There's no question that Overwatch is a very popular game. Between selling millions of copies all across the world, winning the 2016 Game of the Year award, and having a huge fanbase, there is practically no doubt that Overwatch is one of the most iconic games of this generation.
But is it actually a good game, and does it actually deserve all the praise even if it is GOTY? Not really...
Overwatch may be a decent game, but nonetheless, it has a number of problems that its core fanbase (and some critics) seem to overlook. When you look critically at its gameplay mechanics, community, and other aspects of Overwatch, this game is far from perfect -- and quite honestly, doesn't really deserve all the unfettered hype it gets.
Why? I'll tell you. Over the course of the next few slides, we're going to take a look at some of the problems with Overwatch, and examine how they prevent it from being a truly good and playable game.
Is any multiplayer only game actually worth the full price of $60? Just think about what you are getting -- then compare that to other games at the same price point, which have way more content. Shocking, right?
Overwatch is a multiplayer-only game with no story mode, no adventure, and no campaign. So why is it priced exactly the same as many other games that have so much more to offer than it does? Is it purely because it's a AAA title? Or is it because it was developed by Blizzard?
When you plop down the $60 for Overwatch, what you're really buying is its roster of heroes, access to multiplayer servers, and a few game modes. That's pretty much it aside from a few cosmetic goodies. And the unfortunate part is that the game modes aren't really that good -- completing the same objective over and over again every single day simply gets tiresome and very repetitive, which could potentially drain a portion of the fun.
On top of all that, you're expected to swallow microtransactions in spite of the money you already paid for the "full" game! The "loot boxes" that you're supposed to buy into have nothing useful or helpful in them -- and though they're obviously optional, all the hype around the cosmetic items makes them look much more lucrative than they should.
If Overwatch was around $30-$40, then that price would definitely be justifiable. For the full price of $60, you're simply not getting your money's worth, no matter how you choose to look at it. And for whatever possible reason, it's $40 dollars on PC -- which doesn't make a whole lot of sense, when it's the exact same game as the console version.
It's also worth mentioning here that most other games in the arena shooter genre (and its sister genre, the MOBA) are free-to-play and have you spend money on cosmetic items and hero unlocks rather than paying outright for the base game. (Paladins is a great example here.)
During my one month of playing this game, not once did I have the desire to open any of the loot boxes -- including any seasonal/event ones. How come? It's simple: the loot box system is full of garbage, and has absolutely nothing that's useful or worth paying real money for. Most of the time, they only drop pointless sprays, worthless player emblems, and more junk to take up inventory space. The sole reason why any of that garbage exists is simply to reduce players' chances of getting very rare character skins and play of the game animations -- because those are the only things that are actually worth it.
If you want to pad out your loot box drops with smaller items, fine. But why not at least make those useful or interesting to look at? If sprays were animated, maybe I'd be a little bit happier to get them from a box. Even better, including buffs or boosts (like a double EXP boost) that players could redeem would be nice. SMITE, the popular third-person MOBA from Hi-Rez Studios, includes these sorts of boosts in its chest system -- which you can then use to give your whole team a buff that will grant them more experience, worshipers, and ranking points for the course of a match.
Without anything helpful or useful in them, loot boxes are a waste of time and money.
Every video game has at least some sort of an objective that is waiting to be completed, and promises a reward at the end for doing so. In Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, for example, the objective of multiplayer is to try and reach Prestige Master, complete all of the challenges, and get that Dark Matter camo for all your weapons. Or, let's take Bloodborne and its grueling Chalice Dungeons, where players must progress until they reach the final dungeon, and defeat the final/secret boss, while unlocking useful upgrades and equipment in the process.
But does Overwatch have anything? What exactly is the goal of playing Overwatch? To become the very best, like no one ever was? What if you don't play competitive game modes or care about ranked standings? Where does that lead you? There really is no goal in Overwatch, nor are there any challenges for players to tackle.
Give players challenges to complete! Make it worth their while!
By implementing a challenge and reward system, players will have reason to keep playing the game. And more importantly, it could incentivize them to play with other heroes, which will not only improve their skill but help them get more out of the character roster that they paid $60 for.
It would be nice to see different tier rewards for every hero like:
Overwatch doesn't have a system like that, so there's little encouragement for players to try their best and attempt picking up new things. Without cool, unique content to unlock, what's there to strive for other than more wins?
Every game has its fair share of disrespectful and rude players. Just take a look at games like Call of Duty, where underage children scream profanities into their mics when they die and people troll one another for amusement. But the reason why Overwatch is different is because it's the adults that scream profanities, racial slurs, and even threaten each other with violence. Who in their right mind would play with people like that -- seriously?! If you think it's that bad in public matches, just imagine how players will act and behave in competitive games!
The unfortunate thing is that people will get angry at you over the dumbest things like:
The toxicity even spreads all the way to the Battle.net forums, where people will down-vote and thumb-down your comment if you don't agree with them, even if you show the slightest behavior of being anti-Overwatch, and many more childish reasons.
Blizzard has introduced a report system, where players can report rude and aggressive teammates. But as it turned out, the report system only made things worse. The only way that I see of professionally and calmly dealing with people like that is to either mute them if possible or play with friends.
However, a more professional and direct approach would be to introduce a punishment and reward system. If you are a good, honorable player who does not behave like a total jerk, you will be rewarded for proper conduct. Whether it'll be a loot box that will guarantee an extremely rare item or a hefty double XP boost that will last for a few hours, the game will realize that you're "the good guy."
But if you are the complete opposite of that, the game might send you messages, asking you politely to knock it off. If you choose to persist and continue to behave like a total jerk, the game might begin to punish you by giving you time outs, temporarily suspending your chat privileges (so others won't have to get insulted by you for silly reasons), XP penalties, etc.
Such a system can be seen as a win-win for all players. Normal players won't have to put up with disrespectful punks, while those with good manners will be rewarded. Perhaps such a system will even encourage the toxic players to start behaving, that is of course, if they wish to get the benefits that proper players are getting.
(Video Credit: MIOSKII)
If you are a casual player who games all by yourself, don't bother getting Overwatch. On average, you will be losing seven or eight out of every 10 matches. How is that fun?
To do well and win in Overwatch, you must play with friends. Good communication is crucial to winning games. By talking with friends, you'll have a game plan all set up, which will increase your chances of doing well and winning. But if you're playing solo, you can forget all about that! You can't really communicate with your teammates, because people rarely use the game's integrated communications system, and the community is so toxic that communication tends to break down even if you do.
So you have no idea what to do and are then forced to have a game plan all by yourself. And that will almost never work because it's a team-based game.
You might be thinking that the obvious solution is just to play with friends. But there are lots of players out there (like myself) who don't know anyone else who plays Overwatch. Most of my friends either quit or play with such rarity that they basically don't play at all. And some others don't want to plunk down $60 for such a truncated experience.
I could search the internet for randoms to play with, but that's tenuous at best and rarely turns out like you'd hope.
There really is no way to combat this or cater to solo players, because Overwatch is a team-based game. You need cooperation, and there is no way around it. Maybe if the community were better (or matchmaking took factors like communication and cooperation into account), then it wouldn't be such an issue.
This one ties in with the previous point that I made. One of the main (if not the main) reasons why I would lose so many games in a row was because my team was either completely out of synergy, or had no idea what to do.
One example that I will never forget was when I was playing as Lucio, and my team had to escort the payload to its destination. My teammates were taking damage, so I rushed to them in order to heal them. As soon as I reached them, all of my teammates that were on the payload split up for no reason, with barely any health, and proceeded to die before I could heal them. And since Lucio is not an offensive hero, I died almost immediately after my teammates because I had no one to protect me. This is the prime highlight of my terrible experience with random players.
Sadly, this is too common in Overwatch. Random players have no idea how to cooperate and communicate in order to win. How can they? They don't know one another, and are obviously not in a party. But this isn't the only example.
Another reason for losing so many matches comes from having no team synergy. A lot of times, my team was composed of heroes that had nothing to do with each other, almost like all of us closed our eyes, and proceeded to pick a hero at random. Worse, very rarely would we switch to other heroes, which by that time was too late, since we would lose seconds after.
I always tried my best to choose the most appropriate hero that would greatly benefit my entire team, and give us some sort of chance to win. But unfortunately, everyone would drag me down by dying, or by not playing their role, which would result in confusion, frustration, and losing.
An effective solution to combat this issue could be reworking the matchmaking system to such a degree so that it puts solo players with and against other solo players, and parties against other parties.
If a team is composed of solo players who aren't communicating, don't have a game plan, and simply don't know what to do, against other solo players with the same disadvantages (or perhaps, advantages if you want to look at it this way), this creates an even playing field where everyone is basically equal. In return, solo players won't have to feel bad about themselves, and know that they are playing with/against others who are just like them! As a result, this creates a sense of equality among "solo-ers," sucky players, and beginners.
But, if two parties go against one another, this too can be applied to them. Since everyone will be talking and communicating, the teams will in fact have a game plan set up, and that as well will create an even playing field, just how it'll be created for solo players.
It's a definite win-win situation for everyone. Teams will play against other teams, thus creating a somewhat of a competitive environment for them, while solo players won't feel discouraged, and know that they won't get steamrolled by a cooperative group.
Ever since hero stacking (when there's more than one of the same hero on the same team) was removed from Quick Play, that mode has become a nightmare. I was not able to play the heroes that I was most comfortable with because someone else had picked them, so I was forced to choose someone else that I didn't know how to play, just to fill a role. If my team was missing a tank, I was forced to pick a tank hero to balance the team -- even though I didn't know how to play one. This would lead to deaths, losses, and frustration.
Players shouldn't be forced to adapt to a whole new character just because of one game mechanic -- just let them play their own heroes instead of forcing them to use someone they don't have experience with. I imagine a lot of readers are thinking that you should just practice and learn new heroes, but I disagree. Practicing a lot doesn't necessarily mean that you'll magically become good with a character. Certain gameplay styles may just not mesh well with your set of skills as a player -- which means certain heroes will always confound you.
I can see why hero stacking was taken out of Competitive for better balancing, but I don't understand the decision to remove it from Quick Play. Quick Play should have been given the same treatment as Arcade, since Quick Play is not the same as Competitive. Plus, hero stacking can prove to be fun in public games that aren't competitive. What's the harm in that, seriously? You can switch characters, after all. So if you see an army of Torbjorns and his turrets, pick a hero who counters that.
Overwatch has plenty of heroes to choose from, with each one catering to a player's individual style -- be it offensive, defensive, or somewhere in between. However, not every hero is balanced or equally effective in game. Obviously some heroes are going to be stronger or weaker against others, but there are several on the roster that are so OP that it verges on god-like.
Whether it's Genji (who can deflect every attack or ultimate you throw at him), Solider 76 (whose ultimate is a "free kills" aimbot), or Mei who can freeze you and quickly finish you off with a headshot, players can become annoyed and frustrated when they die quickly to overpowered heroes. And if it keeps happening, some will even leave the match just to get away from the unfairness of it.
Blizzard needs to pay better attention to its game balance and quit picking "favorite" heroes that outclass all others on the roster. Buff weaker heroes so they're actually usable, then nerf the OP heroes who wreck face in every Overwatch match, regardless of player skill. Listening to feedback from fans and pro players would go a long way in doing this right.
I don't mean that all heroes should be exactly equal in how they play or what they can do, but it would be nice to have a fighting chance against any hero, rather than dying in less than five seconds because of some overpowered mechanics. Genji's deflect, for example, really shouldn't be able to block off ultimates -- that's just unfair.
So apparently, some smart-guy at Blizzard thought that it would be a good idea to implement a penalty system for all players during matches. What is it? Leave mid-game too many times, and you'll be slapped with a temporary -75% exp penalty. Worse, the game doesn't care what the reason is. Whether you rage quit, lost power, had connection issues, or had to step out in order to take care of something, you'll be treated the same all the time.
Now, where do I begin to explain how utterly stupid and ridiculous this whole system is...
First of all, you shouldn't be punished if you got disconnected from a game due to connection or power issues. How is that your fault, honestly? You're not your own internet service provider, and there is nothing you can really do in such a situation. It's not your fault, it's the game's fault! It's not your fault that the game fails to realize a connection disruption on your end, and decides to count that as a leave. It makes no sense whatsoever. Why should a player who just lost connection to their internet be treated the same way a rage quitter would? Sadly, nothing can really be done because if you are a rage quitter, you can just go ahead and unplug your ethernet cable, or turn off your WiFi signal, thus making the game think you had a connection disruption.
However, if you are not a rage quitter--life happens! Whether you have an emergency, or need to leave the game to take care of something important--too bad! The game does not care about your emergency, and you personal life. "Oh, you had to step out to take care of a personal issue? That's too bad, because you leaving for something important is just the same as rage quitting and abandoning your team!"
Having such a system in competitive mode makes way more sense, because it's well...competitive, and you should be playing your best, and making sure that your connection is excellent for such a game mode. But when the system effects regular game modes, it becomes absolutely foolish, pointless, and unnecessary.
Just remove the penalty from all game modes besides competitive! I honestly cannot think of a simpler solution to this. The system should certainly be kept in the competitive mode, but not in others. If you leave for whatever possible reason (yes, even rage quitting) in Arcade Mode or Quick Play mode, you shouldn't be punished. Other games don't do it, why should Overwatch?
And before you defend this incredibly confusing and flawed system, let me ask you a question. If it's so great, how come other games don't have it? How come video games like Battlefield, Call of Duty, Counter Strike, and many more don't incorporate such a system? I am aware that they have their own systems, but those deal with hackers, cheaters, etc. Nothing about leaving games during progress.
Quite possibly the only reason why Overwatch is so popular is the simple fact that it was developed by Blizzard -- the same developer that brought us World of Warcraft and Hearthstone.
When Overwatch was announced, everyone jumped on the hype train because it was an FPS by Blizzard -- a game genre that the company hadn't really done before. I absolutely guarantee you that if Overwatch was developed by a completely different developer or game studio, its reception would be completely different. But the reason why it was so well received was because it was developed by Blizzard. It's no mystery. Just look at Battleborn if you don't believe me. Battleborn was released ahead of Overwatch, but its playerbase basically disappeared the moment Blizzard's entry in the genre hit shelves.
Overwatch is ultimately a very boring, repetitive, uninteresting, and dry game, that will very quickly make you lose interest in it after a few days -- unless you play with friends and are very good at it, and manage to find fun. But for the most part, if you are a casual gamer, there will be very little to no redeeming qualities in this overhyped and overrated title.
Overwatch doesn't have to appeal to everyone, and it's normal to not buy into the hype. The game certainly has its fair share of flaws -- but then again, what game doesn't? But since the game primarily focuses on multiplayer, where players fight one another for victory, providing an experience that is equal to everyone, both solo players and co-op players, is absolutely crucial.
And it's not just that. For Overwatch to be the perfect game, many other mechanics and concepts need to either be implemented, taken out, or changed in one way or another.