Can you believe it’s been one year since Overwatch was released? The beginning seems so long ago. Far gone are the days of nothing but Quick Play in which 6 of the same hero was an option and everyone but you decided to pick Winston. Since release, Overwatch has seen a variety of updates and improvements, including new maps and game modes, improved hero abilities, seasonal events, and a variety of collectible emotes, sprays and skins. And we sure love to talk about Overwatch around here.
The latest event is the Overwatch Anniversary, in celebration of the game’s first birthday. This event takes us back to the roots of the game and focuses in on the characters. The background in the menu/lobby has been stripped back to a clean, light grey background to showcase the characters alone. Many characters have been given new legendary skins for unlock, and among other items each character now has a dance emote that celebrates their individuality and personal style. These emotes have prompted many players to create videos matching character dances to songs, or perfectly time a dance during an in-match Play of the Game with hilarious results.
All of this goes to prove that the best things about Overwatch are its characters and how they allow us to have so much damn fun.
Alongside this fun character stuff, we received three new arcade maps to play, which has allowed game modes like 3v3 to be much more fun and interesting. Improvements were made to these game modes at the same time. Changes to 3v3 include character lock outs, meaning that the characters that win you a round are locked. This means you have to change strategy each round to beat the enemy team. It’s a fantastic improvement to the game as it forces players to work together more and not rely on the the skill of one particular character or player. The losing team is able to re-use their characters, meaning they can use the same strategy against different opponents, or make modifications to their team composition to try and seal a win next round.
These changes are particularly fitting to the theme of Overwatch Anniversary, as they highlight the importance of having a well-rounded team with different skills and styles in order to win. When playing 3v3 it is of utmost importance that your team has at least one character with the ability to heal themselves and others, as this is a single-knockout style of play and there are no health packs on the maps to get you through the rounds.
Having only three members on your team also forces you to pay close attention to how their abilities are going to work together. Combining a flying Mercy and Pharah with a Sombra or Tracer on the ground is a difficult challenge to overcome. Pairing up two tanks with Lucio’s speed boost, on the other hand, is a sure-fire way to get straight to your enemies and split them apart before they know what’s hit them. But of course, you can only use these strategies once per win, so it’s important to have multiple skills up your sleeve.
Not as fun so far, however, is the 1v1 update. The character selection is actually too limited, and after over half a dozen games, I found the same 6-8 heroes coming up again and again. As a tank main who likes to go head to head with dps in a full match, I was disappointed with the lack of tanks available for play in 1v1. No D.Va, Reinhardt, or Winston present. Hopefully in another update after Overwatch Anniversary we’ll see more characters made available in 1v1. Not having everyone in the lineup feels a little strange.
Overwatch Anniversary has been running since May 23rd and continues through to June 12th. Legendary skins and other items are available in loot boxes throughout this period, and luckily it looks like they will still be purchasable outside of the event, albeit for a heck of a lot of currency. With each new skin at 3000 currency and each emote at 750, this is Overwatch‘s most expensive event yet. Many fans have complained, and rightly so. It’s difficult to rack up enough points to unlock even one legendary skin outside of loot box loot, unless of course you’ve sold your soul to Blizzard.
Running in tandem with Overwatch Anniversary is the start of Season 5 of Competitive Play, which began yesterday (or perhaps the day before depending on your time zone). Competitive Play is by far my favourite game mode as it brings out the best moments of teamwork, which is what Overwatch is all about. In my experience Season 4 saw a lot of big plays from tanks and defence, with characters like D.Va, Winston, and Hanzo being near every-match picks. I’m looking forward to seeing how the meta plays out in this next season, especially with future updates coming soon ,such as a new map and character.
Speaking of which, Jeff Kaplan has spoken recently about the new map that’s “on the horizon”. Check out the video here for his description of the Horizon Lunar Colony map that will be hitting our screens very soon, and is just about to touch down in PTR if it hasn’t already. Low gravity mode sounds exciting and also ridiculous. I’m looking forward to the way it will affect comp and also all the hilarious videos that are bound to come out of the arcade addition Kaplan talks about. Not only that but Kaplan reminds us to keep an eye out for story details and lore that will be embedded in the map design that reveal more about the characters and world of Overwatch.
The Overwatch team has always been great at listening to and engaging with fan feedback on the game and its characters, and this new map looks like it will deliver. I like the way Kaplan talks about how he knew that players would want to test out low gravity mode on entire maps, and he guarantees that will be an option for us to have a crack at. The creator-fan relationship in Overwatch is particularly enjoyable since Overwatch is all about teamwork. Inviting fans to be a huge part of that is what makes this game so good.
Overwatch has proved to be an incredible game that I can safely say I am still enjoying today as much as I was when I picked up my pre-order on release day one year ago. While we’re likely to see less new events in the coming year, as the seasonal ones will be (surprise, surprise) seasonal and recur in this new year, I’ve no doubt that Blizzard will continue to deliver new and exciting elements month to month. Players of Overwatch are bursting with amazing ideas for the game and the characters. With a team like Blizzard listening in on those ideas, this game still has so much more to offer.