50 Best Games of 2016: #38 – Overwatch
Our 50 best games of the year countdown isn’t in any order, we’re just going through fifty of the finest the year has given us. Find out more here.
It takes a lot for a game to grip me months after its release. As a semi-professional games reviewer, I seldom have time to play anything that isn’t coming up on the release schedule as I have to transition between games quicker than you can say “catchphrase”. In 2015, Rainbow Six Siege hoovered up more time than I care to admit. 2016 has seen Overwatch giddily ruin my work pattern.
When it was first announced and the hype started to inevitably build, Overwatch didn’t instantly get added to my wishlist. Sure, it looked fun, but not enough to warrant such a slavering amount of anticipation from fans wherever you looked. Obsessives were already looking into the lore as much as they could, drawing up theories out of seemingly nothing. Since the game was released, the theorists have only become more obsessed – Overwatch is an institution. Who could blame them with a game this damn good?
A multiplayer-only game without a story relevant to the gameplay might have been a recipe for disaster in the hands of some developers. Blizzard, the seasoned and somewhat grizzled masterminds of games played by millions across the world, have created gameplay that helps you to forget the missed potential of the motivations behind pushing endless payloads. Overwatch owes a lot to similar games that came before it (Team Fortress 2 being the most obvious inspiration), but it feels like something new entirely.
The modes available in Overwatch are a little bare, though they really aren’t the main draw – that’s the Heroes. Never will you meet a more eclectic bunch of playable characters who each have their own quirks, positives, and negatives. Need to stop the opposition in a hurry? Go for Reinhardt, the possibly insane tank. In need of some firepower? Choose grumpy Soldier:76 or the ironic D:VA. Hate the very idea of teamwork and just want a highlight clip for your YouTube channel? Hanzo is your man.
Overwatch is nothing without teamwork, which is why the aforementioned Hanzo is such a divisive Hero within the game’s meta. There will be plenty of occasions where you’re being overrun by the enemy team as they make yards to the objective with ease. That’s when you pick up the microphone, implore your teammates to do the same and get through it. The team that plans together usually wins together, which makes it all the more satisfying when you win by a fraction with a group of friends.
The cartoonish, light-hearted style of the game helps Overwatch to stand out even more against the competition. Though it’s sort of like beating a dead (or rapidly dying) horse at this point, it’s what separates Overwatch from its closest launch competitor, Battleborn. Where Battleborn prefers quantity over quality with its character design, all of Overwatch’s Heroes are memorable, so much so that the fandom has already created many ships and memes than they’re probably slowing down the internet as a result. For a game that doesn’t have a narrative to speak of running through its core, that isn’t half bad.
If you like multiplayer games, you need to play Overwatch. If you like silly violence and larger than life characters, you need to play Overwatch. If you like gaming, you need to play Overwatch.