Posted by Joe Goncalves @Joegoncalves
Studying Journalism with a minor in Media Art at Stony Brook University in NY

So unless you’ve been living under a rock for a while, you’ve probably heard about a little game called Overwatch that’s just been released. This title is a team focused, “hero shooter”, bringing elements of the long loved Team Fortress 2 and the MOBA style of games, and coming from the behemoth of a game company, Blizzard, the hype was quite intense ahead of release.

Now the game has been out for a while and the reviews have begun pouring in, with critic reviews being absolutely stunning across the board, barely seeing a review with a score lower than a 9/10. Though praise for Overwatch is widespread, it’s not without it’s criticisms. The primary complaint most have with this game is the “lack of content” that the game has, and in particular the lack of a single player campaign, especially considering the price of the game. Many have compared this issue with the same problems so many had with Titanfall and Star Wars: Battlefront at the time of launch. While these complaints aren’t completely unwarranted, I’d like to unpack the issue and take a look at the reasons why Overwatch is “getting a pass” for this, and why, in my own humble opinion, Overwatch is worth the price tag so many have complained about.

Why Overwatch Is Getting A Pass

The brilliantly diverse cast of Overwatch
The brilliantly diverse cast of Overwatch

Now, for the sake of context I’d like to preface this by saying that I played an extensive amount of Titanfall upon it’s release, but I never actually bought Battlefront, though I have played it a few times with some friends.

So when Titanfall released in early 2014, it was panned by several critics and even more so by the gaming community for it’s lack of a single player campaign, and for a lack of content in general. With Overwatch also lacking a single player option, the question inevitably came up of, “Why is Overwatch getting a pass on the same problems Titanfall had?” The simplest answer to give for that question is just that Overwatch is a vastly more complex game at it’s core. When Titanfall was released, the only thing that separated it from Call of Duty and other popular shooters of the time was the wall running mechanic, and the use of mech combat, which barely felt different from the regular on foot combat anyway.

Overwatch presents the player with 21 different heroes, which all play drastically different from each other. With the separation of those heroes into 4 different roles (Offense, Defense, Tank and Support), not only can your role within your team change dramatically based on those 4 distinctions, it can change from one minute of a match to the next, imploring you to change and try new character to combat seemingly infinite scenarios during a game. Besides a small armory of weapons, and three mechs that never really felt that different from each other in the first place, Titanfall was severely lacking in variety, and the gameplay really never changed up much. Since launch I’ve logged about 30+ hours into Overwatch, and it still feels as though I’ve barely scratched the surface of the game’s possibilities.

There's...there's so much to do!
There's...there's so much to do!

It also seems well within the realm of possibility that a single player campaign will be added later on into the game’s life cycle. Blizzard has done such an excellent job with every character in Overwatch. All of them just ooze personality, and through marketing, video shorts, and easter eggs, fan curiosity over the backgrounds of these lovable heroes is overflowing. I definitely foresee a scenario like we saw with Hearthstone, where solo content is added as the game matures, but as Blizzard has gone on the record saying their DLC content will be free, hopefully we won’t see the 20 dollar price tag we see on the solo adventures for Hearthstone.

The next point of criticism that Overwatch has dealt with since it’s release has been it’s price tag. The game has released at the price of $40 for PC users and $60 for console users, and to a large amount of the gaming public this has been deemed unacceptable. It seems to be a popular argument for so many games as of late to insult the price tag. While I personally am very against season passes, and built in paid DLC, it has to be understood that games do cost money to make. Due to the “free to play” model that has become increasingly popular in recent years, a small portion of the ever needy public seems to have adopted the idea that paying for games is blasphemy.

Now, Blizzard has gone on the public record saying that all future DLC content for Overwatch will be absolutely free, therefore they trusted many to purchase Overwatch with the intention that they will get not only the beautifully crafted game it is currently, but a plethora of added content in the future. Many seem to underestimate just what it takes to make a game, especially one as complex as Overwatch. While there may not be dozens of game modes or a massive open world to explore, Overwatch provides it’s player with dozens of hours of exciting and unique gameplay, and with the ability to not only master the 21 heroes in the game, but nearly endless experimentation with team builds and mechanics.

The anticipation of opening a loot box is palpable
The anticipation of opening a loot box is palpable

The last point I’d like to address is a short one, but I feel it has to be said. I’ve seen quite a bit of raging on the internet about Overwatch’s micro transactions. The only micro transactions present in Overwatch, are the ability to buy Loot Boxes, which provide the player with randomized vanity items. No items gained with these Loot Boxes can increase your performance at all or change any real status.

It’s simply for show, and it is completely unnecessary, but it is there for those who would like to do so. You can get your own Loot Boxes whenever you level up fairly quickly as well, so if you don’t want to spend money on these, then there is nothing telling you that you have to or should. The option is simply there for people who want it. If you don’t want to pay for it, just don’t do it. It’s just that simple.

Make of this little op-ed essay what you will, but with the amount of flack I’ve been seeing Overwatch getting for these reasons, I felt I should share another viewpoint on the issue. Whether you want to dish out the 40 or 60 dollars for Overwatch is entirely up to you, and whether you want to buy dozens of Loot Boxes searching for that beautiful Explorer skin for Winston is entirely up to you. Just take what you hear, including what you’ve read in this piece, with a grain of salt. I’m just trying to stand up for a game that has been in my opinion, one of the best titles I’ve played in years.

What do you make of Overwatch?