Opinion: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: The First Year of Overwatch
We are now less than a week away from Overwatch‘s first anniversary, and it seems fitting to take a step back, and look at all that happened both in-game, and within its community. From patches, through events, all the way down to new heroes. we’re going to take a look at all the things that had a major impact on Overwatch, and its mainstream reception. And in order to keep everything clear and concise, this article will feature three predetermined sections. The Good, where it’ll discuss all the good stuff that happened within the last 12 months. The Bad, which as the name suggests, will cover all the rather unfavourable things which have taken place. And last, but certainly not least, The Ugly, which will cover all the Overwatch related occurrences which were down right, well, ugly.
The Good: Anna Amari
Some of you may ask ”Why is this just about Ana, and not about all three new heroes, which have been added over the course of last year?”. And by making such statement, some of you could be right questioning the omittance of Orisa and Sombra, but not currently. Because as of now, both Sombra, and Orisa, are what I like to call ‘trash-tier heroes’, and Ana might just be one of the best, if not the best support, featured currently in-game.
Unlike the other supports such as Mercy, and Zenyatta, Ana, can support her team from the other side of the map, as long as she has a line of sight. And unlike the other heroes of the support category, she can both heal, and deal damage, at a reasonable rate without having to switch. But healing, and dealing damage with her rifle, is not what made her a must pick. In fact, the thing that secured Ana a spot in nearly each and every team is the ability to single handily shut down a push, not with her ultimate, but with her offhand abilities.
With her sleeping dart, Ana can shut down each and every hero, regardless of his size, or the amount of health, and can render each and every other enemy support useless, with the use of her biotic grenade. And what makes her even better, is the fact that Ana, is a hero who can only be played efficiently by highly skilled players, meaning that while being extremely effective at a high level/rank games, she is not overly powerful in the lower tier games. And this makes her one of the Good things that happened last year.
The Bad: Pleb-tier Patches
”Oh no baby what! is you doing?” was my exact reaction to every single patch aimed at the ultra-casual player, or as some like to call him/her, a pleb. These patches usually involved things like Mercy invulnerability buff, countless McCree nerfs, which don’t seem to have an end, and Soldier 76 damage nerf, which is likely to come out on the anniversary. And it seems fitting for Blizzard to release a pleb-tier patch, on the day of the anniversary, very fitting in fact.
Hopefully, sooner rather than later, Blizzard will realise how much more important competitive Overwatch is in comparison to the quick play, and arcade. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll see some patch in the future which buff heroes like the previously mentioned McCree, but patches which also make such heroes more difficult to play at a higher level. A simple addition of recoil pattern, and the return to the pre-pleb patch damage mechanic, would make McCree a much more viable hero, and one that can only be truly used by higher ranked/skilled players. Who knows, maybe the Overwatch League will make Blizzard concentrate more on the competitive players, rather than the quick-play players. But for now, and for the foreseeable future, quick-play oriented patches are definitely bad for the growth of the casual community, and the eSports scene.
The Ugly: Overwatch League
Overwatch League, where to even start with this one. It is really difficult to talk about something that after eight months is still nothing more than a name, and a single logo. And this is probably why I, the biggest sceptic of the League around, have decided to not mark it neither as good, or bad. And that’s simply because the entire situation surrounding the League, is downright ugly. In fact, Overwatch League appears to be the Flying Dutchman of the Overwatch eSports scene. To most it is nothing more than a myth, the only information about it is publicised by anonymous ‘crew members’, and anybody who has ever gazed at it in person, has been subsequently doomed, as week by week, more and more endemic eSports organizations have released their Overwatch teams.
The way in which the Overwatch League has been handled since its announcement, has been unfortunate. And in all honesty, looking back at it now, it might have been announced way too early. Rumours, leaks, and Blizzard’s radio silence don’t help either, and the fact that they’ve only made a single statement about the league, after being forced to do so by the numerous leaks, makes the entire situation even more shambolic. But I hope that in the coming months, we’ll hear more about League, and the future of the scene outside of it. Because as of today, Overwatch League is an extremely worrying concept.
The Good: PVE Events
After going over some things that were bad, and others that were simply ugly, it’s time to discuss something that was, and still is really good about Overwatch, and the thing, or rather things are the PVE events. As at least to me, PVE events were the highlight of Overwatch‘s inaugural year. From the most recent uprising, through Halloween Terror, all the way back to the Lucio Ball, which despite pitching two teams of players against each other, didn’t involve any killing, and like the other two events, gave you a break from the PvP matches.
Overwatch‘s PvE events were not only a good way to earn some XP, and grind out loot boxes, but also allowed you to practice playing with heroes, which you otherwise would tend to stay away from. Lucio Ball made me appreciate how useful Lucio can be in displacing enemies with the L2 soundwave. Junkenstein made me appreciate Ana more not just as healer, but also as a crowd control character, and a shot caller. And the most recent Uprising allowed me to practice playing with Rein, and ever since the event, I haven’t lost a single competitive match while playing as him, and I tend to be the MVP, whenever I decide to pick him up, instead of my go-to-character, Soldier 76.
The PvE events were truly amazing, and I hope that in the future, we’ll get to play more modes such as Junkenstein’s Revenge, and much less tiresome PvP battle modes such as Mei’s Snowball Fight, and the rather dreadful Year of the Rooster CTF monstrosity. In fact, I’m all in for completely scrapping the IRL related events, as the Overwatch based events, are not only much more fun to play, but are also much more interesting, as they give one an insight into Overwatch‘s lore. And as of now, we know very little about the world of Overwatch, and about the characters which feature within it.
The Bad, and The Ugly: Fool’s Gold
Unlike all the previous parts of this article, this one is a double whammy. Because this section will talk about something that is so bad, it is simply ugly, and the subject in question is Overwatch‘s lootbox economy. And economy may not be the right word to use here, because economy usually doesn’t involve a con, and Overwatch loot box system, and the in-game currency, at times, feels just like a basic con. For which I, and many others fall for, because well, skins are much more important than maintenance of healthy common sense.
In Overwatch, there are two ways of obtaining items. One involves simply opening loot boxes, and hoping that the item you want will randomly drop, and the other, allows you to purchase the cosmetic items you desire with coins obtained through the aforementioned loot boxes. Coins can either drop in batches of 50, 150, and 250, or can be given to you if one, or multiple items in your recently opened box are a duplicate. However, no matter how you approach the matter of obtaining Overwatch‘s cosmetic items, you will always have to open loot boxes.
The debacle concerning Overwatch’s loot box economy is not as serious when being discussed outside of any of the timed events, such as the most recent Uprising. And this is because during the said events, Blizzard also releases a batch of event and time exclusive cosmetic items, which can only be obtained during the three week period, when the event is live. However, where normal items can be purchased for as little as 25 coins, and as much as 1000, then the event exclusive items start at 75, and end at a whopping 3000 coins. And if you happen to get a duplicate, or as in my case, six duplicates of the same Legendary event-related skin, worth 3000 coins, you will not get, 750 coins for each duplicate, but 250. As despite increase in price, the return on the duplicates stays the same. And such state of events is simply laughable.
It has to be underlined that in its current state, Overwatch is still light on content, and the rather stingy in-game economy system may be a result of that. And I hope that year 2 of Overwatch will introduce some needed changes to the economy, such as event coins, which can only be acquired during an event, and can only be spent on event related items. So it is easier for you to build up the required amount of coins for a skin, or an emote, but by the time the event comes to a close, you won’t just be able to simply buy every other basic skin in the game, because you’ve amassed 10000 coins during an event.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: The Summary
All in all, 2016 was a pretty good year for Overwatch, and despite some minor hiccups, it has managed to maintain its growth, and as of May, 2017, it has attracted over 30 million players. And every single one of the 30 million ‘heroes’, as Blizzard likes to call them, just like me, could create a list like this, and for every single one of these people, such list would feature a plethora of completely different examples. But one thing that we can all agree on is that Overwatch, unlike Rainbow Six: Siege, is an incredibly stable, and mechanically perfect game, which in this day and age is a rarity. And i feel like this is the most accurate point, with which this piece should end, as in the heat of the battle, many forget just how good Overwatch truly is.
Here’s to the first successful year of Overwatch, and hopefully many more to come. And to pay homage to both the game, and the development team, we should all watch Dinoflask’s incredible video titled You Reposted in the Wrong Developer Update, one more time.