By Dia Ascenzi
The hype surrounding the launch of Overwatch was real. 9.7 million players played the open beta, logging 81 million hours, and 37 million matches played. The word “hyped” may not actually do that justice. Players were pleased with the finished product, and it lived up to the hype.
First of all, it looks great. The maps are beautiful, and the heroes aren’t bad to look at, either (I always think of this Conan skit). It’s an FPS, but not like what most people expect from such. It’s not your typical military-type FPS. It’s got a sci-fi/fantasy style with very unique characters to choose from, each with their own style, weapon type, strengths, and weaknesses. Think of it maybe as a cross between CS:GO, League of Legends, and Team Fortress 2 (yeah, I chose three of the best games to compare it to, what does that say?). So will Overwatch become the next big esport? And if so, will it hold its own against the other juggernauts in the industry? All signs point to “yes.”
For players to want to play a game long-term, especially on a competitive level, they need to be heard. Who can say what the game lacks or does well better than the players, after all? That means the game needs some pretty damned good developer support. Overwatch has Blizzard, and Blizzard plans to do right by Overwatch. A game like this, with plenty of exclusive characters (about 21 so far), skills, and weaponry, has a lot of room for growth. Blizzard can add more characters, weapons, maps, and even multiplayer arenas, keeping players and spectators interested.
You’ve got tanks, offense, defense, and support. This game was built around team-gameplay. You have characters like Mercy, a healer/scientist support role with incandescent wings, or Winston, a tank role in the form of a genetically engineered gorilla decked out in high-tech armor and a huge electric gun, giving each character the potential to be someone’s favorite. And with such variety, there is a ton of room for tinkering with different party compositions and different strategies.
One large boon to Overwatch’s competitive esports potential is that it has options. The game even has four game modes. This allows for some variety when it comes to competitive tournaments. The Escort, Assault, Hybrid, and Control game modes allow for some variety, and will prevent players from growing bored. This also allows for Blizzard to add even more game modes, so the game doesn’t grow stagnant. I know every time a new battleground in WoW would come out, I would be giddy with excitement at playing it, and getting good at the strategy.