After an incredibly successful open beta just a few weeks ago, Overwatch finally released officially yesterday. Although retail copies could be had early in the day, everyone had to wait until 7pm EDT for servers to go live. While there were a few launch hiccups similar to those experienced with many other online-heavy games, I was luckily able to get into matches about 20 minutes after the servers went live and didn’t run into any issues after that. As someone who missed the open beta but now has about 2-3 hours under my belt, I have some thoughts…

In the opening minutes of my first Overwatch match, the hype that’s been building around the game over the last few months finally made sense to me. I didn’t have a chance to participate in the open beta earlier in the month and, until yesterday, I didn’t spend much time looking at gameplay videos. What I had seen looked like a fun, fast, and frantic shooter, but coming from a more traditional history with shooters (Call of Duty, Battlefield, etc), I wasn’t sure how the hero mechanics would feel in practice. Even with the wide range of options, it can seem limiting to choose a hero with a pre-set loadout of weapons and abilities.

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The first two heroes I tried out were Tracer and Soldier: 76. Tracer (seen above) is incredibly fast and has the ability to teleport and rewind time. While her guns aren’t the most powerful and she has a very small amount of health compared to the other heroes, her mobility makes her a powerful option. By teleporting into and rewinding out of a skirmish, she’s able to quickly deal damage and back down before it can be reciprocated. Her Ultimate attack, a sticky grenade, also works well with this strategy. I quickly found success teleporting into a group of enemies to stick one with my grenade before rewinding time to get out of the blast radius.

maxresdefault1Soldier: 76 is a bit closer to a traditional FPS character. He uses an auto rifle and rocket launcher combo while his special abilities allow him to sprint and heal himself as well as his teammates. While he may not sound like the most exciting character to play in an over-the-top game like Overwatch, Soldier: 76 will likely be an excellent transitional character for people like myself who haven’t spent a lot of time in class-based multiplayer games. When played well, he’s a jack of all trades offensive character, healing allies and dealing a fair amount of damage to the other team.

maxresdefault2The last character I spent a round or two with is Reaper. While he moves a bit slower than Tracer and Soldier: 76, he’s able to make up for it with his dual-wield shotguns that do quite a bit of damage at close range. His special abilities allow him to teleport and to briefly move about the map with invulnerability. His Ultimate attack, the Death Blossom, deals a considerable amount of damage to all enemies nearby and works incredibly well in conjunction with his long-distance teleportation ability. You’re able to target a group of enemies from afar, teleport into the middle of them, and quickly execute the Death Blossom as a surprise attack that most teams won’t see coming. It’s a great way to clear off an objective that’s being swarmed by the enemy team. Aside from all that, he doesn’t reload his guns, instead opting to throw them on the ground and mysteriously pull out two more…every time. It makes for a fun animation!

I’m really enjoying my time with Overwatch, definitely more than I thought I would. I’m only a few hours in so far and it remains to be seen whether it will get its hooks in me for the long-term, but I’m thinking it may. Just going by my experiences with the three characters above out of a full roster of 21, it’s clear there is a tremendous amount of depth to the gameplay here paired with a level of accessibility that keeps you from feeling overwhelmed as you learn the ins and outs of a new hero. If you’ve been keeping an eye on Overwatch but aren’t sold yet, I would definitely recommend taking a deeper look.

Have you been playing Overwatch? Who are your favorite heroes to play as? Let me know in the comments!

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