I’M A FAN: Overwatch

Overwatch is turning five years old this May and has come a long way since its first years, impacting my life every step of the way.


Owen Etter

Here’s a statute of the character Tracer from Overwatch at one of the biggest gaming celebrations, BlizzCon. This was take back when I went in 2017 and I consider it to be one of the best weekends of my life. It’s one of many examples of how this game has impacted my life.

Owen Etter, Staff Writer

When I was little, I never really thought I’d grow up to be an incredibly big nerd who loves video games as much as I do. Like most modern gamers today, one of my first consoles was the Nintendo Wii and the first game I played was Wii Sports. From there, it only got “worse” as I moved on to play Super Mario Bros. until I got an Xbox 360 to play Call of Duty: Black Ops II, and then finally, I got an Xbox One to only play what is now the video game that has defined my life, Overwatch.

Overwatch is a team-based, first-person shooter game created by Blizzard Entertainment. This game is obviously a lot more than that however, it’s won Game of the Year, had balance changes brought on to the best of the developer’s ability and has one of the nicest communities ever. Overwatch hasn’t just been my life for the past four years, it’s been my place to (mostly) relax and have some of the most entertaining nights I could’ve ever had.

Let me start off with the number one thing that I say to all new players and that is, don’t play “Competitive.” This is the side of Overwatch that shouldn’t be seen and really brings out the worst in people because we as humans, when you bring competitiveness into anything, people are going to get tense and easily angry. Competitive Overwatch, especially if you place in the lower rankings, it’s full of people who don’t really care about the game, they don’t care about having fun, and it gets really hurtful and insulting. This is all due to how tense matchups can get sometimes, especially when a player is one game away from going up or down in rank.

Lots of hate is generated on this side of the game and your own team won’t really defend you most of the time. You’ll get called “bad” or “trash” or someone will say something really hurtful to you like, “Hey, don’t cue up again btw.” or “you can’t play (role) for anything, might as well quit.” It might not sound like a big deal, but combined with you trying your best to only be rewarded with a lot of negativity doesn’t take a good toll on your mind. So, if you’re going to play competitive Overwatch, have at it, but be warned, it gets more heated than an oven in the middle of Arizona during the summer.

Ultimately, the gameplay of Overwatch is incredibly simple and while it does take a lot of games to figure out how different characters interact with each other, it isn’t insanely hard to figure out. There isn’t any sort of “weapon class” that you have to customize yourself because currently, 31 playable characters exist in the game and have their own set of unique abilities and what they can do. They’re also split off into three different categories: tank, damage, and support. Each different role allows for any kind of player like if you want to go into a fight with guns blazing, pick tank. If you’re feeling a lot more passive and silent, go support!

Obviously, if there are characters in the video game, there’s gotta be a story that comes with them. While the development team wasn’t really big on giving lore drops at first, they’ve really stepped up their game with some small free-to-read online books that are actually really entertaining stories that highlight a moment in a character’s past or what they’re doing at the moment of the game. Some recent novel releases have been for the character Baptiste, Mercy, Symmetra, and Orisa with another one coming out soon highlighting McCree and Ashe with their past. It’s also worth noting that in the distant past, there’s been an anthology of comics also highlighting some character’s pasts and stories.

If that wasn’t enough, there are also six seasonal events that celebrate the anniversary of the game, the summer games, Halloween, winter, the Chinese Lunar New Year, and the archives with a new set of cosmetics that you can earn. The “archives” however, is an event based on lore and gives a lot of “flashback” cosmetics for characters along with playable stories featuring four characters. There are tons of interactions during the story modes that come with this event and all three available stories are superbly immersive with each one having a really different story to tell. While there are modes that allow for a lot of fun and customization, like the “custom games” where you could do everything from bowl with Wrecking Ball and hit over Torbjörn pins to chill in a lobby and talk with people who are waiting for a game. There are also daily arcade modes where the developers have premade modes with everything from an FFA lobby to a Call of Duty style “gun game.” While these are all fun in given circumstances and certain things are really fun to play when you just want a quiet moment, nothing can be better than just some quick play.

In Overwatch’s history, you used to have as many tanks, supports, and damages as you wanted to on a team, but that’s not really how the game is supposed to be played. So to allow for more of a team dynamic, a little under two years ago, “role lock” was introduced in order to get a guaranteed spot as one of the three categories. Since one team can have no more or less than six players, two damage, two support, and two tanks are what make up a team and role lock enforces that so people can play not only what they’re best at, but have great circumstances to do so.

Another feature introduced around the same time was “Looking For Group” or LFG. This easily allows you to build a group of people, hop into quick play, competitive, custom games, or arcade, and have all kinds of laughs and casual gameplay that you’d like. It’s Overwatch at its purest roots and there’s little to no toxicity, you can play heroes that you’re not familiar with, and normally, people have microphones or headsets, so interaction is greatly present.

Not only has this game come a long way, but this game is also very welcoming to LGBTQ people and is incredibly representative in all cultures. When you’re not talking with a Hanzo main, everyone you meet in the game is incredibly inviting and will certainly make you feel incredibly welcome. It’s not just the people either, it’s voice actors and actresses like Charlet Chung, Lucy Pohl, Johnny Cruz, Darin De Paul, Mathew Mercer, Carolina Ravassa, and others that clearly love their roles and love to meet all kinds of fans of the game and their characters. The voices and developers of Overwatch are all incredibly talented and oh-so-very inviting.

Overwatch is nowhere near a perfect game, not by a long shot. There was a time when people were even meaner than now, the story wasn’t really present, there were stereotypes of certain people who played certain characters, and hero balancing was a major issue and it still exists a bit today, but when that problem really arises is the introduction of new characters into the game. This has since halted because Overwatch 2 is a game that’s coming in over a year and will merge with Overwatch original to just be one entity. The game also turns five years old in late May of 2021, which is also very exciting for me.

Over the past four years, Overwatch has truly come along since it first came out five years ago. The developers have come a very long way in building this game and with this sequel coming out, it’s only expected to get better. The development team has learned from past mistakes and seems like they have their heads in the right place with what’s to come and with lots of advice from the community alongside different professional players. Not a lot of people may be into this style of game or even the idea of heroes with abilities and set classes, but if you’re looking for a game that listens, is inviting, is willing to change, and embraces you with all its love, look no further than Overwatch.