Overwatch was probably the most surprising game for me this year. I didn’t play it during its beta period, and I went into the experience fairly blind upon release. Usually, my interest in multiplayer shooters fizzles out after a few intense weeks, but I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time with it over the past few months. I love the characters and how each has his or her (or its) own role in matches, with every one of them featuring unique gameplay elements. That’s not to say that it isn’t without its flaws. I have a few humble suggestions on how Blizzard can tweak the game in small ways to make it even better for everyone. And no, that doesn’t include removing Hanzo and Bastion from the roster.
Let me silence those people who slam on the character-select button
Waiting before a match starts is boring, unless you’re interested in watching a countdown timer ticking away. During those periods, some players have found a way to amuse themselves: repeatedly tapping the character-select button until the game starts. Every time they do it, it flashes their choice on the screen, accompanied by a clicking sound. It is, in my opinion, the most annoying part of the game – even more than Mei players blocking their own exits with ice walls. If you’re into that, congrats? I’m sure I speak for plenty of people when I suggest that Blizzard add a new sound option that mutes that one particular sound. It’s a small thing, but when you play enough it’s an aggravation that quickly adds up.
Better Plays of the Game…
Overwatch’s “Play of the Game” feature is a fun way to cap off a match. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work. It seems that for every amazing feat of gaming skill that’s highlighted, all the players have to sit through several clips of a Hanzo player trying to aim at a spawn point or a Genji pulling off a pair of completely unremarkable kills. It’s clear that whatever parameters the game is pulling from to determine what gets a Play of the Game doesn’t always line up with player expectations. It would be great to see more variety in these clips, too, such as showing off spectacular near-misses or especially sweet saves – or even some bloopers, if it could be determined that people wouldn’t throw matches to get featured.
…And let me save and share the ones that are worth sharing and saving
That’s not to say there aren’t times when something amazing is called out in the PoGs. What comes next is a bit of a mess. You can check out your most recent clips under the Highlights section, but there’s no easy way to save or share these video clips with your friends on social media. You can use your console’s built-in video-sharing functionality or a third-party application to kludge your way through it, but it’s an inelegant solution. Blizzard must know that there’s an appetite for this kind of stuff, and it’s puzzling that there isn’t a way to link your accounts and share with the press of a button. Who will believe me when I brag about getting an amazing two-kill streak with Bastion?!
Let us access post-match heatmaps and other geeky stuff
I’d love to be able to go to the My Career section in the game and get a deeper look at how I’m doing. In particular, it would be great to be able to access some kind of top-down version of the map, showing where I’m dying most often in matches, where I’m getting kills, and when I’m able to move (or stop) the payload. I understand that would be a tremendous amount of data for Blizzard to parse, but it would be incredibly valuable as a player. If giving every player that kind of data would be impossible, it would still be useful to see daily (or weekly) heatmaps for each of the game’s maps showing where the action tends to be. I certainly get a sense of it when I’m playing, but I like the idea of seeing it from a slightly less subjective point of view.
Integrate the Overwatch videos into the game somehow
Blizzard’s Overwatch shorts are a lot of fun, and I’ve watched each of them several times by now. Every time, I’ve had to exit the game and fire up YouTube. It’s bizarre that the studio is spending so much time and effort on these animated clips, and that there’s no way to view them from within the game itself. Something as simple as an “Extras” tab in the options menu could address this, and interested players (like me!) could click a box to either download the videos locally or at a minimum launch a video player with streaming versions of the episodes.
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!s