Overwatch – Hands-On

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I recently had an invite from Blizzard to get some hands-on with the PlayStation 4 version of Overwatch, a team-based shooter that features a plethora of characters each with unique and interesting powers and abilities. There are four different classes and we were advised to experiment and have at least one of each in our team.

I picked the dual-wielding character called the Reaper. He is armed to the hilt with a pair of lethal hand cannons and a couple of belts of ammo. Little is known about the ominously cloaked figure apart from the distinct knowledge that he loves death, constantly mentioning it and willing it on the opposing team as you play.

I quickly found my character could teleport and become temporarily invulnerable. Whilst in that state, I cannot shoot but can move faster and usually into a beneficial position. His special ability has him spin on the spot, spraying a stream of bullets at any hapless victim stood close enough. He can still be killed while performing his special but more often than not, I took out two or three victims before they had a chance to react.

I found it best to be a little sneaky with the Reaper, taking the long way round or gaining a height advantage on the fight. I was often biding my time waiting for the perfect opportunity to teleport into the middle of a group and set off the special. Hearing him chant Die, Die, Die as he decimates the unwitting foes is strangely fun.

Staying in the offense class, I briefly swapped my character to Geni. This slender armour clad ninja brandishes a sword and throwing stars. She’s a very fast and deadly individual in the right hands but I was on the lookout for something unique. Being able to switch characters at any time when in the confines of the safe spawn area is a great way to experiment or balance the team on the fly.

During my two and a half hours with the game I thought it best to try my hand at one of the tank classes and picked one called Roadhog. This burly hulk of a man wears a pig’s head shaped gas mask and carries a gigantic metal hook on an extendable chain.

He can throw out the hook and ensnare his prey, pulling them close to his hefty bulging belly for a devastating melee. It’s so similar to the antics of a 2D fighting game character that each time I performed the move, I could not help but call out “Get over here!”

I won a few games and suffered a few embarrassing defeats but learnt a team that communicates works much better and has a lot more fun when playing Overwatch. A few of our opponents had played the PC beta version extensively before attending the event, but we managed to hold our own, thanks to two people healing and buffing our attacks and one or two sneaky flanking manoeuvres by myself and another teammate. And a huge shout-out to Hollie B. for keeping our characters fighting fit and covering our mad dashes into battle.

It feels like Blizzard has taken their time with Overwatch, not rushing it out of the kitchen, instead letting it simmer and allowing the juices to come through. It never felt like an early build, but something that had been refined and tweaked.

Other developers often drip feed the clamouring gamers with scraps of content, only offering a few core characters and the others as downloadable content. Not Blizzard, an abundance of varied and fun characters are available right away and any others down the line will be free.

To say that I’m excited for Overwatch is a slight understatement. It plays great on the PlayStation 4 and I really hope they bring out some collectible statues of the awesome characters, to take pride of place on my desk, underneath the poster I won for kicking butt.

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Overwatch launches May 24, 2016. Pre-order now to unlock early access to the Overwatch Open Beta for you and a friend starting May 3.

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