Why I love Overwatch… and hate it too
Hey there and welcome to something I usually don’t cover: online games! I wanted to switch it up a bit and talk about a game in a non-review matter, and I feel like Overwatch is currently the prime candidate to do so. Not only because I have some fond memories of it to share, but also because my opinion on the game has gradually shifted. Hence why I’ll be talking about why I love the game today, but why I dislike the game as well. But let’s get a bit of history and the positives out of the way first!
So Overwatch… I believe I started playing this game one year after the official release? I’m never much into online games unless they are MMORPG’s, or if they have a single-player campaign. Overwatch was neither, so I initially wasn’t too hyped yet. My lovely colleagues at my old part-time job were doing their best to convince me and while I am a stubborn old man, I eventually gave in when the anniversary came with a good sale on the game. I do remember the day I bought it was a Saturday, so we could all play it after work to introduce me to the game. Heck, one colleague who is also one of my best friends literally forced me into the Public Training Range and play as all characters while he was watching and telling me how every hero works. It was a pleasant introduction to the game, and we were all playing a lot of quickplay matches to get me to level 25 as soon as possible because they really wanted to play competitive… even though I was still an absolute rookie. Heck, I placed in Silver when I did competitive for the very first time! But yeah, we’ve played together for quite a long while, very often with a group bigger than 6 even so we split up. Eventually people dropped off one-by-one because of other games or because Overwatch simply didn’t interest them anymore, but there was at least one friend who was almost always playing. I’ve also met a few people through Overwatch that I still talk with today! This is of course nothing exclusive to Overwatch, but I really cherish those memories I’ve built up.
When I was still playing Overwatch, I only had a part-time job. Finding a full-time job wasn’t easy, and knowing exactly what I wanted to do wasn’t going well either. My part-time colleagues were either in the same boat or still studying, so we ended up playing Overwatch quite a lot. One of my good friends who I’ve played with almost 90% of the time was highly competitive and also managed to get up to Grandmaster rank and even Top 500, while I was stuck literally 1 SR away from Diamond. Competitive ended up being my most played mode, but only because I played with friends and because I wanted the golden weapons. Honestly it wasn’t my favourite mode to play because of the high levels of toxicity, and me not always having influence over my rank because it’s a team-based game. I’ll go more into detail about my problems with competitive since they’re part of an overarching problem. The most fun I’ve personally had alone or with strangers was either Quick Play or the varied Arcade modes. The former was just easy to jump in- and out off, while the latter just offered a lot of fun playtime without a worry in the world. Mystery Heroes was my jam since it allowed me to play as heroes I would normally not pick, and Deathmatch gave me more opportunities to learn a specific hero on one-on-one matches unless someone decided to jump in. While competitive was my most played mode due to being with friends, Arcade is definitely where I spent most of my time alone.
Of course I can’t talk about the game without talking about the heroes to play as. For most of my ”Overwatch career”, I’ve been a support main. This was mostly due to my good friend being a DPS main, but also due to me not being that good at most DPS heroes. I started off with who I consider to be the easiest support hero, Mercy. She’s also my most played character in the game because my friend and I had a good synergy going on where I was able to keep the whole team alive while also damage boosting him, and he could play a bit more risky as well because I got his back. Eventually I also played Ana a lot because she was a lot more fun to play and could outheal Mercy depending on if you’ve got good aim or not. But I also have a lot of hours on Zenyatta and especially Lucio who’s also very high up on my ”most played heroes” list. For DPS heroes that I didn’t suck at, I played a lot of Doomfist, McCree and Mei. I also played several tanks–which wasn’t my favourite class, but that class also had Zarya which was definitely my tank main. I’m a firm believer that there’s a character for everyone here, and I’ve definitely tried out every hero multiple times in different situations. As for my actual main, that goes to a hero I’m not allowed to play because everyone hates her for various reasons: Symmetra. It’s true that Symmetra is basically ”no aim, no brain, Symmetra main”, but I just really enjoyed using her abilities to the utmost limit (at least, her old ones). Sneaking behind and bombing either the capture point- or enemies’ spawn with turrets, communicating with the team when I decided to place a teleporter right next to the point so 5 people came out at once etcetera. But speaking of Symmetra… maybe now is a good time to delve into why I dislike Overwatch at the same time.
Overwatch has a severe case of being unable to balance their characters. I know Overwatch is definitely not the only competitive multiplayer game that has this issue, but Blizzard truely has made the most baffling changes to characters. Both my mains Mercy and Symmetra have been at the top of the meta, and not long after they’ve been nerfed so hard that everyone will question your life decisions when picking them. This happened on a consistent basis and it just made characters less fun to play, or to play against. The new heroes that come out are almost always completely broken at release and when a hero is broken, you can expect to see them on every team. Echo–Overwatch’s newest character–could copy another character with her ultimate, which had ridiculous ultimate charge during the copy session where she could easily fire off at least 3 ultimates. Oh, and if she died during the copy session, she’s just revert back to her normal self. I have no idea how nobody at Blizzard didn’t see this as broken. Eventually she got nerfed quite hard, with one of the nerfs being based on what an Overwatch League player was doing with her momentum. This example shows the problem as a whole, as Blizzard bases their buffs- and nerfs mostly on what the Overwatch League is doing–the top percentage of players. Meanwhile, the other 98% of casual players suffer from these changes. There’s also always an obvious meta that’s better than another which you’ll see constantly in competitive, be it GOATS (3 tanks, 3 healers) or dive. This eliminates free choice in competitive because you are forced to pick heroes that are good against these metas. If you pick heroes that aren’t strong against the meta well, you’ll just 99% of the time lose. The only way Blizzard addressed these metas is by buffing what’s strong against the meta, or nerfing the meta itself into the ground. Eventually they made a role queue which forced you to only pick two characters of a class which was fine, except that it made queue times ridiculously high and was also applied to modes outside of competitive. That, and you were forced to play that role for the remainder of the match, while previously you could switch from DPS to Support if you felt today wasn’t a good day to shoot some people.
“There is no counterplay, only counterpick” Seagull, professional Overwatch player.
But them being unable to balance the game is not the only reason as to why I dislike Overwatch. They have a track record of just… not doing a lot with the game. There’s a seasonal event every year for Halloween, Christmas and a few others, but they always feature the same. freaking. event. I love Lucio Ball for sure and am glad to see it return every year, but there’s nothing new aside from skins for heroes in loot boxes. Junkenstein’s Revenge was fun the first few times, but it’s so very boring seeing it return every year. Arcade has the slightly better end of the stick, but also very often consists of the same modes we’ve seen countless time, just on a daily rotation. Fans have been begging for a PvE mode or especially a story campaign and while that is coming with Overwatch 2… some day, it’s very noticeable how the Blizzard team hasn’t done a whole lot with the current game. Now in their defense, they did implement the workshop which was a great addition for a lot of people because ”If Blizzard isn’t going to give us modes, then we will”. A lot of great modes have been created by the community, which almost makes Overwatch an entirely different game. I haven’t tried out a whole lot, but the parkour course maps were very fun. You’re Lucio or another hero, starring in The Floor is Lava. There is a serious amount of modes here and honestly, they’re probably the modes I’ll be playing the most whenever I return to Overwatch.
Finally there’s something that’s not entirely the game’s fault, but Blizzard isn’t blameless either: toxicity. Now, there are multiple reasons as to why I’m saying this. Let’s start with something I’ve already mentioned earlier: the game indirectly forcing you to choose a character. If role queue doesn’t force you into a role, it’s the meta that you have to counterpick if you want to win. And if you aren’t winning, who gets the blame? If you’re not blaming anyone, then someone else will. And it’s very easy for a specific person to be picked on not because they’re constantly seeing what you’re doing in the game self, but what you have accomplished the entire match. A simple click on the ”tab” button, and people are easily granted the ability to say ”I have gold medals and this many kills, so that automatically means you are the reason we’re losing”. We are all humans, and we like to base our life on statistics. People who read- and watch reviews usually check out the given scores, if a game sells worse than the other then it’s automatically worse, and if you have more kills in the game you’re doing the most work. Or what about the lovely endorsement system where you can give a compliment to someone after the match? Yeah that’s fine and all, but the endorsements give experience as well so obviously, people are just going to use it because they can. Just because a user has level 4 endorsement doesn’t mean they aren’t toxic. Can Blizzard eliminate the core of toxicity? Of course no, who are we kidding. But there are ways to handle it better. The toxicity sometimes just burned me out, because I couldn’t join a single match with people not fighting the other team, but their own allies.
But now the big question arises: do I actually hate Overwatch? No, far from it. I just made that title to clickbait you, and if you’re reading this then I probably succeeded, hurray! Now hand over all of your money so I can feed my lovely dog. Joking aside though; I don’t hate Overwatch, but I definitely want to see it improve. The player-base is shrinking more and more, and that’s not because they dislike playing the game, but because of bad decisions by Blizzard themselves. So to end up on a high note, I wanted to share a few proposals I’ve had in mind. I am not a game developer so some of these are probably too far-fetched, but other ideas can possibly arise from my own.
- Give the players more input on what buffs- and debuffs should go through. Now I know what you’re saying ”but Neppy, the best Overwatch player in the world if there were no other humans alive, did you forget about the PTR?”. First of all, I could hear that stab in the back loud and clear. But what you’re saying is indeed true: The PTR exists. But it happens very rarely (read: never) that a buff- or debuff doesn’t go through after it’s been on the PTR. I think it would be great if there is a sort of voting system in place where people can vote on buff- and debuff ideas, and if they should go through or not. I know us players are no an expert at game design, but having more ideas always help. People like Blame the Controller have made some awesome hero concepts, and other people have made ideas on how a hero should be reworked or buffed. Since most of the buffs- and debuffs are based on what the players do, it might not be a bad idea to also gauge what the players want.
- Make two quickplays, or remove role queue from the current quickplay. I know there is a mode in Arcade where you can play how the game used to work, but the role queue has made queueing times for quickplay ridiculous and frankly, that’s not what quickplay is about. It’s a mode where you quickly jump in, play a random game, then jump out again and feel like you’ve had a fun time.
- No beating around the bush here: change your seasonal events. Nobody wants to play Junkerstein’s Revenge for the 5th time.
- This is a controversial opinion and it’s something I would like your opinion on: vote kick. It’s a system where people can decide to kick someone for whatever reason. Games like Chivalry handle this pretty well for example, as they show if a player has been trolling on purpose or if their internet connection sucks. But this system is also highly abusable since anyone is given the power to kick, and to vote. Besides, it wouldn’t work in modes like Competitive since people can’t join a game while it’s ongoing, and Competitive is where most of the toxicity rises. So my question to you is: would you like to see vote kick happen, or do you have an idea on how to counter toxicity?
Is Overwatch still a fun game? Definitely. Am I looking forward to Overwatch 2? Yes, for sure. But does the game need to be improved? Absolutely. I would like nothing more than to revisit this game with my friends, especially when the sequel/expansion drops. Overwatch is not a bad game and I do not hate it, but Blizzard keeps making questionable decisions. Unfortunately, the latter doesn’t apply exclusively to Overwatch, as Blizzard as a whole is a mess right now. But enough about me; what are you experienced with Overwatch? Have you ever played it and if so, do you still play it? Who are your main characters to play as? Let me know down below, I’m definitely interested!