we can survive longer on capture points or while taking them.

    That graviton surge is what makes her sparkle for me, though. It’s that kind of showy support ability that I love in my preferred MOBA characters. You have to use skill and thought to place it effectively and when you do it’s devastating, allowing you and your teammates to finish off the trapped enemies as they’re held in place.

    Soldier: 76

    Soldier: 76 is from the “offence” pool. For his shooting you can switch between pulse fire and an explosive single burst of rocket fire. His left shift ability is just a regular sprint and his E plants a short duration biotic emitter which heals in a radius around it. His ult is Tactical Visor which locks onto the threat nearest your crosshairs – a “snap to” accuracy option.

    I like him for a lot of the same reasons as I like Zarya. It’s the combination of utility and deadliness. He can get kills, he’s got sprint to get out of trouble, and there’s a self/ally heal option which means there’s that element of teamwork. The ult is about single target elimination instead of crowd control which is nice for getting some extra kills in too.

    I get really smug about a well-placed biotic emitter. It can be the difference between your team holding or losing a point. There was an extended scuffle on a payload map where we were defending, trying to keep the payload from reaching its destination. Repeatedly planting the emitter in the right places meant we could sustain our defence and outlasted our foes as they tried to chip away at us.

    Other character I’m liking are a support called Zenyatta who can mark foes for extra damage or allies for healing, a hyper-mobile offence character called Tracer who teleports and backtracks time, and explosive-chucking Junkrat.

    With the others it’s a bit more hit and miss. There’s Bastion who can be really great for defending a point – he’s the one who can just turn into a gun turret. I think people really struggled with how to deal with him in the early games of the beta and I remember squishy characters just running in one by one and getting gunned down. The game shows you a “play of the match” at the end and in those early days it was Bastion killstreaks as far as the eye could see.

    I’ve also had some fun with Widowmaker (the sniper) and Pharah (who has a rocket launcher and a jet pack). But there are a fair few who feel unrewarding to play. I particularly dislike playing Lucio (a rollerskating healer) and McCree (a Western-themed bounty hunter).

    My problem with McCree is that his basic attacks with his six shooter feel… weightless? It’s such an unsatisfying thing to unload on your foes. It’s the sort of weapon that needs a different aiming mechanic otherwise, visually, you’re just firing from the hip in this weird inconsequential fashion. I’ve seen some really impressive McCrees in terms of getting a lot of kills but when I play him I get bored and feel unfocused. The thing I can’t help comparing it to while I’m playing him is the shooting in Destiny. Bungie have worked out how to give their shooting heft. It feels really rewarding to play. Overwatch doesn’t have anything on that level but I feel it the most with McCree.

    Lucio is a DJ-themed healer. He feels supporty in the way that I associate with MMO healers, following people around applying healing and move speed buffs. He can switch between providing move speed and health for those around him, can knock others back with a wave of sound, can boost those movement or healing effects for a time, and has an ultimate that provides other characters with a brief shield effect. He can also do little wall runs thanks to his skates so you can skip over some bits of the map.

    This kind of support in Overwatch just felt miserable when I played. If you have the beta and like him I’d be really interested to hear why. For me he’s about following teammates around and boosting them, keeping them alive but not getting the kills (although I have seen the official preview footage that has Lucio basically going on a rampage). Overwatch is a team-based shooter. Yes there’s the team part of that but there’s also the shooter part and when it comes to a character so focused around buffs and boosting other people I feel like the shooter part gets lost.

    The game itself doesn’t seem to have worked out how to reward or incentivise playing as Lucio-type character either. I have never seen a Play of the Match that didn’t involve a multikill. I have never seen a Play of the Match go to a Lucio. Sometimes he pops up when the breakdown the match comes through. You get the names of all of the player and then the game generates four cards which go in the centre to show noteworthy achievements. I’ve seen him in there with a “most healing” achievement but the thing with the card system is that you can pick one of the four players to commend. This is anecdotal rather than scientific but it seems to be that the commends go to the players with the outrageous killstreaks far more than the defensively oriented options.

    With characters like Zarya and Soldier: 76 I could do a bit of supporting without sacrificing my own lethality. With Lucio I think you can feel a bit invisible and like it’s all team and no shooter. As a person with a Lucio on the team I also found myself picking up the health packs on the map rather than relying on their healing anyway. That co-ordination aspect would be better with voice chat but, and here is where your experience might be a lot different to mine, I will never use voice chat with strangers. It’s an uncomfy thing where, when I’ve done it in the past with other games, it’s been noticed that I’m a girl. Nothing terrible has happened but just the fact that you still get “there’s a chick in here?” changes the experience. So like I say, your mileage may vary on that one.

    My last point on the character front is that the buttons (as you may have realised from what I’ve said about Zarya and Soldier: 76) aside from WASD map to very different things depending on each character. It’s not a case of stealth or speed variations all being mapped to the same key. As a result switching from one to another mid-game can require a bit of re-reading (F1 brings up their skills) and you might sometimes fall victim to some treacherous muscle memor ymishaps.

    The visual feedback I queried when I was at Road to BlizzCon has improved. For example, when shielding another character as Zarya you get told that you’ve blocked x amount of damage. I’m not sure how I feel about the end of match information though. There are the problems I described above – that some character seem far better placed to get Play of the Match and to garner those commend cards.

    To add a bit more about that side of things: I like that you don’t get everyone’s exact breakdown at the end. Instead you see how you performed on particular characters and how that relates to your averages and career bests. It’s about outdoing your own previous performances and that’s pretty cool because I like the personal progression and improvement side of these competitive team games. I really dislike that they seem to have put a limit on commendations, though. At the moment you can only commend one player at the end of a match and you can only pick that player from those four highlight cards.

    Competitive team games can have some nasty aspects to them because people want to win and if that’s not happening they can lash out at other players. I don’t get why you would place a limit on people being able to say nice things about each other at the end of a match or why you’re only allowed to commend particular things. It seems utterly daft. What if someone was really nice or helpful in team chat? Where’s the option to say “Yay, that person!”

    Am I missing it? Is there a secret way to commend people who aren’t the chosen four?

    In terms of maps, different heroes can open up different pathways. Pharah’s jetpack and Hanzo’s wall climb let you get up high. Symmetra has a teleport pad as her ultimate. Mercy can fly to a target ally, thus getting to spaces they can reach and she can’t by herself.

    Last week people were still figuring out how to deal with choke points and getting ripped apart by characters like Bastion who just needed to sit and shoot the invading team. This week there’s definitely been an improvement on that front with fewer feed-a-thons and more in the way of trying to exploit other routes. I also seem to be getting a better selection of maps. Last week I played a handful of games and got a lot of a Russian-themed capture point map called Volskaya Industries and no payload maps whatsoever. This time around it’s been far more varied. I’m not sure if I got unlucky or they tweaked the algorithm but it was a better experience as a result.

    That said I’m not particularly enamoured with any of the maps yet. They don’t feel particularly interesting or full of personality. Full of colour, sure, but not personality. They lack texture. Everything is cartoony and shiny and polished and it gets a bit samey. As the game progresses, it’s also a pain to get back to the action. You start to become VERY aware of the trudge back if you’re a character without a move speed buff or augment. Hooray, this series of rooms again! *plod plod plod*

    At this point I’m going to bring up Team Fortress 2. Every time I talk to people about Overwatch I’m asked how it measures up to TF2. I’m not the best placed to answer that so I’ve asked Graham on your behalf. He seems trustworthy:

    “If you like Team Fortress 2 and are wondering whether you’ll like Overwatch, I think it probably depends on which Team Fortress 2 you liked. If it’s the game that was at launch, which had nine classes with strict roles and in which everyone has a discernable purpose within a match, then maybe not. Overwatch has more in common with Team Fortress 2 as it is today, where those starting nine classes have diversified into subclasses and where you’re as likely to meet a Demoman with a pickaxe as with a grenade launcher. Basically: you will die sometimes in Overwatch because you don’t yet understand the abilities of the oddly named enemy class you’re facing.

    “That said, it can offer some of the same satisfaction. If you liked playing Sniper with the Huntsman, then you might like playing Hanzo, Overwatch’s class with a bow and arrow and the ability to scale walls. If you liked playing Soldier and rocket jumping about, you might like whichever Overwatch class it is that can boost itself straight up into the air and kill me so many times while up there. I think, as whole, Overwatch has about as much in common with Team Fortress 2 as it does with Destiny or Warframe or any other class-based shooter, but there are individual experiences in there that are broadly similar to what you’ll know from Valve’s shooter.”

    So there you go.

    There’s not a lot else I can really say at the moment. What I’ve detailed above is the experience I’ve had with what’s in the beta along with concerns and points of interest. Making predictions about the future seems ill-advised because a lot will depend on how the beta develops and if/how they tweak the characters and feedback systems. There’s also the addition of ice-themed defender Mei, tanky mech pilot D.Va and sword-wielding Genji (who is also Hanzo’s cyborg baby brother, btw) to factor in.

    This evening Blizzard did confirm that the game will be available for purchase rather than as a free-to-play model. There’s a basic digital release for PC only including the 21 heroes Overwatch will have at launch. That one’s £29.99 at the time of writing.

    There are also an Origins and a Collectors Edition which come with a lot of extra gewgaws and will be available for PC, Xbox One and PS4 (so I’m wondering how that balancing will work out). The Origins edition is listed as £44.99 on the pre-purchase page while Game has the Origins physical edition at the £49.99 and the Collector’s edition at £99.00. No word on what happens about access to future maps and heroes if you buy the game at launch so I’m thinking those might end up being separate purchases as, I suspect, will character skins and the like.

    Smite does this thing called the Ultimate God Pack where you pay a single price for access to all the game’s heroes – current and future – and then it’s just the cosmetics that are paid-for options. I like that model so I’m hoping it turns out that Overwatch will adopt that one but given Blizzard haven’t explicitly said so I doubt it.

    Overwatch in its beta form has improved even in the single week I’ve had access. I’m fond of several of the characters and there have been a few memorable moments in matches – points where I’ve felt really good about a play or the team has pulled off an unexpected victory. That said I still don’t really feel the pull to return. I’m not partial to any of the maps and too often games (and the shooting itself) feel inconsequential or unmemorable. If I want a team-based shooter my instinct is to head elsewhere – to Destiny’s Crucible or to Counter-Strike: GO – and if I want a team-based abilities game I’ll go to a MOBA. But it does have promise. I haven’t formed a connection with it yet but I do want to keep a close eye on it.

    92 Comments

    1. Stevostin says:

      Yeah well. An FPS with lack of punch in weapons, lack of blood… That’s a lot of what make people want to play them after a day of tension that’s missing. Oh it’s aimed at kids ? A PC game ? Rrrrright.

      • Bundin says:

        Weapons do need to ‘feel solid’, but lack of blood is the least of my concerns. It’s all about fluidity, balance, having plenty of options, and of course map design.

        • Chalky says:

          Weapon “punch” is all about animation and audio quality, so that’s important for the feel of the game but I agree totally that blood isn’t something particularly important. I mean hell some of the characters are robots anyway, I can’t believe someone is going to genuinely argue that they would enjoy shooting those characters less because there’s no blood. It just has no bearing on the way the game feels.

        • Stevostin says:

          Yeah thought the same at first. Then Shootmania came with exactly that stance, and failed to grab interest. So I thought about it and for now I conclude that blood actually matters. I can’t think of any succesful FPS that didn’t use graphic violence. I remember being surprised by the gibs in TF2 with its cartoon look. Turns out Valve knows their stuff. You need the splatter. It’s not glorious, but you need it.

          • DeVadder says:

            At least in germany, TF2 is a succesful FPS with no blood. I was in fact really surprised when i first saw the american version and all the cute toys and gimmicks people gib into was replaced with blood.

            • Devencire says:

              Mmm, while blood is intuitive and popular, I think any high-contrast hit feedback does the trick.

              TF2 does an extra clever thing where it changes the size (and sort?) of hit feedback particles it uses based on how far away you are: you get good high-visibility feedback (e.g. light red, large blood splatter) when shooting a distant enemy, whereas you see visible but not view-obscuring effects when shooting an enemy in close proximity. From videos, it seems Overwatch might be relatively reluctant to sacrifice its aesthetic for some vibrant, contextual, feel-good on-hit effects.

            • Stevostin says:

              But it’s a blood less market in Germany. So let me rephrased – in a market where bloody FPS compete with non bloody, I can’t think of any non bloody actually competing on the same level.

          • Pathetic One says:

            Quake 3 is exceptionally low on gore and it’s certainly one of the most successful arena FPSes ever. Even Quake (1) wasn’t nearly as bad as most of its successors, including TF2.

      • Rizlar says:

        Also, from the article:

        will be available for PC, Xbox One and PS4

        • Stevostin says:

          Yup, but PC first. Blizzard is a PC specialist after all. That’s where they’re known and where their main market is supposed to be.

          • Stupoider says:

            For a ‘PC specialist’ doesn’t it seem weird that they were able to grant offline singleplayer for console versions of Diablo 3 and not for PC?

            • IEatCereal says:

              Because 1) Piracy (and yes I know that piracy on the old gen consoles esp on the xbox 360 was and still is high which makes past console fanboys (as defined by a person who won’t consider any other points they don’t want to) arguments about the pc look weak) ; 2) To try to prevent item and stat hacking as well as botting (which hasn’t worked out so great has it :P) and 3) So that you ALWAYS see blizzard news about blizzard products and blizzard offers

            • Stevostin says:

              It certainly is but I don’t think it’s related to the topic at hand.

      • Herr_C says:

        I was afraid of this from watching gameplay footage. And this alone is a deal-breaker to me when it comes to FPS games. I enjoy teamwork and racking up kills, but that means next to nothing to me if the shooting part does not stand on its own. And this the main reason why I think Source is still the best engine for FPS game. Weapons simply feel right and are very fun to use.

        Also, it seems I just do not get along with Blizzard games in general. Everything I try feels sort of meh…

      • DeVadder says:

        I do not think it is aimed at kids primarily. And I very much disagree with the notion that adults automatically want blood and gore in their games. I happen to be an adult playing FPS games after work and I never thought “Nice game, if only it was more gruesome.” Quite the opposite in fact.

        • Raoul Duke says:

          But graphically, it does look really childish. It has that WoW cartoony thing going on which is a major turn off for many people (including me) in a multiplayer FPS game.

        • Stevostin says:

          Sorry but it’s not a matter of opinion. AFAICR there has been 0 (null) (nada) (none whatsoever) bloodless successful multiplayer FPS. I’d happily oblige if you can find one, I certainly couldn’t.

          • mrbright01 says:

            How many bloodless shooters have there even been? Most of them hardly explode into fluffy unicorns and rainbow farts when you shoot them. It’s a shooter,t he assumption is blood.

            To be honest, this will do well, just like Heroes of the Storm did, because it’s not targeting you. You already have DOTA/TF2/Bloody Bloodfest Boom Boom, or whatever else you have. They seem to be okay leaving you there. This will drag in the people who are in it for a bit of fun, who see the shiney and relatively creative characters and go “Gee wiz, that looks cool, I’ve never played (RTS/FPS/MMO) before, but let’s try this one!” Let’s face it, you’re not the demographic, and considering the plethora of gibtacular violence available to you, I’d prefer it that way.

            • Mitthrawn says:

              Where can I sign up for the beta of Bloody Bloodfest Boom Boom? Man, I could get into that…

    2. Keios says:

      I’m finding at the moment that playing offence consists of nothing but turrets that take about 1000,000 shots to kill and players jumping about with rockets that can be fired at any range with zero risk to the wielder. To say it’s currently unbalanced is like saying Hitler was a little naughty. But, that said, there is definite promise there. The characters all play differently enough from one another that there’s a way to fill a required role that’s always entertaining (if not actually useful, but again, balance) and I find that the overall aesthetic is unique enough to make it appealing. Yes it could do with some tweaking in terms of feedback from weapon hits, that sort of thing, but I think it fills enough of a niche to not require being turned into another dark and gritty HaloOfDutyBattleBLOPSField clone where every hit comes with a litre of blood being digitally splashed all over your view and the only colours available being brown, grey and stainless steel.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        It’s a bit similar to the TF2 turret problem; new players can’t get past them, veteran players walk all over them.

        • Keios says:

          The main problem I have is that the placed turrets get a 360 field of fire, which makes sneaking up on an upgraded one and destroying it a right pain in the arse if you’re playing anything other than one of the tanks. That and they also start out with an obscene amount of health (more than most of the offensive characters) which contributes to their general pain in the arseness as well.

          And don’t get me started on the absolutely pitiful amount of damage Pharah takes from her own rockets which means they can be spammed as an explosive shotgun with little to no ill effect.

          • MrFinnishDude says:

            Turrets in TF2 also turn 360 degrees, they just take a moment to do so, allowing for some sneaky but hard to pull off tactics.

            • LionsPhil says:

              This is part of what feeds the noob/veteran problem: their reaction and turn time is easily slow enough that you can wear them down from behind just playing hide-and-seek with almost any class and weapon in the game.

              But, this is then what makes choosing where to place your sentry gun an interesting and challenging decision. There are some common hotspots, but for a game that’s been running this long, I still see variety in placement locations across matches (if only because with semi-experienced players your sentry will probably only manage a few ambush kills until the other team learn where it is and use one of the myriad ways to smash it—there are plenty of those even before they started adding more weapon drops with anti-building abilities).

            • LionsPhil says:

              (And while we’re talking about TF2 Engineers:

              As the game progresses, it’s also a pain to get back to the action. You start to become VERY aware of the trudge back if you’re a character without a move speed buff or augment. Hooray, this series of rooms again! *plod plod plod*

              I don’t understand why Overwatch made the teleporter a fancy ultimate ability thing. Getting down a teleporter is one of the most useful things a TF2 engie can do for their team, and you can do it right off the bat, the moment you spawn. You get a counter for its usage and automatic appreciative barks. Valve put a lot of effort into trying to make supporting actions easy and with lots of positive feedback, because otherwise nobody will bother and the rest of the game is weakened. [See also: Medics ascending to godhood on the scoreboards.])

            • anHorse says:

              Yeah and valve resultantly made the boring to play and boring to play against engineer utterly essential to any winning team

            • Dances to Podcasts says:

              In TF2 you take out turrets with ubered heavies, spies, demos bouncing grenades around corners, soldiers for a distance, etc.
              In Overwatch you use charging Reinhardts, Hanzo’s bouncing arrow, Junkrat’s tire bomb, Tracer’s sticky bomb, etc. There are even tactics where a ghosting Reaper can attract its fire without damage and let the rest of the team take it out. These are things people will learn, and possibly even invent, as they play the game, over time. Things like turn rates and such aren’t really that relevant, I think.

    3. Xzi says:

      “WATCHES ARE IN BETA”

      FFFFFFFUUU~, so nobody knows what time it really is?

    4. Bostec says:

      I quit TF2 a year and a half ago after the odd 1200 hours of the bastard and I have struggled to fill that gap. This could be the one. I suppose this doesn’t have any of the charm of TF2? Not only was TF2 a great shooter but it oozed charm in everything it did and was probably why I kept playing it. I did try and play Dirty Bomb but that game exploded in my face and I had to take a shower afterwards.

      • Banks says:

        I’m on the same boat. I still love TF2 but it’s been 8 years and It’s time for something new.

        Overwatch looks good overall and I think I could enjoy It. Even if it is a bit infantile and moba-like.

      • rodan32 says:

        Oh, TF2. I guess I got old. All I want to do is spy-check and backburn the night away. I do not care about hats.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        Overwatch is built on the wreckage of Project Titan, so there’s a TON of worldbuilding and such behind it. Charm’s subjective, though…

    5. fish99 says:

      I’ve seen enough on twitch to know I want to play it, but there’s no reason to pre-purchase if it doesn’t get you beta access. I also want to know about future hero/map costs before committing.

    6. Xzi says:

      Sounds like you’ve accurately diagnosed Overwatch’s big problems. There’s no need for a support class at all, although perhaps existing support characters could be re-tuned to a more offensive or defensive role. Gunplay needs to feel heavier and more satisfying. Certain characters need their gameplay changed.

      In this early stage, all of this is still achievable before release. I just don’t think I trust Blizzard to achieve it.

    7. anHorse says:

      I’m impressed at their balls for trying to sell a multiplayer shooter for £45

      Because it’s blizzard they’ll undoubtedly succeed at it too

      • fish99 says:

        It’s not £45 though, it’s £30. The extras in the origins edition are pretty worthless imo.

        • ribby says:

          I thought it was $30 not £30 ?

        • anHorse says:

          Apologies, I both took battlenet’s advertised pricing at face value and missed that particular line in pip’s article

          £30’s more reasonable provided blizzard don’t add in something like paid for cosmetics on top of this price.

          • LexW1 says:

            There are paid cosmetics on top of that price. (I can’t say adding, because they’re already there.)

            The Origins pack includes 5 skins for heroes, the rest of it is pretty cross-marketing for other games (a hero for HotS, a pet for WoW, a card back for Hearthstone, cosmetic wings for D3, player portraits for SC2).

            So I guess it’s up to us whether we consider £30 reasonable.

            Personally my concern isn’t cosmetics, it’s future maps and heroes. I’m guessing from HotS and sanity that maps will stay free (NEVER SPLIT THE COMMUNITY being an injunction almost as firm as NEVER CROSS THE STREAMS)

            With heroes I guess there are three likely models:

            1) Add them one at a time, have to buy each, have to use real money. That would suck.

            2) Add them one at a time, but there’s an in-game currency for getting them that you can get at a reasonable rate (like HotS), as well as the real money option. I’d be okay with that.

            3) Add them in packs, effectively expansions, together with other new content. I’d be okay if they charged a reasonable amount for that.

            If it looks like nickle-and-diming is likely, though, ugh I’m not paying £30 so I can get ripped off.

    8. Xocrates says:

      The announcement that the game would be a regular pay-to-play instead of F2P surprised me, since the game seemed clearly designed for a F2P model.

      As such I wonder if Blizzard’s name is big enough and/or the game good enough to sustain a pure PvP multiplayer game for an indefinite amount of time in this day and age.

      And for that matter, I’m really curious to see how Blizzard will support it post release.

      • Horg says:

        I expect that Overwatch will follow the CoD / Battlefield payment model for future content, then go FTP once the player base is too small to sustain the game. So, I give it a year to 18 months before they open it up to everyone. Personally though, after learning its a payed shooter, my interest has gone from mildly curious to not interested. Even having never touched the game myself, promotional footage shows too many things wrong with the game to justify full price (from me) and Blizzard are not known for making drastic changes during their betas. It is very likely to release, minor balance adjustments aside, in the same fundamental state it’s in now.

        • LexW1 says:

          I don’t agree – Blizzard have both made big changes and not made big changes in their betas. So it could go either way. Obviously, I wouldn’t purchase it until it was rather improved from the current state, but it’s not a given that it’ll remain the same.

          (I can bore us all by citing specific betas and specific changes if you want, but really, it can go either way)

      • Xzi says:

        It will likely have micro-transactions for any of the future heroes and/or skins. LoL model, basically, although I don’t know how many of you were around to remember the early founder’s/beginner’s packs.

        • Xocrates says:

          LoL was free from the start. Those packs existed as a way to have quick access to several champs and skins. Heck, even Heroes of the Storm did the exact same.

          This is not that case. This is a full priced game that gives you access to everything from the start, having a full priced game and then fill it with microtransactions for new heroes and skins is shooting themselves in the foot since they would be keeping the F2P model while gating access to the game, defeating the point of said business model.

          • Hitchslapped says:

            And it’s going to be Blizzard priced. Selling a single heroes of the storm skin for 10€??? How about no.
            I don’tunderstand why people are still paying that much money for Blizzards crap.

          • LexW1 says:

            Are they, though? They’ve had 7 million sign-ups for beta.

            That indicates considerable interest (putting it mildly).

            Say, 2 million of those are willing to pay £30 (or even £45, but let’s say £30) for the game. That’s £60 million quid right there, bam.

            If they launched F2P, maybe all 7m would play, but how many would actually spend money on characters/skins? Based on HotS and similar games, I’d say maybe 1 in 5 to 1 in 10 at most, and I’d bet you that they’d take a while before they got up to £60 million unless the prices were even more extreme than HotS.

            It’s not like other paid shooters don’t charge for stuff – all your CoDWarfareBlops do, for example. Even Destiny, which not only cost a lot more than £30 at launch, but which has put out multiple pricey expansions, has an MT shop now (or will shortly, I forget).

            So what they could do is:

            1) Launch at £30 w/21 heroes, no special skins.
            2) Sell skins and further heroes from launch (probably with an in-game mechanism for slowly earning heroes).
            3) If the playerbase gets too small, or people stop being willing to pay £30 (probably because a bunch of F2P competitors have arrived, they’re already on the way), they go F2P.
            4) F2P could give you like, 5 heroes (a la HotS), instead of the 21 people’s £30 got them, so people can’t really feel too ripped off – no doubt the combined prices of the other 16 would be more like £100+ than £30 (though I imagine they’d also have a £30 deal-pack consisting of those 16).

            So really it’s kind of genius.

            It’s not like TF2 didn’t do a similar thing. I mean, people seem to have forgotten, but you had to pay money for TF2, back in the day. I sure bought it (I believe as part of the “Orange Box”).

            • Xocrates says:

              “So really it’s kind of genius.”

              It really isn’t. In fact it sounds extremely unhealthy for the game.

              Mind you I’m not saying it won’t work, I’m saying that it doesn’t sound like a good idea.

              The thing a lot of people forget about non-paying players is that they’re content for the paying ones. Meaning that a F2P game will usually have a much larger and healthier playerbase. This is compounded by the fact that a paid game will add a “risk” when buying the game late since the established playerbase will be far more experienced than you – which becomes a non-issue on F2P since there’s a much more constant influx of players.

              The other thing with paid DLC in a paid game is that you’re only selling to the players you already have (I went to a conference not long ago where one of the speakers called DLC one of the dumbest business models ever invented because of this), by opposition micro-transactions in a free game can be sold to anyone who’s interested in the game, and may even attract new players.

              And TF2 worked on a slightly different model, which this may still follow, where in pre-F2P time they added a bunch of significant free updates and made huge events out of them, including sales and free weekends, the point here is to increase the value of the game as time goes by in order to keep an steady influx of players. As far as I recall they did not have microtransactions prior to going F2P, and probably became more profitable after going into F2P.

              Now, this is Blizzard, so they may be a big enough name that the game is successful no matter what. I just wonder what approach they’ll take.

      • derbefrier says:

        I think it will do fine. I mean most recent arena shooters were made by small indie devs with no advertising budget and were lucky to get an article or two on the popular gaming site. This however is blizzard, one of the biggest players in the industry with the dollars to throw at advertising and regular new content, and an already massive consumer base to work with. Unless the game is just terrible its hard to imagine a scenario were it doesn’t retain a decent size community.

    9. Punning Pundit says:

      How would overwatch compare to a hypothetical dinosaur sim? Because that’s the part where I got unreasonably excited.

    10. zeep says:

      “Team Fortress 2 the game that it was at launch.”
      Wouldn’t you like to see a mod for that? I would.

      We had the most fun back when it was TF2 without all the stuff.

      • Xzi says:

        I don’t know who “we” is, but TF2 has been fun throughout its entire history.

        • Unclepauly says:

          “We” is you and him.

        • zeep says:

          I meant my friends and i. We would have liked to see a mod that disables all cosmetics and -optional-, brings back only weapons from the start of TF2.

          If not so much the weapons, the cosmetics.

          TF2 is still a great game though.

          • zeep says:

            Meant to say i personally don’t mind the various weapons, but wish the cosmetics could be turned off.

        • Enkinan says:

          Thank you. TF2 really isn’t hugely different than it was at at launch. The only massively different playstyle from vanilla is demoknight, everything else is just a mildly adjusted version of the initial class.

          Also, the phrase: “where you’re as likely to meet a Demoman with a pickaxe as with a grenade launcher.” shows that people are acting like they actually play TF2 but don’t.

      • April March says:

        You don’t need a mod, there are vanilla servers.

        • w0bbl3r says:

          Since when? Granted it has been a while since I played, but I searched and searched and couldn’t find any servers or players who wanted to play “good” TF2 back then. Just servers full of kids talking about trading hats and crap like that.
          Boy I miss TF2. One of the only PvP games I actually loved and spent more than a couple of hours with (a couple thousand I think it was in the first few years until it went all messy and horrible).

    11. ribby says:

      Interesting. I’ve seen people have great fun with both Lucio and Mcree so I think it comes down to personal preference more

      • Keios says:

        Yeah, I quite enjoy Lucio because he feels reasonably punchy, his weapon (basically a burst fire smg) suits my playstyle and he has some fun movement gimmicks. I also find the passive healing is a lot less stress inducing than having to target heal someone, only to have them run face first into turrets / rockets / explosions / just as far away from me as they can get as quickly as they can manage, only to then turn round and ask why they weren’t getting any support when they end up as a smal greasy patch.

        • ribby says:

          Yeah- that is stressful. I’ve been playing Planetside 2 and the medic has such a short range. It’s a nightmare trying to keep up with someone so you can heal them xD

    12. Freud says:

      With Heartstone, Heroes of the Storm and now Overwatch Blizzard seems to focus on designing super polished free to play competitive games where games take 20 minutes.

      • Stevostin says:

        It’s not F2P that one.

      • Xzi says:

        Hearthstone comes down to who rolled the better cards from packs, and Heroes of the Storm is just baby’s first MOBA-clicker. Neither is really “competitive.”

    13. WhiteHawke says:

      Any word on unlocks or personal progression elements that give players additional power like perks? I’m hoping this game has none of this and is just a pure skill-based shooter.

    14. Hitchslapped says:

      It’s going to be the usual Blizzard cash grab game so no thx. I almost laughed out loud when I got an email about the Blizzcon VIRTUAL ticket for 30€. Selling tickets for a stream that is basically just advertisement…ehm no.

    15. magogjack says:

      Wow, Zarya is a female character that actually looks tough, now why do I feel like that is the exception that proves the (blizzard) rule.

      • Xocrates says:

        Blizzard has outright stated that they plan on making more varied female characters. Zarya is the obvious one – and was announced a while ago at that – but they’ve shown clear steps in that direction in multiple other characters for both Overwatch and HotS

    16. ribby says:

      I feel like all you comment-people have been v snooty about this game….

    17. w0bbl3r says:

      So from what Graham said, if you liked the great team fortress 2 you won’t like this. But if you like the awful mess that TF2 is NOW, you will probably like this.
      That’s the message I got from that.
      Not that I was overly impressed with what I saw of this game so far anyway, the more I see the less impressed I am. The fact that it comes from actiblizzion doesn’t help I guess, because I hate both of those greedy companies already.

    18. DarkeSword says:

      I’m having a load of fun with the beta so far. I’ve been trying out a couple of characters, and while I also like Zarya, I’ve got to say that my favorite so far is Symmetra. The fact that I can just litter the battlefield with these annoying little turrets is great. So much fun setting little traps and watching enemies wilt.

    19. coppernaut says:

      Been playing it a bit since the beginning of the week and I feel like there’s still huge balancing issues at play. At the end of the day though, Overwatch just feels like an experiment. I hope it shapes into something more solid, and memorable.

    20. scab says:

      I’ve been really, really enjoying the beta like no FPS for a long time.

    21. Vandelay says:

      I’m actually looking forward to this (would like to get in the beta.)

      TF2 was fantastic for 4-5 years, but I inevitably did tire of it. Contrary to many other opinions, this was not due to hats and additional weapons, but just through fatigue initially. However, trying to play the game now, it is clear that the game has reached a level of bloat that breaks it a bit and it is filled by a community that now consider that bloat to be the game

      So, there is definitely a space for something to replace it. Perhaps I say this as a Dota lover, but I think the combination of a class based multiplayer shooter and MOBA is a really good idea. We could also always do with more colour in our traditionally dreary FPS games and this looks like it will foot the bill.

      Reports have been a bit mixed on this though. There always does seem to have been a bit of snobbery about this game, probably mostly because it is a Blizzard game, and some of that has disappeared during the beta but it still lingers there a tad. The actually negatives you do hear do sound like they could be fixed, but it seems so rare for games to actually make significant improvements from beta that it seems optimistic to believe that things like the punch of weapons and the lack of impact some classes have on matches will change much in the final release.

      Having said that, I still want to give it a go. The time feels long past for a game to take up the mantle TF2 created and Blizzard are a company that could match the polish of Valve.

      I am disappointed by the business model this looks like it will adopt. The initial cost of entry is great, not locking away heroes, but not giving access to future heroes will be awful, if that is what will happen. Charge for cosmetics, such as character skins, weapon models, effects, taunts etc., but don’t lock off classes. As Pip says, Smite does it right.

      • Zeyl says:

        I’ll agree that most games do not improve or change significantly once they reach Beta, but Blizzard is one of the major exceptions to this. They’ve shown a willingness to change, add-to, or modify games even well after release that’s almost legendary. For example, whether or not you like Diablo 3 no one can argue that it has changed significantly since it’s launch.

    22. OmNomNom says:

      WIFE BETA

    23. Stinkfinger75 says:

      Is there controller support on PC?

    24. JonnyDestroy says:

      I’ve been in the beta now around a week and I can say I absolutely love overwatch.
      I’ve been playing fps games on pc for around 15 years starting of with the amazing Medal of Honor allied assullt,the very first COD and all the rest since and ofc CS. The last 2-3 years but no fps has brought me constantly back to my pc and I’ve just been playing hearthstone and a bit of dirty bomb.
      Overwatch is the one game I’ve been looking forward to and I was lucky enough to get into the beta . Basically if I haven’t been working this week I’ve been playing overwatch.
      Each character is so unique and it really does take a good balanced team setup to win.
      I might say to myself am gonna play Mccree all night but then next game you have no tank or no support class in your team so I would fill that role knowing if I didn’t chances are my team will lose.
      There is still some balance issues such as bastions shield but am sure a lot of things will change between now and the Spring.
      I also disagree about the maps, I think there really well designed and setup to attack/defend in different ways.
      Fav chars so far are widowmaker , winston , Mccree and zenyatta.
      I even stuck BOPS 3 on last night and turned it of after 1 game to go back to overwatch.

      • Stevostin says:

        The part where you refer to COD doesn’t really take to empathize with your take. There are plenty of very good fps on PC. COD isn’t one of them. Never was (well except the first one. in solo.).

    25. Cederic says:

      “That graviton surge is what makes her sparkle for me, though.” ..and is what puts me off playing the game.

      I want to play games, not dangle helplessly in someone else’s gravity field while their team mates kill me.

      Lack of agency in PVP games makes them less fun. Just don’t do it.

    26. Moraven says:

      Great game so far. Changing heroes is a huge part of the game and not a lot of people do it.

      Lucio’s attack is a great suppression ready that can deal damage if people decide to stand in it or you time a widowmaker peeking. Dancing between heals and speed and using his push back give him a great support kit.

      Lot easier to pick up then the mess TF2 became.

    27. Raoul Duke says:

      Once again I’m surprised at the lack of Dirty Bomb discussion both in the article and the comments. DB is surely the closest match to this – clean graphical style, flexible classes, emphasis on teamwork etc, and like Overwatch trying to get in on the TF2 market with a more modern game engine etc.

      Would be interested to hear from someone who plays and likes Dirty Bomb how Overwatch compares. At the moment I’m not seeing any reason to leave DB though (particularly if they want actual $$ for Overwatch).

    28. Richard Nixon says:

      “Team-based abilities game”

      So, a T-BAG?

    29. Crazed Heretic says:

      Team Fortress was a good game, it just gets old after a while that’s all. This is Team Fortress, right?

    30. Foosnark says:

      I got in the beta this weekend and have been playing it. I think I’ll go ahead and preorder.

      Some characters seem to suit me pretty well so far, others I am terrible with, and others I think I’ll be decent with given some practice. Some characters’ awesomeness is really situational and they’re kind of weaksauce otherwise, while others are generalists.

      Also I wonder if some of the support and semi-support characters seem to do better because I’m more likely to stick with teammates rather than getting off by myself trying to flank enemies. It could explain why I got more kills with Lucio than with Reaper.