Overwatch: The Best and Worst of the Open Beta
So the Overwatch Open Beta ended recently. I’ve played it a lot. It’s very polished and incredibly fun to play, naturally as a beta, the Overwatch game still has issues though. So let’s talk about them, feel free to contribute in the comment section below!
For the large part, most of the Overwatch heroes seem pretty balanced. When you consider this game already has over 20 heroes, that’s a hell of a feat. Overwatch heroes are divided into 4 categories.
Offense classes are the damage dealers that can move around and largely function without assistance. Tracer, for example, can move around the map incredibly quickly, flanking enemies and deal big chunks of damage and escaping when things get a little hot.
Defense classes are also damage dealers, but they’re more centered around… well defending. Laying traps, finding good positions and waiting to attack. Take Mei for example, she can freeze enemies with her Endothermic Blaster at close range leaving them vulnerable to other attackers.
Tanks are also pretty obvious. They have high health and are designed to attract attention with abilities to deal with that. Reinhardt for example is a melee focused hero who can deploy an energy barrier that deflects enemy attacks but allows Overwatch teammates to shoot through at targets. He’s great for making a push with the right teammates.
Support classes come in a few different forms, support heroes can heal or buff teammates in other ways. Mercy can heal a single teammate, or switch it up to increase their damage. Lucio, on the other hand, has a passive healing or speed boost ability that affects any teammates within eyesight.
The point is that with 20 different Overwatch heroes to choose from, Overwatch has tons of variety. Unlike Team Fortress 2, I don’t find myself feeling a little guilty for swapping heroes or classes at times. (Unless I’m the only support.) In fact, it seems like it’s a big part of the game.
The meta is constantly shifting based on team compositions. Is Torbjorn’s turret dealing serious damage? Pharah’s long range rocket launcher can deal with it. Is Genji’s fast movement and attack too much? Mei can slow him down, if not completely immobilize him. I don’t really feel like I have to pick a hero and commit to them for an entire round. It keeps things moving as each character’s different strengths and weakness keep the combat frequently changing and interesting.
That being said. There are two heroes that particularly frustrate me.
Hanzo is an archer, the problem is that there’s no charge up on his bow. He can pull it back quickly and deal high damage regardless of distance meaning it’s tough to fight him at any range because of how rapidly fire his arrows. His ultimate is some weird arrow that generates a massive pair of traveling dragons that damage anyone caught in their trajectory. What makes his ultimate so annoying is that can travel through walls and floors with no penalties. Pretty much every Hanzo player largely just fires the thing in the direction of the objective and often gets tons of easy multi-kills from it. It’s cheap, powerful and incredibly frustrating to deal with.
Here’s my ideas for balancing him. Firstly, increase Hanzo’s draw time on arrows, or at least introduce some form of draw-time that modifies the damage based on how long Hanzo spends drawing the arrow. Secondly, his Ultimate needs major damage nerfs. I think damage reductions should be based on how long it’s traveled for, with additional reductions for any walls or floors is passes through.
Bastion, another defense hero who can hammer down and turn in to a turret. The main problem is that regardless of your hero, it’s incredibly hard to counter his turret mode. It has pretty much perfect accuracy at any distance, making him potentially devastating regardless of how good his positioning is. He does have a weak spot on his back, the problem is that even in turret mode, Bastion still retains a full 360-degree rotation and has no slowing effects to how fast he can aim. So basically, the second he takes even a little damage from behind, he can turn around and immediately mow down any attackers that flank him.
My ideas for Bastion are pretty simple, firstly. I think his accuracy needs major reductions to reduce it’s effectiveness at distances as he can easily take down snipers at long range as well as anything at close range. I don’t really have a problem with Bastion having full 360-degree rotation, but I do have a problem with how he can still move his aim around at a normal speed. Maybe a little stiffness and reduction in sensitivity during turret mode would go a long way.
Hanzo and Bastion are the only two heroes I have major problems with. The only other issues are fairly minor. I don’t particularly like Widowmaker’s sniper doubling as an assault rifle because It gives her reasonable defense abilities at close range, something Snipers shouldn’t really be able to do. Reaper’s dual shotguns are incredibly effective at close range as they should be, but also feel a little too effective at mid-range too.
The Overwatch map design is wonderful, there’s plenty of color and character as each map is set in a different country. The game modes themselves are locked to the map, not the other way round. So some Overwatch maps are standard attack/defend, others are Payload or King of the Hill. Payload maps feature a vehicle that the attacking team needs to push towards the objective by standing near it while the defenders have to block the payload by killing the attackers or contesting the payload by standing near it. There’s also a King of the Hill style mode featuring a single capture point in the center of the map with both teams fighting for it.
The Overwatch maps are nicely designed but a lot of them are just closed off corridors. Payload especially just largely features straight, narrow paths with maybe one or two side paths which can make it incredibly tough to surprise and ambush enemies, both on attack and defense. The King of the Hill maps are equally guilty, the only open spot being the actual capture point itself. While the variety, and colorful nature of the maps is fun to look at. It’s closed off nature can feel limiting in terms of what you can really do at times.
PLAY OF THE GAME
My only other real issue with the Overwatch open beta was the Play of the Game system. At the end of the match it will play back a certain player’s best moment, but it was usually just Hanzo blindly firing his Ultimate at an objective, Bastion’s turret mode or something else that just seemed really effortless. Yeah OK, it’s a dumb thing to moan about. It’d just be nice to see Play of the Game clips that are actually impressive. How about a few extra “X of the Game” screens too? Like the support who healed the most, or that Reinhardt whose Energy Barrier absorbed insane amounts of damage to support the team?
Despite my moaning, and that small rant about Hanzo and Bastion. I actually really enjoyed my time with the Overwatch beta. The diverse range of characters, I had zero connection issues during games or encountered any glitches or bugs. It was an incredibly polished experience, which is reassuring considering Overwatch is less than two weeks away from release. Considering that what I played in the Open Beta is basically what we’ll have to play at launch then I can safely say that I think my pre-order was a good decision. Except for the part where the beta ended and now I have to wait till May 24th for the real thing. At least Doom comes out on Friday to keep me company.