Overwatch Must Not Repeat Team Fortress 2’s Mistakes

Over time Team Fortress 2 lost its way, will Overwatch do the same?

It seems to me that everyone with a current generation console or a decent computer is playing Overwatch.

I have seen a fair bit of the game, but it just never quite grabbed me the way games like No Man's Sky have.

I realize this apathy likely stems from the fact I've got my fix of the multiplayer class shooter after sinking over 300 hours into Valve’s Team Fortress 2. Now before you jump into the comments to explain the vast differences between these games, that's not what I'm here to discuss.

Instead, upon seeing that I had sunk hundreds of hours into TF2, it dawned on me that I haven't actually played that game for probably 18 months if not more. Why is this? In my humble opinion it is because Team Fortress 2 lost its way and its soul.

Now if you can look past my overly poetic words, I will make my case.

I appreciate that games, in particular online games, must evolve and expand to remain popular.

For the longest time Valve did this well offering a trickle of new content over time. New maps, game modes and weapons, all properly balanced and maintaining the game’s rather wacky aesthetic.

However in my opinion, the first of a number of mis-steps was the introduction of in-game item trading. At first glance, many players (myself included) just saw it as a mechanism to give duplicate items some use. But even then, crafting was already a part of the game and served the same purpose with less far reaching consequences.

But as time marched on its presence spread, dedicated trading servers began to dominate the server lists, pushing 'vanilla’ servers into obscurity.

Next up was the ability for the community to create new items and perhaps have them placed into the game. Don't get me wrong. I'm all for greater community involvement. However, over time this decision led to the game being flooded with new items, the most egregious of these being 'cosmetic' items. They offer no in-game benefits, being wholly aesthetic. Character customization is an enjoyable addition but it felt like this and other features began to dominate, detracting from the game's core: A multiplayer class-based first person shooter.

Lastly, you might be expecting me to include the game's adoption of a Free To Play model as another of the game's 'mis-steps’. But not so. It allowed the player base to be widened without having a negative impact on the game itself. Of course, some features were locked off unless you were willing to pay for it. But, crucially, the free players could still play the core game -- what the game should have always been about.

I will finish this by briefly returning to the subject of Overwatch. Whilst I personally have little desire to play the game myself, it is my hope that Overwatch does not go the way of Team Fortress 2 -- forgetting what truly made the game a joy to play.

Published Jul. 13th 2016
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