It’s been only a few months since Blizzard revealed that some 20 million players had played Overwatch. That number has since ballooned up to 25 million, a staggering figure for a new IP franchise that was released less than a year ago.
The world needs heroes, and over 25 MILLION have answered the call!
The fight for the future isn’t over yet, though… Are you with us? pic.twitter.com/aVoON7QwMB
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) January 26, 2017
1. The lore
It’s might just be “there”, but we love it. From the first moment Blizzard introduced us to the world of Overwatch, we knew this was going to be something special. The game itself doesn’t do much for expanding that lore, but from brilliant animated shorts to elaborate fan theories, it’s clear that Overwatch has a surprisingly deep, enthralling and intriguing lore that the community loves.
2. The unpredictability
You can just never know what’s around that corner. Will a Bastion be there, waiting to shred you to pieces? I can hear Reinhardt, but is he close by? Oh God … is that Tracer? They have their ultimate … but when will they use it!? Not knowing how to react until it’s too late: that’s so “Overwatch”.
3. The maps
Some are better than others, but they never grow old. That’s probably due to Blizzard’s matchmaking system, randomly cycling through them at a rate with no double-ups. I’ve never personally been in a lobby waiting to start a match and have thought to myself, “Damn I hate this map!”. I’m sure some of you think like that, but there’s always a way to enjoy a map, even if you mostly dislike it. There’s always something.
4. The team work
What I love about Overwatch is the fact that it’s so relentlessly team-focused even without demanding team chat. You can simply read how your teammates play and adjust accordingly, and the newly added team feature post-match is a great addition that allows you to team-up with similarly skilled players.
5. The events
The Summer Olympics. Halloween. Christmas. Lunar New Year. Sure, they’re mostly made up of aesthetic changes, but subtle additions, like the recent Capture The Rooster mode, help keep the experience fresh and exciting.
6. The community
I assume some may claim it’s “toxic”, but that’s the case with every game these days. I just love that the community is open to discussing patches, adjustments, nerfs, and buffs. I also love how players interact and have a goof-around with each other before matches. It’s subtle, I know, but it gives the game personality, something I feel is severely lacking from most other multiplayer shooters.
7. The developer
Blizzard needs no introduction for obvious reasons, but the work the studio has done to refine and service the community has been superb. As with above, I’m sure some people will find the negative in this, but few developers are as open and engaging with a community as Blizzard is with Overwatch players.
8. The evolution
The game is very different to what it was at launch, and despite what Roadhog and D.Va mains may say, it’s definitely for the better. More maps, more heroes, seasonable events, nerfs, buffs, balancing. The restructuring of the game modes was also welcomed.
9. The diversity
Few games have as genuinely a diverse range of characters (that isn’t forced) as Overwatch does. Nothing about the heroes in Overwatch makes it seem like they are the way they are because of “reasons”. They are just the most perfect, natural bunch of dudes, dudettes and what-have-yous to ever grace our screens.
10. The Arcade
The Arcade turned the forgettable Brawls into an all-round chaotic blend of has-been modes and wannabe superstars. That Blizzard refined Quick Play and made Arcade Mode more of a free-for-all shows the developer’s commitment to refining and balancing the experience. It’s also proven to be a great outlet for temporary seasonal modes.
11. The competitive nature
Competitive Play got off to a rough start in Season 1, but as we get to the end of Season 3, it’s great to see how far it’s come. Quick Play’s competitive urge has also improved out of sight thanks to the removal of hero stacking, which has been demoted to Arcade.
12. The play of the game
There isn’t an Overwatch player in the world that has watched the Play Of The Game and not thought, “What crap! I deserved the POTG!” Now of course, this feature is a nice little privilege we players get, there to improve the “broadcast” nature of the game. It’s a nice formal way of trash talking: there’s nothing better than having your sextuple kill broadcast for everyone to see!
13. The ultimates
Few in-game bonuses and abilities are as game-breaking as the Overwatch ultimate. If you’ve only played one game, you know the feeling of having built up towards one, before activating it and dealing a devastating blow to the opposition. The trick, of course, is not to rush, to hold onto that illusive ultimate for just the right moment. But can you resist?
14. The skins
They’re fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but skins represent more than just aesthetic appeal. They allow players to showcase personality and commitment, with Legendary skins being the hot commodity. We’ve all paid real money for a loot box, and we’ll all probably buy more. And the seasonal events add even more to the pile, before eventually being taken off the market, left to sit there in the list, unable to be purchased. We all know the pain.
15. The sprays
The pre-game ritual involves spraying your hero spray on a wall for all to see. And then, once the game begins, placing it in the ultimate troll location to tease your opponent. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about.
16. The chaos
That feeling of jumping into a match half-way through, only for your team to be getting absolutely slaughtered. It’s frustrating, but part of the fun. Those Capture matches, when two teams are so evenly matched, that minutes go by before someone even makes the first capture. It’s just kill, spawn, repeat. Over and over again until that one team gets the advantage. It’s the chaos that brings us back.
17. The emotes
We need more — and Blizzard says they’re coming — but the ways in which the characters (and players) can interact is subtle but cool. Further, the ability to communicate to team members about ultimate charge is an important tactical necessity.
18. The overtime
Oh, the overtime! That final rush to a point to either snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, or, in some cases, avoid the embarrassing lost. Overtime is such a great gameplay initiative, giving the losing team that little bit of extra hope to push them along.
19. The counters
No hero is invincible, and every one has a weak spot. Knowing the ins and outs of every single hero makes for an engaging experience, one that dictates precision, patience and practice. There’s nothing better than countering a McCree Deadeye or Soldier’s Tactical Visor.
20. The microtransactions
You might be wondering why this is here. It exists in this list purely because Blizzard has stayed cool and refused to monetise gameplay elements of the experience. Microtransactions are limited to loot boxes. Here’s hoping it stays that way.
21. The pre-game banter
This is another goof-off scenario that is really only possible in Overwatch. We’ve all done it: sprinted up to the attacking team’s HQ, and waved hello while they sit waiting for the gates to open. Silly, sure. Fun? Not really. Cocky? Hells yeah!
22. The stability
Aside from launch week issues, Overwatch has never (in my experience) suffered from server issues, lag, or any of the other online issues that plague most shooters these days. You have to give it to Blizzard for creating a multiplayer game we all know just “works”.
23. The balance
There are 23 heroes, and while Blizzard is always battling a demanding community that wants complete and utter perfection, the studio has created a character roster that just feel right. Sure, teams change and mix-and-match during a match, but that’s to be expected: some heroes team up and battle against certain heroes better than others. That Blizzard has created such a diverse roster of characters that bounce off each other so well is a testament to how great Overwatch truly is.
24. The comebacks
One of the great things about Overwatch is that it’s never over until it’s over. Your team can be getting absolutely pounded with only a few seconds left, before a final, aggressive push snags the point. Then, suddenly, you’re back in control and on the way to victory. Those are the best victories.
And finally …
25. The heroes
Let’s give it up for these guys!