Overwatching Overwatch: An Outsider’s View

I have a confession to make: I have never played the smashingly popular Overwatch. Released in May 2016 by Blizzard (known for games like Warcraft and Diablo), it has a regular playing group of 9.7 million people. Its community is known for being kind, courteous, and helpful. The reviews for this game are incredible: ranking from 88-100/100, and it has won many awards. My boyfriend, Brandon, is absolutely enamored with the game and plays it often. His favourite character is Zarya, a big pink-haired, buff Russian lady who likes to beat up bears and hates robots. Generally, I try to play games with him, but I’ve never cared to pick up the controller with him on this. That said, here is my outsider perspective of Overwatch.

The game is set on a fictional Earth, years after a war waged between Omnics (human created A.I.) and humans. The Overwatch was a group dedicated to protect humans from these robots, and was eventually disbanded following a peace treaty. One day, they are called back to combat terrorism. For whatever reason, the team does so in-game by fighting each other. I’ll be honest - I cannot for the life of me comprehend this! There is no solo campaign, no story mode. It is all multiplayer in which the various characters of Overwatch fight each other. I have absolutely no clue how this combats terrorism, and whenever I ask my friends or boyfriend why, they pause, think about it, and agree that it makes no sense.

Visually, I really appreciate Overwatch. The maps are set across the world. As I write, I’m watching Brandon play in a German castle. They are well designed, both aesthetically and from a gameplay perspective. It is fair for both parties, and works well for both beginner and intermediate players. There is also a collection of shorts accompanying the characters, which helps to provide insight into the characters and adds great depth. My personal favourites are Bastion, an old fighting robot with a bird best friend who is triggered into attack modes when he hears woodpeckers (they remind him of gunshots), and Soldier 76, a well-seasoned fighter who believes that no one should be left behind.

Not all of the characters are as cutesy as the aforementioned. Many female characters are overly sexualised, whether it be through their attitude or poses. Widowmaker, a blue Frenchwoman, is notorious for this. Almost all of the women’s clothing is skin-tight, and shows a ridiculous amount of skin - clearly designed by men, for men. Tracer, a gay British woman, was accused of having a post-victory pose that was deemed “too sexy”. Blizzard responded by upping the ante and making it even more provocative - evidently, there is still a long way to go for feminism in the gaming world. I will, however, admit that there is a fantastic array of different nationalities. The characters are from all over the world, from countries such as India, Brazil, and China. It is fantastic to see such great representation, especially in an industry that creates largely white male protagonists.

Overall, this game looks like a good time for those interested in multiplayer games. It is well designed, with rich backgrounds and well-rounded characters. There is a player for everyone, and everyone is welcome to play. That being said, I cannot recommend the confusing storyline. Ultimately, I guess, the players are not playing for the plot, and it is evident why: the game is entertaining to play! For now, I absolutely enjoy watching it - just don’t tell my boyfriend!