Have You Played… Overwatch?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Overwatch is fun just to think about, which is handy because I spend more time thinking about it than I do playing it.

I like class-based shooters, and Team Fortress 2 hit at a time of my life when I had a lot of time to play multiplayer games and a lot of friends to play them with. Overwatch landed in a different time of my life. I play it sometimes, and I enjoy it. I like its classes, its focus on team cohesion, its upbeat art style.

But really what I enjoy most is everything that goes on around the game, whether it’s critical essays picking apart a particular class design or an onslaught of fan art following the reveal of some new character skins. I don’t particularly enjoy Blizzard’s contributions to this ecosystem via comics and animated shorts, but there’s lots of other people producing work that’s expressive of the fun they’re having. Fun playing, fun thinking, fun making.

I know there are issues within the Overwatch community, including with toxicity (because I’ve read great essays about it and listened to fascinating podcasts about it), but looking in from a position of remove, Overwatch’s community is unusually fruitful and that’s a joy.

50 Comments

  1. TotallyUseless says:

    Played it once during a free weekend. Liked playing the game, a semi-casual shooter played for less than 10mins a round. But I can’t find it in me to cough 40 bucks for just a cutesy shooter. Maybe I’m just cheapskate since 40 bucks is just basically a penny for everyone else, but I can’t really make myself get the game no matter how much I try to like it to buy it… after the free weekend, uninstalled the game and never missed it.

    Loved watching a great “play of the game” tho. Those timely “Justice Rains from Above” that can make you shout “YES”!

  2. cpt_freakout says:

    Been a mainstay of my playtime with friends. In fact, it was all we played for at least a couple months – got to low Diamond rank, and then stepped away for a while. I love the game because even if Blizzard has been a bit daft at promoting teamwork in the game’s designs, it really shines when teams work together, and I feel that when it clicks, it’s even better than TF2.

  3. Premium User Badge

    quasiotter says:

    No! Because I don’t want to interact with strangers on the internet.

  4. fenriz says:

    i certainly haven’t and don’t plan to. Not a fan of games where players do a limited type of action, in this case just shooting.

    Maybe when overwatch becomes an online deathmatch deus ex simulation where players can interact with everything in the environment, not just open doors and break windows.

    repetitive things get to me.

  5. mitrovarr says:

    It used to be a good game, but the balance team is completely incompetent. Heroes flail wildly back and forth from being overpowered to underpowered. It makes it impossible to get better at the game legitimately – the best strategy always seems to be to chase whoevers overpowered at the moment. After they left Mercy at 100% competitive pickrate for three weeks and there was no end in sight, I gave up and found a different game to play instead.

    I would strongly recommend not getting invested in this game as a serious competitive experience, and just toying around with it for a little bit if it looks appealing.

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    subdog says:

    Pretty obscure pick today!

  7. Tritagonist says:

    I’ve played it during some of its free weekends. It’s entertained me, but not sufficiently to purchase. For a game built around objective-maps it sure attracts many people who have no idea what an objective is.

    I also dislike the Attack/Defend maps, which place a huge penalty on even a single death (long run back to the action). In a game where healing characters require quite a bit of cooperation (one requires people to be quite close together, another needs to be quite close to others, a third takes aiming skill absent from most players) this is very annoying.

    The best fun I’ve had are the maps where both teams approach a single objective and fight to maintain control over it. It still invites frustration in that some people don’t get that taking the objective requires a physical presence in said objective – but it seems much more balanced than the Attack/Defend maps.

    On the whole, it seems the game is designed around cooperative teams – not the average Quick Match. I’m sure that serves Blizzard’s e-sport ambitions, but it doesn’t make for a very compelling long-term proposition.

    • Viral Frog says:

      “For a game built around objective-maps it sure attracts many people who have no idea what an objective is.”

      Welcome to every objective based online game that matches you with random players. I have yet to find an objective based game that doesn’t have tons of terrible players who have no concept of focusing on the actual objectives. Who needs objectives when your K:D is stellar? -_-

      • DeadlyAccurate says:

        At my level I still manage to be surprised at the people who apparently haven’t figured out that they’d get more kills and more glory if they focused on the objective and tried to help us win. Like, how have you managed to play enough to flip over three or four times and still not understand how to actually play this game?

        • Excors says:

          A peculiar thing when watching pro tournaments is that usually they *don’t* care much about the objective. Their main goal is just to win a 6v6 team fight, and once they’ve won they can deal with the objective uncontested. Defenders will happily give up some capture point progress or payload progress in exchange for better positioning. Attackers will let their Lucio push the payload very slowly while the rest of the team sets up on high ground ahead and builds up ultimates, then they’ll ignore the payload entirely to commit to the fight.

          On the other hand, they do recognise the occasions when it’s important to stall on the objective even at the cost of their own lives, rather than holding back and grouping up. For non-pro players it’s really hard to get that balance right, and some people seem remarkably bad at it, plus you don’t get as many quick decisive team fights so it’s more chaotic anyway.

          On the third hand, even pro teams sometimes mess up and stupidly lose maps because they forgot to stay on the objective (then everyone on Twitch chat says “C9 LUL”, referring to the Cloud9 team who did that multiple times in one match).

  8. DeadlyAccurate says:

    I have over 450 hours in the game, and I’m not stopping any time soon. I play almost every day for about an hour or so, occasionally longer. I normally get really bored playing the same maps of a game over and over, and at first, I wasn’t terribly enamored with Overwatch. I liked it, but sometimes the games could be a bit dull.

    That changed sometime around level 30ish. I think it was because people started figuring out how to play better, but suddenly, we would end up in the most heart-pounding, exciting matches I’ve ever experienced. The intensity was ramped up to 11, and suddenly I was hooked. I’ve played games so exciting my hands were literally shaking from the adrenaline rush.

    I decided I was going to focus on getting good with one character, so I became a Junkrat main. I have a fair number of hours with other characters like Orisa, Mei, and Mercy, but I can always fall back on Junkrat no matter what map we’re on.

    It’s been the best game I’ve played all year.

  9. geldonyetich says:

    I hardly ever bother shelling out full release-day price for arena shooters anymore. Frankly, there’s too many of them, and 99.5% of them end up ghost towns. The genre is super over-saturated, I only have time for the best.

    Enter Blizzard. They’ve based their entire business model on attacking over-saturated genres and generating the top of the heap. I played it in pre-release beta, I was hooked, I bought the game.

    Shortly afterward, I endeavored to never play it again. I don’t have time to git good. There’s no real long term purpose in the game than to collect cosmetic things. I was never much of a Team Fortress player. What the heck do I think I am doing? Back to virtual worlds with me, I crave faux significance.

  10. Fincher says:

    I played it for about two weeks before I lost all interest in the game. I rememeber preordering the game and becoming really invested in it being the new TF2 and that I would spend hours upon hours playing and loving it. So much so that I ended up booting up TF2 to prep myself for it.

    But in the end I was really disappointed with the gunplay. The abilities and level design really began to frustrate me, lots of chokepoints and just spamming stuff into chokepoints and sitting around waiting to use ults. Worst of all was the speed of the game and how there was no advanced movement to master. I wanted something like rocket jumping but in a game like Overwatch it would be gamebreaking (kind of ironic really considering the nature of ‘ults’ being these powerful abilities – most are lacking).

    I have to thank Overwatch for rekindling my love of TF2. And also for keeping my younger sister occupied, she loves it.

    • coleislazy says:

      “Worst of all was the speed of the game and how there was no advanced movement to master.”

      Except: leaping and groundslam, double-jump and wall-climbing, flying and rocket-jumping, teleporting, another kind of teleporting, yet another kind of teleporting, wall-climbing, mine-jumping, grappling hook, another kind of flying, charging, leaping, wall-riding, and flying again. Did I miss any?

      • Fincher says:

        Most of which are limited by a cooldown and don’t achieve the speed or mobility that rocket/sticky jumping or bunnyhopping accommodate.

        You’ve omitted the ‘to master’ bit too. Those abilities you listed are largely pick up and play.

        • Premium User Badge

          subdog says:

          “Pick up & Play” is not the same thing as mastering, and to pretend that rocket jumping and bunny hopping are any less accessible is ridiculous.

          • Herring says:

            Blizzard’s gift is coming up with mechanics that are easy to pick up but still with a significant skill ceiling (sometimes only on certain characters).

            See; WoW, Starcraft, HOTS.

      • DeadlyAccurate says:

        Yeah, not sure where the idea that there’s no advanced movement to master came from. The best players have mastered character movements to an amazing degree. I didn’t even know Soldier 76 could rocket jump until I saw it for myself. I can fling myself (as Junkrat) backwards out of Mei’s blizzard and then take a target out behind me while I’m still in the air. The best Junkrats can triple-jump through the air with their mines (that’s not me!)

        I’d say movement skills are what separate the inexperienced from the expert players.

        • Hoot says:

          I’m fairly sure he’s talking about the kind of movement arena shooters are famous for.

          Check this out to see what I’m referring to : link to youtube.com

          After playing Quake Champions going back to Overwatch is like walking through treacle in wellies.

          • DeadlyAccurate says:

            I guess I can see that. I tried Quake Champions, and the movement was so fast I got nauseated by it. Couldn’t last 15 minutes in it, even though I’ve played Overwatch for hours without a problem.

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    FeloniousMonk says:

    As somebody who has very little background in shooters and generally doesn’t enjoy them (especially the hyperrealistic, quasi-military varieties), Overwatch’s cartoonish casualness was just what I needed. Overwatch definitely finds a space for people who don’t have great twitch reflexes and it’s completely viable to pick Junkrat, Winston, Bastion or Mercy and play very well without being much of a headshot ace. Blizzard has a knack for making games that are accessible for all levels of play, and I appreciate that. The “toxicity”, unfortunately, scales with level. The higher you go, the more likely you are to get flamed by a Genji main.

    (Not trying to hate on Genji in particular but he does seem to attract a vicious bunch)

    • DeadlyAccurate says:

      I think Genji mains tend to skew a bit younger.

      I love that there are characters for every level of skill. I’ve also found as I’ve played longer that my reflexes have improved. I’ve been a gamer since I was a teenager, but at almost 44, I’m never again going to be as good as the 20-year-old kids. Still, after a year I can now play Ana pretty well, and I’ve even had a successful run as a Genji a few times.

  12. Bull0 says:

    I bought it, on the basis i like every other blizzard game so i assumed i’d like Overwatch. I do not like it at all and kind of wish it would go away.

  13. Hoot says:

    Bought it on release, got maybe 300 hours-ish out of it since then, easily worth the money if you put it in terms of hours per Queen Head but you do hit a point (it was shortly after I played Quake Champions in beta) where you realise that Overwatch is a bad game dressed up in a good games best suit.

    Short version is that it’s worth the money until you get wise/bored.

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    particlese says:

    Yes! During the last free weekend.

    It was good fun, and I could see me picking it up again whenever Lawbreakers shuts down (or at least during the next free weekend Blizzard arranges), but for now, the latter is way more fun for me in the areas which apparently matter most to me in this sort of game – movement and pacing. Since the start, LB has been a joy to move around in, and it’s only gotten better as I’ve learned to play more effectively. And OW, while loads of fun during scuffles, has an irritatingly long time between respawning and said scuffles. Strategic team wipes don’t have to be long to be effective, but I suppose OW’s penalty box timer is at least well matched to what I perceived of its general pacing. Those are the main reasons I do not currently continue to play OW, but I did enjoy my time with it, and I look forward to playing it again in the future.

  15. SaintAn says:

    AKA microtransaction simulator.

    AKA porn maker 20XXX.

    AKA game of Butts Butts Butts: link to puu.sh

    AKA cowardly developer fear stimulator.

    AKA incompetent developer theme park of free rides.

    AKA Reddit cultist simulator.

    AKA there’s no new content for a game that didn’t launch with much.

    AKA asshole developers spend time and money developing content for Arcade mode only to take it away from the players.

    AKA no developer communication simulator.

    • Archangel says:

      > AKA porn maker 20XXX.

      TIL there is an actual game featuring all these the characters from the endless torrent of SFM porn out there.

  16. wackazoa says:

    Owned it since July 2016, and have played about 36 hours of it. When I have the time to waste I find its great fun on casual.

    I have NEVER played Genji or Hanzo, though.

  17. benkc says:

    Very briefly, during a free weekend.
    I launched it, selected the training mode, started reading all the on-screen info about character abilities — and then was informed I’d been inactive too long and was about to be booted from the match. That bears repeating: I was to be booted from the single-player tutorial match, for spending 30-60 seconds reading the character’s abilities. I still haven’t gotten over the absurdity of this. I decided then that the game was not for me.

    • Scurra says:

      I wonder when companies will start to try to do that with T&Cs (if you take too long reading them, it will autoapprove them for you.)

    • Excors says:

      They fixed that a few months ago. But yes, it was really stupid when it was 30 seconds and you barely had time to change your mouse sensitivity without getting kicked.

      (“Single-player” is still essentially a multiplayer match, using up resources on Blizzard’s servers, so they don’t want people idling there for hours, but it was far too harsh.)

      • Premium User Badge

        particlese says:

        The tutorial just plain stopped working in my case because I killed the robots too quickly after taking too long jumping around the hanger and not following Tracer…or something. I think it was just throwing a hissy fit at my shenanigans, because it kept telling me to kill all the robots but didn’t give me any more robots to kill. :(

        So, I quit that thing and instead gave myself several more helpful tutorials by messing around with everyone in the sandbox mode! “Several” because it kept kicking me after 15 or 30 minutes or so of actively trying out a few of the zillion characters at a time. -_-

        Annoying when learning the ropes, but probably helps them keep the net code focused/clean and relatively low on exploits from lurking client-server code.

  18. Freud says:

    I haven’t. Mostly because I was and still have another main game (HotS) so I can’t start playing another game with dailies. Too much.

    I just mix in single player games from my backlog when I want variety. One Games as a Service is all that’s reasonable to me.

  19. satan says:

    The only Blizz game I haven’t played. Nothing about it grabs me.

  20. Uberwolfe says:

    Was a big fan of the game for a couple of months at launch. Now whenever I try to go back I just get rolled so hard because I’m out of practice.

  21. dskzero says:

    Yes.

    I found it so basic and unengaging that instead of buying it I gifted it to a friend who apparently really wanted to play it and couldn’t buy it.

    I think i’m too old for these games. Also I went and dominated a few matches by playing it Quake mode, because apparently this generation of gamers don’t know how rocket launchers work.

    • Excors says:

      If you only played it for a short while, the matchmaker was likely matching you with other new players who had no idea how the game worked and had perhaps never played an FPS before. Lots of them were probably little children and you made them cry.

      Unless you’re already one of the best players in the world (which is unlikely), the matchmaker will learn to put you with better players until your win rate drops to about 50%, so you can’t reliably dominate for long. (Although unfortunately it’s still possible to dominate half your games and fail miserably in the other half – Pharah is particularly bad for that since she’s unkillable if the enemy doesn’t have a good Soldier/McCree, but fairly worthless if they do (and above-average skill levels often do).)

  22. JKnaperek says:

    I appreciate these recommendations, however, Overwatch has been out just over a year and is fresh on everyone’s mind.

    Why are there so little recommendations for quality classic games? So much greatness, limited. Decades, ignored.

    I would think this responsibility of bringing into focus, games that you may have not actually played, would be beneficial to many.

    Please consider actually putting focus on quality games that individuals actually may not have played. It would make this regular article far more interesting.

    • Faxanadu says:

      Yeah, where’s my Natural Selection 2?

      Because seriously, Overwatch is just pitiful compared to that. I’m not trying to be mean or offensive, it just really feels like that.

      Overwatch is the #1 team shooter. While NS2 has faded into oblivion. That’s just… Wrong. We should be swimming in NS2 copies by now, not team fortress copies and still playing counter-strike for god’s sake…

      I don’t know. Maybe I’m just born elitist.

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