‘Overwatch’ Open Beta Impressions – The Good, The Bad & The Memorable

Overwatch, the highly anticipated shooter developed by Blizzard Entertainment held an Open Beta from May 5-10 across PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Analog Addiction editors Devon McCarty, Nathan Manning and Eric Pepper spent some time with the Overwatch Open Beta and compiled their thoughts ahead of the game’s release next week, Tuesday May 24.

The Good

Devon McCarty (PlayStation 4): I had a lot of fun playing Overwatch. The game had been marketed enough to where I liked and was looking forward to taking each character for a spin, and I was pleased to know that in the tutorial, and each game mode (barring one or two), you are encouraged to fill your team and swap characters as often as possible. I found my main character pretty quickly, but made a point to try as many characters as possible to see the differences. While every character is essentially a FPS style, there are enough class variations to make sure you aren’t filling your team with just tanks or just snipers. At the character select screen before a match, an easy to read alert system notifies the team of what they’re missing or too heavy on, which as a relative MOBA noob, was very helpful to me. If I had to break my time down into three words, they would be; Quick, fun, and funny.

Nathan Manning (PC): From the weekend I spent playing it, Overwatch feels like a fresh shooter experience. My colleagues throw around the word MOBA when talking about Overwatch, but it most definitely is not. It’s a team-based shooter, and the mechanics reflect that. Overwatch just felt so smooth and responsive. On first impression it doesn’t look like it does much different to other shooters, apart from the unique characters, but it does everything so well. Each character has its own strengths and weaknesses, and most of them are fun to use. In team-based games with many characters I always find myself sticking to one character that I like to use, but with Overwatch I wanted to use all of them.

Eric Pepper (Xbox One): There are a healthy variety of characters to choose from, each with very unique skills and weaponry, allowing every style of FPS and MOBA player to find something which will allow them to feel at home. As Nathan also mentioned, the stark contrasts between each hero compels you to test out each one at least as a trial just to find out what they can do.

The practice arena was also a very welcome addition to the beta as it allowed newcomers to get a feel for every individual character and their abilities before heading off into battle against human enemies who have spent more time familiarizing themselves with the different abilities and play styles.

The Bad

Devon McCarty (PlayStation 4): While “loot” chests are opened constantly to give your character more variations in phrases, poses, and skins, there is absolutely no levelling system in this game. You “rank” up your character, garnering experience points and such. But there isn’t any way to enhance your damage per second or strengthen your armour. I am the same at level nine as you are at level one, and that is a huge problem for me. I think it may be possible for the development team to get away from wanting people to level up to new abilities…except aren’t these the people that made World of Warcraft? It just seemed like there wasn’t a reward system in place to keep me playing. I want better gear, weapons, specials, than what the beta offered.

Nathan Manning (PC): A couple of the heroes felt a bit overpowered in their current state. In particular Bastion, the walking tank robot, and Reinhardt, a shield and hammer wielding knight. The best thing about Overwatch is that every hero has a counter, but these two heroes are the hardest to counter currently. Bastion can set himself up behind his team and use his gatling gun to mow down advancing players. He can be countered by sniper characters, but they are often killed by the time they land up a shot. Meanwhile, Reinhardt feels overpowered on the attacking side because his barrier shield ability blocks all bullets for his team and has a lot of health. This allows the attacking team to apply pressure on the defending team without much resistance. Team mates can shoot through Reinhardt’s shield, but enemies cannot. Reducing the size of the shield could help to balance the hero.

Eric Pepper (Xbox One): Unfortunately, I found myself taking issue with a great number of things from the beta. While people may spend hours arguing over whether Overwatch classifies as a MOBA or FPS title, regardless of classification, there were still very key elements missing. The complete lack of minimap, even if it only shows enemy blips in a general direction if they have started firing, is a huge aspect to remove from any competitive game.

Secondly, the fact that any number of team-mates can play the same character renders games horribly unbalanced. Normally in MOBAs, only one player per team may select a certain hero, but in Overwatch‘s beta, you could have an entire team comprised solely of one character. In the case of certain overpowered characters (eg. Bastion), a team can simply sit around the single objective on a map and blow their opponents away with relative ease.

Thirdly, the ability to swap out characters at your leisure while in your home base is absolutely absurd if you are playing a game in which your individual hero has specific abilities. This ties in with the fact that there is no cap on the number of team-mates using one hero, but swapping out abilities at any time means that once you capture the objective, a team can simply swap out their choices for something far more defensive and tank-like, making it infinitely more difficult to steal. This no longer promotes a competitive and balanced game, instead suggesting that whichever team captures the zone first will reign supreme.

The Memorable

Devon McCarty (PlayStation 4): *Mild spoiler on Hanso’s Special attack*

Hanso was instantly picked as my main. He was quick, could climb walls, had awesome range, and a heck of a special. I had the hardest time switching to different characters once I started playing as him. He could mark targets, take down multiples at one time, and that special though… Overwatch will highlight a key moment in each game that a player created. For me, it was a moment during a “king of the hill” style game mode where we had to hold down an objective until we took it over. My team was doing just that when the opposing team came all rushing together. My team was able to draw them to this cluster and weaken them, and I finished their entire team with my special attack. Which became the highlight reel of that match. That moment of sheer joy, watching all of their time get eaten by twin dragons (yep!) Tickled all of my competitive nerd feels and I never wanted to quit playing.

Nathan Manning (PC): My most memorable moment in the open beta was playing as the attacking hero Pharah. My team was holding an objective in a capture the hill game mode, and the opposing team was in the process of pushing onto the point. While my tank team mate was engaging the enemy, I rushed in and launched my rockets at the three enemies that were on the point. I score a triple kill, and then used my ultimate to fire a barrage of missiles at the fourth enemy who was coming in for a last ditch effort. It’s common to score multi-kills in Overwatch, and it’s even more satisfying when your great play gets seen by everyone at the end of the game if it is deemed to be the play of the game.

Eric Pepper (Xbox One): There was a single moment while watching a friend play as D.Va which sticks out as the sole shining moment from the beta. He walked into a room with the entire team already engaged in a massive fire-fight with his opponents and proceeded to mow down two enemies with the mech’s machine guns. At this point he ejected from the suit, shoved it towards the remaining enemies, killed two more of them in the explosion, took out one of the last opponents with the pistol, and managed to call his mech suit back in time to shoot down the final enemy. It was glorious to see that 20 seconds of gameplay come together in such a way, but every game, regardless of genre, will inevitably have some epic moments.

So there you have it, that’s what the Analog Addiction editors thought of the Overwatch Open Beta. Now we want to know what you thought of the Open Beta, tell us in the comments below, or with social media.

Overwatch will be available on May 24 on PC, PlayStation 4 and PC.