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Team of Legends, League of Fortress Going into the Overwatch beta, I wasn’t sure if I’d like it. That changed as soon as I started experimenting with the tutorial. I was just going to play enough to get a quick impression and then get back to Star Wars. Instead, I kept playing. Not because I needed to grind RP, grind XP, collect hats or level up. I was having fun. I have that same love to figure out the maps, the characters and the strats that I had back in the days of Gears of War, Shadowrun and early CoD. Let’s get into it. Deep Character Roster Every character feels fun to play. The game launches with 18 characters: 5 Offense, 5 Defense, 4 Tank and 4 Support characters. Some are clearly more difficult to play then others. Note the defense AND Tank roles. Those roles are key to understanding the nuance of team composition in this game, as it relates to the map and game objectives. My favorites characters so far: Bastion: a defensive robot that can repair himself as well as transform into a deadly, immobile turret. (very easy to play)Roadhog: a tank with an infinite Blitzcrank-like hook that follows nicely with a close range shotgun. So satisfying! (easy to play) Reaper: close-range offensive character, a DPS killer with an awesome escape ability in his Wraith Form. (easy to play, can be frustrating to play against at first)Lucio, a support hero, and a peppy Brazilian DJ (sorry DJ Sona, there is new DJ in town). He can skate on walls and can switch between DPS and heals easily. (hard to play)Every character feels unique. Unlike other games, where tanks and supports can feel boring (not to me, but you know who you are), that just isn’t the case with the heroes of Overwatch. These are well designed MOBA/arena-type champions. Blizzard design shines through. Lore nerds can find basic info on their heroes here. This is still in need of development, as it is pretty bare bones right now. A few more observations: Do NOT think about support as JUST healers. They are Healers AND something. It’s smart design. For those looking for a more “traditional healer”, try Mercy, and for those who like to shield allies, try Symmetra.Also, Widowmaker’s gun, Widow’s Kiss, solvers a long-time problem with snipers in certain other FPS games, as she is able to switch between an automatic assault weapon mode and sniper weapon seamlessly. Note that her role is Defensive. Blizzard Again Excels with The Learning Curve I suck at shooters. I’m bad. We all know this. I’ve really only played shooters on Xbox for any length of time. I can say that the Overwatch tutorial works. I actually learned to aim on a PC in a way I never considered before: It’s really about moving, more than just aiming the mouse. I know, I know. . . I’m a noob. I fixed that, though. When I got the “Play of the Game” for my support, Lucio, and was voted MVP . . . yea, that felt really good. I still suck, make no mistake. (I am in top 4% of Hearthstone player in NA though, heh). In short, the Blizzard tutorial showed me that I need to not stand still while shooting. It’s like in LOL, when your ranged DPS stands still to farm and develops that bad habit. I blame years of MMO healing for my bad habit, but was impressed how the tutorial pointed that out. Move AND Shoot, Jerry. That’s how you do it. MVP voting The MVP voting has a formula that goes beyond kills and assists. It seems include things like: damage mitigated healsdps (obviously)killsI can tell Blizzard is using this like an honor system to help create interactions and a sense of community after the game. Having both teams vote for the all-star is engaging. Like I said before, it makes you feel GOOD to win or even to be nominated. In one particular moment, I was getting up from my desk to let someone else try the game out, and as my game ended, I got up before the MVP voting. The person who took my chair said, “who do you want vote for?” I replied with, “who do you think?” We both ended up picking a player on the other team, who lost, but we voted for that player because he was so challenging to play against. The conversation around the voting was fun and engaging. The Visuals I will make this short. Animations: AwesomeCharacter Models: AwesomeMaps: Look real. Beautiful and detailed. Have very tight cultural themes. Maps I could discuss this in length, and I probably will in a future post as vVv Gaming gets into Overwatch competitively. My initial impressions: Maps are well designed. Many little things are done well: Lack of straight shooting lanes and line of sight prevent camping, and make locking down an area require excellent teamwork. This is so different from, say CoD, where players go to certain points and can lock down on gun skill due to “map advantage.”The maps feel like designers who never made a FPS map, but knew HOW to make an FPS map came together to make it happen. The maps are FRESH! These are not your uncle’s FPS maps. I can tell this is a new generation of Blizzard designers at work, and it shows. eSport? This is interesting. At one level, I LOVE watching it. At another, it is hard to know everything that is going on, and I see the challenge that needs to be overcome to make this work. So, what will Blizzard need to make this an eSport? In no game, not LoL, not SC2, not CSGO, will the actual execution of casting, camera, when to switch to what player and overall quality of analysis/explanation matter MORE than in Overwatch. The execution for Overwatch eSports has to be strong. Average won’t cut it. Steve Bornstein will have his work cut out for him to get this right.New generation of casters will be needed. There is a lot of downtime in traditional sports, in LoL, in DOTA2 and in CoD. This is not the case with Overwatch. You will need casters who can eek out every second of value from what they say. You will need the casters who are poets, and I’m not sure I’ve seen any.People will HAVE to play to get it (not a big deal, since I feel the same about LoL and DOTA2).It is deceptively simple, yet that’s the magic. It has a high skill gap, and it will take a quality team to deliver on the nuances around team comp, objective progress, amazing plays and synergies between characters.This game has layers, and that gives it incredible potential as an eSport. Players have to consistently be thinking about:team compsynergies and plays between championsobjectives (defend, attack, escort, etc.)map awarenessduelingteam fightingCan it be an eSport? Yes! BUT, it will depend on how well Blizzard executes on the production in a way that other games have not needed to achieve. Final Thoughts and Questions You will like this game. You will play it. You will find yourself having fun. To Blizzard: Get this to console ASAPHow will you monetize this? What’s the model?What is the release cadence for new content?Please get the eSports right. This will be your toughest challenge yet.How do you make sure this stays fresh and keeps players playing?