You may have heard that those people who made Warcraft, Hearthstone, and other addictive video games are making a shooter. You heard right. It’s called Overwatch, and it’s coming to PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on May 24. What you might not know is what exactly Overwatch is.
1. It’s Blizzard’s first shooter
Blizzard is known for making some of the most well crafted games in the industry. A list of the company’s output would make just about any other developer jealous. From Warcraft and Diablo to Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm, this company knows how to make a game with staying power. But Overwatch is the first time Blizzard has ventured into the shooter genre. The question is, can they pull it off?
Judging by several decades’ worth of masterpieces, it’s probably unwise to bet against them.
2. The story is convoluted, but don’t worry
In Overwatch’s reality, the world was once on the brink of anarchy until a team of heroes came and saved the day. Once they reestablished peace on Earth and their services were no longer required, the heroes scattered to the wind. But now apparently they’re teaming up randomly to riddle each other with bullets?
The takeaway here is that the story doesn’t really matter. The game is about a bunch of super-powered fighters trying their hardest to off each other. The rest can safely be ignored.
3. Know your heroes
Overwatch is no slouch on the hero front. It comes with 21 unique characters, each designed to play a particular role in one of four categories: offense, defense, tank, and support. Even within those categories each hero has unique advantages and disadvantages. And because you’re not locked into your choice of hero, you can switch mid-match to adapt your strategy.
The abilities run the gamut from team-based shooter standards like Torbjorn’s gun turrets to more unusual ones like Tracer’s ability to teleport short distances. Then you have characters like Pharah, who can hover in the air to rain missiles down on anyone unlucky enough to be underneath her. The whole thing is presented with tons of personality, thanks to the semi-cartoonish graphics and snappy humor Blizzard is known for.
For more information than you could ever possibly need about the heroes, check out the official Overwatch YouTube channel.
4. It’s not really like Battleborn
Because they’re both hero-based shooters, many gamers seem to think Overwatch is similar to Gearbox’s Battleborn. While they do have overlapping qualities, they’re actually quite different in practice. Overwatch is more akin to Valve’s Team Fortress 2 in that it’s about two teams vying for kills.
Battleborn is more like a first-person MOBA, complete with additional enemies in each map and a leveling system that starts from square one each match. Overwatch has none of that, probably so it doesn’t step on Blizzard’s actual MOBA, Heroes of the Storm. (If you’re interested, you can read more about Battleborn here.)
5. All future heroes and maps will be free
To avoid splitting the audience, Blizzard swears up and down that all future heroes and maps will be free to all players. That’s good news for people who only want to spend $60 on the game and be done with it. It’s unclear how Blizzard will keep making money on Overwatch over time, but since it’s a modern game that aims to be around for a while, you can bet some kind of monetization is coming. Here’s hoping it’s all based on skins and other vanity items so Overwatch doesn’t become pay-to-win.
6. There’s an open beta May 5-9
You’ll have a chance to try the game for free May 5-9. That’s because Blizzard is hosting an open beta to test out its servers. The beta will be free for anyone with a PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or gaming PC.
If you trust Blizzard enough to put your money down on the game sight unseen, you’ll get early access to the beta starting May 2. That gives you three extra days to hone your skills to take on the newbies.
So far Overwatch seems to be shaping up nicely, but we’ll have to wait until launch for a final verdict.