Overwatch Preview

Team Fortress, you've met your match.

While I wouldn't consider myself a hardcore Blizzard fan, I have the utmost respect for the studio and the quality of content it produces on such a consistent basis. It's rare these days that you encounter a company with a track record as impressive and spotless as Blizzard's, so when the developer announced it was creating a brand-new IP for PC and Mac, I knew it was going to be something special. 

Joining the rest of Blizzard's stable of iconic franchises, including WarcraftStarCraft, and Diablo, is Overwatch, a class-based third-person shooter that bears a striking resemblance to Valve's free-to-play phenomenon, Team Fortress 2. At the start of each multiplayer match, and even during battle, players can select from a number of different characters, each with their own set of weapons and special abilities. Unlike Valve's shooter, though, there's a much larger selection and range of play styles to choose from, with Blizzard unveiling over a dozen different characters.

Prefer to hang back in the shadows and pick off your opponents with a long-range shot? Perhaps Widowmaker would be the best character for you. Looking for someone with a bit more agility and maneuverability? Well, the Reaper's "Shadow Step" allows him to zip around the map and sneak up on his prey undetected. Oh, and of course Blizzard had to throw in a Dwarf who specializes in constructing turrets, so all you engineer-minded folks may want to give him a look. Needless to say, there's plenty of diversity here to suit every play style and then some.

During my time with the multiplayer at PAX East, I had fun trying out each of the characters to see which of the bunch best suited my needs, and honestly, I couldn't settle on any particular one. Despite the fact that each is so drastically different from one another, it was surprisingly easy to hop in and acclimate to each hero's style of play. Then again, this is Blizzard we're talking about, the master of making complex games accessible to virtually everyone, so I really shouldn't have been all that shocked. I had a blast playing with each and every different character, even if I did rack up quite an embarrassingly high death count.

The mode I played at the show pitted a team of attackers against a team of defenders in which the attacking side is tasked with escorting its mobile payload from its starting home base to that of the opposing side. As defenders, well, the objective is just the opposite: defend the base from the oncoming attacking team. A simple enough concept to wrap your brain around, but one that clearly requires a lot of teamwork and strategy to truly master.

Blizzard does not yet have a confirmed release date for Overwatch, but the studio is planning to launch a beta for the game later this year. Based on the short 15-minute session I had with the shooter this weekend, anyone who considers themselves a fan of Blizzard's work or simply first-person shooters in general should absolutely have this one on their radar.

For more PAX East 2015 coverage…