Monthly Archives: June 2016

Day 5: Not All Days.

It’s too easy to get caught up in the idea that days where you do nothing are wasted. This is especially true if you’re wired like me, looking to extract the maximum benefit out of anything you put your time towards. It is a destructive habit and the cause of the need for a “holiday from the holiday” that many experience upon their return. So for days like today, one spent doing nothing much of anything at all, aren’t wasted. Instead they are the time to take stock of what has been, what will be and, if you’re lucky, come to grips with things that may have been troubling you for some time.

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Today we only had the loose idea of going to see a movie, tossing up between Finding Dory (my wife’s vote) and Independence Day: Resurgence (our hosts vote). We landed on the latter, although honestly I had no idea what we were seeing until we got there (I was deep in thought, more on why in a sec). Since our slumber saw us rise rather late in the day our breakfast was enough to tide us over for the movie’s duration, the popcorn left for the other patron’s enjoyment.

The movie itself was enjoyable if highly predictable. It’s something of a touchstone for my generation, being one of the first “big” movies many of us would’ve been old enough to remember seeing in some detail. It does a good job of paying homage to the past but, unfortunately, makes the unforgivable mistake of loudly crying sequel at the end. I know Hollywood isn’t exactly renowned for taking risks with new IP but dredging up a 20 year old movie and setting it up for unlimited sequels feels like a new kind of low, if that’s even possible.

I’ll still probably watch them though. I feel kind of dirty for typing that.

My wife wanted to indulge in the poutine that Canada is famous for whilst we were here but her lactose intolerance (even with the assistance of lactese tablets) was getting the better of her. So instead we went to a local burger house called Bistro Burger Town and saddled ourselves up for a very late lunch. My lunch of a smokey BBQ burger and chips was fantastic, washed down by the Boreale Rousse beer that I had become fond of over the past few days. Afterwards we made our way back home making a quick pit stop for supplies before settling into a few TV episodes before calling it a night.

I realized today where that feeling of “wanting it to be over” was coming from. Holidays give you time to think on a scale that cannot be matched, allowing all those thoughts that you push to one side to surface anew. Couple that with a lack of any form of routine and you’ve got a recipe for a weird kind of anxiety that, in my case, manifests itself in a desire for it all to be over. This feeling does go away when the holiday finishes and I return to the order of my normal life, but that doesn’t mean the things that cause it in the first place are going away.

Indeed I’ve realized that since this is my first long period of breaking away from routine in 6 years I’ve got a lot of pent up thinking to do. I’m lucky enough to have most of the larger issues already sorted in my life but there are still some fundamentals I think need to be addressed. Funnily enough some of them concern this very blog itself, something that’s been an ongoing presence in my life for the better part of 8 years. Thinking about them a bit more I realize all of them are about change, where it will lead me and whether or not I want to be the agent of it.

Come to think of it, I think our honeymoon on Turtle Island might be to blame for all this.

Although I never posted them (and I get the feeling I should now, although I think they’re at home unfortunately) I did actually blog the majority of the honeymoon whilst we were on Turtle Island. For the first half of the trip the posts were much like this, recounting the events for posterity and a little waffle at the end, however about halfway through they changed dramatically. I remember having the most vivid dreams, all in series, that seemed to draw on numerous aspects of my life from the years before. Whilst I don’t believe there’s any meaning to derive from the dreams themselves I do believe the rapid succession was a kind of unwinding of pent up stress that I was finally able to let go of.

And what would await me at the end of this trip? 6 nights at a resort in Greece, specifically chosen to allow us to unwind at the end of the trip.

It would seem I’ve crafted my own web upon which I’ve become tangled. Thankfully I think it’s a problem that will be easy to address and will ultimately see this holiday mean a lot more than just the memories and pictures we bring back with us.

Day 4: Polar Bear’s Club.

I awoke to a dull light illuminating the room. Erroneously thinking I had woken up before everyone else I decided to grab my phone and check the time: 11:00AM. The dull light wasn’t from the sunrise, no it was because the weather had finally turned and we were greeted by our first overcast day since arriving. We had known this was coming and had planned accordingly, today would be spent lazing around the house and eventually making our way out to the Polar Bear’s Club, a relaxation spot where we’d spend the afternoon to early evening lying in pools, sweating in saunas and getting the requisite massage that all holidays need.

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The late morning until afternoon was uneventful, spent half watching TV, browsing the usual websites and lazily getting ready to go. I made the mistake of opening up my work email (with all good intentions of shutting it down after I set my out of office message) and reading through the various trials and tribulations that were going on half a world away. Thankfully I resisted the urge to respond to anything, merely marking the vast majority of the 60+ emails as read and leaving the rest for future Dave to solve.

The trip out would take us the better part of 2 hours thanks to some heavy traffic along the way. I thought myself rid of all the jet lag however I was hit with a wave of tiredness I hadn’t yet felt, bringing into question just how well my circadian rhythm had adjusted. It passed quickly after a short nap however although I’d be lying if I said I felt it was completely gone. Shortly afterwards we arrived at our destination, a semi-rural retreat called the Polar Bear’s Club that was promising us a day of relaxation after the mild bedlam of the past few days.

The spa itself is set against a picturesque river, albeit a stones throw away from the main highway. My wife was disappointed to see that some of the renovations had, in her opinion, made the place worse and wished to show me how it was when she was last there. Undeterred we made our way in, got changed and proceeded to make use of the facilities. The warm pools and brisk river were great to jump between, invigorating the muscles and mind. We also spent a little time in the dry sauna that was powered by eucalyptus wood making for a rather intense experience.

The massages were so-so, our masseuse unable to conjure up the requisite strength to penetrate my wife and I’s muscles to our satisfaction. However the wet sauna we went into afterwards made up for that in spades, seeping the heat deep into our bodies. The steam was, again, infused with eucalyptus ensuring that every breath drawn opened up the airways fully. I couldn’t stand more than 5 minutes in there however. The walk to the door was also quite a challenge, the extra height gained from sitting to standing enough to dramatically increase the heat I received.

This was to to be the night where our hosts would cook us their favorite three cheese pasta however we were all drowsy from a long day spent doing nothing. Instead we decided to grab some food and watch something light before retiring. This plan went well until we discovered some mold in some of the sandwiches we had bought, something which the restaurant did make right by us thankfully. With that we bid the night to a close and left our plans open for the next day.

This being my first real holiday in 6 years I had forgotten one of my less-than-desirable habits: wishing that this whole thing would be over. I don’t know what causes it, maybe out of a desire to finish things in as short a time as possible, but I can remember thinking the exact same thing on nearly every holiday I’ve been on. There’s only one cure I’ve found: getting beyond the halfway point. I’m sure sometime tomorrow it’ll finally hit me that I only have 2 days left here and almost a week will be gone from our holiday already but until then there’s still a nagging thought train pushing me to “get this holiday done”.

Whatever it is if it doesn’t abate soon I’ll be treating it with a non-zero amount of gin and other high strength spirits 😉

Day 3: Jazz and Rockaberry

I expected to pay for my day of fun this morning, thinking my legs and feet would rebel after the some dozens of kilometers I walked the previous day. Seems I must have been doing something right with my exercise over the past couple years as there wasn’t a hint of additional soreness to be found. A quick stretch after an (admittedly very lazy morning) saw me prepped and ready for the day ahead. Not that we had much in the way of plans for the day. No the planning was reserved for tonight: a great dinner accompanied by live jazz music all for celebrating our host”s birthday.

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Our day started with a trip to Le DĂ©jeuner Cosmopolitain, a breakfast restaurant who specializes in crepes which could leave two people satisfied with a single serving. I indulged in one of bananas and strawberries, smothered in a far too generous helping of Nutella. This was also when I made my first dining faux pas, fat fingering the credit card machine and accidentally not giving them a tip. I didn’t realize this until the waitress asked me profusely if her service was ok which clued me into what I had done.

We then debated the merits of making a trip down to Old Montreal to kill time before dinner this evening. In the end we decided against it, figuring we’d only have a couple hours before we’d have to rush back home to get ready. So instead we lounged around our host’s house, watching a movie and just generally milling around. In hindsight this time may have been better spent doing the few errands we needed to do before we went out as the next hour or so was a mad rush.

The restaurant we were going had an offer going on Living Social, giving us essentially half off our bill. Unfortunately we didn’t have a printer at this house so our host’s parents graciously offered us the use of theirs. I noticed a HAM radio whilst we were there and meant to strike up a conversation. I was later told that, whilst our host’s dad would be very appreciative, we’d like not have made it out of there for many hours if I had. Once we had that sorted we were off and into downtown Montreal traffic, something that delayed us for much longer than Google had estimated.

The House of Jazz was an amazing venue, one that our server had told us hadn’t changed in the better part of 40 years. Halfway through the night a live jazz band began playing which, whilst entertaining, was a bit of a killer to the conversation. Still we managed to get acquainted with everyone at the table, hearing their stories, regaling them with ours and wishing the birthday girl all the best for the coming year as a slightly older person.

The night didn’t end there however as, since we weren’t allowed to bring our own cake into the House of Jazz, we decided to frequent one of our host’s favorite places: Rockaberry. The cake selection was impressive, ranging from the simple favorites like apple crumbles to the extravagant like an Oreo cheesecake. I made the mistake of ordering a hot chocolate on the side, my insulin rocketing to all new highs and threatening to send me into a food coma in no short order.

As I type this we’re lying on the couch, waiting patiently for Game of Thrones to download. Our host is an unabashed fan of the series, the books dotted throughout the house and the couches covered in cushions adorned with the Stark emblem. This will be our final hurrah before we call it a night for some well needed rest. Tomorrow we shall be spoiling the birthday girl (and ourselves!) once again with a trip to the Polar Bear Club spa for a day of relaxation.

Day 2: La Ronde.

There’s a scratching noise coming from the corner of our room. I think it’s just the cat, it’s scratching pole is in our room, but it’s too methodical. The noise is rhythmic and not enough to fully rouse me from my slumber. I learn later that it was my wife beavering away at the personal gift she’s made for her friend’s birthday which is tomorrow night. An hour or so later I find the energy to lift myself out of my bed and begin the day, one that will see me touring Montreal’s premier amusement park: La Ronde.

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Our hosts are making us breakfast today, a simple one of coffee, eggs and bacon. Now I’m usually one for eggs, they’ve long been ruined for reasons I can no longer remember, however I’m tempted by some home made hot sauce that had a powerful aroma. Eggs, when accompanied by something with actual taste, are a far more palatable affair. Of course in usual fashion I probably overdid it and paid the price over the course of the day. The rest of the breakfast was delightful however, even the filter coffee which is typically trash in these parts of the world. Once we were done it was a quick trip to La Ronde and revisiting something I hadn’t done in half a dozen years.

The weather is pretty much perfect, although being in the sun with no shade did push it into unbearable territory. Unfortunately we found ourselves in peak season so the park was somewhat packed. However the time spent in lines passed quickly, the conversation flowing around numerous topics whilst we waited for our turn on the ride. We managed to hit all the flagship rides including a large, wooden roller coaster. Unsurprisingly it was exactly how I remembered riding a similar one in Australia, my bones shaken to the core and my adrenaline sent to all time highs.

Our hosts had warned us of one roller coaster, one that had been recently changed to go backwards rather than forwards. This coaster had apparently made both of them quite ill for a period of time, enough so that both of them warned us against riding it. Their warnings were only reinforced by the fact that the lines for this ride, out of the all the rides, were non-existent allowing us to stroll right up and get straight on. The ride itself was great however but our newfound strength and hubris would soon be our downfall.

To cap off the day we boarded one of those typical carnival rides, the ones with the seats on long chains that spin around for a few minutes before sending you back down to the ground. All of us walked away from that feeling rather awful, a simple and uneventful ride able to do more damage than all of the previous combined. This made the walk back to the car a slow one, the nausea only abating once we’d finally found our way back home.

The day was finished with an extremely late dinner at a lakeside restaurant, one that our host had previously worked at. I indulged myself in an old favorite, BBQ chicken wings and a blue cheese burger. Canada might not be America but I’ll be damned if the portions aren’t the same. We once again began the slow waddle back to the car to end our night back at home.

All the while this went on I couldn’t help but remember how I felt the previous time I was here. The city of Montreal is a dichotomy of old and new, juxtaposed against each other nearly everywhere you look. Even the new can look old too, with (I’m told) the construction handled by the Montreal Mafioso who do poor work for extraordinary pay. I find it interesting as cities typically gentrify holistically, sections being upheaved and renewed in one fell swoop rather than in isolation. But this is just the view of an outsider, I have no reference as to why these things are they way they are.

Day 1: So Many Planes.

The alarm goes off but I’m already awake. It’s going to be our first big trip in 6 years and my mind is churning through all the things it doesn’t need to. The anxiety that’s been building up over the past couple months, anxiety born out of a fear of actually taking some time off work, is wrecking all sorts of havoc on me. The text message at 4:30AM saying our flight has been delayed doesn’t help but it quickly turns out to be nothing. We board our plane at the crack of dawn and jet off into the sunset, the first step on a 3 plane and 24 hour trip that will see us land in Montreal, Canada.

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Had it not been for a work trip to Singapore earlier in the year this would be my first international trip in quite some time. Before then such travel was simply par for the course and I had developed numerous habits that helped make each trip that much easier. Those habits were long gone now, my knowledge of airports up heaved by the rapid change they’ve all undergone over the years I’ve been absent. Once I boarded our Air Canada flight to Vancouver however all the worry quickly melted away to be quickly replaced by the drudgery that is long haul cattle class travel.

The flights were uneventful, filled with average food, surprisingly decent wine and fitful attempts at trying to get some sleep. It seems that being able to sleep on planes is one of those useful habits that has slipped by the wayside as I only managed a couple broken hours over the entire day I just spent in planes. The shining star however is the Kindle Paperwhite that I picked up before I left, stacked to the brim with enough eBooks to last me for the entire 5 week long trip. I’ve found myself reading a lot more than I would have otherwise, something I’m sure many of my friends would be delighted to hear.

We arrived in Canada to the usual fanfare of tired people waiting in lines. Our hosts (one of which is my wife’s best friend and the whole reason we’re in this country) were caught up in the catacombs that is Montreal’s airport car park. They found their way to us eventually and we were quickly off to her new house to while away the rest of the day.

The trip there was an interesting mix of nostalgia and wanderlust. There were so many places that I recognised from our previous trip: the hotel we stayed in, the Tim Horton’s that we drunkenly stumbled into at 2AM for doughnut holes and the supermarkets we frequented to get snacks for movies we watched of a night time. The weather here is beautiful but I’m told it won’t last past the weekend. Thankfully we’ll be able to cram in all the cool outdoor things before the weather turns and then spend the rest of the time resting up before we depart to our next destination.

It’s strange thinking back to the last time I was here. I was a completely different person back then and now I’ll be experiencing the same thing again in a completely new way. I guess this is the first stage of me taking stock of everything, something which I think is a core part of what a holiday is regardless of the destination. Tomorrow we’re going to La Ronde, the largest amusement park in Montreal, and after my experience with Disneyland all those years ago I’m very much looking forward to it,

Stellaris: All Paths Lead to Conflict.

4X style games aren’t the kinds of games you start to kill an hour or two, they’re the ones you start when you want to kill days. I can remember whole LANs that were lost to games like Alpha Centauri, whoever was “dragging the chain” on their turn ridiculed endlessly until they were done. Indeed when I first spun up Stellaris, the latest game from Paradox Interactive, I recieved a message from one of my friends saying I wouldn’t have time to finish it. As the unfolding hours showed he was 100% correct as even 9 hours with this game feel like you’re barely even scratching the surface. Still I can see the appeal but unfortunately Stellaris tends towards repetition very rapidly, making longer sessions more of a chore than anything else.

Stellaris Review Screenshot Wallpaper Title Screen

You’re the leader of a young civilisation that’s just discovered the miracle of space flight. Like all good civilisations your first task is to set about exploring the universe in the hopes of finding other planets and solar systems ripe for exploitation. Along the way you’ll likely encounter other lifeforms (some more or less advanced than you), relics of civilisations of the past and all sorts of celestial phenomena. The tools you’ll have at your disposal will vary widely each time you attempt this and will greatly impact the way in which you expand into the universe. Whether your civilisation thrives or perishes is up to you and the decisions you make in your journey across the great black.

Like most games in the 4X genre Stellaris errs on the side of simple graphics without too much flair. Since you’ll be spending most of your time zoomed all the way out this doesn’t come up too often, although the lack of detail becomes glaringly obvious for things like the ship designer. Of course these low-fi graphics are a deliberate choice as most of your rig’s horsepower will be focused on churning through the simulations required. For the most part this works well however there are some rather glaring issues with the simulation system which can make your experience far more frustrating than it needs to be (more on that later).

Stellaris Review Screenshot Wallpaper Humble Beginnings

The core game of Stellaris is your typical 4X affair, centred around finding new planets, colonising them if you can and repeating that process ad infinitum. Stellaris shakes things up a little bit by taking a different approach to the upgrade/technology tree system, dividing all upgrades into 3 categories. Each of these categories can be researched by a scientist but what they can research is random. This means that you could, potentially, go the entire game without getting the technology required to build colony ships. Armies, rather than being pre-defined types, are all fully customisable. This means that there’s another element of randomness when it comes to combat as you can never be quite sure how well your army composition stacks up against another. Finally since your aim in Stellaris is to be a true galactic empire there’s a system to add planets to “sectors” which are then controlled by an AI for you. There’s still more to Stellaris however even summarising them all would take longer than I have to write and you to read, I’d wager.

Starting off Stellaris is a daunting prospect as there’s just so much thrown at you that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. The tutorial system does a pretty good job of walking you through everything however it’ll probably take a couple retries before you get the hang of the basics. Once you get past that point however the early game can be quite interesting as you try to pick out the best upgrades, figure out where to best place your outposts/colonies and how you deal with the hostiles getting in your way. Indeed I think my favourite part of Stellaris is the early to mid game as it feels quite varied, progress is consistent and there are no major issues getting in your way. It’s once the game starts to creep past the 2 to 3 hour mark that things start to turn south, usually for a variety of different reasons.

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Typically you’ll spend the first part of your game defining your borders and trying to cordon off sectors that you can exploit later. Past a certain point though all your territory will be exploited and your borders brushing up against numerous potential foes. It’s at this point you have a tough decision to make: either start preparing for total war with someone (although you should probably do that anyway as it’ll likely come for your eventually) or start attempting diplomatic relations. The latter is, honestly, a total crap shoot as it seems most alien races aren’t willing to do anything unless you lavish them with resources. The former is the option you will be forced into at one point or another as there’s simply no way to expand your territory otherwise. Worse still if you do want to play pacifist there’s every chance that another race will simply not take a liking to you and completely decimate you, something that happened to me on several occasions.

The sector system, whilst a good idea, does little to reduce the burden of ensuring that your system is running as well as it can be. Sure you can set goals and whatnot but issues like a mixed species population, developing factions, etc. will all keep drawing your attention. As your empire grows these problems become more and more frequent making it incredibly draining to run an empire that spans more than a few sectors. Indeed I abandoned a couple games simply because they became too tiresome to continue with, instead wanting to try my hand at starting again to see if there was a better way to set myself up. In the end I didn’t find anything which is probably why I didn’t play as much as your average Paradox Interactive fan does (around 30+ hours, according to the data I have available).

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There are also some niggling issues which need to be addressed. The fact that achievements can only be acquired in Ironman Mode is something the game doesn’t make obvious to you and is honestly a pain to get working. It took me more than 5 hours of game play to realise I hadn’t gotten a signle achievement and then another 30 minutes of getting the cloud save feature working so I could actually start a game with achievements on. Worse still the Ironman Mode saves every month, something that freezes your game session every minute or so if you’re playing on fastest. Honestly it’s more frustrating than its worth which is why I think most simply don’t bother. This isn’t to mention some quality of life improvements that are required, like being able to filter planets you’ve scanned by say habitable status, or your colonies by the type of shipyard you have and so on. Essentially a lot of it relies on your memory or simple brute forcing, something which takes much of the joy out of the experience. Indeed I’m not alone in thinking this either as many of the threads I read whilst trying to find these things led me to other players looking for the same features.

The emergent stories of Stellaris can be quite engaging though, both from the perspective of how you grew your empire to the various little pre-generated story titbits that are strewn throughout the universe. One of my empires tried, with varying levels of success, to infiltrate a less developed race to prep them for our arrival. Another alien race found out about this though and accused me of enslaving them. Whilst that was partially the point on my end (it was a strategic planet) the fact that they reacted in such a way was a surprise to me. This did mean the end of my civilisation however as the other alien race was far better equipped for war than I was.

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Stellaris is an adequately competent 4X game with a bevy of unique features that keep the experience fresh and interesting, at least in the early to mid game. The random technology trees, procedurally generated galaxies and random alien races means every play through will be unique. However the game rapidly becomes a burden the longer you play it, even with the AI systems that are designed to make your life a little easier. The niggling issues that are still present even a month after release only exacerbate this problem, especially if you’re someone who wants to hunt down all the achievements. Overall I think Stellaris is worth the price of admission, especially for fans of Paradox or the 4X genre, but falls short of my “must play” list.

Rating: 7.5/10

Stellaris is available on PC right now for $39.99. Total game time was approximately 9 hours with 26% of the achievements unlocked.

Overwatch: We Are All Heroes.

I came so close to breaking one of my rules for Overwatch, I really did.

If you’re one of my esteemed long time readers you’ll know that I steer clear of betas and greenlight games. My reasons for this are twofold; firstly reviewing unfinished products feels like I’m doing a disservice to the game and to you, dear reader. Secondly I’ve ruined final releases of games for myself numerous times by playing betas but there is one exception to that rule: Blizzard games. I’ve been in numerous Blizzard betas and every time they’ve made me hungry for the full game. Overwatch was no exception to this and I very nearly did a full review based on the beta alone. It really is that good.

Overwatch Review Screenshot Wallpaper Title Screen

Overwatch takes place in the near future, some time after the resolution of the Omnic Crisis. This event took place after the Omnic artificial intelligence roused all robots around the world to rebel against humanity, causing war on a global scale. To combat this the Overwatch task force was formed, an elite group of soldiers who put an end to the uprising. For some time afterwards they stayed on as a peacekeeping force, ensuring that human and omnic alike could exist together in harmony. However rumours of corruption and foul play began to spread around Overwatch’s activities and they were eventually disbanded. However the time has come for them to band together again as the world needs them now more than ever.

Overwatch isn’t your typical low-poly aesthetic that Blizzard is known for, but you can definitely see and feel it’s influence on everything. The heavily stylised aesthetic is reminiscent of other team based shooters like Team Fortress 2 but retains Blizzard’s flair for colourful and vibrant environments. All of this comes to us via a new engine developed specifically for Overwatch, likely born out of the remnants of Blizzard’s cancelled next generation MMORPG: Titan. Indeed Overwatch carries with it the essence of what that game might have been with many of the levels and characters drawn directly from said game. It should be unsurprising then just how polished everything is; that Blizzard trademark of “only releasing when it’s done” aptly demonstrated here.

Overwatch Review Screenshot Wallpaper Typical Engagement

As I alluded to earlier Overwatch is a team based shooter, pitting you in a 6v6 fight against another team. Your team, if it’s well balanced, will be made up of 4 different kinds of characters (attack, defence, tank and support) chosen from 21 heroes that are available at launch. There’s only 2 types of game modes available currently: king of the hill, where you have to capture and hold a single point, and payload escort. You’ll gain profile levels as you play and each time you level up you’ll get a loot box filled with random cosmetics, voice lines and sprays that you can paint the level with. At its core Overwatch is astonishingly simple however the various combinations of heroes and maps means that game play stays fresh and challenging no matter how long you play for.

Combat is extremely slick, something which is likely unexpected given the fact that this is Blizzard’s first foray into the FPS genre. Each of the characters has a very unique personality with each of them handling very differently given their wide discrepancies in abilities. For the most though it sticks to the more traditional FPS tropes: main/alternate fire on weapons, non-regenerating health and a tendency towards more run and gun style play. This doesn’t mean it plays out the same way though as the various abilities each of the classes have make Overwatch feel anything but traditional.

Overwatch Review Screenshot Wallpaper Play of the Game

There’s two key things to take into consideration whenever you start an Overwatch match: the map and the enemy team’s composition. Some maps play better to some characters than others: the big open ones favouring characters with better mobility whilst the tight, cramped ones favouring those who can surprise you with a lethal dose of damage. There’s also some maps that will favour heroes with, let’s call them “cheap”, ways of instantly killing you by knocking you off the edge or down a bottomless well. I honestly didn’t pay it much mind during the closed beta however playing with an organised group more in the final release has shown me just how impactful the map is on which heroes will work and which ones don’t.

Overwatch encourages you to swap heroes to meet the situation at hand and you should if things aren’t working out for you. Blizzard has been open about the fact that the heroes aren’t balanced with 1v1 encounters in mind and each hero has a rival that will completely counter them. So an Overwatch match is all about adaptability, meaning that if you want to win games you’ll have to be comfortable switching things up on a regular basis. For someone like me who enjoys playing all different kinds of heroes (although I do main support) this is a great thing and is what has kept me coming back time and time again. However I can see how that might irk some players who might be coming from other competitive FPS games as there’s no one class to rule them all. Still I think Blizzards approach is far more welcoming to all kinds of players, something that is reflected in the sheer volume of people that have flocked to play Overwatch.

Overwatch Review Screenshot Wallpaper Lucio Top of the Charts

My only gripe that I have with Overwatch is the relatively basic matchmaking system which could do with a few tweaks to make it a little better. Once you join match that’s going to be the team you’re stuck with until people leave. This is great if you’re with a bunch of great players who help you win, however if you’re on a losing team that’s not working together it’s not so enjoyable. This is where Blizzard could take a leaf out of other FPS’ books as shaking up the team composition every match would make for much fairer and streamlined game play. Of course you don’t have to stay with the same team but having to leave and rejoin after every match can be a little tiresome. Strangely Blizzard isn’t the only one to make this mistake with other big name titles like Star Wars Battlefront making similar errors in judgement. It’s a small gripe but one I hope to see fixed in the not too distant future.

When I first heard that Blizzard was making a team based shooter I wasn’t holding my breath for any sort of depth to the story however in true Blizzard fashion the backstory to Overwatch’s world is deep, engrossing and just begging to be explored. The character biographies, the incredibly well done short films and the comics all build up a world that’s so much bigger than what’s explored in game. It really does make me ache for what Titan could have been as the story, and the characters Blizzard has built out of it, are some of the most interesting and deep that I’ve ever come across in this kind of game. I’m hopeful that Blizzard will keep exploring this world as the game progresses and, should the Warcraft movie commercial success be anything to go by, we could hopefully see it bridge out into other media as well.

Overwatch Review Screenshot Wallpaper Soldier 76

Overwatch is everything I’ve come to expect from a Blizzard game and so much more. Whilst I may pine for what may have been with Titan what was born out of its ashes is nothing short of incredible, demonstrating Blizzard’s dedication to quality games that are, above all, fun. The unique and varied classes, combined with the handful of maps, might not seem like much on the surface but in combination they provide near infinite amounts of replayability. The game is polished to the high standards Blizzard has set with all its previous titles, something which was clear even early on in the closed beta. However what clinches it all for me is the story that is woven in the background, something which I dearly hope Blizzard continues to explore. Overwatch has, for me, set the bar for what a competitive shooter should look like and I’m excited to see how it evolves.

Rating: 9.5/10

Overwatch is available on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 right now for $99.95 on all platforms. Game was played on the PC with approximately 10 hours played in the closed beta and 10 hours in the final release.