What is Overwatch?
Overwatch is an online-only, team- and class-based first-person shooter, in which two teams of six players face off online across a selection of objective based modes. Players have a wide choice of characters to play as, each of which comes under one of four main classes or roles - Offence, Defence, Tank and Support - with each class having its own unique strengths and weaknesses. As an online only game, Xbox One and Playstation 4 players will require an Xbox Live Gold or Playstation Plus subscription respectively.
How do you play Overwatch?
Rather than being a straight out game of deathmatch, where the only objective is to kill more players on the other team, the modes in Overwatch are mostly centred around a particularly objective, which you'll have to work together with your team to achieve. Whether you're escorting an object from one end of the map to the other (while the other team try to push it back), or simply trying to capture points on a map, Overwatch is a game that encourages you to work together, and play up to your particular character's role.
Each character can be grouped into one of four broad categories, each of which has their own set of strengths and weaknesses, and their own particular play style. Offense characters are the damage dealers, focused on firepower and taking the fight to the other team, whilst Defense types prefer to hang back, and take out any opponents that get too close, perhaps protecting key positions with traps or turrets. The Tank class is the damage sponge of the team, combining a huge amount of health with some decent offensive abilities, making them best suited to drawing enemy fire away from their weaker teammates, while Support players forego all-out killing to offer healing and buffs, either boosting your companions' damage and speed, or crippling enemy players with various statuses. Ideally, your team should have a good mix of character classes in order to work as an effective fighting unit and come out on top.
How easy is Overwatch to pick up and play?
Before you're let loose in a real match, Overwatch walks you through a basic tutorial to let you get to grips with its controls. If you've played a first person shooter before, you'll be in familiar territory here, at least in terms of the basic control scheme - however, each character is very different in terms of their abilities, weapons and handling, which in turn affects how they play. As the tutorial doesn't run you through every character's pros and cons, you'll have to figure out each character's quirks through experimentation alone. Luckily, you have unlimited lives in each match, which at least gives you plenty of time to try out new characters - and every time you die in battle, you'll reappear in a spawn area, where you you can switch characters if you find your previous choice wasn't really working for you. There's also the option to set up a match against computer controlled AI "bots", which is great when you're just trying a character out for the first few times - but we should note that this too requires a Playstation Plus/Xbox Live subscription on PS4/Xbox One.
As this is a first-person shooter, a familiarity with dual analogue controls (left stick moves, right stick aims) - or mouse and keyboard controls on the PC - are a must. With an emphasis on online play, Overwatch is also a pretty frantic, fast-paced game, in which everyone's expected to play their part, giving it a bit of a learning curve for new players.
Compared to some first-person shooters, such as Call of Duty or Battlefield, Overwatch is relatively tame in terms of mature content. There's no innuendo, sexual content or bad language, although one character does where a belt buckle with the acronym BAMF engraved on it, which stands for 'Bad A*s Mother-F*cker' - although this is never explained in game.
In terms of violence, Overwatch sits somewhere in the middle. Players shoot each other with over the top, fantasy firearms, arrows and laser blasters, with hits accompanied by cries of pain and explosions. Moderate blood spurts and splashes accompany successful hits (although blood doesn't stain either the environment or the characters), while defeated enemies simply fall to the floor and fade away, with no gore accompanying them.
There is no mature content filter to turn off said blood.