Jump Into the Arena: Overwatch Beta Impressions

written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)

Welcome to Overwatch! As the hotly anticipated arena shooter goes into Open Beta, the masses finally get a chance to see what those who participated in the Closed Beta have been clamoring about. Overwatch is deliciously nostalgic, channeling the attitude and aesthetics that made games like Team Fortress 2 and Quake so memorable.

The beta introduces us to what looks like the entire cast of heroes set for launch. Each of the game’s heroes have distinct strengths and weaknesses, giving each player the ability to pick a hero that best fits their playstyle. Some heroes are bullet sponges while others are glass canons. Each hero fits a particular role and building a diverse team tends to be the difference maker between victory or defeat.

Having been a part of both the Closed and Open Beta, I can say that my anticipation of this game has hit a fever pitch. While MOBAs have seemed to overrun the competitive gaming circuit for the better part of a past couple years… it feels like its time for an arena shooter to dominate the Twitch streams.

The game’s beta offers four game modes; Escort, Assault, Hybrid, and Control. In Escort, the attacking team's objective is to move the payload to a delivery point while hitting certain checkpoints; the defending team must halt the Attackers' progress until time runs out. When it comes to Assault, the Attacking and Defending teams must attempt to take or defend capture points across the map. Both teams battle over control of the map, one team on offense, the other on defense. The only currently available hybrid Game Mode starts with an Assault and ends with an Escort section. These two parts behave exactly as their stand-alone Game Modes do. On Control maps, two teams fight over a series of objective areas in a best-of-three format. When a team is in control of the round’s objective area, they will make progress toward capturing it, and whichever team gets to 100% first wins the round.

Obviously missing from the beta is a Team or Standard Deathmatch game mode. Sometimes with shooters I just want to rack up kills or engage in a “last hero standing” type of game. I’ve enjoyed all of the beta’s game modes with Escort and Control being my favorites. Assault game modes get old pretty quick and while the Hybrid game mode is fun… it ended up being the most forgettable of the four.

As far as the heroes are involved, I have tried to use several of the available heroes in a variety of game modes. I’ve found that D.Va and Reaper have been my two favorites so far. Their playstyles fit my personal playstyle best, especially D.Va. Hands down my favorite ultimate is hers, she sets her mech to self destruct… taking out any enemy combatants unlucky enough to be in the general vicinity of her mech’s blast radius.

One aspect I love about arena shooters is how accessible they are. You don't have to be an experienced COD player to stand a chance. While an experienced FPS player will always have an advantage, that advantage isn't by much when comparing Overwatch to other shooters.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve missed competitive arena shooters. Team Fortress 2 is a game I logged countless hours in, and while the popularity of MOBAs still continue to grip the gaming populace, this year feels like the year that arena shooters will come back into the spotlight. With Overwatch launching at the end of the month and players already jumping into Battleborn, it’s going to be a good year for the arena shooter.

Overwatch launches May 24th on PC, Xbox One, and PS4.