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I played OverWatch for the First Time and it was Hard to Kick old CoD Habits.

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Overwatch is currently enjoying a major gaming boom as it celebrates its one year anniversary since release while surpassing the 30 million registered players mark.  To celebrate the one year milestone, Blizzard Entertainment opened up the game for everyone to play a “try before they buy” session, offering a weekend of free play to those not yet submerged in the world of Overwatch.

While I didn’t partake in the free offer, I did go out and purchase a physical copy of the game (50% off thanks to the one year celebrations) and it turns out, this game is not like any game out there on the market.

Overwatch is a first person shooter that offers only a online multiplayer mode and falls somewhere between the grittiness of Call of Duty, the team based game-play of Destiny and wackiness of Grand Theft Auto V Online.

Coming off a heavy dose of Call of Duty Modern Warfare Remastered, I was not ready for how different and difficult to adjust to, Overwatch was going to be.  Don’t go off alone, don’t expect solo based kill streaks, don’t assume you get all your characters information just off what’s in-front of you on screen.  I learned the hard way that there is a right way and a wrong way to play this game.

There are currently 24 playable characters on the Overwatch roster, each one different from the other yet grouped together in their base class skills.  From healers to tanks, offence and sharp shooters, the character you choose to play will have a vast effect on how the team unites to win the match.

A character like Ana for instance, is equipped with a sniper rifle, stun pistol and a biotic grenade.  While her rifle can inflict damage to opponents, it also, when targeted at team mates, heals them.  The same applies to the biotic grenade and can be useful for a quick burst of health to ailing team mates earning you bonus points.

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The other sniper wielding character – Widowmaker – offers no health support, though she’s more nimble in her ability to reach high sniper nests and has a stronger damage count on her rifle.

Knowing just how your character works will enable better team participation though be prepared to substitute a high kill rate for high team health regeneration or damage blocking rate.

There are certain characters that will always be picked by other players – bow master Hanzo, scrap gun wielding Roadhog, robotic defense unit Bastion and ninja Genji are guaranteed to be in a starting line-up but it’s how you use your character to bounce off those selected ones that can make a difference.

Unlike CoD, going out as a lone wolf with a sniper rifle is not going to ensure a high kill streak or a grand team win.  Overwatch is all about team play – which characters have been selected, how they interact with each other and how you put your best foot forward to ensure your team wins.  The game modes in Overwatch aren’t aimed for high kills, it’s all about zone points and that’s how the characters within the game have been created.

I will admit, after two hours in, I was ready to give up.  Some characters like Genji, McCree and Bastion felt way overpowered against my Tracer or Lucio with their seemingly perfect hit rate and bullet strength.  It wasn’t until I stepped away from the console and researched into just how certain characters played that I began to understand.

I was drawn to Ana from the get go with her brooding hood and long scattered rags but couldn’t get a hang of why her sniper rifle wasn’t as good as widowmakers, and that was because Ana was more about team support versus solo kills and just like her, I learnt Pharah works better from above than on ground level and Tracer requires lightning quick reflexes to get the kills. These things that I couldn’t pick up from game play  were discovered from seeing and reading how other experienced players used these characters.

Once I understood the purpose of Overwatch, I began to enjoy it more and more.  Sure Bastion’s turret is like the most inanely annoying thing on a map but there is a way around it (Ana’s sleep dart!!) and I’m now OK with not aiming for that high kill streak because I know that’s not necessarily going to win us the match and yes, loot boxes are incredibly frustrating especially when you like to use Ana but keep unlocking items for Winston who you never use – but that’s another discussion all together.

Overwatch’s free weekend of play is over, but is available for purchase in digital and physical copy formats for PS4, Xbox One and PC.

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