Did you think I had forgotten? Did you think I had forgiven?
Forgiven you for reading my blog, that is. You bastard.
An awful lot has happened in the last year – I’ve gone from simply posting more regularly on this blog – to starting a whole new website with a colleague – to actual Staff Writer-ship at an established member of the gaming press. What a year.
It should be obvious that Blizzard’s short Overwatch animations owe a lot to Team Fortress 2‘s “Meet the Team” series. And thankfully, they’ve inherited the characterisation, engaging narrative, and quality of animation from Valve, rather than “Valve Time”, that curious phenomenon that meant releasing ten videos took five years.
But who cares about that? These shorts are doing a fantastic job of building the surprisingly deep world of Overwatch – any ideas that this was going to be yet another multiplayer shooter can be safely put aside. With this video, we’re introduced to the idea that there are larger issues in the Overwatch universe than just the war the players are engaged in. Who was the robotic messiah-figure “Halo”? What implications do his assassination have for the wider world of Overwatch? Add this intricate world-building to the compelling and fun characters that we’ve seen so far, and it’s clear that Blizzard know the key elements that are going to keep people shooting at oversized gunbots and Cockney women until long after launch. The game comes out in May, but now all I care about is seeing the next video and seeing how the pseudo-Deus Ex narrative continues to build.
And to think, all I previously wanted to do was shoot people. Shame on me.
Coupled with the positive feedback coming from the closed beta, Overwatch is clearly set to be one of the most anticipated hits of 2016. As long as Blizzard doesn’t “do a Blizzard” and mess up the launch, this could be huge. If you’re a Blizzard employee, keep that in mind. Oh, and send me a beta key.
If you missed the first Overwatch short, catch it here. It’s similarly great, and features baby gorillas. D’awww.
If Blizzard aren’t the current king of free-to-play, it’s only because Valve exist. Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm are two highly successful, fully fledged F2P games, while World of Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo all have their own free starter editions which arguably fall into the “free-to-play” category.
That’s why it’s so surprising to hear that Overwatch – the upcoming Dota-clone-FPS-thing from Blizzard – isn’t going to be launched on a free-to-play model.
I remember that there was some previous discussion about how Blizzard were going to monetise Overwatch. The gameplay is based on each character having a hard counter, and much is made of changing characters in order to adapt to your enemies composition – and that element of the game would have been severely limited if the heroes were bought, or available on a free rotation. A team with 20 available heroes versus a team with only five could conceivably create a composition that the opposition could not answer, making the game fundamentally pay to win. But paying for skins probably wouldn’t have been enough of a money-spinner to support a game of this size.