So after a week with Overwatch I think I can pretty much state the obvious: Blizzard has crafted an incredibly good shooter. Perhaps historically good.
As I wrote last week, Overwatch defies the conventional wisdom that a shooter needs to be stuffed with content to justify its price tag. It has three modes - one of them for training - and a host of unlockable vanity skins and poses. Beyond that, Overwatch is content to let its gameplay do the heavy lifting.
It works because the shooting feels terrific, the characters feel diverse and interesting, and because it never allows repetition to set in. Its core design is built around switching between characters to counter your opponent's strategies - a smart way to ensure that you never fall into a rut. Its metagame is based less on knowing a level inside and out and more on knowing what each character can accomplish. Overwatch may be a shooter, but Blizzard's roots as an MMORPG developer is clearly evident in its strategic team-based gameplay. Whenever I go marching into a firefight behind Reinhardt's shield, I can't help feeling like I'm back at World of WarCraft's Molten Core trailing after my guild's tank, a bevy of healers and supports close at hand.
But as fun as all this is, where Overwatch really, really succeeds is in the way that it lets you be creative. Every Play of the Game highlight is an opportunity to see some moment of inspiration - a perfectly timed ultimate or a clever sneak attack - often inspiring laughter and upvotes from both teams. It's hard to even be mad when Junkrat's tire explodes and send you flying off into space. Of course, Play of the Game could be better, but what's there already is excellent by itself. I've seen a few duds, but more often than not, it picks a winner.
Like Rocket League last year, Overwatch is content to lay the foundation for the community to grow and flourish, then add additional content later. The first thing that should be on the docket is Overwatch's Competitive Mode, which was temporarily cut because it didn't reach Blizzard's standards for quality. This is one area where it feels fair to criticize Overwatch - as much fun as it is to play with friends, the lack of ranked competitive play is a glaring omission. Unfortunately, shipping without certain features in place is pretty much par for the course these days. Hopefully Blizzard will stick to their word and have it ready for the end of June.
Until then, Overwatch can continue to lean on its sheer novelty. Overwatch is the burst of inspiration the genre needs after years of grim military shooters and sci-fi retreads. It may not replace the Call of Duties of the world, but I wouldn't be shocked if it served as the inspiration for a new wave of class-based competitive shooters. It's been a long time coming.
Overwatch's matches go quickly enough that you can pick it up pretty much whenever you want, making it a really solid go-to shooter. It also has a lot of vanity items like skins to collect, though they are really more of a fun treat than a core feature.
In typical Blizzard fashion, Overwatch's cast chirps at one another pretty much constantly. The quips can get the tiniest bit repetitive, but they are snappy enough that they rarely become irritating.
Overwatch benefits from some of the best artists in the business, allowing it to both look great and run on pretty much every system imaginable.
Overwatch may yet cool off and fall by the wayside at some point in the near future, but it sure seems like it's here for the long haul. Pretty much everything about this game feels fresh and exciting: the class-based combat, the art style, the roster, the modes. It's equal parts strategic and twitchy, encouraging you to think while also rewarding skill, and its roster is a delight. Overwatch may well be the best new multiplayer shooter to come along since Modern Warfare and Team Fortress 2 took 2007 by storm. I can't wait to play more.