For those who don’t play Overwatch at all or haven’t played in a while, they’ve released a new game mode in celebration of Halloween, much like how Lucio Ball was in celebration of the Olympics. Whilst I never ‘got’ Lucio Ball, I straight up don’t like this PvE mode.To give a little more background on what this new mode is: you and 3 other team members face off against waves of robots who are aiming to blow-up a door that you’re defending for reasons I haven’t looked into. These robots are the work of Dr.Junkenstein, played spectacularly by our most chameleon-ic of characters – Junk-Rat. As you work your way through the waves of robots though heroes will try and get in your way and bring down the aforementioned door, and that’s unanimously agreed to be a ‘bad-guy-move”.
Basically it’s a much more stinted version of Man vs Machine from TF2, or basically a worse version of any other horde mode with which you might be familiar. There are several reasons why I don’t like this mode but we’ll go through the most heinous here.
First off, Overwatch is a game that boasts a huge array of heroes for you to play, currently the number stands at 22 with a 23rd being heavily hinted at, including a mediocre ARG (mediocre for what it does, not how well it has been done). That’s a large number of configurations even including unique character combinations only. It would be a blessed relief if you could only have one of each hero type, e.g. one attacker, defender, tank and support. Sadly however there are only 4 characters you can choose from – Hanzo, MCree, Solider 76 and Ana. I see no reason to cut down so viciously on the character selection, remove tanks if you want, but still a measly 4 characters? Games are built around meaningful choice, and whilst confining can make you think in new ways (I’ve never played Ana – I never will again) and be creative, it also guts so much of what people love about Overwatch – a unique roster of characters with different feelings.
Secondly, this game mode is played on a single map: Eichenwalde. Now this isn’t inherently a bad thing, although I feel I’ve played far too much of the newest map, but it isn’t the normal Eichenwalde. It’s been given a more Halloween feeling to it, and it’s been slightly altered however the biggest issue is that it’s in a tiny section of Eichenwalde. It’s maybe a 100m length of the map, there isn’t any progression to the map until with Man vs Machine in TF2. It’s a static map that’s very confined, no progression to it – this is a HUGE change from normal, bar skirmish maps all Overwatch maps have a sense of progression to them from capturing points to escorting payloads. This static feeling of the map is a larger symptom however of the biggest issue I feel is present in the newest game mode.
Finally, the biggest issue is the dominant strategic that is in effect on this map. First a little explanation, a dominant strategy is a strategy that is always the most effective; If in Rock Paper Scissors, rock wasn’t beaten by paper then there’d be no reason to ever not pick rock, because you’d either tie or win. How does this affect Overwatch? Well even with the very static map design, and multiple levels that you can go up or down to, the most effective thing to do is stand with your back to the door – which is where you even start on the map. There’s one point that the robots attack, the point doesn’t move, there’s no need for you to move, the point you need to defend is where you begin, in short there is maybe a tiny area of square footage that’s worth walking around and it’s all within 5ft of the door.
In short there are minimal choices in character, the map has no sense of progression or change, and there’s effectively no meaningful choice for where you should move-around on the map. The point is you’re vastly constrained from the get go. In defense of Overwatch’s new game-mode, it is only meant for a couple weeks so you can’t expect the developers to invest a huge amount of time into the game and they already did a lot with all the new skins, sprays and other cosmetics. But to counter-act that, this is Blizzard a company that does amazing work and I just fail to see why they’d put out a sub-par version of horde mode when so many other games do it right!
So is the latest PvE mode worth playing even if it is going to be short-lived? Beyond 3/4 attempts, not really unfortunately enough. If you’re an XP gamer who’s looking for the most bang for your time-buck then playing competitive/brawl/quick-play will get you far more and is more cost-effective. Better yet those game modes even lack the annoying constraints and you can even change the hero you want to play part-way through should you tire of your current choice! So given that break-down of the latest game-mode and maps design I’d say you’re better spending your time else-where.
This has been my very first article into something outside of the podcast, or games that I’ve made, so I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I’ve gotten giddy writing about it. Please do share this article with your fellow heroes if you’ve enjoyed this article or are simply trying to articulate why the new game mode is god-awful. However if you’d like to get in contact with me and share your desires about what you’d do in a 16-candles moment with Zenyatta then you can contact me on Twitter. Until next time however thank you for reading this far, have an awesome day and keep on designing!