Multiplayer has long been a staple of the gaming community. Competitive titles like Unreal and Quake have provided PC gamers with years of intense matches and tournaments. These games were some of the first to base their gameplay off an exciting combination of first-person shooting and multiplayer competition. The games were fast, a blast to play with friends, and scratched a competitive itch we thought only sports could. The concept of such titles was inviting and easy to grasp, just kill the other team.
As the popularity of arena-based shooters grew, it was only a matter of time until these games were brought to consoles. In comes Quake III Arena, a PC port that was released for the Dreamcast console in 2000. The game was a masterpiece by many accounts and was praised for its multiplayer focus and engaging gameplay. This was the beginning of a gaming revolution.
A few years later the Xbox and PlayStation 2 were released, blessing both hard core and casual gamers alike with amazing shooters like Halo: Combat Evolved and Medal of Honor. These games introduced console players to the traditional FPS multiplayer concepts that are so prevalent today. Halo offered Xbox users a 16 player limit LAN multiplayer mode. The focus of this mode was to kill as many players of the opposing team as possible.
The game was a critical success and players loved the idea of sitting on a couch with friends needling each other to death. Then there was Halo 2, the game that became known for its wonderful online multiplayer concepts. Introducing the playlist system, gamers were able to play online and for years’ game modes like Team Deathmatch were at the helm of multiplayer console gaming.
Eat, Sleep, Kill
As consoles progressed, so did the shooting and multiplayer mechanics. Games like Call of Duty and Destiny took over the online gaming community. Since the beginning console players were taught that the only way to be successful in multiplayer gaming was to get as many kills as possible. Match results have always ended in a broadcasted list of kill counts, shining glory on those who dispatched the most enemies and embarrassing the poor fool at the bottom.
This is how console gamers have learned to play multiplayer. Kill, Kill, Kill, has been engrained in the brains of Xbone and PlayStation players alike. Don’t get me wrong, I love beating real life people and trolling them after crazy kill streaks. If something works, why not stick to it? And console players really love killing each other.
Enter Overwatch: The Game Changer
Enter Overwatch, the hyper cool and ambitious FPS that looks like its straight out of a Pixar movie. The game was developed by Blizzard, the ones who brought us World of Warcraft. Overwatch was marketed as a competitive team based first-person shooter. The first console game to reward teamwork over kill count. Boasting beautiful animation, 21 playable heroes that burst with personality, and the smoothest gameplay around, the game turned heads. It released to critical acclaim, and with good reason. It became the face of E-sports and PC players excelled in competition. Tournaments have been broadcasted on national television multiple times. I play on console, and was eager to pick it up.
As I hopped on to my first game things were a mess. Not the gameplay, that part was beautiful. My team was a mess. Our 6-man squad consisted of two Reaper’s, 2 Tracers a Bastion and a Roadhog. As the timer sounded and our bases opened up, my team sprinted toward the enemy, blasting away. It was a few minutes later I noticed the objective marker not moving. Our goal was to escort the payload, yet nobody seemed to realize that as they focused on gunning down the opposition. Console players just didn’t seem to understand Overwatch.
It wasn’t our fault; we have been spoon fed Call of Duty killing spree clips since we can remember. PC gamers have had the DOTA experience for a while now, and most Team Fortress squads work together seamlessly regardless of actual communication. Overwatch doesn’t reward selfish killing sprees or lone wolf tactics. There is no kill list to compare, simply medal tiers of gold, silver, and bronze that you alone can use to judge yourself. A play of the game clip honors the best executed move by any particular player, this could be your triple kill, or the burst of protection a random Lucio gives a group of teammates with his super.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Overwatch is meant to be a game played with togetherness. A team simply can’t win without a concerted effort of balance and strategy. While the game is very easy to pick up, console players just didn’t understand the whole teamwork thing. I’m used to sitting back scoping out headshots for that perfect K/D ratio, now you want to place a big shield in my hands and have me sit on top of a payload? Screw that, I’m going in!
And that’s how most console player handled the game, at first. After a couple of months my randomly generated teams started looking smoother. Every team seemed to have at least one healer and a couple of much needed tanks. I saw players focus on objectives rather than kills, and even sacrifice themselves for the betterment of the team. Coming from games like Titanfall or Black Ops III, this was an amazing feeling. Could it be, had console gamers figured it out? It seemed everyone had come to realize their selfish ways and put forth a team effort.
Somewhere in between all of the bright colors and loveable characters Overwatch accomplished something: it taught console gamers how to be a team. Blizzards FPS was able to break through the thick skulls of team deathmatch junkies and teach them something new. Players are learning that it is okay if you don’t have the most eliminations, its actually popular to be that lone healer on a squad.
Overwatch is an amazing game, that is sure to impress for years to come. Blizzards ambitious title exhibits a fresh take on skill evaluation that hadn’t yet come to consoles. It succeeds where games like Battleborn and Rainbow Six Siege have failed. Suddenly team deathmatch feels dull and lacking purpose. Overwatch is changing how console gamers play multiplayer shooters, and that’s a good thing.