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Overwatch Breaks New Ground For Blizzard

Activision Blizzard is the world’s most profitable game company, at least among companies that produce only games.

Microsoft and Sony have these side businesses that also make some cash, but that’s not important right now.

What is important is that the Blizzard part of Activision Blizzard is getting ready to put their own unique spin on a genre they’ve not entered before, the team based first person shooter. Mind you, shooters are well known on the other side of the aisle, with Activision’s Call of Duty franchise, but there are some unique things about the new Blizzard game.

It’s called Overwatch and it entered open beta this week. Open beta is that stage where anyone who wants to can download the game and try it for free. This is ostensibly to help the developers stress test the game servers and shake out any bugs, but it’s also a time of getting some serious hype going for the game.

Overwatch began its life as a mini-game within the larger Project Titan MMO that Blizzard has now officially canceled. That sounds like one of those “all I got to show for it is this lousy t-shirt” jokes, but it isn’t every day that a company packs a successor to World of Warcraft into the trash bin and declares “but this bit here is lots of fun!”

Team compositions should be a ton of fun once this gets to the competitive gaming leagues.

Overwatch is your classic team shooter, it really feels like Quake, Doom, or Half Life. But instead of channeling the 90s where all characters were created equal, the Blizzard spin on this is to give characters differing abilities. Some do more damage, others are harder to kill, while still others are stealthy and hard to pin down. You’re dealing with player versus player here, not player versus the computer, so it’s wrong to think we’re going to have the same kind of holy trinity (tank, healer, damage dealer) that we are stuck with in MMOs, but it’s true that this lets players find a character that suits their own personal playstyle. Team compositions should be a ton of fun once this gets to the competitive gaming leagues.

Overwatch has cartoonish graphics that are highly detailed and fluid. Like most Blizzard games, even though it looks good on high end computers, it will still run on any moderate hardware. Overwatch is coming out on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, so you’ll be able to play on consoles also.

Because the game hasn’t been released yet, I can’t offer you too many specifics on gameplay, my own experience with it has been limited, but I’ve watched Twitch streamers in closed beta put the game through its paces, and it is very impressive.

If you are a fan of team based first person shooters and you like the idea of teams made up of disparate characters that play in their own distinct fashion, then Overwatch will be for you. Like all Blizzard titles, it will be a solid game with a high degree of polish. Unlike other Blizzard games, however, there will be no Mac support. If you want to play Overwatch on an Apple computer, you’ll need to get your Bootcamp partition prepared for booting into Windows.

No official launch date has been given, but with the game in open beta it won’t be long now. Overwatch will launch on PC, Xbox One, and PS4, with a retail price on the base game of $50 to $60, and a collector’s edition that will sell for $130 to $150. You get a cool action figure with that, but I’m not feeling it.

I don’t rate unreleased games, but I’ll tell you that Overwatch bears watching. Yeah…I said it. That’s Into Gaming, I’m Mark Lautenschlager.

Written by Mark Lautenschlager

Mark Lautenschlager

Mark hosts the weekly "Into Gaming" Feature on the "Into Tomorrow with Dave Graveline" broadcasts and is an avid PC gamer, IT Director, and webmaster. He is married for three decades to the most patient woman on Earth, while paying for the college educations of his children. His hobbies include MMORPGs and eating sushi.

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