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OverwatchOct 31, 2015 2:00 pm CT

Overwatch for the novice FPS gamer

I am not an FPS gamer. Not even remotely. I’ve tried my hand at a few different titles, and they never really captured my attention. Let’s face it, I’m the kind of gamer who’s typically focused on story over gameplay, so a game that is nothing but gameplay isn’t usually my cup of tea. So the question is: what’s Overwatch like if you’ve never really played an FPS title before, or you didn’t really enjoy them? Surprisingly, it’s ridiculously fun, fast-paced, and relatively easy to pick up even if you haven’t really dedicated a lot of time to FPS titles before.

So here’s the lowdown basics for beginners going into Overwatch:

  • When you queue up for a game, you’ll be placed on a team of six players. You’ll be facing off against six other players on the other side of the map.
  • Much like battlegrounds in World of Warcraft, there are objectives to complete in order to win the game. Either you’re moving a payload from one end of the map to the other — similar to escorting a mine cart in Silvershard Mines — or you’re simply trying to capture a point on the map by standing on it, which plays much like trying to capture a tower in Eye of the Storm. There’s also a hybrid objective that is half payload, half point capture. You’ll start out either on offense — trying to make those objectives happen — or defense, by stopping those objectives from happening.
  • Overwatch has a built-in voice chat system, and it is miles above that old voice chat system that was introduced for World of Warcraft. Voice quality is just as good, if not better, than what you’d get from Mumble, Vent, or Skype.

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  • Maps in Overwatch are way, way, way more dynamic than anything you’ve ever seen in a WoW battleground. They’re multi-layered, so players with the appropriate abilities can scale up to rooftops to snipe from above, and there are tons of little nooks and crannies to hide in.
  • Hidden in and around the maps are health packs that will heal you for a small amount. They won’t heal you to full, but they’re invaluable if you’re in the middle of a fight.
  • There are tons of heroes currently available for play, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. If you’re in your base, you can swap heroes mid-match to choose a different one. This comes in really handy, because some heroes are better against others. You’re never stuck with your first choice for the entirety of a match — you can switch it up if you’d like!

If you’re a beginner like me, it’s good to know that heroes are rated for difficulty on a three-star system — a one-star hero is relatively easy to play, while three-star heroes are a little more difficult to master. You don’t have to jump into matches right away, either. There’s an option to play against the AI for practice or you can create a private game that’s just you if you want to explore the different maps and see how they’re laid out. I started out playing against the AI, both to see the different maps and get used to the controls. I would highly recommend that new players do the same, because it allows you to learn at your own speed and try out the different heroes and see which ones you’re most comfortable with playing.

That’s the thing about Overwatch — you don’t want to stick to just one hero. You can and probably should learn several different heroes just so you can swap out mid-game to someone who is a little more effective against your opponents. As a new player, I found tank heroes fairly easy to pick up — Reinhardt and Winston in particular. They have more health and shields for survival, so they’re a little more forgiving, gameplay wise. I also like some of the Defense heroes, Hanzo in particular. He’s an archer that can scale walls and shoot from a distance. Support heroes vary in difficulty, and while I like Zenyatta, Matticus is having a lot of luck (and fun) with Lucio.

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This is the kind of game that is hands down far more fun to play with friends. Matticus, Mitch, and I have been streaming Overwatch matches every evening on the Blizzard Watch Twitch stream and having some friends on your team to banter with makes it a little easier to keep track of what’s going on. The built-in voice chat client works great for parties, so you can keep each other updated on where enemies are coming in from or just cheer each other on. And cheering each other on seems to be one of those things Overwatch encourages as well — the end of each match features a short video of the best play of the game and presents the highest performers from the game — you get to pick who you think was the most impressive out of the group.

That’s what I like about this game, I think. Somewhere between the colorful maps, beautifully designed characters, and fun abilities is a sense of lighthearted fun that I’ve never really gotten from an FPS title before. Yes, the game is essentially all about beating the snot out of each other, but there’s this weirdly carefree, whimsical quality to it that almost makes it feel like playing a Saturday morning cartoon. Yes, I die — I die a lot — but I’m not really disappointed about it. Instead, I’m laughing as I bounce back into the fray. I am not an FPS gamer — but so help me, I think Overwatch might just end up turning me into one.

And I’m cool with that. The world needs more heroes, right?

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