Why I despise Overwatch. Wall of Text hidden for your convenience. AKA: Dapper loses the last few friends he has left.
So, another day, another group of friends lost. You think at some point I’d be used to not being allowed to be happy, but it always seems to catch me off guard.
Maybe this time it’s that people I considered friends value me less than a game. A game that is objectively worse than it’s contemporaries, a game that is run by some of the worst people in the business, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
So, I won’t drag any names through the mud, but context here, for those who enjoy that sort of thing, is that a discord group made up of tumblr users exists, and, until last night, I was a part of it. I use that term, ‘part of it’ loosely, as I kinda existed at the fringes, due to my own natural introversion, but, I still liked being around them. We disagreed, but hey, c’est la vie, ya know?
This, however, ended after I commented, apropos of nothing, I’ll admit, of my disbelief of the blatant theft of a character from Paladins, a game which I consider superior, but only just. It wasn’t meant to start a conversation, mind, just a comment left for the sake of commenting. However, if you know the majority of Overwatch fans, this wouldn’t stand. What followed was one member of the group becoming upset that I would dare to say something unkind about Overwatch, and even more upset that I pointed out it’s objective (not subjective) flaws, such as it’s lower number of characters and game modes to other games of a similar nature, I.E. Paladins and Battleborn.
I feel I should mention here I don’t try to sway people. Like what you like, I’ll like what I like. But I will not be lied to. If you like a game, I don’t care, but don’t sit there and tell me it’s flaws don’t exist. I said as much, and even pointed out my own love of some objectively bad games, namely Anarchy Reigns.
I stepped away from Discord, closing it out so that it wouldn’t escalate, and they could cool off. As moderators were starting to show up. And I’ve lost groups of friends before because I dare not like Overwatch, and I didn’t want this to be another group. My wife, also a member of this group, told me that they had misunderstood my intentions, and thought I was getting upset and telling them not to like the game, or saying they were wrong for liking it. And also told me there was worry that my walking away was me leaving the group, which she corrected.
Time passed, and I went back into the group after an hour or so to say goodnight, and make a joke regarding another game I’ve been playing, and I’m greeted with the other party, and a third party, insulting me in the same chat the moderators said to stop the conversation, due to me not liking the game. The moderator active (though not in that conversation), and saying nothing. And so, I left. If I mean that little to these people, then I don’t want to cause trouble by being around if it’s just going to be okay to attack me due to my opinions, and facts they don’t like. This caused another breakdown for me, as, frankly, these were the last group of people that even know I exist, let alone give a damn about that fact, and once again, Overwatch has ruined that. Chalk that up for another kill Activision is responsible for in regards to my happiness.
Overwatch fans throw a hissy fit that I don’t like the game, don’t like my reasons, and I get warned to not start things, then insulted, and leave the last group of friends I had.
So, context established, the natural question is what is my beef with Overwatch. And that’s more or less the point of this rant. To have something I can simply point to when asked why I dislike Overwatch. Short and sweet: I abhor it as a game designer, and Blizzard is run by some of the worst people I’ve ever seen. To say nothing about the fan-base, which tend to almost universally be terrible, terrible, hypocritical people.
A touch of backstory on me. I’ve been making games and studying them, both as a hobby, for around 13 years now, starting with RPGmaker on the PS1, and moving on from there. I’ve also given Overwatch three chances, once in Beta, once on release, and once when Sombra dropped. So, I’m speaking from experience here.
Let’s start with the objective things first, since, ya know, there’s plenty of them, and they’re objective.
-Point 1: Is half a game-
First of all, it’s half a game, released for full price. (I know, I know, you CAN go jump through hoops to try to find the non ‘origins edition’ for 40, but even 40 USD is still too much for a single game mode and a handful of characters.) There’s no denying this as a fact, that the game simply isn’t a full game, and isn’t deserving of any higher of a price tag than 20-30 bucks at most.
(Subjective note: It also didn’t feel done, and frankly, still feels like a beta that they pushed out early.) I’d also like to point out that when Titanfall 1 did this, it was rightfully lynched for being just a multiplayer game with no single player, but Blizzard does it, and it’s ok?
-Point 2: Less than it’s peers-
Compared to it’s contemporaries, as mentioned above, it had, and has, less content overall. I admit my numbers may be a bit off here, but, bear with me.
Overwatch, at release, had 21 characters, and has since released three Free-LC characters.
Battleborn, at release, had 26 characters, and has since released four paid characters, free with it’s season pass. (which, when paired with the game, ran it about 60 bucks, average game price.)
Paladins is still in beta, and has 26 characters, and is still releasing more, all of which can be purchased with in game currency.
Overwatch, at release, had three modes, though, more accurately, this was one mode, and then two modes splitting the mode into two. They have since released some variations, such as deathmatch, and an utter failure of capture the flag, as well as some event mini-games.
Battleborn, at release, had three modes, and a story mode as well, and has since released another mode, and released bite sized story episodes.
Paladins, while still in beta, has three modes.
The fact is, Overwatch simply has less. Does this make it a worse game? Not at all. Quality will nearly always trump quantity in these cases, however, that is a case for the subjective points later on.
-Point 3: The price point-
As mentioned above, Overwatch goes for around 40-60 USD, which, considering it’s been out for over a year and no drop in price, is still frankly a bit ridiculous. However, that is subjective, as Nintendo has a bad habit of doing the same thing. This, however, is NOT the end of the price. As anyone who’s seen anything about this game knows. The Lootboxes exist. And they are terrible. It’s been found recently, as of April, 2017, it would cost $3000 USD, with accounting for dupes, to get everything in Overwatch, or, if you wanted to get it all by playing, over 3500 hours. And they’re only adding more.
You could argue these are all optional and cosmetic, but any game developer worth their salt will tell you cosmetics matter, and, add to it they’ve intentionally developed the game to make the cosmetics the only reason to play (I’ll cover this below), and it’s not a good argument to make.
So, total price for the complete package: ~$3050
Battleborn has been hit by poor sales, thanks to Overwatch (and rumors of OW releasing early to step on BB’s release date), so the price of admission has gone down. To get in with the Season Pass, it’ll run you $45 USD. However, the season pass doesn’t include the recent skins or taunts released for cash (each around 2-3 USD.) or the new characters (each around 5 USD). However, it does net you all of the new story missions, and I think two characters. Once again, my numbers may be off. However, these are purchased, DIRECTLY, no lootboxes involved. The only lootboxes in the game are purchased with in-game currency earned by playing the game.
Total price for complete package: ~$80
Paladins is a free to play game, so, yeah, it’s going to get hit hard with the after-market fees. However, Hi-Rez has always been good about this, and offers a ‘founders pack’ which includes every character they’ve ever made and ever will make for 30 USD. However, as I feared, they’ve taken inspiration from Blizzard with Lootboxes, so this is a bit harder to count, as the dupes from Paladins lootboxes can only be used to effect gameplay, by purchasing their cards for their card system. They also give out 3 free lootboxes a day, so..
Total Price for complete package: Unknown.
So, while it possibly beats out Paladins (though this is unknown.), it is a far FAR cry from being a good value, or beating out Battleborn.
—Point 4: Story and Lore—
I’m not going to talk about quality here, I’ll cover that later, all I’m talking about here is the quantity thereof.
Overwatch has very, VERY sparse story. Limited entirely to it’s opening cutscene, which gives us very vauge knowledge of what’s going on, and why. Add to that the knowledge the game is non-canon, means it’s all bunk.
‘But Dapper’ I hear you say ‘there’s tons of cinematic and comics and lore online’
Yes. Online. Out of the game. I remind you how badly Destiny was roasted for the same thing with it’s Grimoire, and again, rightfully so. And at least all of that was included out of the gate, and in a single location. I do NOT count anything out of the game.
Conversely, Battleborn has a great emphasis on story, with detailed backstories for every character, talking about their relationships with one another, moments of their past and items they cherish, and how they fit into the story, not to mention the plot itself, which spans 8 chapters (and a prologue), and has a major focus on it. Not to mention with NPCs and enemies being given unique characteristics and personalities.
Paladins, once again, is about equal with Overwatch, even a bit worse, as, to my knowledge (I’ve accidentally deleted the files to the game, so I can’t check) it doesn’t even bother with the barest story at all.
—Point 5: Production values/intros.—-
A bust shot of a character talking, while occasionally flashing still images.
An animated intro detailing the plot, before a music video that leads directly into the game.
Need I say more?
—Point 6: The Skinner box—
Here’s where I start getting a little more controversial. I should preface this by saying I am well aware most games, especially RPGs and ESPECIALLY MMOs live and die off the Skinner box. It’s tried and true, and it works. I play FFXIV for gods sake. That’s not my problem with Overwatch. My problem is there’s nothing else.
For those who don’t know, I won’t get TOO deep into it, but the Skinner Box, as it applies here, is a very simple method of reinforcement, basically, rewarding the player in some arbitrary manner every so often, while spacing the rewards out to keep the player interested.
I know I’m grossly oversimplifying it, but that’s the gist of it. Google it if you want more.
As an example: Every time you level up in an RPG, you get a happy noise, maybe some visual reinforcement, and you feel happy. If they do that to much, you get used to the happiness, and you lose interest in the leveling up. Too little, and you don’t keep the happiness long enough to get the next level.
This should sound familiar if you’ve ever played Overwatch, as it’s the entire design of the game. It’s a blatent, unabashed skinner box. Every hour or so (depending on play), you get a level up, a flash of color and sound, and a lootbox, which has even MORE color and sound. This conditions the player to associate the lootbox, rather than the level, with the feeling of joy. But, what if you don’t want to wait that hour for another hit of dopamine? Well, you can just pay money to get another one RIGHT NOW! It’s gross as a concept, and is a big reason of why I despise the game.
—Point 7: The impact.—
This is admittedly much more…I don’t know, not subjective, but also much less objective.
The fact of the matter is, I love this industry, but it is an industry based on cash, and voting with ones wallet. And what is Overwatch showing this industry? It’s showing that people will pay huge sums of money for pulls on a virtual slot machine to MAYBE win a cosmetic skin. That people will pay full price for a game without a single-player, and with no story.
This has already begun effecting the game industry, as we have already begun to see games that you pay full price to buy into, but then still have micro-transactions. And I don’t mean to the effect of DLC. We, and by we I mean the gamers who bought Overwatch, and continue to buy Loot Boxes, are showing the industry that we will accept free to play practices in our full price games.
THAT is not a message I want to send.
Of course, I have subjective points too, but they are, well, subjective.
-Sub 1: Every OW character is a rip-off, cliche, or both.—
To my knowledge, OW has done not a damn thing original. They either will strait rip off outside sources for characters (Winston is just Beast from Xmen)or move-sets (Mei is literally Ymir with a ranged ult) or they will just make generic cut outs. Mcree is ‘the Cowboy’. D.va is ‘The Gamer.’ etc. Nothing of substance there at all.
–Sub 2: Acti-Blizzard is openly hostile to it’s fans.–
We all love a good roasting from a company don’t we? Hell, Wendy’s has begun making a name for itself just from that. However, there’s Wendy’s making fun of people making fun of them, and there’s Blizzard insulting players for pointing out their Match making is broken. They’re default reaction to ‘why am I placed with bad players.’ is “well, we place you with what your skill is.” Out and out insulting players if they complain they’re placed with people who they feel aren’t equal to them in skill, as well as the players they’re referring to. This, of course, isn’t even counting how they treat the WoW fanbase. I’m aware that’s a different game, but it’s the same company.
–Sub 3: HOW CAN YOU FAIL MAKING CAPTURE THE FLAG–
I mean..really. Even children know how to play CtF.
I’ve ranted more than enough, and I’ve got other reasons to hate this game, but you may notice one thing I don’t talk about. The Gameplay.
In a vacuum, I’d have no problem with Overwatch, It’s gameplay is average. Mediocre. It fills the space without being too offensively bad.
But we don’t live in a vacuum, my friends. There’s more to Overwatch than just it’s gameplay.
Hopefully this gives a basic idea of where I’m coming from, even though I’ve written entirely too much here.
I come from a place of love. Not love for Overwatch or Blizzard, and definitely not for activison, But love for gaming in general. Love for this medium that has such potential to show us new places, give us new experiences, and tell us new tales. Love for the crazy, messed up bunch of folks that call this ‘hobby’ a lifestyle, and all the friendships and relationships that can come from it.
A love I don’t want ruined by excessive greed and sloth.