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Overwatch

GOTY 17 Countdown: Overwatch

No, you're not caught in a time loop. We're mixing things up.

  • Text: GR Staff
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We usually start these GOTY deliberations by talking about last year's winner. However, this year we're mixing things up, and instead of only running categories like we did before, we're going to start profiling the best games more prominently. That means that we're not just going to be highlighting specific areas such as audio, graphics, and multiplayer aspects, we're also going to talk more about the games that we felt were best overall.

We are, however, also opening up the door for ongoing games to feature in our GOTY countdown, and we're going to kick things off by doing just that. As a matter of fact, we're going to start by profiling a game that has not only had a brilliant twelve months in 2017, it also happened to be our Game of the Year in 2016 too. So, without really meaning to, we've come full circle.

That's right, we're talking about Overwatch, Blizzard's over-the-top hero shooter, which followed up with its multiple awards from 2016 with a stellar 2017, building on the immense commercial success of the game's inaugural year. To this day Overwatch remains as addictive, as moreish, as endlessly replayable as it was at launch. Perhaps even more so.

Whether it's the seasonal events that keep players coming back to play new and limited-time modes and earn new skins, or the growing esports scene that's building up ahead of next year's Overwatch League, Blizzard has to be applauded for the way that it has nurtured and expanded its audience, bringing new players in, keeping many of their existing players very happy, and generally expanding and refining the formula that we loved so much that we made it our top pick of 2016.

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It's not just modes and maps that have been updated throughout the course of the year, we've also been treated to new characters that have kept the metagame flowing in new and unusual directions, with every new addition to the roster, characters like Doomfist, changing the dynamic and giving inventive players and teams new strategies to get their heads around. It's the slow and steady evolution that stands Overwatch in good stead for continued success in the future, and if the esports half of the equation grows as Blizzard wants it to, with franchises popping up all over the world, again, it's hard to see anything but sustained success for the shooter.

What's also impressive is how deftly the game side-stepped the loot box controversy that engulfed gaming this year (despite the game's crates featuring prominently in a lot of news pieces on the matter in pictorial form, Overwatch itself emerged largely unscathed), and Blizzard's decision to keep crates cosmetic-only has well and truly been vindicated. At a time when we're looking closely at how multiplayer games deal with progression and microtransactions, most people could and would argue that this is an example of post-launch monetisation done right. It's even harder to argue with the approach when you see just how move love has been poured into the game on an ongoing basis.

After a stellar 2016 and an equally excellent 2017, it's clear as day that Overwatch isn't going anywhere. Blizzard is clearly in it for the long haul, and it's easy to see this quirky little shooter going the distance in the same manner as Team Fortress 2 before it. And to think, before Overwatch came out, Blizzard didn't do online shooters. Is there anything the studio can't do?

Overwatch