News dude and musician Trent Saunders has been patiently waiting for Overwatch for what seems like most of his adult life. Editor and organic chemist Kieran Stockton walked into the beta with lower expectations, but walked away quite impressed with what he saw and played. Kieran has decided to grill Trent on his experience with the beta and see if it lived up to his lofty expectations.
Kieran Stockton: If you had to describe Overwatch in ten words or less, what ten words or less would you choose and what order would you put them in?
Trent Saunders: Tracer, Butt, Controversial, Epic, TF2, Quake, GG, Obsessed
KS: What similarities does Overwatch bear to a game such as say, Sonic Freeriders?
TS: The similarities are close, both titles are made by SEGA and involve an intricate narrative depicting a father/daughter relationship during the apocalypse.
KS: Do you feel the game was balanced? Were there any weak characters you feel people avoided or overpowered characters that people flocked to? What’s all this fuss about Bastion?
TS: I feel Blizz have done a fantastic job balancing the characters. This is mostly due to the company focusing on making it the best title it can be with a lot of rigorous alpha & beta testing. Some Heroes may seem annoying to fight against in some capacity, but all can be countered and overcome with hero switching and team work. I will say that proper countering was only really possible in an environment where I was partied up with friends or other mic’d up players. The open beta period was interesting as it was essentially a F2P environment (paying customers will likely have a different attitude), and teaming up with random players was a bit of a mixed bag. Solo Queue could be a nightmare when you were rolling with strangers who didn’t know what they’re doing, or far worse than that, didn’t communicate.
Bastion was one of the more played characters I saw. He is a rather annoying bugger to deal with but still easy to overcome with the right combo (Widowmaker or Hanzo destroy him). As for lesser played characters, I think I saw Zarya less than ten times in all my play up to level 28. I thought she was fantastic as a defence character, but incredibly undervalued. Those shield buffs of hers can be a game changer in the final seconds of a Payload run.
Robot/deadly turret Bastion caused headaches for some
KS: I think Blizzard want to stamp out toxicity in the online adversarial scene by not being able to view other people’s post-game stats. Do you agree with this practice? Will Call of Duty players be saddened by this? Will someone please think about the CoD players!
TS: WILL SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN! Seriously though, this is a practice Blizz have implemented in some form for a while now. Heroes of the Storm is very similar in how it approached post-game stats. It certainly helps stamps out toxicity in the genre, although I would appreciate the ability to view stats when finding players for ranked and competitive play. You do have the ability to view career profiles out-of-game at least. We will have to wait and see how the stats systems evolves after launch.
KS: I quite liked the fact that kills are effectively shared by all participating players. There was a real sense of camaraderie and it fostered a culture of teamwork and communication. Do you think people who play this game without a mic should be cast to the fiery depths of hell?
TS: Solo Queue and playing without a mic is something that won’t be a problem in Quick Match or vs AI modes. They are a great way for anybody to jump in and have fun without the notion of losing ranks or needing the communication element. Ranked and competitive modes are a different beast however, and I agree that there is a special place in hell for those solo players who choose not to communicate verbally with the team (unless they are actually mute or had their microphone destroyed in a freak gasoline fight accident). The communication wheel is handy however, but vague. It is nice to see how far a player’s ultimate ability has left to charge for example. The open beta was always going to have an unconventional player base as it was free to play. Every Tom, Dick and Harry was out there just shooting stuff and getting the lay of the land. When it hits retail I hope the community can tighten up and it becomes easier to connect with those who want get serious in the ranked modes or simply dick around in Quick Match.
Pharah: Death from above
KS: Were your fragile Western sensibilities able to handle the presentation of Tracer’s bum or did you take to the Internet and complain furiously? Do you think Blizzard is guilty of objectification? Hanzo seems fairly scantily clad.
TS: It was all a bit dumb really. Her pose (in my opinion) wasn’t that offensive. Then again, nothing offends me (except the last One Direction album). That being said, maybe a semi-sexualised pose didn’t suit her character and I can see how it may have detracted a little. The whole debacle was majorly overblown to say the least, but at least Jeff Kaplan (director) was open to rectifying the issue, however minor it was. Also, you think Hanzo is scantily clad? I feel Roadhog is posing for the rough new S&M club down the road.
KS: The game features a levelling system where only cosmetic items are gained from loot boxes. Is this progression system going to be satisfying enough? Where is the game going to find its lasting appeal?
TS: In one way, unlocking cosmetic items (which confer no gameplay advantages) is awesome from a completionist standpoint and can be quite addictive in and of itself. I mean, look at people’s obsession with hats in TF2. For players stomping around in Quick Match who are used to the CoD style of progression with gun upgrades and the like, it might be slightly underwhelming and they might not be able to find the point of playing at all. Some people need that carrot on a stick. However, the heart of this title looks to be in ranked and competitive play: That is getting to number 1 and STAYING at number 1 (no mean feat if the skill pool is like any of Blizz’s previous competitive titles). I feel the game will be interesting on console in terms of lifespan, but will definitely be here to stay with the PC crowd. I may be wrong however and we won’t know until launch!
Triggered: Ban this sick filth
KS: Thank you for your time TS, I look forward to your review come May 24th.
TS: Thank you Key-Ran, I can’t wait to share the definitive answers with you! Safe to say however, things are looking mighty fine for Blizzard’s latest.