Blizzard Entertainment is not a name you associate with first-person shooters, but with a huge portfolio of massively successful games under its belt there's every reason to get excited by the fact that it's entering the FPS arena. Overwatch is the name of the game and it's set to make waves in 2016 with a new take on FPS gaming. While Overwatch won’t be released until later this year, you can play the game early by signing up to participate in its closed beta starting February 9.
One of the benefits of being new to the FPS world is that Blizzard is unencumbered by the tried and tested ways of doing things and free to try out new ideas, and one look at Overwatch tells you that this is exactly what Blizzard is doing. The big Overwatch headline is that there's no hardcore deathmatch option—instead it's all about teamplay and having loads of fast and frantic fun with your friends.
Taking its lead from Blizzard's smash hit Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch pits two small teams against each other – six players per side – with a huge assortment of distinctive heroes to choose from, each with their own stories, personalities, abilities and weapons. These aren't your usual FPS characters. Overwatch's heroes are an unlikely assortment of humans and robots, with characters including an ex-pro gamer, a monk, a sharp-shooting bounty hunter and a climatologist. Their weapons and abilities are as varied as their personalities. You can go into battle with bow and arrow, a rocket launcher, an ice blaster or even a forge hammer.
There are four character classes in Overwatch: offense, defense, tank and support, and as with Heroes of the Storm you'll want to mix things up to give your team the competitive edge. To keep things interesting, Overwatch encourages you to switch characters whenever you like.
You don't have to stick with the same character throughout a match. Whenever you get killed you're free to switch to another hero. No two heroes play the same, so if you want to rule you'll do well to learn all their characteristics so that if one isn't working for you in a particular match you can jump into another and turn the game in your team's favor.
The action plays out across the world, in vast, multi-layered levels based loosely on real locations including London, Gibraltar, Egypt and Japan. Rather than slavishly recreating actual places, Blizzard has sensibly opted to create levels that flow beautifully and create plenty of gameplay opportunities, while retaining the essence of their real-life inspiration.
Payload and Point Capture
Overwatch features two main game modes, with the teams divided into attackers and defenders. In Payload, the attackers have to escort a payload to a delivery point within a time limit, and the defenders have to prevent them from getting there in time. Point Capture is a battle for control over a map, with the attackers trying to capture critical locations from the defenders before the time runs out. For added variety, there are also hybrid missions featuring both Payload and Point Capture. The Hollywood map is built for just this mission combo.
Big, fast and colorful with plenty of depth, Overwatch is primed to be one of the most exciting new PC games of 2016 that should appeal to both fans of shooters and Blizzard’s enormously popular fantasy franchises.
On PC, NVIDIA recommends you play Overwatch with a GeForce GTX 950 GPU for 1920x1080 gaming, a GTX 970 for 2560x1440 gaming or a GTX 980 Ti for 3840x2160 gaming. Check out the full PC specs here.